Tuesday, January 1, 2019

My New Year's Revolution 2019

You can say what you want about resolutions. I usually don't make them on the new day of a brand new year with 364 daunting days stretched out in front of me. But this year I decided to make one that applies to every little and large thing I might want to work on. Resolutions should be daily intentions with no shame or expectation attached.  Turning. Revolving. Always learning. A twist on an ancient and wise quote, here's my simple 2019 revolution. 

If you are wanting to see change in someone else, 
first make whatever change you need to see in yourself

So. I'm working on myself.

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Sunday, December 30, 2018

The Man with The Box of Dreams

He was holding a container of files. A cardboard contraption with manila folders suspended from the usual wire hangers with colorful tabs sticking up and out from each one. The entire box of files was attached - as if it were an organ growing outside his body - to his right side.

He sat in front of me,  wanting me to notice them, eager to discuss them, impatient, this handsome mystery man.  Who was he? I met him inside the walls of a dark and frantic dream. Someone who came running inside my head in the middle of the middle of the night, damaging my psyche, making me breathless. Making me question everything I'd ever known.   
"So what..." I asked him, "is all of this scribbling madness attached to you? 
"It IS you," said he. "All of you."

It had been one of those dreams. The kind that takes you on a journey through many years, explosive twists and turns, predictable and unpredictable, sacred and selfish, sensual, loving, and....well...terrifying. There was a woman. She and I were compadres of sorts and I was there to help her discover something. Help her find something. Only halfway through the tangled web of chasing people in cars, opening and slamming door after door after door in city after city, did I realize we weren't trying to help her; she was trying to help me

We finally found ourselves in a small dark apartment, hiding from who we thought was the bad guy - the man with the briefcase, file folders and large hat - who quickly became my lover and long-lost friend all at once, perhaps - one never knows in these seedy dark places - in another life, certainly in another dimension - this one.

The woman began to speak to him in knowing tones as if they'd met before and he began to take his leave of me. How do you know each other? I asked. We've been running forever...and...and...then it was clear to me that he, and he alone, was my protector. Not the woman. Not even myself. 
But he..... 
and the appendage marked "MIMI's LIFE" in childlike scribble gathered in paper chapters and separated by decade labels. Who does he think he is carrying my personal personals around like that? I don't share my journals with just anyone you know (said the very public blogger...) but back to the semi-dream-semi-awake crisis I'm in the middle of right now....
On top of a very tall dresser was a large quantity of stolen cash, spilling from her overstuffed flowery purse, drawing me to it, causing me to understand instantly that she had been a thief all along. Running in and out of valleys and vales with me, 'cross mountains and streams, in dives and sanctuaries, searching for something or someone, always, always searching. The one I had been trusting and chasing was the one I should have been afraid of. And he - my lone salvation - was there to abscond with such nonsense, expose the truth and retrieve the money, so that justice could be served. So that I could be saved. My hero. 

Except there were these files you see....
Attached as if surgically implanted to his side
And he couldn't leave until I'd examined them
All of them
He insisted.

 I was afraid of them.
Disturbed by them - even more so than the woman's betrayal. My heart pounded at such a rate I couldn't breathe as I looked at them. They were bulging with information, pulsating with a familiar energy I recognized, and yet, didn't recognize.

It was not lost on my faculties, even in the midst of deep sleep, that my physical struggles at the moment are right-sided in nature like Paul's famous thorn in the side; of course, it's possible the very real pain in my side was interrupting my sleep and caused this prophetic/chaotic storyline of people-chasing mazes. However, truth-seeking in dark whispery apartment rooms with criminal women soon turned to annoyingly familiar words out of nowhere.  The box - it seemed - began to speak to me through the man. 

He said, "This box holds every piece of your life. Every letter you ever wrote or meant to write. Every single point of the pen you saved for "later", everything you meant to do, everything you did do, all that you ever were and all that you will ever be. It's all here. Sheet by vulnerable sheet."

"But what does it all mean?" I asked. "And why do you have it?"

"I have it," he said, "because it is causing you pain. And I am waiting for you to ask the right question before I take my leave and let you finish your work here freely, for it is not an explanation and summary of a life you need, or a reason for every path you chose, nor is it necessary for me to answer you. You, Mimi, YOU must find the right question this time. The question will become your answer.
You know what it is. I am waiting to hear it."

Ever since I was a little girl hiding in my bed and writing in my diary, I've had one fear and one fear alone: that I would get to the end of my life and it would have meant nothing. I didn't want to look back in my old age and say, what have I done with my life? I had have such a serious side. My Barbies didn't understand why I couldn't just "play" and stop ruminating so much. They're still wondering to this day.

I looked at the files. Sitting in silence.
I was archived to his right side.
As if they breathed on both of us. Not a word could be erased. Not a deed undone. Nor was that the purpose. The purpose was what had it meant

So I asked him, gingerly, quietly, in fear and much trepidation, "Is it possible for a person to live their whole life, an entire lifetime, feeling as though they only existed for the good of someone else? Has my life been only sacrificial scraps of paper in boxes and boxes chained to ...to....to what?"
Oh, but he could not answer.

Why were my words chained in the first place?  Why was he holding them hostage? Which one of us held the key to that box? Which ones of us needed it most?
I hated that box.
And it was perfectly clear by this point that he was no stranger.

 I was frustrated to know that my painful memories housed in the only way I knew to express them - to write them down - was also the source of his bondage. And suddenly I wanted him to be free! To abscond with the thieving woman and leave me with my words and my unanswered question. Even if it meant not knowing. Even if it meant he would have to leave with my whole life strapped to his side like a box of puzzle pieces only I would ever solve, a box of words that meant nothing to a messenger and my whole eternity to me. I did not want to hurt this man I loved.

Then his eyes began to soften when he heard my heart.
And I knew him.
He was there for my good, not his, only mine and in his eyes I saw a longing for me to discover the question I needed to ask myself. Because he knew I would be free of what was holding me back. And I just wanted the many failings and imperfections I had throughout my life's story to stop affecting him. I didn't want this rib-bound human closer than Adam was to Eve to suffer on my account. After all, it was my life attached to his, not the other way around. 

And there he sat. With a life's worth of files. How long had he been carrying me this way? Deep down in the soul of my heart I knew who he was. It was no mystery. He was attached to me in ways only I could understand. I was attached to him in ways I didn't want to understand.
Yet he had appeared - in my dream or was it real? - to insist that I ask the question.

He knew me so well. Every scrap contained the muse written or unwritten. I  knew every day and every hour described in that box. I sensed every joy and every sorrow. And to my horror realized, that so did he. 
There comes a day in everyone's life when you realize that every single thing you did and said from day one through eternity's ending has and will affect not only those you love dearly but the world, the universe, the planet. And that you must not leave even one letter of your story untold nor your heart words unsaid. 
The metaphor for my life was that box.
Which he tenderly held
even while it caused him pain to do so

Those are the ones you let go
and those are the ones you keep

My own mortality is on my mind these days, in waking and now non-waking states. I've lost four friends in four months and I'm tired of grieving regrets and burying would-have-beens. Perhaps that's why I'm sleepwalking of late. And now sleep-running in dreams with strange men with strange attachments in strange places not strange at all. 

 I had to get this right. The damned question. 
   With no promised answer. No promise of peace.  

He knew, oh, he knew...that questioning was the whole point.

"Is it possible," I restated and asked again, "that a person's whole life can be spent in the service of the wrong thing?"  Because you see...that had been my fear forever.  He looked at me with a knowing wink and a silent nod as if to say well maybe not their whole life.   He held the box close to his loin. To let me have a safe place to figure it out. To show me that sometimes love comes with sacrificial moments like this. To break through my stubbornness with his own. To help me realize that walking through the door of your destiny always requires the right question.

  Have I not prepared myself for this day? There is more to do. This is MY time! a voice screamed and yet I clearly see reams of life already lived in front of me in a box of files that breathe and have life, as if they were attached to him and me at the same time; one waiting for the other to let go so that he could fulfill his destiny and leave and one knowing full well the question she must ask but not wanting to because she is afraid of the unutterable answer she will write down in those endless notebooks. 

Afraid of words. Mimi Lenox, afraid of a box of words? That's like Poe being afraid of ravens or Hawthorne shunning brutal truth or birds settling for nursing homes instead of nesting homes. Birds afraid of flying. How absurd.

And what of the woman? She was a metaphor for the stealing of time. Life is full of chasing the wrong thing or being in the wrong place. My most precious asset - time. 

I looked at him once more. Sitting patiently holding my life to his loin, protecting it, loving it -  wanting me to love it too.
 There is one I need to let go.
And one I need to welcome with open arms and fiery candid words.

And suddenly I realized that there would be one huge difficult departure - for I love him so - and one huge homecoming. The departure would be his freedom. The homecoming my destiny.
Don't be afraid to love your story.
For those who hold it close will always come back to help you fly.

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Sunday, November 4, 2018

Dona Nobis Pacem ~ Words In Blue Kyanite

If there are stories to be told in heaven, let them be these. 
Let them be told as these have been told. Let verse and lyric rhyme as old saints do on the eve of great awakenings. Lean your ear toward what matters most and listen as spirits mutter sacred texts and beautiful songs. Stretched across the throne of the world from the top of heaven's doorstep, words can still reach earth.  Stretched across the world's doorstep in many homes and hovels today, words can still reach heaven. And you will say them again. And again. And again. That's what storytellers do. 
That's what peace bloggers do.

For you see, words are not only powerful for the content and wisdom they bring to bear; they are powerful for the reason they came to bear. 
There is no great catharsis, no sudden shift in the universe, no real progressive change in the world without storytellers. And you thought your chapter was over? Let me tell you something...it doesn't end until you tell it to end. 
He had this twinkle you see....A spark of something that resided deep inside the brilliance of his mind. Something that glowed with kindness, documenting years on earth like centimeter markings on a ruler.  My Papa. He is the one who inspired me to write in the first place. He is the one who left me with an earth marble full of continents and rivers and mountains. He left me the whole world. 

And his hammer.
Words are not the only tools we have.  He needed it to make things. I need it to smash my fingers. He understood hammers. I do not. 


I've been asking him lately, in my dreams and in my mind, what story he wants to tell today on November 4th, because he always give me a nudge. And all I am hearing from him is that he wants me  - and you - to tell our stories. Now. Not his. Ours.  

 It is the most basic of human needs - the power and joy of connection. Of being heard. Of being heard!!!  Not because someone is shouting, anyone can start a movement if they're loud enough, but because purposeful intent behind mightily built well-chosen words is strong enough to make a whisper ripple across seven continents and twenty-five rivers and still be understood on the highest mountain peak a thousand miles away.
That's what Papa's marble did for me. 
That's what your words do for the world each and every year.

And while there was serendipity and more than a few God winks to get the ball rolling (so to speak), the discovery of the marble only served to help me understand that in this life there are no coincidences. 
Every person you meet brings their energy, their intent, right smack-dab into your personal space...sometimes so close you want to (and should) run away and hide from it when things don't feel right. That is discernment. Others bring the healing you need when you didn't even know you needed to call a healer.

That is grace.

Which brings me to my friend. 
 It happened at the beginning of a new school year. 
 I bent over in agony when I heard the news, so unexpected it was, so cutting. It was a physical pain in the caverns of my body. I could hear the bones break in my brain.  I didn't expect to feel her loss so viscerally. Peacefully housed in pine she lay weeping and exhausted no more. She was free. I was not.

I was afraid.
And angry
Let's be real. My life was full of complaining. And whining. And posturing. And planning. And pondering. And procrastinating. And even whining to myself that complaining would do me in.  I was even tired of my own complaining! I've been tired and exhausted this year. Not.peaceful.at.all.

And there she was. Asleep forever in a cold pine box full of peace. Not even fifty years old. My heart broke for the losses and pain she endured on planet earth. 

I was at the crossroads between terror and panic. Would I be next? Would my body betray me as well? Can I live up to the example of courage she set?  Could I maintain this pace and keep my health intact? After all, she was the strongest person I knew. Heart-stopping, constricting air-depleting suffocation. Did I mention the fear?  Even so, I felt guilty for focusing on myself when it wasn't about me at all. 

What was her story? She spoke loudly from the pine box. The silence was maddening. Knock it off, Mimi, and listen up! I can't remember one single meeting, one single instance, one day or second or smile that was wasted on her. She made me better and sometimes made me mad doing it. Oh, but she didn't know it. And she had no patience for my histrionic nature. She didn't waste time worrying about how other people perceived her, whether or not she hurt your feelings, or how you arrived at any conclusion without her. She was too busy living strongly while she was dying slowly.

You knew you were in the presence of someone who knew what it meant to inhale and exhale with intent every single day. You knew, somehow you knew, that time spent with her were masterclasses in how to live fully.
Image result for blue kyanite
Could there be a better time to shake up the world than on the day you decide to die? She shook up my world! Yes, I said decideI know that I know that I know (as my grandmother would say) that some people decide it is their day to die. Ascended gurus manage to mark the hour quite regularly. When it's time for the body to give up its usefulness, it's time to give up the ghost and take up a new identity somewhere else. 

And so my friend became my catalyst for change in a year that began in fear. That happens when you see someone you just talked to reposing in a pine box too soon. 

**Excuse me, Miss Pencil Skirt, said the doctor...but I don't think you're breathing quite right** 

 Fear is a simply a jumping off place. 
"What you do in this moment will determine everything," whispered the Voice of reason.

I decided to change my words. 
Starting with my thinking
I wrote pages of self-talk: I will not tolerate pity. I will not tolerate blame. I will not tolerate complaining. I will not abide negativity. I will not entertain anger. I will not surrender to bitterness. I can breathe I can breathe I can breathe I can breathe.... 

"Gather your strength," whispered Spirit. "Gather strength for yourself."  I wanted to live well. I needed to love myself well enough to gather my strength and heal. 
Those who live well, by default love well. 

Image result for pyrophyllite images
 I mean the kind of love that makes you sweat, requires your blood, makes you live in it, slog through it, talk about it, wade in it, fall down under the weight of it until you can't even breathe because that devastating love is so full of itself. 
Have you ever come to a pivotal moment in your life when days were so dreary you'd rather feel something than nothing at all?  Your lungs are tight from holding back the light that so desperately wants to get in...but you can't exhale well enough to inhale?  Stress will do that to a person. At least that's what the doctor told me. What? What?? I can't breeeaaatheee?? 
"No, Miss Pencil Skirt, something seems to be affecting your lung capacity."  

This is not what you want to hear the day before you go to a funeral.

**raises hand**
I think I need to call a healer.

I didn't understand the world until I was sixty-years-old.
It was then that understanding became too soft a word for the depth of knowing residing in the bones of six decades on earth.
It was more like burning lava cooled by the flames of tea leaves. 
I love leaves
When my Papa was in his early sixties, he fell on the kitchen floor and took his last breath. Just like that. Suddenly. Without premeditation or fanfare. His lungs collapsed and the poison inside caused a massive crumble of tissue and structure.  He was gone before his head hit the floor.  
Kyanite blue in pyrophyllite stone

I never knew he couldn't breathe. There was a ticking time bomb inside the man whose heart was overshadowed by a pair of lungs full of pyrophyllite dust. He never told me he couldn't breathe!  I always thought he'd die of arthritis. Or working too hard. Or loving too much. I never dreamt he'd fall in a heap of poisoned air and give up the ghost on the kitchen floor. 
Look familiar?
He was too busy living to die of sensible causes. 

All he did was love me.
 In large loud bouts of contagious love. 
His love was all I heard. 
It. Was. All. He. Said.

Papa worked in a pyrophyllite plant (think talc) back in the day before it was safe to mine or breathe dust particles from the clay or work with the intensely heated kilns which were to used to mold particles for commodities like furniture. It caused fibrosis in some and unknown lung ailments in many. I didn't know Papa couldn't breathe. Apparently, neither did he. 
He just kept living. And loving everyone around him. Until he decided to fall on the kitchen floor. 
That one blue marble in the center of the bowl - yes, that one - is Kyanite, infused with and altered by pyrophyllite. It is a metamorphic mineral found in sedimentary rocks within soapstone mines in the southern United States, Brazil, New South Wales, Australia, India and Kenya. It contains aluminum silicate (hence the silent poison).

Kyanite gets its name from the Greek words for fire and leaf. Tonight I have discovered that this same blue stone has crystal healing properties especially in the throat area near the bronchial tubes.  I know little to nothing about the realm of gemstone metaphysics, but I do respect the power of Earth and the ancient wisdom of chakra healing. 

**You can't breathe said the doctor You can't breathe said the doctor*
I never knew I couldn't breathe until they told me I couldn't breathe!! Has this ever happened to you?

And what other silent gift did he pass on to us?
Pyrophyllite is also known as "Pencil Stone" (said The Pencil Skirt) and has been used to enhance writing abilities, helps to speak one's truth with clarity and brings balance to all the Chakras. 
So you see, that wonderful blue marble we've gazed at since 2006 might well be one of the reasons that peace bloggers feel compelled to write. On some deep spiritual level we feel it. 

It's alright if you don't believe that. I've just unearthed this myself (so to speak). But doesn't it make sense?  That blue stone became something beautifully rare and healing to all of us. 
Papa's intent was good.
Papa's intent became our words.
Papa's destiny is still evolving.

I want mine to do the same.  
Don't you?

It wasn't so much what he said throughout the years to his curly-headed, hardheaded granddaughter that made the cataclysmic shift in my DNA; it was the unspoken life of a simple man too busy living a simple life he loved to die conveniently proper. 
I want to die inconveniently improper too. 
Kyanite crystals.jpg
I think I just found my healer
 While Papa harvested dust and clay, he fashioned a symbol of the world for a granddaughter he couldn't have known would ever even exist. Harvesting and working in the dust of those stones eventually led to his death. For him to pass this treasure on to me - to us - is surely more than coincidence. It illustrates how every single act we do on planet earth has a consequence, often far-reaching and seismic in nature. 

 All I remember was that he loved me
and that was enough

He didn't have to say a word
That is the power
of words laid carefully round in blue Kyanite 
Jamie White ~ Washington

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Welcome to Blog4Peace 2018
Please visit each other and feel the power of this amazing day.

Friday, November 2, 2018

On The Eve of Dona Nobis Pacem in the Blogosphere

It is the eve of Dona Nobis Pacem in the Blogosphere; otherwise known as BlogBlast For Peace.
On Sunday November 4th, bloggers and webmasters and status-keepers everywhere will lay their pens down on white paper and social pages to write peace.  Bloggers will use keyboards, singers will sing songs, artists will draw and paint, some will dance and some will preach.  All will tell a story. It's what peace bloggers do. 
Let's brew a hot cup of tea and have a chat. Peace weekend has begun!
As tradition holds, here's the story of The Doll Box as told on this blog many years ago. As was his usual custom, Papa visited one bright sunny morning and reminded me of the dusty old box. I expect him to direct me straightway into another tale come tomorrow morning. We'll have to wait and see what transpires between my world and his. 
This is the story of The Doll Box.

 I wrote this peace post for the November 2007 BlogBlast For Peace in Papa's honor. His stories are an integral part of this movement. It has become tradition for me to share them with you during Peace Week.
And for some reason on this chilly November night as I wait for another launch of peace globes, I can almost hear him speak and hover about, waiting right along with the rest of us.  The dolls must be shared once again.
 So Papa....I miss you. I love you.  Speak.

The Doll Box

"Put them in the pot, Mimi, just that way."

I planted the last Black-Eyed Susan in the clay pot on the deck, richly purple, and staring at me with an eye in the center of royalty's colored fall beauty. I dug and rearranged and poured in fertilizer. Watered. Played in the dirt.

My Papa stood looming over me with that jovial smile of his, a burst of sunlight behind his balding head and a brightly gleaming twinkle in the midst of the smile I adored. I was still unbalanced with a trowel in one hand and a pile of dirt in the other which prevented me from jumping immediately into his arms, but it didn't seem to matter; a warm wind blew straight through the curl hanging down the front of my right shoulder and moved it behind me to rest on the back of my sweater. I was sure of it. My Papa was always telling me to get my hair out of my face. No surprise to me now.
"Plant one more in the pot, Mimi. She'd like it that way."

"They remind me of her," I said out loud. "The dark ones she loved best. The Black-Eyed ones I don't care for, but I plant them anyway because she loved them so. I think they look disheveled and untidy - if a flower can be that way - and as she could be in the morning times. Her hair a mess and a cigarette over coffee, frying bacon at 5am so that you'd have a great start to your day, wrinkled robe and a smelly kitchen. One bright spot of colorful charm – like my Black Eyed Susan - was you, Papa."

I stopped planting and looked up.

“I've been watching you, Mimi."
I laughed.

"Well you know she had to have things just right. Two purple here, one pink there, large petaled, small-petaled and a very straight row or you had to start all over."

He laughed.
"I remember."

I fixed my eyes upon the face of the man who held the key to my heart ever since the day I took my first breath. I put the trowel down, the dirt fell from my fingers and I found myself sitting in the fall sunlight, listening to leaves drop playfully from the trees that surrounded me. I watched them fall almost on command at his overgrown feet that were firmly planted in front of me.  
Steel-toe shoes, huge shoes, painful shoes.
Important shoes.

  It would take him forty-five minutes in the mornings before work to lace them up. Rheumatoid arthritis claimed his quality of life, pain a constant companion, everyday tasks a monumental chore - and yet he rarely missed work (thirty-three years in a furniture plant) and most days he tilled the garden out back in the evenings. For today, I was content to sit at his feet and plant flowers. He was there to give me a warm breezy hug. Of course I knew he wasn't really there.

Was he?

Resigned to never again help him unlace the knotted shoestrings that strangled too too tightly across his tender feet, I turned to wipe a tear. I miss him still.

" I've been watching you - you and the peace globes,he said.
I smiled and stood up. He was right.
Pansies could wait. 

"I know, Papa. I've known for some time. You always give me courage when I need it, inspiration when I've lost it and the biggest laughs....I get the most joy from your far-flung sense of humor. It is always with me."

 He roared a belly laugh I thought I'd never hear again this side of Heaven. It nearly rocked me off balance, causing me to drop the flat of pansies on the deck.....
so deep it was, so rich.
So Papa.
And then I realized that I was staring straight into the face of providence. Or ghostly luck. Don't stumble now, Mimi....."I need to ask you! Papa! I have so much to ask you. I don't know what to do about.....
Will you stay?" 

"I've been watching you, Mimi," he said with that tsk tsk expression, "I need to ask you a question." 
I sat down again, wondering if I'd done something wrong. He sounds serious. Does he want to talk about the marbles? Yes, that must be it. The marbles. He wants to tell me how he made them. He'll tell me and I'll tell my readers and they'll tell people and he'll explain it all. 
I waited.

I remember - oh I remember - how they adored one another
And now they were both gone.

I had her pansy pots and her azalea bush and her quirkiness. He had memories not to be shared with a granddaughter but sacred scenes I saw playing behind the youthful grin. I did not let on. But I knew there were stories he must - he surely must - somewhere, somewhere - still share with her.  

"Ask, Papa. I'll tell you anything you want to know," digging a new opening in the dirt for one more yellow pansy. 
I just wanted to see him smile again.

"But why, Mimi.....why do you need so many?"

"Because she said if you planted enough of them really close together it would make the bouquet brighter and ...."
I sighed. Doesn't he understand?

"No, Mimi. Why do you need so many peace globes?"

I stopped digging.
"I don't NEED them, Papa, they just keep coming. From everywhere. There are so many I can't get them all  planted...er...counted. In the mail and through the strangest streets. Back alleys, front pages, small blogs, large blogs, no blogs.  In the middle of the night. In the morning. In the evenings. All colors, all creeds, all walks of life. All species, all reasons. Some humorously made, some seriously woven and others with a single signature. Those I like, too." 
He sighed. 

Had I disappointed him?
What does he want me to say?

If there's one thing about my Papa that was always the best thing, it was his deliberate ability to cut through my facade and get to the truth - usually without a word and never with a scold. Any serious conversation he made with me always came on the palpable presence of one who loved me unconditionally. I never doubted his intent for my good or his wish for my clear understanding. Laden with well-worn common sense wisdom, I soaked it up often, playing carefully at his painfully laced shoes which criss-crossed in front of me on the living room floor at the bottom of the green leather recliner he loved. And today, I felt much like that seven-year-old.
Papa had one more story to tell.

"Do you remember the dolls, Mimi? The 100 Dolls?"

" Oh yes, Papa. I still have them. I keep them in the box for safekeeping. They are in perfect condition though the box is yellowed now and torn on the edge. I still see your address, your name, the paid postage stamp and the tape."

He suddenly got a serious look.   

"I remember the day you asked me for them. We were thumbing through a catalog and you squealed with delight. 'One hundred dolls!! How could 100 dolls come in one box?' you asked." 

"I remember," I said. "They costs one dollar and we had to send away for them all the way to New Jersey and add our postage fee. I was so excited and couldn't wait to get them in the mail. I think I was seven? Yes, just about that age." 

"Open them, Mimi. They hold a secret. Open the box."

 I went inside to get the box. I'm writing this story at my usual perch at the table trying to recapture on paper what other-worldly thing has just happened in my pansy world. In my mind's eye I am still there, on the porch with my Papa and we are planting pansies and the sun is hot and the leaves are falling. My pen is flowing and I don't want to leave. We are having such a lovely day. All is right and he has chosen to visit me now. I don't want to break the spell. I don't want to open the box...but it is there in front of me on the table.

I picked it up, put my reading glasses on trying to make out the fine print. I reach for a magnifying glass to help but for some reason, I put it down. I couldn't. I couldn't look. I just couldn't. If I do as he asked then my time with him will be over and I can't stand the thought of that.  

And when have you ever been able to disobey him? Never. And when have you ever disappointed him? Sometimes. And will you do that today? No.
 I picked it up again. 

Bulk Rate. US Postage Paid. Newark, N.J. Permit No.4396.

100 Dolls Dept R
285 Market Street
Newark, N.J

What's so special about this old box of dolls? They're plastic and probably a few are missing. Pink. Flimsy. Tiny little things.

Not at all like I.....

"Right," said Papa, "you were disappointed when they arrived a few weeks later. I could see it in your face. I never forgot how cute it was when you said, 
"NOW I know how they got so many dolls in one box. They don't look like the picture in the magazine at all. They are very small and I think I might even break them.

"So you sat at the kitchen table night after night and lined them up. Trying to figure out which was a cook and which was a nurse and which was a girl and which was a boy. I told you that they all have a face and they all have a voice, even if they are on the small side.  You made up stories to go with them and then, once you'd brought them to life, there was a sadness about the way you stored them away.
Back in the box. Back in the box. Always back in the box."

He shook his head.

This was not going to be easy. What does he want me to see? There won't be an obvious blue world-globe-like-marble sitting there this time. We're talking about prissy dolls for a prissy girl who turned into a prissy woman who has no idea why she's crying at her keyboard in the middle of this unfinished story. 


I decided to open the box.

And there it was. 

Something I'd forgotten about. On top of my dolls in the lower right corner was a matchbox size toy. He'd sent away for that too. It came with my dolls. 
Tricky Dogs. They were magnets. One white dog. One black dog. When you start to play with them they always gravitate toward each other. After forty years the magnet is still strong. I turned them over in my hands and read the back of the box. 

Directions: Place one Tricky Dog on a surface (polished wood or glass) Push the other Tricky Dog up to it from behind, or sweep the second Tricky Dog in a half circle around the first one. Watch them twirl!

My tabletop is made of glass. I took the black one and put him up front, made a sneak attack by the white one and voila! the black dog began to spin in a circle - in an energetic frenzy - and aligned itself with the other one smashing into him, wagging their magnetic tails and gravitating together: smooching, the way only magnets can. When I was little, most often I played with the dolls, but Papa......he would gently nudge me to lay aside the Barbie doll brain and chase my dream in another direction. He was like that. Always dropping life lessons in my lap, at inopportune times like today, when I am planting pansies.

I laughed. I'd forgotten the hours of entertainment we'd had trying to make the dogs do something else. I tried to separate them so many times. So like me to want to argue with electrons and atoms - but they always ended up smacking into each other with a dog collision. Inevitable. Worked every time.
Without fail.

"The globes, Papa. They all spin their own way and yet they eventually make their way towards one another, spinning together.  The globes, Papa....they all spin with one purpose. 

Is that right?"
He smiled.

Now my grownup mind understands such things. I know there really is no trick. I know they're just heavily plastered metal toys with magnet skates on the bottom - but I'm not a grownup today. I'm a seven-year-old on the floor with my Papa and we are playing from the box he mail ordered for me in the 1960s. And I am laughing. The dogs - and the dolls - and Papa....still make me laugh. 

I sighed. This observation is just too obvious. Magnets. Globes. Spinning earth balls. Earth Science. I get it! I turned to him with a knowing look and said, 
"I know all about this little analogy. I went to college and got a degree since you've been gone ya know. And anyway, I need to finish planting these pansies and get them all in a straight line the way she would....the way she would....Papa?"

He was gone. 

And I was left with a tabletop full of little pink dolls piled on top of each other, delighted to be free of the box, criss-crossed in a pink maze, laid crosswise in the jumbled life of another doll, too many for a seven-year-old to count, too tiny for a middle-aged woman to see in great detail and somehow I knew they'd been waiting for just this hour to make their second debut into my life. Pink. Plastic. Fragile. Soft spoken. Small. And yet when I put them all together they make an enormous pile. 

Like my globes. 

"Why Mimi? Why? Why do you need so many?"

 I never answered his question. That must be why he left. I suppose he is angry with me. I'll have to tell him another time about the blogger from Hong Kong and the man from Singapore and how Idaho met Japan and tomorrow Italy promised to email Turkey......Israel and Poland and Tennessee and how Michigan is helping Ireland make a globe and it doesn't matter how small their blogs may be they all have a face and all have a voice and they just want to speak their....oh, never mind. 
 Hmmm...It's been forty years and I still haven't played with all those dolls.
No time like the present. 

So I took them out of the box.
One by one.

A nurse, a dancer, an Indian man, two clowns, Spanish people, a ballerina, a little girl, a man speaking, a roping cowboy, a smiling cowgirl, a Buddhist monk, a Chinese man, a Mexican hat dancer, a Gypsy girl playing a tambourine, Bolero dancers, Little Bo Peep, all nationalities, all creeds, all expressions, all costumes of origin and a world of imagination at my fingertips that now played alone without the fumbling arthritic hand of the man who gave them to me so long ago.......a Peruvian girl, a small child playing ball, a colonial doll with a full skirt taking a bow (My favorite. She bowed a lot in those pre-pencil skirt days). 

I remembered how his hands were so large and gnarled, fumbling with the small creatures as they fell in his lap. I would laugh and we would start the dance again. The Buddha man would twirl with the Peruvian woman while the little boy with the ball - perhaps it was a jack-in-the-box - sat quietly in the middle of it all. They all got along in my peaceful box universe. 

The dolls in my box lived in one world, dancing and spinning around.

"I'll get that for you, Papa," I said. "The lady from Spain would like to dance with the Russian ballerina now if you don't mind....Papa!?"

I looked up from the land of pink twirling peace and saw a tear roll down his cheek to land on his steel-toed shoes. I could tell he longed for our pink doll world of friendly global dancers and I so wanted to never see him sad again. 

"My life went sailing by," he said, "like a thin silk pansy leaf falling on the wisp of a breeze. I blinked and it was gone. Not much older than you are today. So much left to do. So much left to say. Many more flowers to plant. Stars to catch. More dances to dance. My work was not done...But you knew that, didn't you, Mimi?"

I did?
"All I know, Papa, is that I wasn't there that day. I canceled our outing and you left without me. You and grandmother went to the doctor and after that day I never saw you again. Not ever again. I was angry because you did not say goodbye. I was angry that I did not say goodbye. And I longed to tell you all my tales and all my stories through the years. I've waited for you to tell me what to do."

 I put the dolls down and looked at his wisdom worn face, anxious for the answers I needed. But he had a way of making me figure it out for myself. This day was no different. 

"You do not need me to tell you what to do. I am proud of you and you are doing just fine. Just remember one thing: It takes all the dolls in the box to make the world a beautiful place, Mimi. They can't hear what the other has to say unless you introduce them to one another and set their feet to dancing. 


Take them out of the box.

"Just take them out of the box." 

That's it? That's the secret? Take them out of the box? But what about the globes? And the marbles? I jumped up to give him a hug the way I always did but he was gone.

 In the bottom of the box I found a piece of yellow paper. It had my name on it, folded, in my grandmother's handwriting. I opened it. It was a speech I'd made in church for a Christmas program when I was three  years old. He'd tucked it away in the bottom of my doll box. I smiled as I remembered that the best part of that day had been running down the church aisle and jumping into his white-sleeved arms for a hug and a kiss. If I ever doubted what my grandfather gave to me, and continues to instill in me even now, it is the simple power of love and a respect for all creatures large and small...
pink and Peruvian.

And that, my friends, is all we need.


The Doll Box was written for  BlogBlast For Peace in November 2007. It is now time for Dona Nobis Pacem in the Blogosphere 2018. I never know what I'm going to write until the last minute. Some strange sort of sensation hits me about the stroke of midnight on the eve of each launch.
That's when Papa shows up, nudges my memory and honors me with a story.

First it was marbles, then pansies and dolls
And one year he told me a love story.
I wonder what he'll have to say on Saturday...or if he'll come at all. 
Maybe I'd better get some sleep. 
It could be a long - very long - night.

Reason #4 to Blog4Peace: The magic of dolls. And love. And dolls. And love.

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