Sunday, November 3, 2019

Dona Nobis Pacem ~ Blog 4 Peace

 Welcome to the 14th launch of BlogBlast For Peace aka Dona nobis pacem in the Blogosphere. 
It's a lovely sight in the Blogosphere today. Our theme this year is Change Your Climate. Many are choosing to write about global climate change. Others are choosing to write about the need to change their own personal climates in order to create peaceful spaces for themselves ( ie: eliminating stress, self-care). I have chosen the latter.  

 Your words are powerful and important to all of us. May we lift and encourage in our quest for a peaceful more sustainable planet earth.  Grant us peace!  My peace post is called.....

Bathing In Persimmon Trees

As she got older and more introspective, my mother would spontaneously start talking about random things from her faraway childhood. On this day, she began to weave invisible spinning yarn in the air in front of her. "There are these see....threads...." as her hands moved in and around them,  making sense of mysteries in her mind,  weaving and talking as she spun, connecting branch to branch to branch. Except she wasn't really sitting there with me. She was somewhere back in time playing dodgeball with the curse.

 "I can see them going back generations."
"What kind of threads?" I asked. 
"Poverty. Brokenness. Abuse. Depression. Alcoholism. Divorce. Conflict. Addiction. 
Bad threads....don't you see them, Mimi?"
Yes, mama, I've always seen them.

Like shadows on trees in a cemetery, cast long from eons of time and generation, I had always seen them. 

If you want to go mad, 
cover them up.

If you want to break the curse,
stand in the Light.

Generational threads can tie together what desperately needs to be broken. They are inherently binding and strong.
Made of flax. Faith. Fiber. Custom. Tradition. Tribe. Toxicity. Untruth.
Even and especially love.

Whether they remain tied and woven into the next generation depends not on the strength of the cotton, but on the spinning of the pattern. Twisted legacies take whole life spans to unspin. It requires laser-sharp discernment and a willingness to plant a new field. To begin a better story. Harvesting new tribes is not for the faint-of-heart. My mother was anything but faint.

And that's when I began to remember...
warm water washing down my back.
I felt the heaviness of long tangled hair.
And her hands in my hair.
Scrubbing and soothing at the same time.  Bare feet on a dark linoleum speckled floor, bent over the kitchen sink in the middle of a fifties wood frame in the heat of summer and the only running water in the house.  Daddy hadn't finished the bathroom yet.
My mother stood untangling the mane that was always tangled and drying me off with a ragged towel. 
Tangled threads you see....

And then I started to cry 

Uncontrollably. Sobs from an eight-year-old that should never be heard by a mother. 
She knew. I could see it in her eyes. She knew. From the covering of shame I felt underneath the thinness of fabric that could not cover could not cover could not cover the confusion and tremble of a skinny little girl who had just been reminded of more than innocent suds running down the back of a dark-haired freckle-faced me with grownup questions swirling in her mangled head.
She looked straight into the dripping freckles and raised her eyes to meet mine.

It was my mother's greatest gift to me. 

Unwavering trust. Unquestioning acceptance. She believed what I was about to tell her before I said it. I can still taste the shampoo on my lips and see the horror in her eyes, the quiver in my voice. I remember the way my eyes wanted to only stare at the linoleum while she gathered herself.  Standing there dripping in a torn towel while she called someone to tell them what she'd seen in her daughter's eyes.
I never had to see him again.
She saw to it.

She sacrificed family and relationships to protect me. 
Had she chosen to look the other way, I am sure without a shadow of an oak tree doubt,  I would have crumpled into a broken twig on the sudsy floor and never recovered.
Instead, it was the moment that defined me. 

In the deepest part of me that day, she taught me to trust the sacred places that no one should touch.  I owned every nook and crevice again before she even finished with the tender drying
 because my mother believed me 
she gave me permission to trust myself
She had no idea that she'd just given me my voice.

Of all the trials that came later - our arguments, her quirky temper, my stubbornness - our differences growing wider in the middle of our lives, then circling back to unconditional love, as happens with mothers and daughters  - I'm not sure she ever fully recovered from the sadness of that moment. 

You see them, don't you Mimi?

 I wanted so much to know her and understand her better and all that mysterious weaving in the spirit. Those strands had names. They had stories. But there wasn't time and she was gone.  What made her so unbreakable? What stopped her from untying the last piece of tangled life and freeing herself? What kind of woman knows by instinct and love how to run straight into battle for her daughter?  That's the indestructible mother I longed to fully know.

When I felt she had no faith in my endeavors or no understanding of my independence, in hindsight, now, I wonder if the moment under the towel defined the way she would forever try to keep me from straying too far into unfamiliar territory. As I spread my wings to fly away, perhaps her holding on was the only way of protecting me.  Perspective.

I went through some things this year that broke my heart. Multitudes of unkindness and wholly undignified days. But the more vile they became, the more grace I received. 

 My body is recalibrating. Balancing. Resetting. Changing my climate, my environment, is not just necessary for peace of mind, it's mandatory for my survival. 
I am ready to put this decade behind me but not without the wisdom it contains.

Standing under the canopy of trees gives me courage and strengthens my vulnerability - that delicate balance between authenticity and prudence.   It resembles the act of protection and trust. Intimacy and connection.  You might not have a lifetime or even a decent swath of moments like these with the people you love. 
But it only takes one.  
Divine grace echoes on the walls of my heart. 
My mother's grace reverberates decades later.

And she is the reason that I can stand uncovered in a field of persimmon trees
without fear 
without shame
without scars

I finally learned to accept all our twisted roads and fallen places.  How she tried to exhume the genesis of those invisible threads in her hands, never quite finding where the first broken piece began and the last continued.  
 You see them, don't you Mimi?

She died before she could unravel all the threads
But she deposited in me just enough spitfire to keep my end of the peace treaty intact:
To leave the untelling on the kitchen floor 
To live without hiding behind trees 
To forgive those who want to see me broken
To be open and brave when your words need wording
and to be loud in the most vulnerable of places

and that's why I need trees
Had you told me a year ago that people can feel energy from trees, I would have silently patted you on the head and sent you on your way. And yet, since her death six months ago, I find myself running to the forest on my mountain, sitting for hours in the sanctuary of their branches. Breathing in oxygen. Absorbing life into the cells of my stress-laden body.
 Finding the Mother trees. They shelter the young saplings and strategically branch out in directions that give them the most nourishment from the sun.
Did you know there are mother trees?

We are made stronger when we understand where we came from
when we uncover what is hurting us
We discover which branches are strong and which need pruning.
I am learning to be thankful for the miles of memories that created me
all of them

Safety sometimes lies in being unseen
but never in being unheard.

Please sign the Mr. Linky at the end of this post so that others may visit you and see the beautiful peace globes throughout the Blogosphere. Remember to tag me on Facebook  or wherever you are on social media. Thank you for being a part of this community of peace bloggers.
Photo credit: Mimi Lenox
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Friday, November 1, 2019

Papa's Marbles ~ A Story of Peace

The story of the peace globes began in 2006. Today I am sharing the story of my grandfather's marbles as is my custom during peace week.  This was the first Dona nobis Pacem in the Blogosphere. Every year on November 4th, bloggers blog for peace, today reaching into Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and all social media platforms. You don't have to have a blog to blog for peace. 
 Please join us. Wherever you are.
Go HERE to learn how and get your own peace globe. 

The Silence of Peace
Papa's marbles
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 wanted to hear the muse. I waited to hear the muse. And 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 from people around the globe. 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 have I sat at that very bench and casually glanced into that bowl? Thousands. Song after song. Tune after tune. Lesson after lesson. Arpeggios and scales. Hymns and Beethoven.
Polish them, Mimi, polish them....
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....." "I never met anyone with as much character as your grandfather..."  
"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 during the week.
I was a bit different as a child. 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 a subconscious level that world peace cannot and will not be achieved without multitudes of people on planet earth finding personal 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 inhabits every cell of your body, just like Papa's prayers.
It has an energy of its own. 

Real lasting peace is born of creative jumble and hard work. True victories for humanity are never won by the one who has the most power. Wars are won, but not lasting peaceful reconciliations between nations.  We lay down our weapons and neglect to continue the peacebuilding.  
It never lasts. There's a hideous price when power and greed rule the process.
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.

He chose the color himself, Papa.....he must have spent hours honing that rock.

I often went with him to backwoods church services, usually of the United Methodist variety. 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, lift up the sick or the needs of those present or say the benediction - even though they'd never met. Wherever we went, he was asked to pray. How did they know he could pray?  I knew he could grandmother knew he could pray......but how did they know?
Taking his hat off and bowing his head, he would very quietly hold audience with his Maker. Before the opening of his brown felt hat hit the buttons of his shirt, he was already in the presence of his God.  Just the two of them in front of a congregation of worshipers.  It didn't matter how many people were listening. His prayers always began the same way......
"Dear Gracious Heavenly Father......"
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 with his head bowed in the palm of his praying hand, silently and fervently voicing his heart to the Almighty. He never let go of my hand.  What an electric experience to be right there beside him!  He was teaching by example. I could hardly breathe.
Papa prayed. God heard. I was in awe.
 I could sense the earnest and tender openness of his heart before God. I could feel the love he had for his Heavenly Father. Humility. Reverence. Respect. 
It was a gift I carried with me the rest of my life.

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 extravagant or fancy.
Just ordinary marbles.
Tonight I'm sitting at my table writing stories on an electronic device that sends messages to people all over the planet 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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Wednesday, October 30, 2019

Sandals and Shades of Purpose

You see...there was this girl. She was a child of the seventies, born in the late fifties and suited for all things unconventional. The subtle indoctrination of flowers-on-her-jeans and Vietnam war protests on her black and white TV screen began to seep into the psyche of the long-haired hippie girl.

That girl was me
She loved The Carpenters and Dylan, backwoods revival meetings and "Yellow Submarine." Long pastel dresses and politics. Floppy hats and long-piered beaches 

Don't think that just because you grew up one day to a work-a-day world and put on a suit and tie that you're immune to the genes that made you. The sandals in your formative years threw glistening sand and shades of purpose on the person you would walk around as in your old age. I like to say that baby boomers are just now getting their boom on. If you've lived a few decades you've seen massive change in the halls of humanity. We are progressive thinkers but not all the change has been progressive. 
 Same problems. Different locations. 

But there is hope. 
This is my grandfather's hammer adorned with the wild mums of Bloggingham.  This month he would have been 106 years old.  He is the reason there are peace globes flying all over the universe and parts of space (yes, we sent one up in a NASA event once) and people posting peace brings inspiration to the world!   But back to Papa.
He started peacebuilding long before he knew he was peacebuilding. This hammer built cabinets and furniture for people he loved and a mahogany table for me. 
His work was a labor of love. I respect the concept of peace because he showed me what unconditional love looks like. 
And where there is love there is peace.
Pick up your hammer and
Join us on NOV 4
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Saturday, October 19, 2019

Put on Your Flower Power Jeans

The world is a hotbed of smoke these days. New skirmishes erupt in the Middle East as unrest rears its ugly head.  To hear most people tell it, everywhere you look seems chaotic and uncertain.

That's why blogging for peace is important. If blogging isn't your thing, take the word 'blogger' out and just say speaking peace is important wherever you are - in your homes, in your churches, in your streets.

Peace bloggers (circa 2006)  speak out against war and for peace.  We are not all baby boomers with loooong hippie psyches -although some are; we are also thoughtful professors (who, by the way, can also possess flower power jeans in our closets) and creative grandmas with laps full of babies we don't want offered on the altars of war.  We are college students and pre-K children, pet lovers and surgeons. All walks of life blog for peace. 

We'd love to have you join us.
The Official Peace Globe Gallery link
How To Blog4Peace

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Saturday, October 12, 2019

It's Why You Wear The Dress That Counts

#6 Change Your Climate ~ Blog4Peace 2019

Circa 1974.  My mother had this dark blue dress made for me to sing in a production of Oklahoma! I was known as “the girl with the hair.” My hair weighed more than I did.
As I’m clearing out space for my new self in retirement, going through boxes of memories, it’s the dresses through the years that hold my attention. And remembering the sacrifices my mother made to hire a seamstress and buy fabric in a day when that was the last thing she needed to be worrying about.

Peace is flowing as I gently re-purpose, give away, or let go of items and pictures, reminding myself that I’m only making room for new ones.
Moving on in my dark blue dress
#ChangeIsPeaceful #Blog4PeaceNov4 #DigDeepandLetGo
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