Friday, December 31, 2010

Happy New Year!

Well, it's New Year's Eve and in keeping with our long standing family tradition, we are staying in for the night. New Year's Eve has always seemed like such a contrived and forced celebration that we gave up trying to participate long ago. Our tradition has become to have Chinese food, eating it in bed, sipping champagne. Even that has changed in recent years. First all I stopped drinking alcohol about eight years ago, so champagne is out. Then we really don't much care for Chinese food any longer, it's just so oily and bland; everything is brown. so, now we eat Indian food, sip sparkling cider and we eat at a table because I don't want my father in bed with us.

Life goes on. Nothing is static. Nothing lasts forever.

This morning Jon and I went to a meditation for world peace it was a lovely event. I thoroughly enjoyed the meditation. I forgot how deep meditation is when you do it in a group. There were several readings that were just lovely and held a lot of meaning for me.

Lakota Instructions For Living Life

Friend, do it this way - that is,
whatever you do in life,
do the very best you can
with your heart and mind.
And if you do it that way,
the Powers of the Universe will
come to your assistance,
if your heart and mind are in Unity.
When one sits in the Hoop of The People,
one must be responsible because
All of Creation is related.
All of the hurt of one is the hurt of the all.
And the honor of one is the honor of all.
And whatever we do effects everything in the universe.
If we do it that way - that is,
if you truly join your heart and mind
as One - whatever you ask for,
that's the Way It's Going to Be.

Love it! The least of what we do reaches out and effects all of us. We are in the Hoop of The People whether we accept that or not. There was another reading that I want to share as well. I think this one had the most profound effect on me. It is:

All things share the same breath - the beast, the tree the man...
the air shares its spirit with all the life it supports.
Human kind has not woven the web of life.
We are but one thread within it.
Whatever we do to the web, we do to ourselves.
All things are bound together.
All things connect.
Man does not weave this web of life.
He is merely a strand of it.
Whatever he does to the web,
he does to himself.

~~~Chief Seattle

My morning meditation that I do for my prayer call brings in the concept that we share one breath and this breath is the breath of one life. I feel so separate sometimes from the rest of human kind. I connect easily with nature... it's humans that I have a problem with. But, I'm sure that is true for most of us. We are hurt the most by other humans. Animals bring us only joy. But, I'm working on loving all of human kind too and mostly I am succeeding. I see myself when I look at you. I am the light of the world and I choose peace.

Happy New Year!

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Since my job has dried up and I am sitting in the house quite a bit; it wouldn't be so bad except that I have no privacy here and I attempt to hide. Which I realize that this was a pattern of mine since I was a small child living in this very house. I would hide.

I spent a great deal of time sitting in closets fantasying that this little spilt level in the suburbs had secret passages that I could access and be safe and free. I had forgotten about my fantasies until we moved back here a couple of years ago to supposedly take care of my aging father (except he is too stubborn to accept help, so all we do is fight). Shortly after we settled in, I began to remember, "Oh, I used to sit in this closet." "Oh, I squeezed into this closet." Little by little the memories came back. It was an uncomfortable feeling.

Then I began to remember some of what I was hiding from. I don't think it is anything dramatic.  I don't think I was sexually abused, but I certainly was neglected and went through a good about of emotional abused. Mine was not a happy childhood.

However, I didn't come here to whine. My childhood is part of my story, it isn't the whole thing. I have come to terms with it and I am not my story. I really feel that I have moved past it and dropped those bags.

What is on my mind today is my job. I love my job. Being a hospice chaplain is such an honor. What concerns me is that it appears to be evaporating before my eyes. Budget cuts. Medicare oversight. I believe that hiring per diem chaplains was an experiment to begin with and now I think they are looking closely at the idea and deciding that it really isn't cost effective. Hence, I have been pared down to six patients, three visits a week. Not a lot of money. It's far less than I was making.

The powers that be say that full time chaplain must carry a patient load of sixty patients. If the census is only at 85, which it isn't even that at the moment, then that leaves twenty-five for me and the other per diems to split, assuming the patients all what spiritual care... which they don't. I think the higher ups feel that the full time chaplain should handle it all and if she can't then maybe they will start looking at whether they need her or not.

So, I worry about my job. There isn't anything I can do about it. I just have to ride this wave and see where it lands, but it leaves me stuck in this house with no privacy, no room and no where to go.

It's an opportunity for me to expand my ministry in some fashion. I would like to do a wedding or two. I love love to get some funerals to do too. I would dearly love to do spiritual counseling. So, this lack of work is an opportunity for me to branch out into those areas, only today I am feeling sorry for myself. I'm still in my pajamas. I thought of going out, but I can't think of anywhere to go. So, I am moping. Tomorrow, I will see a couple of patients and start to really think this through. But, today... I mope.

I spent several hours on Facebook looking through friend lists trying to locate people that I knew from the kibbutz. I found quite a few people and a I did some walking down memory lane. It's funny how people don't age in your memory. They always stay the same as when you them, but I saw how much they all aged, some worse than others. But, we are all getting old. I can't really say that I miss Israel all that much, I certainly don't miss the kibbutz. The kibbutz was a dead end for me. It was for Jon and Adrienne too. So, I'm not sorry that we left. Honestly, there weren't many people there that I would even want to see again. But, it was fun looking through all of the profiles and reading about what they are doing, etc. I know that life on my kibbutz is nothing like when we were there- I'm not really sure that it's officially a kibbutz any longer. I think many people work off of the kibbutz and perhaps keep their income, I don't know. But, it was good to catch up with these folks. I wonder how many of them remember us? Some I would suppose.

I don't like feeling useless and that's what I have felt this week. I will mope for a bit longer, but I need to find purpose and meaning soon. If my job doesn't pick up soon, I will need to come to a few decisions.

The time to meditate is now. Off to meditation I go. But, first I will get dressed.  

Tuesday, December 28, 2010


My last post was entitled "Things That Make Me Happy." I have been thinking about that post ever since I wrote. I realize that the little things are the things that make me happy. Those geese coming up over the hill made me laugh. Watching my dog and cat play makes me happy. The squirrels attaching the bird feeder makes me happy. My granddaughter always makes me happy, even when she is being a brat. This is a picture of my daughter and Isabella when Izzy was a baby. Isabella is almost three and a half now. This picture makes me happy!

Things don't make me happy, in fact objects are what keep me from noticing the very things that make me happy... go figure. Every time I want a new toy and I finally get it, I am struck by how insignificant it is. I just got a new iPad; I wanted one for sometime now. Well, now I have it and I feel that it just keeps me from noticing the things that truly make me happy. Don't get me wrong, I am grateful. I love my iPad and I love my husband for buying it for me, but instead of following my breath, I am playing Fruit Ninja or doing other inane things. The iPad is a tool and if I can just remember that and use it as such then it's great. To use it a diversion or a delaying tactic to keep from going within then it's not good. When Jesus talked about a camel finding it easier to get into heaven than a rich man this is what he meant. Our wealth and our things are a diversion from being here now.

Last month I was in Penn Station waiting for Jon to come out of the mens' room. There were three black guys decorating the station for Christmas. I was struck by how much care they were giving to their task. One of the men was a big burly guy, he was formidable because he was so tough looking. The big guy then went to a huge box holding the Christmas decorations and selected a wreath to hang in the center of the draped holly they had just hung. He took the wreath out of the box with such care, then he considered it for some time and finally he broke into a big smile. He liked the wreath, it pleased him. He then went to his fellow workers and showed it to them and they all approved with equally big smiles.

This little tableau gave me such pleasure. I was smiling too. Jon asked me why when he rejoined and I pointed out the three men working. We watched them for a moment or two longer before hurrying on our way. I think the element that caused me to smile was the paradoxical nature of what I saw. The big man handling the decorations with such care and enjoyment. When watching the geese, it was the surprise element of first the head appearing and then the rest of the ungainly body. The wag of the tail at the end was just icing on a cake.

So what is the nature of happiness. Is it one thing in juxtaposition to another? Or is that the nature of humor? I think perhaps that is the nature of humor- things in opposition, contradictions and paradox. So, what is that makes me happy?

Sometimes I feel that I am flat. I don't have a range of emotions. I hang around the middle. Never totally joyful and never completely sad. In my younger days, I cried quite often. Today, I only mist up. If I do cry, it seems to be from joy rather than sadness. Now, that's not a bad thing, but I want passion. Anger is the emotion that can elicit passion in me and I don't care for that quality. I suppose it is a moot point at thins stage in my life, I am who I am. I am me. Perhaps I am meant to be the grounding energy for those around me; at least that's what it seems like and it's not so bad.

It's the end of the year and quite a year it's been. I worked hard. I am frustrated by my living arrangements. My job as a chaplain is in question because of budget cuts and that truly makes me sad. I long to feel God and mostly I feel no closer than last year. Isabella makes me laugh when ever I am with her. She is just a lot of fun. My boss Chris died on Christmas day after battling cancer for six months. He was a young man. He was good to me and treated me with much kindness; he made me feel like an integral part of the team, and he's the only one at my job that did that. He was a sweet man. I will miss him a lot. So, in some ways it's been a sad year.

I work hard at One Spirit. I am happy when I am there. I want a place there. I want it to be my spiritual home, yet I am ever mindful that fortunes change, new people come into view, old ones leave. So, who knows how long it will last? I don't. What I have come to realize is that my spiritual home is inside of me. If I am happy when I am at One Spirit then I can access that feeling on my own. If I am to find God I will only find him right here, right now, inside of my own being. Spiritual practice eludes me. I am undisciplined. Yet I feel that I need to just stay in the now. I think I am getting better at it and isn't that I spiritual practice all in itself?

So, at the end of the year, I am still plagued with the same questions, longings and self-doubt that I've always had. Only now I am more aware of it and I don't seem to place as much significance on it as I was did. I feel that I am making progress at the pace that I need to make it. All is right with my world. If a attain enlightenment in this lifetime- great. If not, and it takes me another ten or twelve lifetimes, then that's great too. It's all good. And that is truly progress.