Thursday, June 27, 2013


Now that I have embarked on a new and personal spiritual path,  I do so very much alone.  By choice, I think.  Sometimes I think it would be wonderful to have someone, or a couple of someones, with whom to share my discoveries and my challenges.  Someone who could really understand, share my excitement when I soar…help me pick up the pieces when I bomb.
I have friends who are pastors in Christian churches.  These women believe “community” is a huge and integral part of a spiritual life.  For them, and for many others, that may be true.  For myself?  I’m not so sure.  What I do and what I experience are so personal, so “learn as you go,” that I’m not sure I could ever truly share it.  And I know for sure that I am not in a space where I need someone to tell me, “THAT’S not the right way to go about (whatever brand of spirituality)!  Which is why I have avoided pasting any label on the path I’ve chosen.  Once labeled—“Christianity,” “Buddhism,” “Shamanism”—there are rules, and dogma, and “you’re allowed to do THIS, but cannot do THAT.”  I guess the best way to describe my spirituality is, “You do what you need to do, and I’ll do what I need to do, and if we can then live in harmony with each other and with all creation, then it’s all good.”
It’s clear to me that the Almighty has chosen to speak to me through animals—particularly birds.  I feel a deep connection to them that I can’t explain and which I know is not shared by many.  But I didn’t always understand and trust the path.  Once I felt the call and began to be drawn down this road, I expected some huge, life-changing miracle to transpire.  As if I would suddenly be zapped with animal love, and I’d wander around like Francis of Assisi, with a throng of adoring wild creatures trailing behind me.  When this didn’t happen, like any human being (we tend to expect instant gratification…) I began to doubt my choice.  Maybe this was all mumbo-jumbo and I had no idea what I was actually doing or being called to do. 
Recently, I’ve come to realize that embracing this spiritual life will be a process, not an event (duh!).  When I compare myself with the me of two or three years ago, I see the changes.  I see the slow growth of understanding and knowledge.  I don’t just gaze at birds in awe and longing any more.  I feel them.  I learn from them.  And I am more and more able to understand what they want to tell me.  I don’t hear any non-human creature “speak;”  it’s more a matter of sensing what they wish to communicate.  For beings without spoken language, this would be the natural way for them to get a point across, wouldn’t it?  The human’s job is to reach beyond what she understands as “language” and learn to communicate in other ways.  I can see this happening in my life, and it’s exciting.  But it in no way resembles what one sees on TV or even what one is led to “expect” by teachers.  It’s very personal and unique to every individual. 
This may be where organized religion drops the ball.   For obvious reasons, I’ve never been comfortable in communities where coloring outside the lines or marching to a slightly different beat labeled one a sinner or an enemy.   There is no room for uniqueness or individuality in an organization of folks who are all supposed to do and believe the same things.  And I understand that trying to speak to that “individualist” element would create chaos in a church.  Which is why organized religion works for some people.  And why it does not work for me.

I discovered this amulet at a vendor’s stall last weekend.  It spoke to me. I wear it now as a reminder of who I am and the path I walk. 
I walk with the birds and animals, the ocean and the forest, maybe the desert and the tundra if I am ever lucky enough to go to those places and hear their voices.  In the past few years, I’ve discovered  a peace and joy and sense of belonging that I have never experienced anywhere else.  I know it’s where I’m meant to be.       

Tuesday, June 25, 2013


I’ve come to expect a remarkable bird interaction any time I’m on the road.  Pelicans at the beach.  Woodpecker in the woods.  Owls at Klamath. 
I wasn’t disappointed this weekend.  We were in Astoria doing an event, and though I had to wait until we were on the way home to experience my encounter, it was a doozy.  And it wasn’t with a swallow, or an eagle, or a raven (though we were surrounded by raven call the whole time we were at the fairgrounds…I’m sure that has some significance as well.)  This exchange was with birds I never would have imagined in a million years. 
We were driving home along Highway 30 in a little convoy—my husband dragging the U-haul carrying the equipment, followed by my sister and brother-in-law towing our living quarters, with me and my other sister bringing up the rear in my van.  Oh, and a wagon train of all manner of other vehicles returning to Portland from their weekend at the beach.  Halfway home, we’re slowing down to traverse the downtown of the sleepy little town of Clatskanie, and everything S-T-O-P-S at the one traffic light in the middle of town.  The light is green, I’m about six cars back, and no one is moving. 
Eventually I perceive that the cars ahead are attempting to dodge an obstacle in the middle of the intersection.  I get a glimpse of something white and wiggly and low to the ground…what the hell is it?
Ummm….ducks.  It’s ducks.  Three big fat white farm ducks, determinedly consuming something that some idiot had brilliantly thrown out of a car window, right into the middle of the road.  Those ducks were busy.  They were eating.  And no amount of horn honking, diesel revving, or hollering out the car window was going to budge them. 
So Sister #1 gets out of her truck and attempts to shoo the ducks off the road.  Which results in getting them out of the way long enough for my brother-in-law to slide past before they could get back to that thing that they were by god going to risk life and limb to get down their gullets.  No sooner had sister jumped back in the truck and BIL navigated over the repast than those ducks scooted right back into the middle of the road and stuck to it like glue. 
Then Sister #2 jumps out of my van, runs up to the front of the line and starts screaming and waving like a madwoman at the ducks.  Between her efforts and those of a volunteer fire fighter coming from the other direction, they manage to get the birds off the road and onto the sidewalk.  But Mr. Firefighter jumps back in his SUV and drives away, leaving my sister to fend off the three wayward fowl, who are obviously plotting how to get around her and get back to the blacktop.  The patience of the other drivers is dwindling—they’ve had their giggle and they want to go home now.  Which does not bode well for the ducks.  Not to mention my sister.
So I maneuver the van into the center island, hit the flashers and get out to rush to the aid of…all.  Keep in mind, we have just finished up at a Scandinavian festival, and I am NOT in my civvies.  I am, in fact, still dressed in my full Scandinavian regalia: mid-calf dirndl skirt, high-collared blouse, vest, stockings and white eyelet apron.  I’m sure I looked for all the world like a dust-bowl farm wife flitting around the barnyard tending to the chickens.  Felt pretty ridiculous, too…but I was not going to let my reluctance to look stupid overcome my determination to make sure that those silly ducks did not end up piles of blood, bones and feathers pasted all over the highway.
We herded those dumb birds for a good ten minutes (up the sidewalk, down the sidewalk, up the sidewalk, down the sidewalk, up and back down and almost…no, you don’t—not back in the street) before we finally got them to scurry around a fence that barred their access to the river.  Once their big webbed feet touched the path they had followed UP the bank, they hied themselves hither unto the creek, casting insulted glances over their shoulders (do ducks have shoulders?) and falling over one another in their haste to put distance between themselves and the hooting, waving harpies so rudely determined to separate them from their death-wish dinner.
Bird carnage safely averted, sister and I were free to saunter as nonchalantly as possible back to our vehicle and continue our voyage home.
Ah…  My life would be so much less remarkable without the birds the Almighty chooses to send my way.             

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

To Do List

We signed the papers for the building yesterday.

We celebrated by doing the thing we do best.

We stayed up 'til midnight...arguing.

It was a great little fight, really.  Very instructive.  I learned a lot.

When it was over, he went to bed.  And I sat down with my laptop in the dark.  Too exhausted to do anything, too drained to sleep.

The first thing I saw on Facebook jumped off the screen and grabbed me by the throat.

One of those silly little memes that circulates around.  Who knows what it meant to the person who created it?  But to me, it seemed a message, from The Almighty straight to me.  It spoke to my wounded, empty heart.

Oh, boy.  A "To Do" list...

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Where Did I Come From? Really?

The other day, I was trying to explain to my sister what a wonderful transformation the internet had wrought in me, by way of giving me a forum for my writing.  That it had provided an opportunity previously undreamed of by me and so many writers, insecure in our talent but driven nonetheless, chained to the art of the written word. 

Sister was unconvinced. 

"Even if I wrote something, I wouldn't want anyone to READ it!"


"Wouldn't that be like painting a picture that you never wanted anyone to see?"

Blank stare.

She. Does. Not. Get. It.

Which may be the reason why I have NEVER been able to beg, cajole, or PAY any member of my family to read "Coming to Terms..."

Are they nuts?  Or am I?

And how could I have come from these people?