Tag Archive: Family


Garden June Sacred

Being a Taurus Sun Earthkeeper person, I have always had gardens where I live. The cycle of the seasons in a 4-climate region has captivated me since childhood…each turn full of magic, myth and mystery.

Growing up in an inner city in the northeast USA, I was not exposed to posh gardens in the concrete environment even though I lived in an apartment building on Ash Grove Place which still had a genteel air leftover from earlier times when the neighborhood was lined with ash trees before cars. The plants that came through the cracks and between the buildings in ally-ways were the wild things…dandelions, poke, yellow dock, plantains and the flowers of grasses. Of course back then, I didn’t know their names but I was called to them because they were green growing living things tucked in and around the hardness and grey of city asphalt.

There were two “garden” situations however that served our city spirits. One was the chain-link fence bordering the back parking lot behind our apartment building. In spring and summer, the tall fence was covered by the climbing vines of morning glories. The blue flowers were a never-ending delight…the tight spirals of the buds before opening, which we would pick, blowing at their now- tiny opening at the base .. and out they would flare into full flower by the power of our own mini-godlike breath. Picking the full flower itself , we would also suck at the small opening at the base of it, pulled from the vine, to taste a delightful delicate sweetness,  coming to understand what the bees were collecting while visiting its center!

The second garden was for viewing only through the openings in the chain link fence to the back lot of the next-door neighbor. A German immigrant with a thick accent, he was a crabby terrible tempered territorial old man who yelled loudly and threatened any and all kids who might attempt to climb over the fence to receive a ball gone astray in the air, landing in his green sanctuary. But he was an amazing gardener and it was like peering into the Garden of Eden or a guarded oasis in the middle of the hood between buildings. As an adult, I now understand his fierce and protective personality preserving the peace and order of his sacred garden from a pack of potentially disruptive and invasive neighborhood kids….

My own gardens from marriage, parenthood, divorce, partnership and singledom on have varied. My first planting was of Lamb’s Ears (stachys officinalis) which first captivated me in a re-created colonial apothecaries’ garden at Mystic Seaport in Mystic, CT when I was age 21. The gardens that  followed throughout my life started with herbs and their charming and healing mystique, and later, flowers and vegetables. Always always green around me.  

Veggie Garden

( One of my earlier gardens )

Several years ago, serious vision problems with early cataracts began to develop and it became impossible for me to see in sunlight and also to just see clearly at all. For the past three years, that, plus a couple of stressful, attention-stealing life situations blocked the ability to garden. I thought that was okay. But there was a flatness in my spirit as a result…unrecognizable to others…but known to my own self. A loss of some sort of energy and meaning. A loss of “veriditas”.

Now, with much excitement and gratitude, my eyesight has been restored through surgeries,  and with the renewal of vision, I could not let another year go by without tending the “Green”.  Three years of not taking care of the yarden turned it into wildness except for the front. This year, I invested in Grow Boxes, not having the time or energy to tame field and woodland and in planting them and situating them in my yard,  I realized that in not gardening the last three years, I had lost some part of SOUL….my own “Greening Spirit/Veriditas”… by not participating in the cycle of the seasons in person and not tending the plants. But now! My Soul has come back home to both the inner and outer gardens!

Garden rainy

A week or so ago, as I walked through the front border to the road, I stubbed my toe on an exposed corner of a flat rock buried under moss and matted grass. I bent over to scrape away dirt and plant matter to find a garden plaque that my partner David had placed in my new herb garden almost 20 years ago when we moved in. I had at that time also been teaching a nine-month internship in folkloric herbalism, natural foods and earth spirituality, called “The Sacred Garden”.

Garden June Sacred

How synchronistic was its surprise emergence from “under” to welcome my SOUL back home as I became a “gardener” once again.

They are BACK! My garden, My Soul !

Veriditas! from  Christine, the Greening Spirit

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Please visit my other blogs!

http://pianomistress.wordpress.com

http://sensuoussoupsandsuppers.wordpress.com

http://wordmagicandthelawofattraction.com

 

 

 

 

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Why is a recipe from my foodie blog http://sensuoussoupsandsuppers.worpdress.com here on the Greening Spirit site? Because delicious food lifts our spirits and gives us something to look forward to after our day’s work and travels “in the world”. Good food also brings loved ones to and around the table for “communion”… and communion means food for the soul as well as the body around the table’s altar. Here is the  “greening spirit” recipe from yesterday’s post on “sensuous soups and suppers”:

Well, yes it is true that so many of us grow weary and discouraged on FB these days given the chaos of our present political challenges. Taking time out from posting alarms and alerts, some of us eventually resort to alternating posts between our opinions and activism, with Comic Relief (funny cartoons or snarky wit), Beauty (flowers and scenery), Cutsies (kittens, puppies and babies) and  FOOD! (WHAT WE ARE HAVING FOR DINNER!).

Last night I fled to my kitchenette (only 6 inches away from my tiny apartment living room) to free my mind and heart from stress, and to dive wholeheartedly with my hungry tummy into pure comfort and creativity with an awesome Italian recipe inspired by Lidia Bastianich,  I say “inspired by” because she started the whole thing off in her recipe book, but I, Imdependent  and renegade Cooker myself, always have to tweak a recipe to make it mine, ALL MINE! So to be fair, let’s maybe say it was a winning “collaboration”,

When I posted the above picture on FB for good cheer, it must have provided some much needed comfort as more people jumped into my post with comments about this than about anything  elseI have posted all week. Several even sent me private messages asking (begging) for the recipe. Which of course I promised to do…what else are friends for? So wipe your chins dear salivators !…here we go… feel free to make it yours too with your own tweaks.

Ingredients:

1 box/pkg of gnocchi

1 10 oz pjg of frozen peas, defrosted)

5 thin stalks of asparagus, steamed and cut into thirds

4 or 5 small cocktail tomatoes, seeds squeezed out and quartered

1/2 heavy crème OR half n  half OR evaporated mil

1 cup of chicken broth

2 tablespoons of butter salted or non salted

6 oz of crumbled gorgonzola

a dash of garlic powder, a dash of Italian herb blend (I used Penzys Tuscan blend)

a little squeesze..drops really to taste…of lemon. Go very easy on this to taste

salt and pepper to taste

A BIG SOUP MUG and a BIG SPOON

**(Don’t forget a glass of rose (not red! not white!) wine to accompany. (Red is too strong, white is too “white”…I cook with complementary colors..there is enough white in this sauce)

*** Put on some nice music. Preferably by Josh Groban singing in Italian. Shut off the news on tv!

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Preparation:

Boil the gnocchi according to the instructions of the box (Lidia makes her OWN gnocchi from scratch. Not me…one of my ingenious creative tweaks). Drain and set aside

Saute the butter (you can add a little more if you want.) in a large frying pan with  higher sides. When melted, add the combined milk and broth and dash of herbal blend and bring to a boil, then lower heat and let it cook for about 8 minutes to thicken a bit..sort of..stirring often. DO NOT burn or rapid boil and bubble (trouble!).

Add the gorgonzola and stir to melt. Taste and season to your liking.,, salt and pepper, a tiny squeeze of lemon (be careful here) and a dash of garlic powder.

Add the peas, asparagus and cocktail tomatoes and stir.

FINALLY,  add the gnocchi to coat completely.

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IMPORTANT ! Take a picture and post it on FB so your friends can drool, leave lots of comments and then send them the link to this recipe on my blog!

Enjoy!

From Christine, the Greening Spirit a la “The Cook” on https://sensuoussoupsandsuppers.wordpress.com

***Picture with my granddaughter Giana who is now 11 years old. ( I am the same age as I was then).

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Mandala Fam Dark Moon

Ah Cancer! Motherhood, Fanily, Nurturing, Food, cooking, the Tribe, gardens, memories and heritage, the home.

Once a Mother, always a mother…this is one strong experience I have learned over the many years I have shared with my daughters since they first popped out and into this world until..well, right now! They are mothers also in the ongoing process of learning how complex a job it is to usher and guide another human being through life and I have loved watching them unfold into this role. I have seen a documentary in which the Dalai Lama himself said that the most important job in the world is that of the Mother..and being an astrological Cancer-rising woman myself, I would have to agree.

My daughters have always been an exquisite delight as I was raising them and I have loved them dearly. There has been laughter, warmth and comfort and I have been blessed that they are fine, funny, responsible and gifted women, mothers, and wives.

But no family is without challenges and heartache and over the years we have had times when things worked exceedingly well between us and times when there was struggle or temporary distance and stresses, grasping for undertanding, grasping for appropriate words to challenge or address perceived slights or disappointments. Add to the mix of “life”, the divorce between myself and their father, my own struggles in single-parenting for many years and the re-arrangement of family loyalties and connections in the course of their own marriages, the balancing of me and their father and in-laws…well, sometimes heartache and frustration are an inevitable part of the  family mix until we learn to share needs and hurts diplomatically, truthfully and gently for the good of all, which surely does take practice! (Knowing when to remain silent and just let it go is a skill as well)

After one such time of challenge in relating in new ways, the dark moon/new moon in Cancer allowed me to look at where we were and re-evaluate and re-new what was important for us as a family and as mother and daughters.

Our family times together with me and the girls doesn’t happen as often as we’d like, living in three different states and they with full-time jobs and families. To bring us together at a time when life may have drifted us apart I called on the word “respect” to remember that in the time when they are now adult, responsible and meeting all kinds of demanding requirements of their own lives and relationships I must “respect” the changes of new family connections, time commitments and responsibilities that re-shape our own original connection.  Anyone who lives in a family knows that words are not always crafted well under duress and both  giving respct and claiming respect for oneself in interactions  is an important part of  “relationship-ing”.

In this mandala, the ocean for me represents the vast sea of emotion that is part and parcel of the connection between my daughters and myself. Compassion, tears, cleansing, moods and tides flow through our lives. Especially true when astrological Cancer is part of the emotional make-up or phase of the moon.

In this mandala, a tablesetting and delicious food…always a virtue of Cancer…has always been a part of our life… cooking and eating together when they were growing up was a priority of our family life and is always a highlight when we manage to get together all…”You (or I) are coming for a visit? What shall we plan for our meal!”. Communion around the dinner table is such a healing ritual….a ritual that is much compromised in this fast and over-scheduled culture.

In this mandala, books and knowledge…always part of our homes. Books, books for grownups, and for children!

And over our heads, the flower Echinacea as a protection and healing totem…Echinacea that stimulates the immune system to be strong, resisting toxins and illness that periodically weakens us or brings us down. Echinacea that stregthness our ties as Mothers and Daughters, with the children ..daughters and sons…the family connection….

This is one of my favorite mandalas…

**** Note: This series is being prepared for a book on the Dark Moon/New Moon, how to form a monthly gathering, the dark moon mandala art project  and journaling with the moon mandala.

Mamma GroupieFrom Christine, the Greening Spirit

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I am a member of a wonderful Unitarian/Universalist community. Part of our Sunday service is this pledge:  

“Love is the spirit of this congregation, and service is our prayer. This is our great covenant: to dwell together in peace, to seek the truth in love….and to help one another.”

Time and time again I have witnessed these precepts in action in this group, gently pulling people out of isolation and into warm connection and belonging especially in times of need or challenge. A truly caring community free of dogma, as is the way of Unitarians, and full of kindness and sincere interest followed by action.

This past Sunday our interim minister, Rev. Jan, spoke so wisely and compassionately in his sermon about the experiences of “Loneliness and Intimacy”. He addressed the sometimes familiar feeling of sometimes being “alone in a crowd” or even “alone in a relationship”. He clarified the differences between men and women when it comes to “intimacy”, men sometimes associating it with a sexual relationship,but women often identifying its presence in deep sharing of stories, deep listening and being “heard”.

I loved all that he shared in his sermon and I KNOW that his thoughts and insights hit home with just about everyone who was there and have lived life alone and with others.

My own family knows that Intimacy is a deep need that is primary for me. Speaking the truth of feelings and experiences with each other, trying to live without judgement, attempting to understand each other’s viewpoints and perspective have been things I as a parent have attempted to teach my children as they grew up. In my later years, I found that the way of Unitarians matched my thinking about this. In my personal friendships and in the workshops I have facilitated, deep sharing, respectful listening without judgement have always been things we have aspired to and attempted to be mindful of. These things foster trust, true soul-filled connection and healing of spirit and emotions.

I am so thankful to have been blessed with friends with whom the treasures of “intimacy” in these ways have been a part of my life. I am happy when I have been able to offer that same treasure back in return. A win-win..we are all healed, and gently drawn out of the lonely place of isolation and disconnect able then to then express our full potential and unique gifts with the blessing from others.

Yesterday, while thinking of the words of Rev. Jan’s sermon which powerfully hit home and have lingered in my consciousness for several days, I went through my photos looking for a nature or garden picture to write about. Instead, I came upon these pictures of a past birthday of mine, and a dear dear soul sister who had stopped by unexpectedly to honor my birthday with a special gift.

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This Soul-Sister, “Julie” whom I often call “Jewel-y” because she is a jewel, has been at different times “girlfriend”, “daughter”, “teacher”, “student,” “devil’s advocate”, or “vulnerable and open-hearted seeker”.  Over the years, these individual roles in our friendship have shifted depending on the situations of our very individual lives. A tender shining example of soul-ful “intimacy”… listening deeply to each others stories, challenges and successes, encouraging each other when down, celebrating with each other when up, holding secrets, offering alternatives, challenging decisions and actions that might  block our paths, and more.

Women know these kinds of friendships that sustain us through all other relationships with lovers, partners, parents and children…  Often Soul-ful intimacy may or may not be found in those other situations.

Each of us, my friend Julie and I,  have gone through some very serious and stressful changes in our individual lives over the past several years. We cannot get together much or connect as often right now as we give attention to new situations requiring deep focus and other connections. But I love these pictures of our friendship that seem to have captured the depth of sustaining  support, delight and unfolding that have, and always will, shelter us from the experience of isolation and disconnect in our lives when we might sometimes “feel alone in a crowd”.

btw: my birthday gift from Julie was that throw blanket in a wild animal print. We had been in our women’s group celebrating our wild creative selves and artistic self expression.. there were also cookies are for the sweetness of friendships…!

shawlFrom Christine, The Greening Spirit

 

 

My daughter and grandsons on our Christmas woodswalk..a tradition

Follow the Leader:    My daughter and grandsons on our Christmas woods walk..a  family tradition!

Isn’t it wonderful that many libraries have a shelf in the entrance hall with books for free or a small donation (.50 to $1.00) for the library fund? Treasures are often found there, a brilliant way to recycle books and wisdom.

Recently, dropping “overdues” at the library, I found in the hallway a gem of a book entitled “Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children from Nature-Deficit Disorder” by Richard Louv…an absolutely wonderful inspirational guide to unplugging  from technology and taking our children (and ourselves) outside to reconnect with nature, especially “the woods”. Although it is not a new book, it was the recipient of the 2008 Audobon medal and is probably even more relevant and urgent today than when it was published.

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This book did not suddenly “wake me up” to a new idea for a thing to do with children and specifically, MY grandchildren. I had just returned from a Christmas Day visit to my daughter and her family in a nearby state. Following our family tradition to take a nature walk during the day of a visit, we  had driven to Sedgewick Gardens/Longhill  in Beverly Massachusetts and hiked through the winter woods blanketed with dried crackly leaves, fallen twigs and branches and climbing over old logs lying prone on the ground. We have always taken these walks in nature whenever my daughters and their children come for visits or I go to visit them…sometimes to the woods, sometimes to the ocean, and often to hang out at farms, parks or garden centers. And we always had taken these walks as a family when my daughters were growing up.

On this particular chilly afternoon, the boys were full of little boy energy…jumping, running, losing a sneaker in the leaves… and even accidentally stepping in some hidden doggie poo, a true and pungent experience of nature! I had given the boys a clear quart-sized baggie and some tweezers so we could collect nature treasures to bring home. (The magnifying lens I had ordered for close-up inspections unfortunately had not arrived in time.) But we did collect special odd stones, dried leaves with but a hint of orange, strange twigs, pieces of dried tree moss…and even a bug. The woods were filled with strangely shaped trees “with no clothes on” during the cold season and the colors around us were mostly brown, black and gray. Going out on that Christmas day with no snow was a very different experience than when we walk on Easter or in May. A walk full of crackling, snapping dried sounds, and pungent scents of decay and earthiness.

I recall now a quote from the  book The Last Child in the Woods:

“I like to play indoors better ’cause that’s where all the electrical outlets are”  ~ a fourth grader in San Diego

I admit that my own grandsons living in this culture know where all the electrical outlets in their house are as well and there is a constant challenge to balance monitored technology time and offline projects time. One cannot escape it and it is a challenge in just about ALL households these days.

But I am so happy and proud of my daughters and the attention they give to nature time …. in our family picture albums are so many photos of a  Mommy in the lead…follow the leader!…as we tramp through woods and paths and along the beaches and tidepools and corn mazes in the various seasons of the year.

This Christmas, my gift to all my grandchildren was the game Wildcraft Craft! An Herbal Adventure Game. They know that Noni and their Mumma’s have magical and healing herbs in the garden and cupboard… what a lovely idea to play a game to recognize these helpful plants on their own!

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From walks in nature, to educating the young ones in the healing power of both wild and garden HERBS, this Noni and my daughters hope to keep ourselves and the children close to Nature…. physically, mentally and spiritually.

With love from Christine, The Greening Spirit

 

Christmas 2015 and a walk in the woods

Christmas 2015 and a walk in the woods with the boys!

 

 

Capricorn Tree

Oh the gifts we give and get throughout the holiday season!  Sometimes they truly fulfill a desire, sometimes they elicit that weird smile that accompanies the phrase…” uh, gee…thankssssssss..uh…so much?”  and the confused inner question (“what were they thinking????). Holidays require a sense of humor!

As a piano/music teacher for over 30 years, I have received my share of musical Christmas ornaments for the tree, mugs with the musical staff imprinted on the sides, curvy black and white keyboard flower vases  and treble clef earrings. All gifts from appreciative students and their thoughtful parents accepted with grace and gratitude.

Not all gifts from family who are not with each other for most of the year are deeply personal although the gifting itself is sweet … another pair of fuzzy socks, a gift card to the supermarket, or a stick-on-the-wall light that comes on with a mere tap so you don’t fall down the cellar stairs.

But sometimes, there is a very special gift that is deeply personal, coming from the heart and hands of the giver and sent on purpose with love and directly to the heart of the receiver.

In my daughter M’s last year at an away-college, she would spend her evenings with her boyfriend who was a landscape architect major at the “studio” where the students worked on their design projects for the semester. A large long room for setting out displays and installations was the place for creativity.

Somewhere over the years I had waxed poetic over the little artsy crafted trees in specialty gift stores…some with leaves of jade,  some with bare branches. And “M” had that memory tucked away on file in her “about Mom” data bank.

That holiday season I received one of the best gifts of all time:  a  hand-made wire solstice tree on a base of slate. M had crafted this over the course of that semester in the evenings at the landscape architecture studio…long 10 foot length pieces of the thinnest wire, twisted and wrapped with care into this little tree, it being naked and bare in the winds of winter, branches blown sideways into the elements. No craft kit, no instructions to follow… a creation from herself, a gifted crafter who loves to figure these kinds of things out as a puzzle. The tree was fixed into the base of slate with the help of her boyfriend’s father, a dentist who had some other tools and crafty ideas himself.

My surprise and delight was just what she had envisioned…! What a gift!

Each year this tree comes out onto my piano in December, with a red tinsel garland around the base and the single tiny red bulb hung in its center..so vulnerable, so simple and so ready to be present first to December and the dark and cold, then to the Solstice with that tiny ball of red..a berry of aliveness when everything is asleep underground, and finally as a reminder to keep the true spirit of Christmas by being still and present through simplicity and love.

Twenty years have gone by since I received this treasure…and today, on my daughter’s birthday…I send her a  BIG hug and another THANK YOU for this little wire Solstice Tree… and for her own beautiful self who was our Christmas gift the year she “arrived”.  Happy Birthday, Dearie, with love!

From Christine (Mom), The Greening Spirit

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Me and M on her FIRST day of school (kindergarten) sooooo long ago!

 

 

 

 

 

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Do you have a dream? A tender longing in your heart for something not yet experienced, or fulfilled? A secret love for life’s sweet potential or creative expression that wants to pour out of you, framing your world in circular Beauty?

Our dreams for a better more fulfilling way of life are often tender and fragile like bubbles in the air. I do believe as they are breathed through us by the Divine Artist and out into the world that they hold within their radiantly colored boundaries, everything we need for them to be fulfilled, sustained by the breath of God.

When they burst of their own accord, they shower everything with colorful droplets of the dream to seed the air all around with the creative vision, manifesting in its own timely fashion.

Yet when intercepted prematurely with a finger and negative words by naysayers, the Bubble Bursts and its secrets fall to the ground in heavy wetness, the integrity and potential of its inner surprises pierced and deflated.

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Please don’t burst my Bubble when I share my dream with you but kindly add your  own breath and gently blow it forward to see how far it will travel before exploding with finesse into the winds of creation! In that we will both be surprised and delighted….. together.

 

 

Note:  I captured these happy bubbles when my very grown-up son-in-law was on the deck with the children of our family during a summer visit, keeping themselves and HIMSELF amused. Squeals and claps of merriment from all!

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With love from Christine, The Greening Spirit

Me Turqoise  My other blogs are the result of my “dreams and visions”

For Love of Music and the Performing Arts:  http://pianomistress.wordpress.com

For delicious recipes and kitchen memoirs: http://sensuoussoupsandsuppers.wordpress.com

For Art of Allowing/Law of Attraction: http://wordmagicandtheartofallowing.wordpress.com

 

Follow the Leader! (Mom? Dad? Auntie?)

 

Some of us who are of poetic spirit, see things in more than one way, in layers of experience and meaning. In the poetic soul, there is a “surface” message or experience as it is, and then the “deeper” meanings of perception and  metaphor. One of my daughters will sometimes sigh and say “Mom, can’t a thing be just what it is?”.  And I must sigh in return ” Well, yes…… and no…it is so often MORE than just what it is.”  The poetic mind works differently, admittedly making more complex meanings out of the seemingly simplest event or object. We can’t help it…the gods installed that program into us, and every person with even a spark of greeningspirit or star-struck magic in them knows we must honor the gods who have such wonderful imaginations and want us to carry their message forward!

And so our family experience through the corn maze set me thinking about life in general when we have been moving along on our familiar path, and then either by choice, or without warning, we seem to enter a new phase,   propelling us on a new journey. And that new situation, despite a few hints, markers, or even a well-marked map, suddenly is filled with a multitude of choices, some which keep us moving forward, some that just circle around back to the same old place, or some that lead nowhere at all, to a dead-end.

These situations are all part of life.. as in becoming a parent (all of a sudden you have to be a leader),  becoming partnered (learning to compromise..”let’s go THIS way!”  “No, let’s go THAT way!”),  losing your job or health  (what do I do, where do I go, which path that will get me back on track???),  or being drawn towards a spiritual/creative quest (how do I get to the CENTER so I can see clearly and live from the HEART?), family relationship challenges (we have a problem here…how do we all pull together as a family to stick together and figure this out?).

As my daughters and grandkids and I adventured through the maze, we elders had to often move VERY fast to stay in formation..an elder in front leading, kids in-between, and an elder in the rear,  as it should be in a healthy family system. Our little guy, Aiden, at 3,  has a spirit of mischief and is VERY swift of foot. Suddenly running ahead and disappearing from sight around one or another bend (or as well, leaving the path and cutting though and disappearing altogether into the corn itself like a fearless pioneer) and he could be lost forever, giving us a severe fright, as we kicked into third gear to overtake and intercept his youthful adventure. It was a parental/Noni challenge…sometimes we  elders were properly in formation leading and forming up the rear, and sometimes the speed and curiosity or impatience of the kids rushed them forward into lead position, requiring a different kind of vigilance on our part.

This was a very thick corn maze this year and we almost gave up before we reached the center from which we could take a break and get an over-view of the whole journey which we had been making as a family team. From our perch on top of the platform, one could see the whole of the maze, but not the individual paths hidden within this jungle of corn, so in spite of having a maze map in hand, we had no idea of what might be the way back into the world, which by the way, we could see beyond the maze itself: the pumpkins, the slide, the snack bar, the hay-ride, the cars in the parking lot and people..small tho they looked from a distance. You know, “Life as we Knew it” aka “The REAL world”.

Grandson Owey was getting tired and a little impatient. Giana was still up for adventure and eager to get a promised candy apple when we returned to civilization. Aiden the Adventurer dropped his cap under the platform which was irretreavable (until his Mom broke the rules for the first time in her life (?) when he wasn’t looking to  sneak under the orange lines cutting through the corn maze and under the deck and rescue it). Lisa, my daughter who is a scientist decided that enough was enough and whipped out her i-phone with the map on it to pinpoint where we were, and holding it forward so we could follow it out to the world.      

Down off of the Center platform, with a feeling that at least we had accomplished a new perspective, we moved forward.

However no matter which path we took, we kept doubling back to where we had just come from, or came up against a dead end.

We agreed that next year we would enter the corn maze with a GPS as a back-up. We were startled and amused when suddenly we heard a thrashing through the corn and a renegade family..a Mom, Dad, and 2 kids..appeared n front of us, fresh out of the jungle, frustrated but laughing and desperate to just get out and back to the refreshment stand. It did give us an idea as a possible future option. ( Sometimes we just have to break a few rules, and go beyond perceived boundaries, becoming a pioneer off of the beaten path to express our creativity)

But we persisted…Owey  who was really tired,  Big Brave Boy that he is,  asked, lamented “WHEN are we gonna get there….!!!!” and  was comforted by Mom as we sought the Exit in vain,  we adults keeping up a positive attitude for the kids..

   Well, time was getting short and we assessed what was now.necessary. We had entered life with a spirit of adventure and curiosity, we had many side trips on the way to the Center, finding a treasure and perspective away from our familiar daily way of life, we had traveled to and through new and foreign territory, sometimes leading the young ones, sometimes following them as they fearlessly charged into life with fresh and youthful abandon, we had stuck together as a Family in a challenge as well as fun and adventure, we had problem-solved together and rescued a baseball cap, we had met a creative-thinking other family on the journey, and we had been amazed by the beauty and imagination of the corn plants..a gift from the gods themselves. And we had to move on, as life was calling us.

We could not find the path to the exit.

And so, taking a cue from the other family we had met along the way (humans do learn  skills and resourceful problem-solving from each other) we communally assessed and aligned ourselves with the outer border of the maze by the sound of traffic on the highway, and the sound of activity at the farm….ducked under the orange boundaries strips, cut through the corn unceremoniously and spilled out..a “together family”…over to the refreshment stand and the hayride.

We DID IT!

Unfortunately, the farm had no candy apples that day and so Giana was very disappointed…another one of life’s teachings…how to move on. And so in a moment’s flash we did..onto the hayride, archery, the slides, and the animals. And all was well. Very Very Well….

The Corn Maze was A-MAIZE-ing!

         **Repost from 2011

From Christine, The Greening Spirit   

The Letter

Perhaps it is the long cold isolating winter this year, or perhaps it is a seasoned Maturity marching to an old and distant drummer which is somewhat at odds with, and questioning of, the fast pace and material focus of contemporary life. Perhaps it is a personal longing for communication with grown children who live busy lives elsewhere as parents and professionals and a puzzlement as to how things have become so intensely busy that even a 3-line e-mail is too long to ponder and respond to with presence or care.
 
 It seems that the social forces want everyone to link up and “connect” but to do it as quickly as possible…get in and get out, skimming over the surface of life with sound-bites of information/touching base that become trivial because there is no time to pause, go deeper, reflect and dialogue for the fuller, more complex and truthful story. And that may be okay for some, but for others it simply is not enough to satisfy the longing for the treasured communication that was often inherent through the more personal presence and practice of letter-writing. In fact, I would go so far as to say that in these past several days of Winter isolation, I have been pondering the lost art of letter writing, as a sweetly archaic form of personal communication that is unknown to the generation of the 30 year olds and younger, and which has been almost forgotten by many who are older and now tech-saavy.
  
 
As a youngster and a teenager, one of my greatest delights was the rhythmic correspondence between myself and my beloved cousin Edmond in which we shared endlessly about books, youthful and deepening philosophical ponderings of the meaning of life, teasings and humor -an ongoing lively in-depth dialogue that started about age 10 and continued through his tour of duty in Vietnam and my marriage and new life as a wife, and mother. In a real sense, these letters to each other were like diaries in which we shared with each other great trust and patience, depths of intellect and for sure, depths of Soul in spite of our youth.

In my teens also, I had a handsome pen-pal named Sujit Banerjee from India who sent me marvelous and intriguing pictures of himself in school uniform, riding an elephant and visiting exotic holy temples made of polished glass and sparkling mirrors. How exciting it was to receive the mail and see his paper-thin air-mail letters with unusual stamps and to open it with news and Kodak photos from a place so far away in miles and in culture!

In the years of my marriage and motherhood 3 states away from my own family and my in-laws, letters flew back and forth on a weekly basis to both my Mom and Dad, and my beloved Italian Mother-in-law, Maria, filled with stories of our life and the babies, and the joys and struggles as a young couple while my husband attended graduate school at the University. My parents and my in-laws were connected to us and we to them across the many miles with those stories which gave them an ongoing “picture” of their children and grandchildren allowing us all to feel, know and experience the continued unfolding of our lives as family, through words, images, thoughts, sharings. And they told their stories to us too as parents do…you know, the weather, their health, the state of the changing world. In these letters, we spoke, were listened to and were heard. To get a letter, to open it and read it was a bright spot in the day, and no matter where we were, it was a a reminder that we were connected to those who knew us.

Not that ALL letters were sweet and warm…in times of family or relational stress, letters could come that challenged the calm, drew lines in the sand or broke the heart. However, the letter carried the truth of the moment of a situation and the truth emerging from the heart, and allowed one voice to speak without interruption, interception or deflection. The letter allowed a period of listening time, and if a bond was not irrevocably broken, a possibility for ongoing, albeit sometimes scary or courageous, reflection and dialogue in the service of reconciliation. The point is, the letter always had the potential for authentic communication…which takes TIME, and a certain spaciousness for thought…and perhaps, a certain conscious elegance that could nurture and deepen Relationship.

Of course, the teasing, passionate or longing and SEMI-PRIVATE e-mail or FB announcement of ardent devotion can never match the treasure and intimacy of the Love Letter straight out of the depths of the heart, to be read and re-read and kept secret and personal under the pillow or tucked away in a special box, with a key…to save for years if love is true. And if love is fickle, the solemn ritual of tossing the letter with its personal handwriting into a roaring fire is much more powerful and magical for healing than pressing the “delete” button!

Letters, letters of all kinds…the paper, the pen, the stamp, the time it takes to write, the time it takes to read…there is an element of beauty, honesty, respect and genuine contact and communication directly from the heart and head and through the hand that offers a human touch and presence that no e-mail, twitter or texting message can match.

And like taking the time to prepare and sit down with a cup of tea, the writing/reading of a letter is an opportunity for a centering “Time Apart” from the world, so fast and full of noise and invasive chatter about so many things that do not matter.

The Letter. It is an art and a craft worth reviving.

(Christine Phoenix Green, January 2011)

Coming up next

The Art of the Letter

Part 2

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The Magic of Chosen Kin,Communion and Conversation on Thanksgiving

 

Friends Who are "Family" (Reposted from November 2010 by request)So, Thanksgiving 2010 has come and gone and once again, we have come through with precious memories that may or may not have anything to do with the picture painted by Norman Rockwell, in which a gram and gramps preside over the holiday feasting table of sons and daughters with their spouses and children, all gathered as one big happy family. It is a picture with a homey, old-fashioned air of harmony, peace, togetherness and the ongoing family story, extended into longer chapters with each new marriage, each new birth. The thing that is so touching in this painting is that it feels real, and comforting, eliciting the longing for “coming home” where we are loved, accepted, connected and recognized, and it’s fulfillment on Thanksgiving Day.Yet, as I have gotten older and more experienced in how family stories actually do unfold, other not- so- cozy scenes on the holiday prompted me to to ask the questions…”where are all the OTHER sets of parents of the spouses who married into this family? Their own children, now all grown up, are HERE at this table, not at theirs…where are they? And how are they celebrating this day of “togetherness and home-coming”? I suspect they are : - With their other children, or with friends - Eating a turkey dinner at the local Fire Station with other child-less elders. - AloneThe Norman Rockwell painting may portray the experience of some, but what you can’t see are all the others who are attached deeply to those seated around the table, but who are NOT there, and having to create a way to alternatively go through the day somewhere else where they find kinship, or seek solace in some manner in solitude that may be piercing.So it was that yesterday, a day after Thanksgiving itself (when my out-of-town daughter, son-in law and grandchild came through for an overnight after spending this year's Thanksgiving with his extended family elsewhere), I made my way to the home of dear friends where 19 of us gathered once againaround the welcoming table at Madeline and Michael’s in a nearby township. Madeline had to work at the hospital on Thanksgiving this year and so the official celebration was moved to Friday, which served us well.For some, it was Thanksgiving #2, having spent Thursday elsewhere with blood family or friends, and for some, it was THE Thanksgiving #1, , having spent Thursday alone cleaning the house or yard or watching the football game without family. But for ALL of us, no matter what the official day of Thanksgiving had been, gathering once again around the table at Madeline and Michael and with each other, was THE “coming home” event, as we greeted each other with open hearts, cheerful hearts, tender hearts and wounded hearts that could, for these hours and in this company, heal with welcoming, stories, hugs, laughter, updating, and the bounty of the earth. Everyone contributed a specialty to the banquet table, an offering sharing delight and nourishment to pleasure and sustain both body and spirit.The age range of guests around this table spanned a great swath of time and several decades, from age 80 down to age 1½. There was a 7 year old, some 20 somethings, a couple in their 30’s, a number of 60+ year olds, a 75-er and a great elder of 80. And unlike sitting at the table with one’s children in their 30’s plus toddlers in which there is no possibility of starting or actually finishing a sentence, there was REAL conversation, and the topics varied…who’s doing what, how to cut down a tall tree, the price of ink (one of the costliest commodities at $5000 a gallon), growing potatoes and butternut squash organically in the neighborhood gardens, what the difference is between the space shuttle (that part which propels the whole affair) and the capsule( where the astronauts live and work and float about in space), how a cat sitting atop a tv survived a lightening strike, what it’s like being on a construction crew working on building mega-mansions for the mega rich : summer homes that include helicopter pads and indoor private theatres, and many other interesting topics to mull over keeping the conversations lively with stories.At this table were artists, painters, a dollmaker,a woodcraftsman, a piano teacher, a flute player, a roofer, a construction supervisor, a soon- to- be aeronautical engineer, a lady bartender, a teaching assistant, a grade-school teacher, two medical lab technicians , potters, an astrologer, a Chinese translator, lots of great cooks, gardeners, herbalists, former professional photographers, Irish set-dancers, English Country Dancers etc-many of us wearing more than one hat in what we do for our both Vocations and our avocations, and a great pool of wisdom, expertise and services to offer within this little “village” of companions.Times have changed from the evocative scene portrayed in the painting of Thanksgiving by Norman Rockwell. Yes, families still do gather at long tables, and carve the turkey, and watch the grandchildren, nieces and nephews dash around the house in rambunctious delight and play. They still note with bittersweet memory those who are no longer alive, and their absence from the banquet of Life. But this scene attempts to portray a wholeness and a continuity, which is does in a lovely way. Yet in these times, the changes include family continuity challenged by many divorces, great distances between people, and a cultural ethic that puts commercialism and glitz (Thanksgiving stuffed animals and baskets on display in September, Christmas goodies with sports, Disney or designer logos on display in November) before the simplicity of community coming together in some form, either familial or intentional, consciously, and with a gentle ease, to linger together, take refreshment, tell stories, laugh, and be grateful for the hours of gathering set apart from the mundane daily routines. And if there is the possibility of a span of generations present, than there is an extra richness and nourishment around the table and afterwards, in front of the fire.For the wonderful Thanksgiving gathering on Friday at Madeline and Michael’s and the members of the day’s intentional “tribe”, I am very nourished and full of Gratitude. Thank you, Thank you… (scroll down)Friends, Family, Kin and Community

  
 
 
 

 

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