Tag Archive: relationships


Don’t think for a moment that the plants don’t have the ability to communicate with you! Sometimes to share wisdom and sometimes to tell you off when need be! This really happened to me..

The Greening Spirit

Plantspeak

In various herbal conferences I have attended, I was always intrigued when certain teachers and indigenous speakers would make references to hearing the plants sing, or receiving messages from them about how to use them for healing. As far as I knew in my long years of gardening it had never happened to me… at least not yet until one summer when I unexpectedly became a wandering minstrel gypsy with a performing Ecuadorean family of musicians as their co-ordinator, unintentionally (but rather cavalierly) abdicating my role as garden mistress. That was the summer I finally “heard” the plants…only it wasn’t a song…it was an indignant lecture and chiding.

Attentively planting and raising my heirloom vegetable plants from seed in early spring, I looked after each stage of their emergence and growth with great delight. Planting them in the rich prepared soil of the side garden, I looked forward to seeing them begin…

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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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