The young man and “The Pensive Woman”

The Pensive Woman, 1932 by a German Artist (I can't find the name of the artist)

The Pensive Woman, 1932 by a German Artist (I can’t find the name of the artist)

I rounded the corner from bronze dipped metal spoons that didn’t stir my soul

to observe a lost lamb separated by his emotions from the flock of chittering as a whole.

He stood slouched, small dreads pointing to the sky, bandana tied artfully at his temple

staring at the sculpture trying to understand something I couldn’t see; Sentimental?

I greeted him with gentle voice, encouraging interaction. I explained without pause

“I was in the other room observing several that didn’t move me because

The spirit requires recognition of matching vibrancy to vibrate frequently

Why this one? What drew you to her?” I asked the young man evenly.

He thought quick, deeply, spoke with certainty, “She’s so sad.”

“When art speaks to me, it speaks in bright colors because I’m, as a rule, glad.

Do you understand her sadness, too? She was created by a German in 1932.”

He wavered momentarily as his emotions washed his face quickly, efficiently.

For a moment, I thought I’d lost him as I waited patiently.

“She reminds me of how I felt when I learned my father had passed away.

I locked myself in my room, curled in a ball and cried to myself all day.

That he was gone was hard enough, it went against my every plan,

but I remember wondering, “Who’s going to teach me to be a man?”

His eyes looked at me just like hers. I gave him “Always Beautiful” as I abided

“You are not alone.” I comforted in synonymous tone as he’d confided.

He smiled while hefting the weight of a million gallons of un-cried tears

that will ebb and flow

wax and wane

light and darken his years.

I loved him deeply, truly

in all his pensive human beauty

as much as I admired that German artist of 1932

accidentally gifting me that one on one in bronzed blues.

These Are My People: ORUUC

Oak Ridge Unitarian Universalist Church, Oak Ridge, Tennessee

Oak Ridge Unitarian Universalist Church, Oak Ridge, Tennessee

I’m not a religious person. I don’t classify or call myself anything in particular except maybe leaning towards spiritual. It’s not because I don’t believe in “something” but because I see validity is so much. A few years ago, I felt a strong push as I heard a loud voice tell me to go to the ORUUC. Over the course of two years I found the family I’d been promised by the winds. They didn’t come in the shapes, sizes, or ages I expected, but there is not a doubt in my heart or soul they are my blood kin.

From the youngest children, such as Rayn, to the oldest of children such as Miss Marge, I was blessed with knowing, learning, and understanding some of the most beautiful people I could have asked for. Outside of the confines of the church there were some people whom could meet my level of tomfoolery, but never in my adult life have I found the encouragement to be everything I was meant to be as I did there.

But how can I say that an entire church is my family? A church? It hardly seems possible. What I learned from them, will follow me everywhere I go because I value the life-lessons I was given.

Be Passionate

When I first started going to the Unitarian Universalist Church, I was wisely advised to take my time in selecting what I wanted to do because everything has passionate players. They weren’t kidding. I watched the different volunteer positions to see which I felt I could be enthusiastically involved with. I discovered I loved to greet people, loved to protect, and loved to serve. I ended up joining the safety team, co-leading the hosts and greeters, as well as serving as fifth Sunday usher. I even did coffee a couple times. Find what you’re passionate about and without excuse or what-if’s, jump in and do it.

Learn Names

One of my favorite things to do on a Sunday morning was to be greeter. I have a knack for remembering the names with faces I see often. I could greet nearly everyone in our medium sized congregation by name as they approached the door. That I could do that, hug them, welcome them, demonstrated I truly was glad to see them. Learning people’s name that you see every day no matter who they are is key to discovering some of the coolest people you might never had opportunity of doing so if not for that small effort. When you remember people’s names, they know that someone in the world knows they exist. I believe that’s crucial to mental health.

Talk is cheap, Action is richer

Many times I’d listen to people in the neighborhood where I lived talking about how unhappy they were with where they lived (I was one of them for a while), their circumstances, their addictions, their kids, the etc. What I noticed was that none of them were doing anything to change any of that. They just noted it sucked but continued the same behaviors. I learned that it’s okay to complain because, really, that’s just an acknowledgment that an issue exists.

Once you’ve realized there is a problem, making a difference is the only way that problem will go away. You can kick sand over it, behave like an ostrich, or pretend it doesn’t exist, but once you know it’s there, it’s the Universe’s way of nudging you to make it better. Terry Goodkind wrote in his Sword of Truth series (loosely quoted), “You already know what the problem is, think of the solution.”

I saw solutions pouring out of the people at ORUUC far more than I saw problems. It was the most collaborative group of people I’ve ever worked with. Even when hackles got ruffled, which happens in any large group, everyone worked to make sure that the final solution was a balance. Do what you need to do to bring the positive changes into the world because happiness is worth it.

Fool for love

Pastor Jake Morrill’s closing words for the services he gives are ones I took to heart. He says, “Be pilgrims for justice and fools for love!” What profoundly simple words with such an enormous responsibility behind them. If he chose a different closing, I’d walk away rather bummed because I truly took on the challenge when he would use it.

I believe we should all fall madly in love with the world every day. No excuses, just open your eyes and fall. Even the people or things that irk your sensibilities the most are worthy of love. It’s not for you to choose who is okay or what is okay to love, just do it.

I’m not in any way implying that you can’t have preferences, nor that you should eliminate safety measures for the sake of love. I’m saying that when you look at the world as if it were your intimate lover and you its muse, you’ll find a different kind of kismet with the divinity that is everything; The atom of begin times, the eve of creation.

To clarify, I call everything the Universe, because as a rule, we can all agree there is one. If I called the Universe God, then that specific version that you know/doubt/reject/hate/don’t believe in, would negate this idea. BUT! If I call it the Universe, we can meet at whatever version of that ultimate we accept.

Using this idea, be the fool for love because love has a transformational magic that can be witnessed where two hearts meet in unison. Thus, if you’re falling madly in love with the world every breath you take, does it not then make sense that love will rule your world? And further that love will light your path to happiness because love doesn’t hurt? Indeed. As I was taught by those who love me there, be that fool for love.

A village

A short while before I moved away, I received an email that reminded the Sunday volunteers of the roles they promised to step in to fill. A reply to that email was astounded at the amount of people that took responsibility to make the service appear to be without effort. It made me giggle a bit because I was actively involved in the volunteer activities. I knew how many people it took because of that.

Sidenote: My husband would get really frustrated with me because I’d try to do way more than my body could handle. He’d have to verbally remind me, “Mare, you’re not Atlas. You don’t have to do everything yourself.”

It’s the same when facing life’s many challenges (like moving out of state with a weeks notice). You’re not Atlas. Just like sharing your great experiences with your friends, sharing burdens makes them easier to bear as well. Nothing limits you to only putting on your good face. Being a human with All The Bumpy Bits is by far more deeply satisfying overall in my experience. When you find people willing to be human with you, that’s a rare and beautiful gift. Shine for them even from your darkest places. It’s worth it.

There are so many lessons I’ve learned from the beautiful people I am honored enough to call my friends at ORUUC that I couldn’t possibly cover it in one writing. I hope you will bear with me as I process this tremendous life shift. Together we can be incredible humans together on this wild journey called life.

The Suitcase

“You just don’t waltz into and out of people’s lives.” I found this quote in a podcast/article by a man I respect very deeply. The entire script and podcast is found HERE.

A happy suitcase wearing a hat

A happy suitcase wearing a hat

I’ve moved all over the country. Up until I got to Oak Ridge, I’d never in my entire adult life lived in the same house for more than two years. Considering I’ll be 47, that’s not a good track record for stability or longevity but it’s also taught me a lot about change, leaving, and transitions.

Most of the time when I’ve become disgruntled, disheartened, or feeling a loss of hope are the precise times I’d pack up the bags either metaphorically or physically and set them by the door. It was not uncommon for me to check those bags periodically to see that they match my state of mind given whatever the situation I faced.

If I ended up in a relationship that I knew may end, I’d pack the bag and set it down because I knew it would fail. I knew that I couldn’t give my whole heart to anyone who wasn’t willing to love me back the way I needed. It might have been because they were violent or they were absent from the beginning, or even that they were afraid like me to give in to the commitment all the while longing for that connection. No matter the reason, there was always a pile of luggage (not baggage because that has to be lugged around), ready by the front door.

The point for me when I knew it was time to leave was the point when my heart was irreparably broken. It would happen when I knew and understood that no matter what was done or said from that moment forward “WE” could never fill that trust back up again. I’d lost hope, trust, and an ability to want to rebuild it at that point.

I try to be mindful of relationships. I struggle to maintain some that aren’t good for me. Some demand that no matter what is happening in my life that their life is far more important. It has never been about anyone else, but for them to be at that point is an astonishing progression from “I don’t matter at all”, so I try to be mindful of that. It becomes unhealthy.

I’ve tried to remain friends with people who can’t see any light, no matter how bright. They are so asleep in so many ways that the only time I’ve allowed them to re-enter my periphery is when they really are trying to make changes for the better in their lives. When they are actively seeking answers that I’d given them before, but either they weren’t ready to hear, or they needed to find without my guidance. I’m not claiming to be a guru or an expert, but I’ve messed up enough to know certain things in life.

I’ve tried to be the best I can be no matter who I’m around, but sometimes my best isn’t what someone else needs. Sometimes they need a broken person with horrible feelings of self esteem to coddle, take care of, feel needed by to make up their own value as a person. When they reject every good given, that’s when the dependent person feels lost, vulnerable, and without taking time can fall into a vicious cycle of begging to be taken back.

With each one of those, I’ve waltzed out at will and sometimes against my will, but they’ve all ended in one way or another. My packed suitcases were at the ready so the transition was easier but no less painful. I don’t like that I’ve had to, for whatever reason, walk away from various lives in my lifetime, but self-preservation has been worth it.

What I didn’t expect, after reading the article, was a glance to my door and a note that there weren’t any suitcases packed there waiting. Not a duffel bag or a backpack, not even a fanny pack laid up waiting for my itchy gypsy toes to want to hit the road. BUT WHAT DOES THAT MEAN?! And why do I feel a sudden jolt of panic?

I’m in a marriage where there is a level of reciprocity that I’ve never had despite fumbling intentions before that had all failed. I’m in a neighborhood that is distasteful, but where I find myself waving at people I like and know. People that I tell my stories to and they tell me theirs. I discovered a diamond and platinum spiritual home that has given me a stability of family that I’d been missing for eons but found on accident thanks to John Lennon and John Denver. I have friends interwoven in generational blankets of uplifting proportions that bring me to a place of stellar humbleness, gratitude, and the best teachers of compassion I’ve ever known besides my Bapa’s family.

I think it’s safe to say that sometimes that waltz from one life to the next is necessary to move into the house that will become your home. The home where suitcases are no longer necessary because it’s truly where your heart is born, grows, and can be found at any time.

Imagination gone dark

Those who want the world to stop burning must first realize that it's on fire.

Those who want the world to stop burning must first realize that it’s on fire.

Quit selling me your Jesus. Who is thick with thorns?
Don’t bleed your justification while the poor you scorn
Don’t tell me that my color is wrong, that a prison is a matter of fact
When you took away our baseball gloves and gave us baseball bats
Don’t tell me that I need to work, that I’m just a lazy bum
When you sent my job to the Philippines while calling me black scum
Don’t tell me to step up and be a father, when you took mine when I was seven
My mama couldn’t take care of me, she wept “He is watching me from heaven.”
But she believed in the Jesus you sold her that burns like a cross in my yard
She counted prayers and sang the hymns while my brothers lives are scarred
Quit telling me that I love my forty that dims the daily grind
Quit telling me I’m worthless so why should you educate my mind?
Don’t tell me that you value me just to get my vote you take away
You love me about as much as a crack baby born every day
You took away the healthcare to let my people suffer
While praising God and Jesus, filling up your coffers
You spend our money on bars and chains instead of buying books
You take away from teachers and schools, entertaining disdaining looks
Quit selling me your Jesus who is thick covered with your angry words thrown
While wearing the cross you put on your own back, you’re reaping what you’ve sewn.

Don’t catch “The Gay!”

I fully support LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender) rights as both active participants in society and as human beings. I support their right to marry whom they love. I support their fights against discrimination.

I come to you as a human being. I am not a perfect person, nor do I profess to be. I struggle to keep my judgment in check. It’s so easy to point fingers and call one another hypocrites. It’s easy to look at someone and tell them they are wrong. It’s easy to reflect on my own life and color pretty shades of happy all over the pages I messed up by my poor choices. But what is even easier, it seems, is to do so in the name of religious intolerance.

I have seen on my Facebook feed posts about intolerance and injustices of the world. I see people hating others because of their sexual orientation. I see people hating because of the color of skin (Yes, even now.) I see people tearing down the President. I witness people spewing hateful messages because of gender. I see people calling each other names so vile that they taste bitter to speak them aloud. I see people projecting their own beliefs out into the world whether they are hateful or not, most commonly under the guise of religion.

In my belief system, the Lord and Lady in their duality are everywhere. They hang in the trees, they breathe the wind, they flow in riverbeds, they dance among the stars. The sense of serenity that I feel when I am out in nature is as good for me as a guided meditation or deep contemplative prayer. While I pray, I’m reminded constantly that happiness, tolerance, kindness, and especially love are my ways to finding my peace of mind, heart and soul. To achieve balance in both male and female aspects of myself, I need to be immersed in the joy of life. I need to be tolerant of other’s beliefs.

There are laws in my faith as well. One of our most important laws is, “Harm none.” That means myself and others. That means leaving nothing but footprints in a forest. That means helping someone who asks for it. That means giving and taking. A harmonious balance between the light and the dark sides of my inner self have to join equally for me to feel whole. To me that means opening my heart to infinite possibilities done in the name of love and harmony. To me, even when I’m sad or feel broken, I know that I need only pray. This allows the love energy to flow freely.

In the Christian faith, Jesus is asked, “What is the greatest commandment in the Law?”

His response, found in Matthew 22:35-41 says, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’[a] 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’[b] 40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

The words are deep and profound. In the words of Rev. Linda Looney, “Jesus’ message of inclusivity and love seems very radical. It WAS radical because of the impurity laws of Judaism, the absolutes, the impossibility of keeping every facet of the law. THAT is what we were saved from – the impossible law that was absolutely IMPOSSIBLE to keep, therefore it made people sinners for not keeping the law.”

Jesus didn’t say ‘Love your neighbor unless he is gay.’ or “Love your neighbor as long as they worship the same God.” He said to Love them as yourself. It would seem to me that there are a lot of people who can’t stand themselves out there in the world. They’d rather worry about what consenting adults do in their private lives than to feed the third world countries. They’d rather ridicule and spout hatred than to follow God’s command through His Son Jesus Christ.

This has caused me many years of contemplation. When I began to love myself, I realized that people around me are struggling with the same stuff I do every day. Just like a gay man or a lesbian or a straight person, I worry about bills, kids, schools, work, chores, etc. Just like a Christian, I pray for peace and love to rule the world instead of anger and viciousness. What face do I perceive when I pray? I see the face of the Goddess. I see the face of God. I feel the balance as if everything I ask for will be so. Not like a magic wish factory, but as in peace of mind. I don’t feel alone any more. I feel comfort from my day to day life from Father and Mother God/dess. I feel love for all creatures great and small.

I’ve heard people say to me, because I speak my mind, “Well, I’m a Christian and you aren’t.” As if that’s reason enough to reject another human. I say to them, “Well if you were such a Christian, why aren’t you living the life of Christ?” Jesus was all about loving one another. He loved his disciples so much (and they him) that they walked around all over the place teaching together. Why aren’t we more like that? It seems that Christ’s lessons are used only when it is convenient.

Jesus says, ALL your heart, ALL your soul, ALL your mind. If that commandment, the one Jesus says is the most important, is to be honored, how can there be any room for intolerance? How can there be room for God when the heart is filled with such hate towards my fellow man? How can I be truthful to my spirit when I’m unwilling to follow His lessons and commands?

In 1 John 4:8 it says: “Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.” It is my interpretation that if God is love then wasting time with anger and hate towards the LGBT Community takes away from the glory of God. It takes away the potency of His words. It degrades and defiles Jesus by not following His instructions to love one another.

What love is capable of can be found in the story of my mother and myself. For years I held on to anger that I felt towards my mother. I was certain that she was the single-most horrid mother in history. I painted a horrible picture of her. Although some of it may have been true, it was only in my perception that was true.

My mother and I were estranged for 17 long years. We didn’t start speaking until about two years ago. During the course of our conversations, I came to a deeper understanding of our relationship. On her 65th birthday, together we burned a venomous letter that I had written that had, in part, caused the distance between us. As that letter burned in the bucket, I looked at her face. I saw my face 20 years from now. I saw my own blood flowing through her veins. I saw hope and love. I’d been so quick to toss blame. We’d soiled something that shouldn’t have been an issue had we followed the lessons we were taught.

The sense of peace, hope, love, and respect that I feel for her is stronger than it has ever been. I saw her for the first time as a human being, just like me. I saw her with kindness in my heart rather than anger. I was able to take the lessons I’ve learned and follow another important lesson that was taught to me at her knee. Jesus taught the lesson about judgment. His words were meant to show that there is a better way to do things.In Matthew 7:2-4 (NIV) 2 For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.

3 “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? 4 How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye?

No matter what I am faced with, I know that if I follow the simple laws of harming no others, of loving one another as I love my Lord and Lady, of holding onto my judgment and letting things be as they are, of offering hope and care wherever it is needed, then I am doing my part. I have been told that I am the most Christian non-Christian. I’m proud of that. I don’t reject the teachings I was brought up with, nor do I reject my fellow human beings despite their age, race, gender, sexual orientation, or any other criteria. As for me and mine, we will bide by the Law of Love, not hatred. I will love my brothers and sisters in spirit no matter what their beliefs or choices. In that way, and with deepest respect for those who object on the grounds of religion, I wish you nothing but peace and love in your hearts.

Peace to you and yours.

Hear the Alarm! Don’t Hit Snooze!

Chapter Two:
I woke up to the sound of a leaf blower screaming outside my window. As I awakened my senses with coffee, the scream of first Wednesday of the Month sirens warned me of what I’d find as election results, but I didn’t understand. I feel so mournful as I think of what was lost yesterday (Thankfully not in the precinct I worked because I still had hope for Tennessee when I went to sleep). I watch, now, the rain drizzle down and my emotions reflect it.

I mourn for the people who have bought propaganda at the discount price that was sold at the dollar general tree. I mourn for those unwanted, unadoptable, hungry, sick, rejected children who will be born into a world that claims ownership but rejects responsibility. I mourn the education of these invisible children because what can’t be seen is clearly absent of life.

I mourn for the uterus that just turned inside out for the world to see but heaven forbid you see a child being fed at the breast of their mother. I mourn for the women who no longer will have a say in what happens to her own body but, in truth, am grateful that my body rejects the rooted seeds so my children will never know that I lived in such a horror movie of a state.

I mourn with my friends and thinking people who are wrenched with grief over the return to a time many of us don’t remember but are grateful to those that do and fought so hard to create a better place that was blown down by the Big Bad Wolf. I mourn in the form of dreaming exodus claiming political asylum in my own country which has returned to Jim Crowe against women and the LGBTQ communities while holding the marquee for next election saying that the brown skinned people don’t matter enough anyway so we’ll eliminate any aid so we can fill our fields with their broken backs and dreams.

I mourn for the prisons being built as plantation houses for the next generation of slaves that this election has purveyed onto the citizens of the United States. I mourn for those souls who are told from their conception that they’re wanted and loved only to be born into a world where those promises are broken. “May as well learn to live with disappointment, sons and daughters, because you ain’t no kin to me.” I mourn for that mentality being accepted as fact.

But most of all, I mourn that so many of my kin, my brothers and sisters of Light, are caught in so much darkness that they’re afraid to shine too brightly. I encourage you, my beautiful friends, to not give up even while the mourning strikes your heart with the righteous shame of indignities served on our hearts, minds, and bodies. Without us, that margin would have been far greater and the obvious ignorance would spill farther into this world.

We are the vessels that contain hope. We are the steps the future MUST take or we, as a free society, will fail. We are the eyes that see the changes that MUST be made. We are the hands that MUST NOT fail to act in the name of justice. We are the voices that MUST be raised repeatedly against ignorance. We are the backs that MUST bear the burden of challenging each defeat with a solid stance of support not only for one another but for those who are and will be victimized by these misguided amendments.

The warnings have blared at us, like my alarm clock of despair outside our window. It’s up to us as a people to determine whether we hit the snooze button on our kin, or whether we rise to the challenge that they’ve again faced and forced upon us. Me, I’ll put on my top hat and rise because without hope, there is no way I will survive.

The wordless song

A Love Note

A Love Note

If I scatter my glittery mess on your shoes,

spewing peace and love like a good little muse,

you have two choices as far as I can tell,

you can sweep it aside or allow it to gel.

It’s hard to find darkness when you look to the light.

It’s hard to see peace when you’re ready to fight.

It’s hard to have compassion when you’ve become jaded.

It’s hard to see the colors when they’ve all become faded.

But.

If you listen to the sound of the grateful song,

you’ll remember the words and start singing along.

The joy you will feel as your heart catches fire

with the passion for living, loving and desire.

It will fill your bucket from bottom to top

with the world’s best laughter and the strangest of props.

Disappointment will become a thing of the past,

if you trust that the bad times, like the good times won’t last.

Grin at the absurdity presented each day,

wave at the jerks as they pass by your way.

Wish them the best as you let them slip by,

with a whistle on your lips and wink of your eye.

You’re the blessing they need if you don’t understand,

just be who you are wherever you may land.

 

THE VOCALIZED VERSION OF THE WORDLESS SONG

 

Tribe of Artists: UNITE!

If you’re a writer, a poet, a painter, an artist of any kind, I’d like to help you succeed. I’d like to do a featured artist of the week which will allow you exposure to my fellow bloggers. If you’d like to be featured (aka pinned) then drop me an email with a link to your page(s). If selected, I will make sure that I cross reference your work on Pinterest, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and of course WordPress.

I believe strongly in supporting those with talent, drive, and ambition to bring their humanity into beautiful fruition. Although, and yes it pains me to say this, I can’t pay you anything, if we all share anyone’s art we really dig, we can spread even more beauty in the world. If you have a show coming up, let me know, I can post that too. I really want to help.

If you haven’t already done so, I encourage you to check out Activate Your Life! on Google + via the Anjana Network which is a group for artists of all sorts to find support and encouragement in their artistic field of choice. I am a moderator there and will happy to check out even more ways to help you promote your life’s work.

My email is the same as my page @gmail.com as well as at hotmail.com maremartell that is (Trying to confuse spambots may confuse you too but it’s my name with the appropriate suffixes). Let’s see what kind of an empire we can achieve when we lift one another up in love.