Holy Water

pitcher

I have a Baptist church pitcher of holy water on my counter

I don’t know how many Sunday’s it witnessed

(Can I get an amen, brothers and sisters?!),

but I celebrate the holy water it gives and they gave me.

The preacher arrived bearing a coffee cup filled with good will

opening their church home to me with an invitation

I accepted.

I didn’t accept because they were giving me something

I did, wanting to find a church home, with loving heart

Sunday arrived as did the parishioner to cart me to redemption

There I sat in a church so big, cold, overly puritanical

The ceilings dripped chandeliers over the congregation

I sat through the service where the nice people smiled nicely

I sat through bible study which didn’t feel much like home

I hugged while exchanging pleasantries

with a half-promise to return and a Baptist pitcher in hand.

About a week later, the pastor, accompanied by a scary believer

showed up just in time to help unload my chicken coop.

We shared our views where we sent one another away in love.

But I think of them every Sunday when I nurture my plants

as well as every night when I set the coffee pot with holy water

The pocket full of happiness

I keep a pocket full of happiness with me almost always. It contains: two rubber ducks (one yellow with the word Believe on its chest, the other silver), a squishy rubber pig, an alpaca, a scarab beetle, a small handmade book, and a full sized harmonica.

Top Hat Ravioli

Top Hat Ravioli

I use it to bring smiles to children and adults alike. I change it up sometimes so there are different things, but those are typically the staple items. If you want to see someone smile really big, pull something they’d never expect from your own pocket. Fussy kids? No problem, pull out a rubber pig. Cranky adults? No sweat, a rubber duck usually does the trick. Giving them an unexpected surprise from a stranger’s pocket (that isn’t disgusting or ethically challenging) brings joy which is kind of a trademark of mine.

It’s the Monday after payday and our finances have hit as close to nada as they’ve ever been. The ban on overtime (even the measly four hours my husband would get a week) really hurt. Our groceries came out of that overtime and boy are we feeling it.

I felt a tremendous amount of stress when I went to Pet Supplies to get food for the cats and dogs. The bags of food glared hatefully at me, “You don’t have enough money to feed them and you too.” The prices exclaimed disdainfully. I started to cry. I broke down in the middle of the aisle while my frequent companion, six year old (nearly seven) neighbor Nicholas, was off looking at fish, and a guinea pig he insists is a hamster, and scorpions. I just flat out couldn’t keep my cool.

“How can I afford to feed my cats and dogs and my family.” I bemoaned. Despair washed over me as I tried to do math in my overloaded brain. My little dog Piggy needs to have grain free food. She doesn’t do well if there is grains so tack on another 5 bucks just for not having filler. yay.

One of the young women that worked there disappeared as soon as the tears started. I felt really alone. I picked up a 5 pound bag of food for 12 bucks. I went to the cat food and picked up a 20 pound bag for the same price. Here came the young woman who gave me a five pound bag at just over 10 with no grains in the ingredients. She said she was sorry she couldn’t do more.

When I got into the car, Nicholas said, “Are you in a bad mood today, Mare?”

“No, Nicholas. My heart is just sad because I don’t have many dollars.”

“You know what you need, Mare?” He asked while waving out the window absently.

“No, what do I need.” I asked, impatiently waiting for the light to change. I wanted to be home sulking.

“A pocket full of happiness that has $100 dollars in it.” He said just as matter of factly as if he were telling me the weather.

“Indeed, that would be a happy pocket.” I chuckled. Oh, the wisdom of children. Then I remembered, I get to work for some dollars this weekend as a dishwasher. I’ll have enough. I forgot all about it until he reminded me with happiness.

I promised him a Dunkin Donuts (our favorite) when I have dollars again. He was pleased he made me laugh. I was pleased he prodded me to remember to look forward in hope.

PART II

A Pocket Full of Happiness!

A Pocket Full of Happiness!

Thank you to whomever left the pocket full of happiness tacked to my door with a nose magnet. The gratitude I feel for this is just magnified. I will obey the command that Nicholas get his doughnuts. Thank you.

I asked Nicholas as he walked up the hill to his home after getting off the school bus, “Guess what I got on my door today?!’

Nicholas was so overjoyed to declare it before I even said anything, he said, “A pocket full of happiness with dollars in it so I get Dunkin Donuts!”

I laughed. “How did you know?”

“I just knew it!” He grinned while swinging his Spiderman (his favorite super hero) backpack from shoulder to shoulder. Man, I sure do love that little kid.

We went to Dunkin Donuts as the instructions commanded. Nicholas had a raspberry cheesecake doughnut, an Oreo cookie cheesecake doughnut, a milk, AND a cinnamon munchkin. I got a small coffee and a chocolate coconut doughnut. I mooed every time Nicholas lifted his milk up over the bag we place in the middle of the table. He laughs hysterically every time. Then he started doing “The Itsy Bitsy Spider” on my arms and hair so I screamed playfully.

“YOU SCARED ME!” He said as he dropped his raspberry doughnut splatted on the floor while he farted. While we both bellowed peppery laughter, he declared, “Excuse me!” We laughed even harder than the cows. It really was a pocket full of happiness. Truly, thank you with all sincerity.

Love Thy Neighbor Campaign

I’d really like for you to join me in the Love Thy Neighbor Campaign. Below is a link where you can purchase the shirts and wear them with pride while you perform public acts of random kindness to your fellow humans. They’re very affordable, stylish, and the best part is, if I don’t meet the 20 I need to meet the minimum sales goal, you don’t even get charged!

I’d really like to meet my first goal of 20 shirts, so please buy the shirt, share the link, and act responsibly while wearing the shirt to promote Unity in CommUNITY!

Love Thy Neighbor

SAMPLE

My path to Spiritual Love

Hello there! You’ve indulged my need to post poems for a couple of weeks now. For that indulgence, I thank you. I’ve been grateful for the kindness you’ve shown as I show you snapshots of the people in my life and although there are more that I will be sharing, I thought it would be nice if you could see a snapshot of me and pray the same indulgence.

I’m not telling you this story to be a witness or a proponent of the church I am now a member of, but to explain how I came to my own realization of my own faith. I don’t think anyone or anything can tell you how to find faith, love, or even whether or not God exists. I find love and God, in my life, to be synonymous. It’s my goal to help others because that satisfies my love for myself, my love for my neighbors, and builds a stronger community. I’m not asking for you to believe as I do nor am I encouraging you to follow my path. I say, flat out, that I’m not a Christian and I experience God like the Cowardly Lion,  “I do believe. I do believe. I do believe in ghosts!” But I do try to live by a basic rule, Love My Neighbor as Myself. It is difficult to do when people don’t “get” me, but I still put forth the effort because I also use Namaste.

We are ONE

We are ONE

I’ve attended so many different churches and other religious establishments in my lifetime. No matter where I landed my butt on a Sunday morning, my primary concern of finding faith in the love of God became discarded after a conversation with a pastor’s wife in Lake Station, IN. At the time, I attended and was heavily involved in a Covenant church which has rather extreme views about the roles of women and men. It felt awkward, but it pleased my husband so…I went, participated, and attempted to alter my heart to fit into the culture.

The nutshell version of that garden conversation is this: God won’t accept you if you don’t believe in Jesus.

This did not fit with my heart. It didn’t even come close. At that moment I realized, that for me, God (or whatever face you see or don’t) can’t be contained into a neat label any more than an individual can be labeled only one thing. I left the church in search of Love as the face of God.

Johnny Lee’s 1980 hit, “Looking for love (in all the wrong places)” fits quite nicely. I searched everywhere I could think to without results. Years passed, I didn’t even claim faith any more. At times I’d even mock the faithful for being so gullible as to fall into the junkie mentality with religious fervor and misguided ideals.

A shift in the spiritual winds of my soul started out as a light breeze, but about two years ago, it hit with a hurricane force. There was no fanfare. There wasn’t anybody asking me to go to their church. There wasn’t any outside influence suggesting to me via written, conversational, or other form of communication telling me to go to church. It just happened. A screaming Mimi in my mind saying, “GO NOW!”

A friend of mine held a group that I really dig at the Oak Ridge Unitarian Universalist Church (ORUUC). The fact that they allowed that particular group to meet under their roof (It’s the Red Tent Temple) caught my attention. Noting the time of their service as I drove past, I thought, well if I get up on Sunday, I’ll give it a try. I had no intention of honoring that fleeting thought.

As it happened, my eyes popped open early enough to not only shower, drink coffee, dress, lounge, and still make it to the service that I felt compelled to comply with my intuition that started doing a happy dance as soon as I accepted the wisdom.

I entered the church expecting what I was familiar with, a fashion show with pretty people pretending to be good long enough to get a pat on the head from the pastor then back to neglecting their spirits for the rest of the week. Cynical, yes, but that’s how I viewed the church.

Instead, there were people in jeans, dresses, suits, bohemian eclectic, dressy casual, and they were hugging each other. Genuinely hugging. Not the “A” hugs where the hips don’t meet. Not the half-hugs where an arm and a hip touch. But “I” hugs, the sincerely glad to see you kind. The welcome table had a sign in sheet and name tags. I refrained. I figured if they want to know, they’ll ask. It weirded me out as the service time got closer when I saw friend after friend of mine from social media arriving. Then I was the one being embraced with “I” hugs. I was still resisting.

The service was pretty typical at first. Call to worship, blah blah blah. But, the first hymn I heard? John Lennon’s “Imagine.” That got my attention. Who in the world uses secular music, even with peaceful intent, in a church service? My WTF button came out of my pocket as my skepticism faded. I checked the bulletin and found that the next hymn would be John Denver’s “Sunshine on my shoulders.” I choked through the rest of the service in disbelief. Who were these people?!

I didn’t go back for a long time, over a year I think, because the idea that there were others like me searching on their own paths gave me pause. But there was something that called me to return to “those people.” I started attending pretty regularly. Atheists, Buddhists, Humanists, Christians, Jewish, Conservationists, Scientists, all of them together under the same roof in the spirit of love.

One of those people and I had a conversation. She said that everything was created by God but humans are the only one of those into which God breathed life.

“Love is the breath of God.” I thought.  Those words encompass my daily journey to pursue my peace and happiness, harmony with my fellow human beings despite their circumstances or situations. As my favorite song says, “When I breathe in, I breathe in peace. When I breathe out, I breathe out love.”