Awareness: An Epiphany


5 Jan 14
Awareness: An Epiphany –
Lesson 2, A Course in Miracles

In my childhood home our non perishables were kept in a tall metal cupboard on a small landing three steps down from our galley-sized kitchen, the mud room. Often I was sent to collect some tin-canned item: soup, peaches, corn. Invariably this occurred: “We don’t have it.” “We do. We just bought it.” I’d look again, still not see it, and say so. One of my parents would hand it to me. “Here. Right where I said.”

This not seeing has occurred through adulthood. Yesterday, I wanted duct tape to secure plastic storage totes packed with Christmas decorations and linens, an attempt to protect against mice and dampness. My husband said he’d placed it in the garage, on a shelf, by the entry door.

I scanned the three well-organized shelves for five minutes. Paint and wood stain cans. Garden supplies: saw, pruners, hose nozzle, Preen, Miracle Grow plant starter, a small terrarium, a Mantis tiller blade, a red plastic watering can, a snowman bird feeder. Automotive necessities: antifreeze, motor oil, a container of carwash soap, and a few tools: a black tray for screw drivers, a rechargeable drill minus its charger, a hand drill plus a bulk-sized refill bottle of floor cleaner. No duct tape. Just as he arrived in the doorway, I saw it sitting on top of the Woodscapes paint can.

Lying in bed, listening to the wind as it circled the house in the predawn, I recognized the meaning of awareness, the idea that everyone brings into existence what they want to see. It’s not that the object isn’t tangible or without life, without existence. It’s an ability and the desire or wish to see. To believe. Like a drape has been pulled open to let the sun inside.

Once awareness or recognition occurs, the item or the belief can be seen, viewed. Sight and belief are individual occurrences, a magic that happens in each of us all of the time. It renewal or manifestation is on-going.

Which lead me to the thought, the epiphany, that inventions, innovations, and discoveries aren’t new. They’re the swiping away of darkness. This revelation became a clarity and a question, an enquiry. What else in the natural world haven’t I seen? What is camouflaged, hidden in plain sight?

This revelation came, became, how I understood the second lesson in the Course of Miracles: “I have given everything I see, in this room, all the meaning it has for me.” The lesson’s brief commentary was a divine challenge. Could I see everything and give it the same value, a non biased acceptance? Could I see, understand and accept, the concept that every object, every occurrence, every idea and thought, every person, is equal in worth? Would I, with insight, implement the lesson?

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Nothing I See Means Anything

4 Jan 15

I signed up for a year long course, A Course in Miracles. The music intrigued me. It’s not surprising the universe would capture my attention in that way. I listen to music selected for its power to bring serenity, any song, ‘though it’s usually instrumental, that soothes, regardless of cultural origin.

The opening Miracle lesson is a chorus heavenly sung by a male choir, a mantra: “Nothing I See Means Anything. Not the tangible objects in the room. Not the objects outside.
Nothing.” And I find that profoundly sad. It hurts my core deep enough that tears well and spill.

Why create dawn’s beauty, the breathtaking vistas of the natural environment, or the melodic notes from a bird or an insect’s song, if it means nothing? Why create anything, including life, at all?

I can understand and apply the concept as a reason to ease human suffering, as a release into acceptance from physical, mental, and emotional pain, but I’m not grasping that everything is nothing. What’s the purpose?

Perhaps the statement’s meaning will become acceptable, clear, as the lessons arrive. Maybe diminishment will become the vehicle to spiritual expansion. But, right now, in this moment where its’s raining outside in liquid, life-giving song, I don’t want to become or feel indifferent. I don’t want the miracle I see in “I Am” as a disengagement to the throbbing life that vibrates around me. Perhaps all learning begins with resistance.

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Choosing Words The Resolution


1 Jan 15

The intention to choose words with all its hopes, dreams and core desired feelings meant to actually be, do, feel, reflect and write Active, to become a better, more purposeful life participant, an observant writer, a documenter, a creative traveler and transcriber, a noticer of life, of nature, of self and synchronistic moments, this coming year, this 2015.

A word pillow enfolded, meaning lies bunched under my head. My new year’s beginning into Active has begun with little change. Lethargic from another poor night’s sleep, wrapped in a fluffy faux throw, dozing as a draft creeps around the sitting room. The back door slipped its latch, has blown open. Tea sits cold on the coffee table.

The clouds cast a leaden gray twilight. A solitary seagull tilts as it wings past. The wind knocks a planter box against the back of the house, bends bare branches in a cold dance. The ground has hardened, frost has sunken beneath the grass.

“We fall and get up. We fall and get up. We fall and get up.” The divine universe has answered through music emitted from a Bose speaker, the lyrical refrain from a movie sound track. The Good Lie.

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Snow Fall

29 Dec 14
After a green Christmas with temperatures in the high fifties, it’s snowing, the slow peaceful kind. Large, lazy flakes silently, steadily, gather. A quiet congregation has begun to accumulate on the mulched raised gardens, on the brown tree branches, in the grass. A few birds, goldfinch now dull gold, cardinals and chickadees, flit through the drifting flakes to the feeder. The squirrels are gone. Blue jays call from the field. Soon, they will swarm the others, as raucous as teenagers.

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Christmas Dinner


24 Dec 14
Christmas Dinner
The food preparation’s begun. All is calm.

Shane’s favorite, rutabaga, or “rootamoose” as my mother-in-law used to called it, simmers in chicken broth and diced potatoes. The twice-baked mashed potatoes, dark skins greased butter shiny, wait on a cookie sheet for a preheated oven. Also oven ready, maple drizzled, butternut squash chunks, Craig’s requested favorite. Both are colorful and my favorite side dishes, as well.

Plastic bags filled with dried bread cubes will transform in the crockpot, the stuffing redolent with celery and onions, chicken broth and spices–poultry seasoning, sage, marjoram and thyme.

Generation-to-generation foods will grace the table: the Swedish Korv Doug now buys at Spaars in Buffalo since the homemade links once prepared by his dad passed when he did three years ago, plus Shane’s favorite sill, pickled herring. Both are a Vanstrom legacy, as is the rutabaga. My nod to my roots, a Sicilian cauliflower and black olive gratin will debut.

New recipes became our small family’s tradition eaten on Christmas dinnerware purchased when we moved to Niagara County thirty years ago. Every December first the dishes are resurrected from the back of the kitchen cabinets. This year, Craig is cooking part of the dinner, a brined roasted pheasant. He’d also asked if for the main entree could I make something in individual portions. Fresh Cornish hens with an accompaniment, a wild rice, walnut and broccoli salad, await tomorrow’s preparation.

A traditional backup turkey breast with gravy for step kids and grand-step children who are less food adventurous will also find its place on the overburdened table. Everyone goes home with leftovers.

An assortment of sweets, tiny gourmet desserts were bought from Wegman’s Grocery Store: silver dollar sized cheesecakes topped with blueberries or raspberries and white chocolate mousse fills shot-glass ramekins. No one has room for pies or cake.

Some may view my holiday meal as opulent, overdone, but it’s our last supper, the final Christmas as a self-contained family unit. We are crossing over. Succession looms on our horizon. Next year, my first born, Shane, will be a father. It’s bittersweet, reminiscent of his first bus ride to kindergarten. He never knew I followed him, watched from the parking lot as he went through the white double doors, his bright ginger hair reflecting the sun’s light.

The final laundry loads tumble in the washer and dryer. The wrapped gifts sprawl around and under two Christmas trees, one for the morning exchange with my boys and their girlfriends, the other for the afternoon blended family gathering. The cleared dishes will sit stacked and groaning on every kitchen surface and in the sink. Everyone has some place they need to reach by four o’clock.

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The Hawk


23 Dec 14
The hawk, a feathered drone, swooped in a banked arc from behind the evergreen, a low swift glide dark against the side lawn, to once again drive a bird into the trees’ reflection. The small flock of winter songbirds rose in unison from under the feeder, their feathers a whump- whump-whump panic note. A hollow dull thud reverberated against the glass. The casualties grow in number, four ghost imprints framed on the window.

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The Pin Oak Leaf

22 Dec 14

A single tan pin oak leaf hangs on the tree. It twists and turns in the sun, shivers in the chilly breeze, the rain, and has weathered two heavy snow storms. I wonder, if like me, it hesitates to let go of the known, its home and stability. Mourning doves, blue jays, finches and gray squirrels flit past, keep it company nearby, a part of yet distant, as disengaged as most human society.


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5 December 14

I searched the Internet and Naturalist field guides to find names for the colors dawn paints the morning, the shades of deep orange and pink that shade the sky behind the bare tree branches, hues that turn the tattered clouds into bruises, a deep indigo. The peach coral bleeds into tangerine, and red orange until the horizon has bled a sailor’s weather warning. The color follows the moon trajectory, spreads east, south, and west. And the sky swallows, until the color dilutes, fades into a pale pastel pink tinged blue and the promise moves in.

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Cernunnos: Singing Over the Bones


13 Nov 14,
Dad’s 95th birthday. Flakes randomly fall and drift between the pin oak’s remaining leaves. That orange-red’s a muted contrast against the overcast sky. Gray lake effect, the white stag has edged out of the Arctic. The weathermen labeled it another polar vortex. My dad once said that it always snows on his birthday. Every November 13th, the time–an open man-made season that preys on rutting deer–when multiple gunshots echo across the river, through distant fields, and out of the woods behind my house. The early morning salvo’s a celebration only because it’s a hello from a deer hunter, a contemporary affirmation, His words written in snow as silent as the decades and Cernunnos, the Horned God of the Hunt, once a Lord in the Forest.

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Late Summer


27 Aug 14
The goldenrod sways in the late August breeze like a metronome. The wind rustled leaves sound like moving water. Elvis eats some tall grass by the patio’s ceramic planter while Ava roams the backyard, her grizzled nose reading the wind like a story. We came out to pull weeds, but the honeybees are collecting nectar so we left them to wander from one white blossom to another.

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