Sunday, January 27, 2013

Symbols and Signs

Sacred Geometry /
Sacred Geometry / (Photo credit: Sarjana Sky)
For the next few weeks, I will be teaching a class on symbols.  In preparing for the class, I came to realize that our life is deluged with symbols, but we don't even know it!

Like jumping head first into a snow pile, symbols surround every part of our life.  For instance, the shape of things are based on symbols found in Sacred Geometry.  Squares, triangles, circles, rectangles, etc. are in everything we touch...the keys of the computer, the computer screen,the speakers, the planter, the bottles of vitamins, the bits and pieces of paper and even the books all on my desk at the moment, are shaped based on these simple geometric symbols or designs.

Our alphabet is a series of symbols for the sounds we use to make words.  Those words can be linked together to make sentences, paragraphs and entire texts, which symbolize what we think and why we think it.

The other day, as I was preparing to find a poem on women for a service I am assisting in at our seminary, I had a sign - a symbol  - that my mother is very much still with me.  I had opened my poem file and typed in "Woman" into the search bar.  (Before I go on, let me share that I am one of those writers who does not remember their own writing.  Often I write things, find them months later and am amazed that I had written those words.) I clicked on the first title that caught my eye - Legacy.  When I opened it, I began to read, caught my breath and burst into tears.  

Legacy is the poem that I had written for my Mom after her death.  She died January 14, 2009 exactly four years from the time that I was sitting looking at the poem two weeks ago.  I was awed!  Why had I picked that particular poem?  I had, according to my computer written over 20 poems about woman...why had I opened THAT one?

For me, it was a simple answer.  My mother wanted me to know she was with me, still. 

Here is the poem, which will tell you a bit about how words can inform, enlighten and heal us, sometimes completely by surprise.



LEGACY

For my Mother, Anne Marie Neas 
April 21, 1928 – January 14, 2009

After your death, pages of paper -
yellowed, dog-eared -
are more precious than gold.
Your handwriting filling the lines
so carefully executed - “t”s crossed,
“i”s dotted - each letter an artistic feat
of pen and ink. Reading the words -
your words - I slowly complete the puzzle
of your life.  Filling in the blank
spaces where confusion or anger or fear
once held court.  Suddenly, I see
so clearly, the connections,
the similarities, and, Oh my, God...
the affinity which binds us, each to
the other.  The realization dawns that
you, too, were a woman...fragile...
whose heart could break,
whose dreams could be crushed, yet
whose tenacious spirit still lives.

by Linda M. Rhinehart Neas © 2009
 


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Monday, January 21, 2013

Miles to Go Before I Sleep...

January 20: John F. Kennedy is inaugurated as ...
January 20: John F. Kennedy is inaugurated as the 35th President of the United States. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I was all of eight years old when John Fitzgerald Kennedy was sworn into office as our 35th President.  The one thing I remember most was that Robert Frost, another New Englander, read a poem - the first ever read at an inauguration.  From that day on, Robert Frost was one of my favorite poets. 

In an article on the Poets.org site, I learned that Frost, presented the President with a manuscript copy of the poem "Dedication," which he was not able to read at the inauguration due to the glare of the sun. He wrote on it, "'Amended copy. And now let us mend our ways.' He also gave the President the advice: 'Be more Irish than Harvard. Poetry and power is the formula for another Augustan Age. Don't be afraid of power.' At the foot of the typed thank-you letter Kennedy sent, he wrote, 'It's poetry and power all the way!'"
  
Poetry and Power!  What a combination!  Those in power, who connect to poetry, cannot forget the suffering of their fellow humans.  The words of poets have fueled many an uprising, because they gave voice to the voiceless.  Add music to the words and suddenly, as Arlo Guthrie said, you have a movement!
 
Perhaps it is a movement, because today, another gifted poet, Richard Blanco, read at the inauguration of our 44th President, Barack H. Obama.  Unlike Frost, however, he read a poem written specifically for today.

Richard Blanco immigrated as an infant with his family from Cuba.  He is a young man, half the age Frost was when he read on the dais of the inauguration in 1961. Like many of the students I teach, he knows first hand the struggles of being an American without the blessings of being born in this great land.  Yet, here he was, today, a guest of the President, asked to share his thoughts in poetry at this momentous occasion.

Blanco's poem, "One Today," brought me to tears.  Through words, phrases and imagery, he took us through this great country, giving us a bird's eye view of the glory and the pain, the joy and the suffering. 
 
Perhaps, as the scholars look back on today, they will come to see that the words Blanco wrote, and spoke so eloquently, were the harbinger of a new era.  An era where we ALL work together - one today, and tomorrow and for a thousand tomorrows.


Our President has "miles to go before (he) sleeps."  As he continues on his journey, I pray that the words of another Robert Frost poem will prove prophetic for him,

"I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I,
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference."


Namasté! 

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Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Angels Among Us

Just before Christmas, I got a notification that I have been dreaming of receiving for many years.  One of the stories I had written had been accepted by Chicken Soup for the Soul!  I was extremely elated, especially because I had been trying to get published in Chicken Soup for the Soul since the anthologies first began calling for submissions!

 

The best part of all this is that the anthology my story is appearing in is Chicken Soup for the Soul: Angels Among Us.  (You can find my story on page 222.)

As many of my readers know, I believe in angels and have a deep love for them - something that I have had since childhood, which is long before angels had become something of a fad.

As I have cruised through my copy of the book, I have noticed stories from people from all walks of life - those with religious connections and those who have none.  How wonderful to read of these encounters that can only be termed "angelic."

Angels Among Us is now out in the bookstores.  I encourage my readers to get a copy.  The stories are inspiring, healing, comforting and simply awesome!

Finally, today is the blogoversary of this site.  Four years have gone by faster than I can believe with many, many events - happy and sad - taking place in the meantime.  One thing I can say with all sincerity,  I am grateful to have this venue to share my thoughts with the world.  What a gift the web is for all of us.

May angels visit you, unawares.  May you find comfort in their visit and hear their celestial music during the dark moments of your life.

Namasté!

Friday, January 4, 2013

When You Wish Upon a Star

When my daughter, Elizabeth, handed me the star that she drew at age 5, something told me to save it - it was special.  This past holiday, when my granddaughter handed me her star at age 5, I realized why I had saved Elizabeth's star all those years ago.  As you can see from the photo below, they look incredibly similar, yet, my granddaughter had never seen Elizabeth's star, nor had any of us asked her to make one.  She simply presented the drawing to me as a gift.

 
Elizabeth, from the time she was very small, loved to draw, create, and design.  After many years, she is doing just that as a designer from a local company with high fashion clients.  Her wish became her reality.

My little granddaughter, also, tells us she wants to create things.  She loves drawing and, since very early in life, has created some of the most beautiful works of art, one of which my daughter and son-in-law had made into a necklace for me this Christmas.

My Family, by CJF 2012 - original artwork used to create a necklace.  

So, why am I sharing all this?  Because, it occurred to me, as I looked at my beautiful necklace, that parents have such an influence on the lives of their children.

Years ago, when my daughter and her sisters were young, I supported their dreams.  I gave them opportunities to explore, discover and create.  They never heard negative comments about being interested in art, science, writing, history, theater, etc.  

At the time, I was criticized by some of their peers' parents, who believed encouraging children's creativity doomed them to lives of poverty and disappointment. (i.e.: The starving artist!) I, on the other hand, believed that by giving children support as they explored their world, regardless of how that manifested, enabled children to create solid foundations for their dreams.  To do otherwise, I believe, leads to adults, who hate their jobs, are never satisfied with their lives and are constantly searching for more.

Will my granddaughter follow in her aunt's footsteps and become an artist of some kind?  Who knows!  What I do know is that if she should wish upon that star, she will get all the support available from her parents, grandparents and family.  

After all, dreams DO come true!

Namasté! 
  
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Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Reflections on New Year's Day


Sitting at the window, I am watching the chickadees dart back and forth like magical winged puffs of the Creators breath.  The fly so fast, stop, grab a seed from the feeder and then speed off again.  I wonder at their ability to move so quickly without seeming to focus on obstacles in their way.

A wise man once told me to look at Nature for lessons.  I have found that when we are quiet and simply observe, Nature has many lessons to teach us.  The four-legged, winged and finned inhabitants of this plant have so much to give, if we but stop awhile to ponder.  Even the trees, bushes and flowers have lessons to share.

Last week, as I walked through the woods at my daughter's new home, I came across this tranquil spot.  The woods were silent, but for the occasional bark of the dogs or the distant swish of cars passing along the nearby road.  On this beautiful morning, we walked through the woods, our breath streaming behind us in the cold air.  My daughter carried our newest grandson in her arms.  Max and Prox, our "grand puppies" bounced and leaped through the newly fallen snow, thrilled to be free from the confines of the little house, happy to be dogs in the woods on a frosty morning.

I had stopped to catch my breath when I focused on the spot pictured above.  So beautiful, yet so wild and potentially dangerous.  Some of the water from the river that cut through the woods was open, but much of it was ice-covered.  Hikers, unaware of their surroundings, could step onto what looked like a snowy spot only to crash through into the freezing cold water.  I shivered at the thought, focused my camera and shot the picture.

The lesson I learned from this was not so obvious.  I reflected on the photo for a bit before realizing what I was seeing and learning.  We - the world - is precariously balanced between a state of beauty and a state of decay.  There are still beautiful spots like this one found in the wilds of Maine, but there are also areas of our world where the beauty has disappeared into the progressive march of progress.

Sitting with my daughter after our walk, I held my grandson, wondering if, when he was old enough to hold a grandson, would there still be spots like this where beauty can still be found in all its wild and potentially dangerous glory?  I pray there will be.  

On this first day of our New Year, I pray that politicians, religious and civic leaders, teachers, scientists, inventors, explorers and all of humanity will wake up to the urgent need for reversing the march of progress that destroys and seek to find ways to progress into the future by means of nurturing, healing and renewable methods, which will bless us all.

Namasté!