Clutter is in the eye of the beholder.

Here I am back again with a few thoughts after a long hiatus.  My absence was due in part to my own external and internal decluttering.  It was forced on me by life events and was/is hard work in every sense.  I didn’t enjoy it, however I do feel a little lighter in spirit for the exercise.

I am, however, a little cheesed off with this idea that to be in my life a ‘thing’ should bring joy.  That doesn’t work for me for a few reasons.  Firstly, it is not the objects job to bring joy it is our job to find joy in the object and the experience or memory it elicits from us.  Secondly, it supports the idea that those objects outside of ourselves have some magical power to change our lives and if we just throw them out or put them in the right place, all will be as we want it to be.

It is easy to find joy in a beautiful painting, a piece of lovely jewellery, an exquisitely painted dish, a beautiful piece of cloth, but how about the ironing board or your grandchild’s plastic toilet training potty?

For me the beauty in objects is always about relationship.  Relationship to the form of the thing being admired, the texture of whatever it is you are holding in your hands, the taste of the food, the sound of the music, the aroma of the perfume.

But what about the ironing board?  What is my relationship to it?  You can put a fancy cover on it, you can hide it away, but it is still the ironing board.  Or is it?  My ironing board is a conduit to memories old and new.  Ironing my children’s’ clothes, my husband’s work shirts, ironing scarves for my daughter’s bridesmaids’ outfits, ironing my ensemble for my father’s funeral, ironing my mother’s clothes so that she looks and feels beautiful whilst living in an aged care facility.  It is a conduit to activities that, although not recognized at the time, are inspired by my relationship to love.

My grandchild’s plastic toilet training potty?  Where do I start? How lucky am I that the child of my child is such a part of my life that this object is not hidden away but is easily accessible even though it doesn’t fit the bathroom or lounge décor.  Frankly I don’t give a toss what we do together, including discussion and practice of socially acceptable bladder and bowel habits, so long as she sees me as part of her life.  The potty means my home and I are a part of her everyday normal and I will not hide my sheer unadulterated delight at being a part of her life in whatever way best serves her and her mother.  At this moment, her plastic mass-produced cheap toilet training potty is one manifestation of that service.

There is nothing inherently different in any of these objects, it is my approach that brings the acceptance of them in my environment.  It is me, not them and that means that everything can fit the bill.

There is also the view that everything has a place and everything should be in its place.  Forgive me but that is not my nature, nor is it the nature of the universe.  Entropy is a thing and is everywhere.  Life is messy.  Your space shouldn’t be disordered or overloaded to the point of dysfunction, but neither should your life.  But if we spend too much time making sure everything is streamlined and ‘in its place’, we may fall into the trap of thinking we can do the same with our emotions.  Grief is messy, love is messy, laughter can be very messy what with snorting and such, body functions and bodies in general are messy, just ask a surgeon.  Just ask someone with nose hair or dandruff or flaky skin.  Daily life is messy.  Just ask the one who has stocked the shelves and cleaned the house and then everyone comes home and lives, laughs, cries, showers, toilets, loves and eats all the food.  Thank God they did, because sometimes people don’t come home and do all that stuff.   ‘Tis the majesty of daily life, embrace it, mess and all.

There is also an underpinning notion that by tidying, sorting, categorising and filing our stuff we are automatically doing the same for our inner world.  Really? Are we still caught in the illusion that a tidy desk is a tidy mind?  If you are the sort of person for whom the previous statement is one of fact, great.  But if you aren’t, if you need papers, books and cups of tea around you to be productive, go for it!  Whether spaces are tidy or not is about personality and preference, not about the quality of your mind.

Also, I am sorry to say folks but sorting, categorising and filing inner spaces and emotions is much trickier and more prone to messy emotional outbursts that simply mean you are human and alive.  The energy and glorious mess of life does not like to be contained in the lovely box on the shelf we would like to put it in.  Just ask any therapist alive.

By all means clean and declutter your space – go for it! It does help to clarify some things and can be rewarding.  You can find stuff you thought you had lost, you can find stuff that you have no idea where it came from or why in God’s name you kept it, you can become reacquainted with parts of your life you had forgotten.  But never forget this is stuff, it is not you and it is not your inner world. You give it meaning.

You may feel better for having decluttered, your space may look tidier, you may or may not have had fun doing it, but it is still stuff and no sorting, categorising, filing or rearranging will help if you are on the Titanic.

See external decluttering as part of your journey but not The journey.  See it as part of your growth but not the Whole growth. See it as a way of beautifying your personal environment but not of beautifying You.  See it as a way of swimming in memories and rejoice in the good ones and celebrate your strength for surviving the bad ones.

You can see decluttering in many ways.  All I ask is that you don’t use it as yet another way of beating yourself up and using what is an external exercise to once again give power to something outside of yourself.  And please, please don’t do it thinking it will make you or your life more ‘beautiful’.  You are already beautiful.  Always have been, always will be.  And your life?  It may not be as you would like it presently but let’s face it, it could have been you who didn’t come home to the glorious mess.

Finally, in this shame-based culture, do not feel shame for having 10 books beside your bed, a laundry basket on the table and that kitchen drawer we all have.  You are not a mass murderer for God’s sake!  Take a breath and rejoice in your home and that you have one, your life and that you have one, your body and that you have one, your emotions…all the messy little critters, your mind and its ability to perceive and think, and your magnificent heart that makes life deeper, richer and oh so much warmer.

Life invited you to this gloriously messy party.  It just needs you to turn up from wherever you live, wearing whatever you want to wear, thinking whatever you want to think, feeling whatever you want to feel. Just being your fabulously messy or exquisitely tidy Self.   The world needs you.

Please come.  Just as you are.

 

Easter is upon us.

“Look, there’s no metaphysics on earth like chocolates.” Fernando Pessoa

 

Easter?   How can that be?   Wasn’t it Christmas 2 days ago?

I know Easter is nearly here because every aisle at the supermarket seems to be stuffed with chocolate and chocolate always reminds me of a wonderful old lady I used to visit.  I loved the way she saw the world and I just plain loved her.  Those who know me will understand my glee sitting in on the Dr/Patient conversation in the poem.  It was a ripper!

Cheers and travel safely.

 

Chocolate

Do you think God or the Devil

Played a part

In the creation of chocolate?

Melted redemption

Or sin made scrumptious?

Can life be too sweet?

 

The old woman asked me to sit and nestled closer

Her eyes flashing as she started her story.

Her Doctor, one of the Chosen Ones,

Had decreed for the sake of her health

She must give up the seductive stuff.

But Heaven was supplying it!

 

As a poor village child

She was sent to town to buy meagre supplies.

This was her chance.

She had saved and saved and could afford

One luscious mouth-watering chocolate.

All to herself!

 

She sighed as it melted in her mouth

And prayed with all her being to live in a land

Full of money for chocolate.

Miracles take time and here she is

And not for any doctor is she going to

Disappoint God’s design.

 

She asks my advice.

 

The Angel in me wants her

Healthy and living forever.

 

The Devil in me wants to be there

When she tells The Doctor

He’s messing with God’s plan.

 

How can I not love this woman?

She is like the chocolate she consumes

Sweet with a soft and slightly nutty centre.

And how can I, another woman

Who would sell her soul for the stuff

Doubt that Chocolate moves in mysterious ways?

 

“Don’t worry if you’re making waves simply by being yourself.  The Moon does it all the time.”  Scott Stabile

So I’m back.  Last night at an event run by Lucy Baker, reflecting on what 2018 may look like for us as individuals, she asked at the end of the session “What are you feeling now?” With some bravado I said “focused.”  To tell you the truth, I did feel focused. But on what?  Thank God she didn’t ask me to elaborate!  I would have looked like a right git.

Today though, I am focused.  On my core values.  Love and Light, and how I experience them.

I have used capitals again because these are not namby-pamby ‘lurv’ and ‘sweet little rose coloured glasses.’  There is nothing romantic about this.  These are values that require determination, grit and personal honesty.  They require backbone.

It is not easy to Love when you have been hurt.  It is so much easier to lash out at the other or yourself.  It is not easy to be a Light bearer when all you want is to hide in the dark.  It is not easy to be the Love and Light of your own life when your shadow tells you it will bring ridicule.

To commit to Love and Light is often to be misunderstood.  It is not about being a soft and squishy doormat.  It is about having boundaries with your behaviour, and that of others, because without those boundaries harm is done.  It is about being kind without it being acknowledged or reciprocated because to need that is harmful to both parties.   And harm is not Love. It is that simple and that complex.  That is why I used capitals.

My spiritual mentor Indiana Jones stepped out onto a bridge made entirely of his beliefs in an effort to reach The Holy Grail.  If it was good enough for him, it is good enough for me.  Because my Holy Grail is very simple, do no harm to myself or others and learn as much as I can about Love and Light along the way.  And to do this I must trust that where I step will support me and if I fall there are friends, family, professionals, complete strangers and the whole spiritual world to catch me and put me back on the bridge.  Indiana, me old mate, 2018 is looking like some kind of adventure!  Focussed adventure Lucy, focussed adventure.

Hope you all like the poem.

Healing

The words are jagged

Like a rusted tin lid

Thrown at me

To hurt

To damage

They do hurt

They do damage

But not forever

Nothing is forever

Gazing into the serenity of blue sky

Through the lace of a Peppercorn

I remember the words and their impact

The feeling that honesty was embarrassing

That I should shun Love

As if it was some malevolence

I tried to

Honestly I did

For years

I tried

But no more

Little by little I open myself to the world

I let you see who I am

A Loving being

And proud of it

 

A woman who is learning to trust

Who she is and

Who you are

 

In Love and Light

Chris.

“Chains do not hold a marriage together. It is threads, hundreds of tiny threads, which sew people together through the years.” Simone Signoret

We are nearly at the end of the $122,000,000 exercise in political in-fighting called the Non-binding Same Sex Marriage Survey or something like that.  I haven’t been able to figure out what it is really called.

What I do know is there is a lot of noise coming from some areas of the churches and some politicians that I find insulting.  Not because of my own political or religious views but because of my experience.

Quite honestly I am too old be swayed overly much by words in any sphere but I am persuaded by individual behaviour and patterns of behaviour.  Walking the talk.

So when governments and religious institutions wax lyrical about Marriage, (with a capital M because the event itself is so sacred and all) rather than seeing it as a place of sanctuary, kindness and commitment where children can be raised in safety and security by whoever the participants are, I start to twitch.

Here is where my cynicism comes from:

In Sickness and in Health

At their sixtieth wedding anniversary celebration

The local paper applauded their Commitment

Guests spoke in awe of the Sanctity of Marriage

And looked to The Couple for reassurance

That love does triumph and

Morality is alive after all.

 

As their sixty-third wedding anniversary approaches

I sit with them in their misery

Trying to grapple with the reality of

A society that deifies The Institution of Marriage

Whilst treating those within it

With disdain cruelty and disrespect.

 

How dare their ageing bodies start to break down!

 

How dare one of them need a level of care that 

Makes us put our money where our mouth is.

They have withstood ALL the pressures.

They have never divorced or even separated

So By God we will do it for them!

 

The agony in their eyes makes me ashamed

To be the representative of a system

That places one in a nursing home

Whilst leaving the other behind.

 

Where is our commitment to love?

Where is our commitment to marriage?

Where the hell is our morality?

 

Even in their pain they are gracious

Serving me afternoon tea

Somehow it makes their simple statement

So much worse.

 

‘We are frightened Chris

We have never slept apart.’

 

So until religious institutions and politicians step up and support those within the marriage, no matter who they are, rather than the institution of marriage their words sound hollow and shrill to my ears.

Words are cheap.

The people in the poem were neither hollow nor shrill.  They were wonderful people of grace, courage, depth and experience.  They were married and they lived together inside that marriage for a very long time.  Pity they weren’t valued.  Pity their marriage wasn’t valued.  Pity their marriage was not seen as worth a teeny bit of the $122,000,000.

It was worth a lot more than that to them.

 

“Very occasionally, if you pay really close attention, life doesn’t suck.” Joss Whedon

There are times when our dreams and fantasies shatter around us.  There are times when our image of ourselves and others dissolves as if we have bathed in acid.  Let’s not pretend these times are fun or even pleasant. They aren’t. They suck.

But what do we do when we realise that is what is happening?  That this is where our pain is. Do we throw acid around so that everyone is burned, do we make others bleed with the sharp slivers of our broken dreams?  Unfortunately sometimes we do.  But once we realise that is not the way what next?

We search in the dark for the light.  Not wimpy man-made light but Divine Light to illuminate our path, to warm us, to help us see the larger landscape.  Firstly we see it bouncing around the shards at our feet.  Light glinting and winking at us.

Then we look further afield and see and feel it’s warmth in the beautiful mother memories triggered by a son’s birthday, the shared moment with a daughter filled with jokes and laughter, the giggle and twinkle of a beloved grandchild.

It reveals itself in a mundane conversation with the husband who has held her heart forever, the spring in the step of the treasured friend after she received good news from her doctor.  It teases when a dawn is witnessed and experienced.  It honours in a mother daughter conversation filled with honesty and trust where loss and limitations are acknowledged and tears are shared.

It is in the voices of friends as they casually ask ‘how are you?’ and wait for an answer.  It is in the music playing while you write.  It is in the delight of the dog as you return home.  It is in the sound of your own laughter.

Divine light and love is supple and subtle, it does not shatter like long cherished but rigid illusions.  It will always reveal itself when we focus on any moment of real connection. As Joss Whedon says, when we pay really close attention.

I wrote this poem over 10 years ago after one of those moments of attention with a precious elderly man named Tas.  It seemed appropriate.

   A GOOD DAY

He moves slowly

Peeling potatoes and carrots

Such ordinary tasks

Such a wonder!

 

He speaks of loss

Imprisoned tears released

She treads very gently

His spirit is no place for her footprints.

 

His eyes twinkle

His lips twitch

He is safe with her

He laughs!

 

To those who cannot

Hear the sound of sunlight

Or a dancing soul

Her glee is inexplicable.

 

They shake their big sombre heads

Muttering of all things fiscal

And tell her the world’s treasure

Can be found in a piggy bank.

 

But she knows

In that shared moment of happiness

In the sound of that man’s laughter

She glimpsed heaven.

 

 

 

Tea Towels

“You can find something truly important in an ordinary minute.”      Mitch Albom

Here I am with my second blog, so obviously I survived the first!

In that first blog I capitalised the word Ordinary. I will continue to do that because to me the Ordinary is deserving of a capital. If you live in Paris you don’t say you live in paris. You proudly say ‘I live in Paris.’ You don’t live in london, you live in London, same goes for Sydney, Canberra, and if you live in Ireland the same goes for Muckanaghederdauhaulia.

So why would we not capitalise the place we spend most, if not all of our time and where we actually live our lives?  The Ordinary is a place that deserves our respect.  It is where we learn, laugh, love, cry, grieve and become who we are.  It is also where we meet the Divine.  If we wait for the extraordinary moments to feel the Divine in our lives there is a good chance we will, as Shakespeare so subtly put it, ‘shuffle off this mortal coil’ before it happens!

Our world seems to be a bit over the Ordinary and is constantly clamouring for the extraordinary.  To me that is a bit like being presented with the most beautiful, fresh and nutritious meal you can think of and letting it go cold while you wait for the Divine Chef to deferentially approach and ask “Would you like fries with that?”

The Ordinary is where it is at for me.  It is my address, I live there, I honour that and am grateful for it.  It is also where there are moments when the Divine lovingly throws down the gauntlet and requires me to step up and not shy away from the complexity of this world.  It requires that I think, feel and grow.  This next poem was one of those moments and why I capitalise the Ordinary. 

Tea Towels

The family needs tea towels.

Mundanity expressed in cloth.

 

I find them

What a bargain!

Hundreds for so little.

 

I study them

Be a good housewife

Check the label.

 

Made in Bangladesh.

Oh God.

 

Images of women and children,

Spending their lives

In sweat shops

Manufacturing the mundane of my life.

 

Do I buy them and increase the exploitation?

Do I not buy them and remove their living?

 

I buy and run.

 

Holding the towels tight

I am devastated.

 

I am worthy of my community

I know this.

Please, please, let me be worthy

Of these tea towels.

‘Let’s face the music and dance!’ Irving Berlin

Welcome!

I have called this blog Dancing Around the Divine because that is what I have done for most of my life.  Danced around ideas of the Divine being out there, in me, in others, in things.  I have played the too busy, unworthy, not qualified, too sensitive blah blah cards to excuse me from the dance altogether (as if that ever works!).

But one day I felt a little stirring and heard a little heart music coming from…. wait for it…..the most spiritual of places….yes, you guessed it…..my washing basket.  Honestly, I’m not mad, in that moment I just felt a deep and profound love for the Ordinary in my life.

Then I started to look for the Divine Dance in other Ordinary places.  I mean, could the Divine really hang out with me in the interminable meetings, or be with me when I am cleaning up dog you know what?  And much to my surprise the answer is YES.

I hope you enjoy the blog and this poem.  I wrote it a while ago and it seemed appropriate.

Much love. Chris

 

Shall We Dance?

She is hanging washing on the line

It has been a long day

With no time to stop or reflect

Now it’s late and dark.

 

She feels the breeze

Playing around her body

Running its fingers through her hair

Pleading with her to dance.

 

Closing her eyes

Opening to the moment

She accepts the invitation

And the dance begins.

 

Taking her in its arms

The breeze begins to sway

Slowly moving her in time

With the breathing of the night.

 

Passion pain desires regrets

Chasing each other wildly across her mind

 Women have burned

For less than this.

 

She is all things contradictory

Moving yet still

Attainable yet elusive

The essence of woman.

 

The dance slows, the emotions linger

Opening her eyes she finds

Her washing and her body

Motionless.

 

Did she imagine it

Turning to the glory of the night sky

It takes her to its heart, reassuring her

Of the internal and eternal dance of life.

 

Feeling loved beyond words

She finishes her household tasks

And smiles knowing it is no small thing

To dance in the dark and be loved by the wind.