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Welcome!

Welcome readers! If you are new to the fictional spiritual quest story I am writing, "Just like Eve," you can read a background about it here, or just start the story here. Or, if you are new to my blog in general, you can start with my childhood story of my only child culture shock from Sao Paulo to San Jose, or begin with one of my quirky, paradoxical musings, like Cocoons and Koans through the pandemic, or simply use the links to the right to find anything of interest. Welcome!

Wednesday, March 31, 2021

Today's Turbulence Spirals back to Transcending Trials

Dear Readers, 

Today is the last day of March, and I have not yet posted this month’s installment of Just like Eve, another conversation between Davie and Ethan that I started drafting a couple of months ago.  (I like Ethan so much, I decided I have to bring him back.)  But in this tumultuous of all months, I haven’t finished it.  So, in order to show a post for this month, I’ll spiral back to Transcending Trials.  This spiral back will be brief, because right now, I feel like I’m lying dead before the Tree of Life. 

As I thought I had shared in Transcending Trials, but did so better in the final part of In the Beginning, most Christians think the Tree of Life is forbidden, and most people, regardless of their religion or non-religion, live as if it is.  Why?  Well, according to the Myth, it is guarded by two angels with flaming swords.  Pretty terrifying.  That makes it look like it must be forbidden, right?  It isn’t.  You just need to face those angels with flaming swords and not run away from them. 

I’ve been discovering what it takes to do that.  Integrity.  Integrity is not at all easy.  Either you must bravely live out your integrity (and make some enemies for it), or you must deny yourself the chance to live it out and, instead, creatively sublimate your integrity into art.  In both cases, metaphorically but also in some very real ways, you have to die.  You might even face a perfect storm of varying forces within your life and have to hold true to your integrity in both ways, then die in many ways all at once. 

If you crawl deep inside yourself and discover your truth within yourself – and it takes many painful years to do this, by the way – and you commit to living into this true Self, you are going to meet those angels with flaming swords.  You might discover they represent your religion, or your family, or your culture, or all three, and you will have to break their rules in order to live into your True Self.  They are likely to punish you for that.  You might die.  But guess what?  You have met those angels with flaming swords.  And they also have the power to resurrect you.  I have to trust that, because I haven’t been resurrected yet, but that is the truth of the Myth. 

You might also discover that you have to die to what you’ve found to be true in your heart so that you can show love to everyone else.  Does this mean you bury it? Pretend it’s not there?  No, that’s not integrity.  No, you keep your truth, and you sublimate it into something beautiful.  Like an alchemist, you transform it into gold.   Like an artist, you create it into art.  You throw a little of yourself into a great cauldron, then the sources of inspiration from above throw in a little of this and a little that from outside of you – you don’t know where it came from, but there it is – then you boil it and stir it up, and throw a little more in, and the heavens throw a little more in too, and then you boil it up hotter and stir it up faster, and poof!  Magic!  You have just created art. 

To determine which is the right path – living into your integrity or sublimating it into art – depends on your love for your Self and your love for others’ Selves.  Notice this is not about coddling egos or lessening people’s fears; it’s about love for your Selves. Sometimes, you live into your integrity, even though it will hurt egos, but it will uplift Selves, because honesty ignites evolution.  Other times, you have to creatively sublimate your inner truth into an artistic form. 

Sometimes, in the space of a very short time, in different parts of your life, you find yourself doing all of this.  In one or more parts of your life, you live out your integrity, and you get punished for it.  In another part of your life, you creatively sublimate.  And when you've done this, you might find yourself like you are lying dead before the Tree of Life, and you have to trust that those angels will resurrect you. 

My daughter – a teen far, far wiser than her years – says there is only one place to go from here: Up.  Yes.  And here’s the surprising thing: it is harder to walk toward those angels with flaming swords than it is to be struck by them.  In some ways, the swords are a relief.  You’ve finally faced them; they’ve pierced you; the worst is over; in that alone, you have some relief. 

On this last day of March, I am meeting my goal of a post every month, so I must have moved up from that lying dead pose at least to my knees.  And one day, I will stand.  But I am not standing yet.  At some moment in the future, I trust that I will spiral back to this post to share the rest of a story that is to be continued . . .

Spiral back to Transcending Trials and In the Beginning, Part 5

© 2021 by karina.  Please use with permission and/or a link to this blog.


Saturday, February 20, 2021

Dessert

 May 5, 2012, Grill House Bar

“Chocolate Brownie, Chocolate Mousse, French Silk Pie, Chocolate Ice cream Sundae.  Which would you like, Jazzie?”  Mindy lets her mouth water over the dessert menu.

Anything chocolate is good with me.  This is your enchanted evening, my friend.  You choose.”  Jasmine and Mindy sitting down at the Grill House Bar after having just seen Mindy’s new love interest, Tony, playing the lead in South Pacific, and are closing their night out with dessert.

A waitress in black pants and a burgundy button-down blouse, tucked in at the front and hanging out loose at the back, arrives to take their order.  Mindy orders the Chocolate Ice cream Sundae with two spoons.  Jasmine nods her thanks and the waitress takes leave.

“I wish dessert with my husband could be this easy,” Jasmine sighs.

“What do you mean?”

“Like you and me, Tim and I also share dessert, but he usually chooses, and I am changing.”

“Go on.”

“Tim and I managed the impossible last month: a real date.  We went to the Mountain View.”

“Oooo,” Mindy’s eyes light up.  “That upscale, romantic one at Cheyenne Mountain?”

“That’s the one,” Jasmine smiles.  “And the evening began magical.  Tim opened my car door, pulled out my chair, and kissed my hand.”

“Men still do that?”

“I know, right?” Jasmine glows.  “He hadn’t for a long time.  Ah, the gentleman came back!” Jasmine pauses to smile, recalling the chivalry that won her heart.

“What went wrong?”

“Nothing at first.  It started so romantic.  The linen napkins were folded into swans and a live pianist was playing classic romantic hits, mostly from the 70s and early 80s.  Kenny Rogers, John Denver, Barry Manilow, Lionel Richie.  We even had a gorgeous view of the mountains at sunset.  The sky had burst into red, orange, and purple.”

“Sounds perfect.”

“It was, at first.” Jasmine takes a deep breath.  “Until dessert.  Have you noticed the more upscale the place, the fewer the choices?”

Mindy nods.

“That’s the Mountain View.  We had only two choices: rum cake and a chocolate brownie with ice cream on top.  Should be easy, right?”

“Chocolate brownie, of course.”

“Exactly.  I knew immediately, so I did a quick glance at the menu and passed it to Tim.  He deliberated.  I decided to help. ‘So, whatd’ya’ think?  Rum cake, oooooor the chocolate brownie?’”

Mindy chuckles at Jasmine’s overtly obvious hint.

“Tim mumbled he didn’t care and said maybe the rum cake.”

“What did you do with that?”

“Rolled my eyes and got mad.  Tim’s my archer and usually decisive.  I’ve been the ‘whatever you like’ partner, letting him decide.  But this time, I had no doubt, so I pressed him. ’You don’t care?’  He said, ’Nah.  It’s a romantic evening.  Sounds like rum cake.’  I told him that makes sense if you like rum cake.  You’ll love what he said next, Mindy.”

“Well,” Jasmine begins, lowering her voice an octave and trying to mimic her husband, “Everyone likes rum cake.  It’s part of the American cuisine.  You know: Mom, the flag, meat and potatoes, apple pie and rum cake?’

Mindy chuckles.  “I didn’t know that.” 

“I didn’t either.  Mom, the flag, and rum cake?” Jasmine joins Mindy in a belly laugh.   “It’s good I can laugh about this now.  I couldn’t then.  I kept pressing him that he didn’t seem to care, yet I did, so why didn’t he care enough about me to care what I think?  He said I wasn’t making a decision.   I was starting to burst, so I said too loud, ’Passing the menu is a simple way of saying I’ve already decided!’  Oh, Mindy, when I said that, so loud, all the background noise in the restaurant came to a halt into silence.”

“Uh oh.”

“Yeah,” Jasmine sighs.  “But I was still mad, so I clenched my teeth and asked him in a whisper, why not say, ‘Either one is fine with me, darling, which one would you like?’  So he did, with extra juice to his own voice, and I, once again, emphasized chocolate.”

Mindy nods and smiles, clearly amused by her friend’s attempt to reach her husband.

“Tim asked why I had to make it a game of it.  I said it’s not a game, it’s a relationship. He said it felt like a game and that it sounded like I wanted to make the decision.  I said only if I cared more, so he asked if he had pulled out the trumpets and did a dance in favor of rum cake, might I have gone with rum cake?”

Mindy smiles, curious. “Would you have?” 

“I told him I might have, but he had studied the menu so long he must not care as much as I do, and the person who cares most should have a stronger say in the matter.”

With a nod, Mindy teasingly chuckles, “So maybe pull out the trumpets?”

“The problem is I’ve spent twenty years stopping those trumpets.  They’ve been crushed since I was eleven.”

“You’ve never really been given the chance to have your own opinions, have you?  So you can’t just say you want the chocolate brownie?”

            “I think that’s it.  So I used to like that Tim’s decisive.  And I used to not care if he chose different from me.  Now I care, and I want him to listen and care about what I want.”

After another pause, Jasmine shakes her head.  “It was just a decision about dessert, a moment so simple, so seemingly small, yet it opened up a floodgate.”

The waitress arrives with a large silver bowl swimming over with chocolate ice cream, whipped cream, chocolate sauce, walnuts, and two cherries and places it in the center of the table, along with a small platter and spoon to each friend.  Mindy eyes are wide. “It’s good we’re sharing.”

After a few spoonfuls, Mindy takes another spoon into her mouth and holds it there. “Do you think Tim will start listening to you?”

“Maybe.  Like I said at Intermission, he’s willing to listen, willing to be challenged, and he not closed, but he’s also not the open, thinking at odds type either.”

“Can you still think at odds, even if he doesn’t?”

“Maybe.  But can I be the real me with him?”

“Big question.”

“I know.  I’ve changed since I fell for Tim.  To fall for him again, I’d either need to return to who I used to be, and don’t want to be anymore, or he’d have to become someone new himself.”

“Why would he have to become new?”

“He’d have to be okay with arrows all over the target.  I’m letting myself think at odds again, so I’m not hitting bulls-eyes.”

“Do you think Tim can flex with that?”

Jasmine smiles, amused.  “You think the Church can flex with that?”

Mindy chuckles.  “Maybe I’m na├»ve.  Remember, I’m Presbyterian.”  With an arm, shoulder, and neck wave, she delightfully adds, “We flex!”

Trying to mimic Mindy’s arm wave, Jasmine chuckles, “I’m too stiff for that!”

“Keep working it, Girl.  You’ll loosen up!” Mindy, giggling, stands up for a full body arm, shoulder, ribs, hip, and neck wave.

The four diners at the next table over, appearing to be in their mid-20s and on a double date, cheer her on.  One of the young men, brown-haired, pipes up.  “You’ve got the moves!”  With a chuckling blush, Mindy bows to them and sits down.

Jasmine laughs.  “I’ve got a ways to go before I can do that!”

“Maybe you just need to convert to Presbyterian!” Mindy laughs.

“Maybe I do!”  Jasmine’s belly is now bursting in her laughter.

The friends calm down their laughs, breathe, and each take a sip of water.  Mindy swirls a spoon of ice cream through her mouth, recalling a previous Girls’ Day Out.  “Didn’t you say something about the Bible saying Eve was cursed to long for her man?  So is this a good thing?  Maybe you’re not cursed anymore?”

“I would love to believe I’ve mastered Eve’s curses!”  Jasmine laughs.  Crossing her arms around her chest in smug position, she adds, “I won’t even have pain in childbirth!”

“Go you!”

“I do long for Davie,” Jasmine smiles sheepishly.  “Don’t cheer me on yet.” 

“Have you seen him since you were ‘ex-communicated’?”

“No, not at all.  It’s been three months.  It’s torture.  You know when the Apostle Paul wrote to the Philippians about how much he longed for them?  We aren’t meant to be separated.  Does the church realize the harm it does by ordering the severance of a friendship?”

“It’s cruel.”  Mindy groans.  “I can’t imagine the Bible actually encourages such a thing.  And it violates the Natural Law that everything and everyone are connected.”  Mindy shakes her head in disbelief.  “How are you doing?”

“I’m tortured.  Tortured, but learning.  You’re right.  I haven’t found anything in the Bible that supports this order, and even the verse that was used against me to support it was not only taken out of context, it skipped the rest of the verse that supports maintaining contact and friendship.  It was 2 Timothy 2:22.  Do you catch all those twos?  Two-gether.  We are to be two people to find harmony two-gether.  We can still do the first part of the verse, to flee the lust, while also doing the second part of the same verse, to pursue a righteous relationship.”

“Are you going to do anything about it?”

“Maybe.  For now, I’m learning and praying.  I’m also praying that Davie will take that up.  He’s on staff at the church.  Will he do anything about it?”

© 2021 by karina.  All rights reserved.  Please use with permission or a link to this post.

Monday, January 18, 2021

Opening Night

 Pikes Peak Center for the Performing Arts, May 5, 2012

             “Not that row,” Jasmine whispers.  She and Mindy are walking down the dark tan carpet of the right side aisle of the main ground floor auditorium.  “That guy’s wearing a cowboy hat.”

             “You think he’ll take it off before the show begins?”

             “I hope so.  We’re always told to silence our phones.  Do they tells us to remove our hats too?”

             “They should.  He’s too far back for us anyway.  Tony said we should sit at the right front.”

             “Too bad we can’t sit up there!”  Jasmine, wide-eyed, points up to the half moon shaped balconies in rich red maple.

             “That would be fun, and a little more comfortably further back.  I don’t want to be too close.  Fifth row?”        

            Jasmine nods, and the friends find open seats; they’re cushioned, spacious, with generous leg room and the complement the carpet in dark tan, while the red maple wood seat backs complement the balconies.  As Mindy sits, she takes a deep breath.

             “Nervous?”

             Mindy nods.  “I feel like I do when I am on stage, not in the audience like tonight.  I’m even feeling the Opening Night butterflies.”

 “Breathe, Mindy, and enjoy watching Tony in South Pacific,” Jasmine coaches. Have you seen him since he sang to you on your birthday?”

             “Twice.”

             “Really?  Colorado Springs is a small world. Twice?”

             “I was bold,” Mindy blushes.  “I asked Kristina to join me for lunch at Crave Real Burgers, hoping he’d be there.”

             And?”

             “He was.  He looked at the hostess and nudged his head over to one of his tables.  When he arrived with our waters, he asked, ‘How are Mindy and her friend doing today?’”

             “He remembered your name.  Good sign.”

             “On our way out, he rubbed against my arm and whispered into my ear, ‘Are you coming to’ then he pulled back and sang, ‘some enchanted evening’?”  Mindy leans in to Jasmine.  “He has a voice.  Could that be his part?”

             “You don’t know?  Let’s see.”  Jasmine pulls out her program to the Cast list, grins, and passes it to Mindy, while pointing to the top line: “Emile: Tony Bandara.”

             “Damn, are we reading that right?”

             “I think so,” Jasmine chuckles.  “When was the next time you saw him?”

             “Last week.  By fluke.”

             “By synchronicity.”

             “Synchronicity?”

             “Divine coincidence.  You were supposed to see him.”

             “Divine coincidence?  We ran into each other at the gas station.” Mindy chuckles.  “Could that be divine?”

             “Why not?!”  The two friends laugh. 

“While we were both pumping gas, he asked if I’ve eaten any food as ‘delicious’ as the food he serves, and he lingered on the word, ‘delicious.’  I played along, imitated his linger on ‘delicious,’ and asked how it could be possible to have eaten food as ‘delicious’ as his.”

             “Bold again.”

             “Yeah, and it seems to be paying off. That’s when he said we should sit on the front right.” 

The lights dim, and the trumpets of the orchestra shout the audience into attention.  The trumpets are joined with cymbals, then trombones, and then the bold percussion of timpani joins the trumpets, cymbals, and trombones to open the overture in power.  A chorus of violins emerge; they slow; they dim; cellos are added; flutes come in; then the violins break forth again to lead the full orchestra to into the show’s classic, “Some Enchanted Evening.”

 * * * * *

            Costuming for South Pacific, set during World War II, is simple, with most of the male characters in Navy costumes.  Those playing the Pacific Islanders wear more interesting costumes, including grass skirts, in the bright colors of yellow, purple, red, and bright green.  Bloody Mary’s attire is the most colorful, with a purple and yellow blouse, a green and orange skirt, and a beaded necklace of red, blue, yellow, green, and purple beads.  Her hair is pulled up in a bun and wrapped in an equally colorful scarf, accentuated in purple, yellow, and red.  On anyone else, the attire would clash, but on Bloody Mary, it’s just right.  She wears her colors confidently, and she shines.

             Lead character, Emile, an officer, played by Tony, is dressed quite the opposite, in basic khaki pants and a white, button down, short sleeved shirt.  Nellie, the show’s heroine, a naval nurse, is wearing a straight navy skirt that comes down about half way between her knees and her ankles, and a V-neck white blouse tucked in.

             In the third scene, at an evening dance party at the local pub, Emile meets Nellie and asks her to dance.  They dance a brisk and brilliant Charleston, dancing like they’ve been partners for years; they laugh; they dance slow and close; they meet one another’s eyes, and they fall in love.  Rogers and Hammerstein style.  Just like that.  In one enchanted evening.

             Jasmine thinks back to the time when she fell for her husband Tim.  They were both summer camp counselors, and Jasmine recalls doubting herself.  Could she be up to the task?  I can do this, I can do this. I can do this, she kept telling herself.  She must have been muttering it aloud too.  When she sat down for orientation at the campfire, Tim came up, pointed to the spot next to her and asked if it was free.  She nodded; he leaned over and whispered, ‘You can do this.’  Jasmine blushed.  ‘It’s OK,’ he said, and asked if it was her first summer.  She nodded and he said it was his second.  He introduced himself and then said, ‘The counselors have almost as much fun as the kids – and we get paid.’  He grinned wide.  Jasmine was taken.

             Her memory is interrupted when Tony’s booming voice bellows out his famous lyric, “Some enchanted evening, when you find your true love.”  He’s at center stage singing to Nellie, then gaits toward the audience’s right, stands in front of Mindy and sings to her, “Once you’ve found her, never let her go.”

 Jasmine looks over to her blushing friend, chuckles, and passes Mindy the program.  “Here, put this in front of your face.”

 * * * * *

            Emile and Nellie are sitting at a small, circular, wooden patio table, and the backdrop set shows the Pacific in the background with the sun setting.  Two Pacific Island children, a boy and a girl, about seven and ten, bring out drinks on a round tray, carrying the tray first to Nellie, then to Emile, to take their own drinks.  Emile introduces Nellie to the children as his own, the children of his wife who has passed on, and then the children depart. 

With a ghost white face, Nellie pulls away from Emile.  He pulls her back and tells her he loves her.  “I love you too, I really do!” she cries.  “Please let me go!” she cries out as she breaks away and runs off stage. 

Emile is left sitting at the table alone.  Jasmine’s heart falls as she feels his heartbreak, and the audience is left in suspense with their hero, as the curtain closes for Intermission.

 * * * * *

             “How could she leave like that?” Mindy asks, astonished.

             “’You’ve got to be carefully taught,’” Jasmine tries to sing.

             “You mean, ‘You’ve got to be carefully taught’?” Mindy sings, then chuckles.

             You are the singer between us, Mindy!  What a song. Can you sing more of it?”

             Mindy begins the chorus from the start:

"You've got to be taught

to hate

and fear

You've got to be taught

From year to year

It's got to be drummed in your dear little ear

You've got to be carefully taught

You've got to be taught

to be afraid

of people

whose eyes are oddly made

and people whose skin is a different shade

You've got to be carefully taught."

             Jasmine shudders.  The two friends pause in silence.

             Turning reflective, Jasmine whispers to Mindy, “Though it wasn’t about racism, my family seemed to think we had to be ‘carefully taught.’  Did you know my family mocked me for ‘thinking at odds’?”

             “You’ve mentioned this before.  What did they mean by that?”

             “I guess that my mind raced passed the Church.  I was that troublesome middle child, who kept ‘thinking at odds.’  I was mocked for it since 5th grade, until I shut up, forcing myself to ‘think at evens.’”

             “When did you do that?”

             “By high school.  I think it happened slowly.  Without realizing it, before I knew it, I was giving away the real me.  I let myself be ‘carefully taught,’” Jasmine sighs.  “Part of me died then, and I didn’t even know it.”

             “It’s good you’re coming alive again.” 

“It took a while.  I was still trying to ‘think at evens’ when I found Tim.  Did I ever tell you how he won me over?”

             Mindy shakes her head.

             With the memory still fresh in her head, Jasmine relays the day Tim began teaching her archery.   “He drew me close into his own body, and I took a breath.  He must have noticed, since he said, ‘It’s OK, I won’t hurt.  Stand right in front of me and we’ll do this together.’ Tim picked up the bow and told me to turn to the left.  He was standing so close I could feel his warmth and smell his aftershave.  He lifted my left hand, placed the bow into it and held both the bow and my left hand.  Then, with his right hand, he picked up the arrow, lifted my right hand, placed the bow into it, and used my own fingers to draw the arrow into the bow string.  I felt it like it was in slow motion.   While holding both of my hands and most of my right arm, Tim said, ‘Now simply observe how this feels as we aim for the target.’”

             Jasmine chuckles.  I remember thinking, “I observe very well how this feels!”

             Mindy smiles.

             “Then he said, ‘Now observe how it feels to release the arrow.’  The arrow flew strong, perfectly straight, and into the center.  ‘You just shot a bulls-eye!’ I cried out.  ‘We just shot a bulls-eye,’ he replied, then said, ‘We make a great team!’  I looked into his eyes and smiled big. Tim shook my hand, said, ‘Well done, my friend,’ and smiled back.”

             “Cool story, Jazzie.  Does Tim get credit for your great tennis aim?”

             “He should, yes.  Too bad he won’t pick up the sport.  He says it messes with his baseball game and he has enough sports with archery, baseball, and skiing.”

             “How about that spark that drew you in?  Do you still have it with him?”

             “We don’t hit the target as much these days.  He thinks like a good archer, trying to shoot a bulls-eye with his beliefs.  Mine are so complicated that I can’t get my thinking arrows to even hit a target, let alone a bulls-eye. He mostly follows the Church.  Thankfully, not as much as Mom and Dad.  Tim’s not closed.  He’s just not open.”

             “What do you mean?  He’s not ‘closed,’ but he’s also not ‘open.’  What is he then?”

             “He’s not closed to new ideas; he just doesn’t come up with any himself.  He mostly accepts whatever he was raised to believe and only challenges whatever he’s challenged on.  At least when he is, he’s willing to re-consider.”         

“You’re starting to challenge everything, though.  What made you start doing that again?”

             “Davie.  He thinks like me, the real me.  He goes against a lot of what he was raised with.  Not everything.  He became a youth pastor.  But many of his beliefs are unique in his family, and he stays confident in them.  He’s not defensive when people disagree with him, like I am.  He doesn’t try to force himself to think at evens.”

             The lights dim; the orchestra begins to play; the two friends quiet themselves.

 * * * *  *

             Just after Nellie ”washes that man right out of her hair,”  Emile finds her walking alone along the beach.  “It was you, Nellie, that I’ve been waiting for,” he says, declaring his love and then asks her to marry him.  Nellie breaks into song:

 “Born on the opposite sides of the sea

We are as different as people can be

It’s true

And yet you want to marry me”

             Emile sings, “I do.” 

Nellie solos again, 

I’ve known you for a few short weeks and yet

Somehow you’ve made my heart forget

All other men I have ever met

Who can explain it?

Who can tell you why?

Fools give you reasons

Wise men never try”

             The solo shifts to Emile singing, “One enchanted evening.”  

Once he departs, Nellie sings her brave choice to let herself be mocked, because she “is in love with a wonderful man.”

 * * * * *

             The audience finds the show a hit and stands in ovation.  Mindy clasps her hands together.  “I’m glowing.”

             “Yeah, you’re red too,” Jasmine teases.

             “Uh oh.  I’d better change that before we congratulate the performers.”

             “Breathe, Mindy, breathe.”

             “Ok, I’m breathing.  Time to get my mind back on the show.”

             Trying to help, Jasmine says, “In perfect theater, the heroine is redeemed.” 

“She is.  We watched Tony on Opening Night, and we watched Nellie open her mind.”

             Jasmine smiles.  “Love can do that.”

 

© 2021 by karina.  All rights reserved. Please use with permission from the author or a link to this post.

Click here for an introduction to Just like Eve

Click here to start Just like Eve from the Beginning

Monday, December 21, 2020

2020 was Different

Today we live out the longest night of the longest year of our lives. The sun will come out tomorrow.  May we start to see it.

Some challenges:

1.    The fragility of our health and the reality of death is staring at us in a way it wasn’t last year. But maybe, just maybe, facing death can help us to better appreciate Life.

2.      We’re not meant to be distant from each other.  We’re social beings.  We’re meant to hug, to hold one another’s hands through the tough times, and to come together when life gets hard. But maybe, just maybe, each of us can find that Strength Within when Distance is commanded.

         3.      We’re watching destruction all around.  Our businesses are getting destroyed; our entire educational system is getting dismantled; our excursions, hobbies, travel, and sources of entertainment and leisure are all crashing down. But maybe, just maybe, we can build something new.  We can’t grow a new tree until the old one is cut down. 

 Reflecting on all this, I think about these blessings:

1.      God is cleansing our planet.  We were clearly doing a crappy job of caring for our planet, so our loving Divine source needed to do it for us!

2.    We are reflecting within ourselves like never before.  We're learning, we're growing, we're finding our inner strength.

3.     We’re discovering what Life really is about and what it really means to us.

4.      We’re connecting with people from all over with a technology – Zoom – some of us never knew existed, and now we’ll happily keep using it!

5.      We’re cleaning house, so we can start all over.  Our country is cleaning house (thankfully!), our communities are cleaning house, our businesses are cleaning house, our schools are cleaning house, our own homes are cleaning house, and we are cleaning “house” each within ourselves.

6.      We’re slowing down!  The Prophet Daniel was given a dream – a nightmare, in fact – of a time when people will be “running to and fro and knowledge will increase” (Daniel 12:4).  A much later set of prophets – OK, musicians, Simon & Garfunkel – saw the same thing: “Slow down. You’re moving too fast.  You’ve got to make the morning last.”  We’re no longer running to and fro.  We’re learning how to slow down.  Maybe, just maybe, we’ll start to make the morning last.

 * * *

On a personal note, after a rough pandemic start at their schools, both of our kids and their schools rose to the occasion, and they’ve closed out 2020 with strong success at school, in their lives, and, thankfully, with the needed connections with their friends.

 My husband made it back to work in August, thankfully, where he can do his job as a School Psychologist properly, by working with students in person to evaluate them for services.  His many gigs were cancelled, but his band did manage to put out two great zoom videos.  You’ll especially get a kick out of kick in the head.

When you're smiling

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xnIg9-hN724

 Kick in the Head (COVID-19 Spin-off)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hm5ovF5UfSg

     Never could I have guessed when I applied for, and received, a quarter-long sabbatical in the spring of 2019 for the spring of 2020 that I had picked the ideal time to go on sabbatical.  I had been looking forward to having the house to myself during my sabbatical for my creative projects.  Ha!  That didn’t happen!  I was also intending to use the time to work on my spiritual quest novel, Just like Eve, but couldn’t get into the spirit of fiction during the pandemic, so I wrote a series of pandemic posts, my paradoxical childhood story from Sao Paulo to San Jose, and finally(!) just returned to the fiction (explained here).

     In the fall, I advocated for hybrid instruction (with, of course, masking and distancing for the 2 days/week in class) for my students and never would have imagined how hard that advocacy would turn out to be, but I’m grateful I succeeded.  Due to the need to full-class zoom for a week at a time a few times, our class met face-to-face only about a dozen times.  But for those few in class sessions, my students were filled with gratitude, and the hard work of my advocacy was well worth it.  

     While 2020 was different, we have all learned much and have grown stronger.  May 2021 be equally as lovely. Virtual hugs to all!