Saturday, August 30, 2014

You are the Flowers in the Gardens of our Days

Care is Like Water: You are the Flowers in the Gardens of our Days

You are the Flowers in the Gardens of our Days

Kelsey CrooksJohnson and Brenna Parrick holding our two new future employees!

Baristas and waiters, baggers and checkers, store clerks, and bank tellers, workers and volunteers
You are the trees of our community  stirring up good energy
your kindness fills my heart  with a grateful tune, So I’m singin’ this song for you.

You are the flowers in the gardens of our days.
You are our rest stops as we travel down our own pathways
So we thank you for the laughter and the happiness you bring
You are my inspiration  to find a new direction seek a higher vibration .
You are our garden tapestry enfolding our community
keep your kindness flowing like a river ever going.

Thank you for the light you shine in hard days and  tough times.
Oh, and thank you for your patience when we can’t make up our minds.

Thank you for the smile, the gentle laugh the warm hello,
how ya doing How’s the family, Glad you stopped by today.
Thanks especially for forgiveness when we can’t find a gracious word to say.
You buoy up our energy as we go from place to place
And everytime I see you  you put a smile on my face.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Jesus didn't die to save us.

Raffaello Sanzio - The Agony in the Garden
Last night I had a dream when Jesus came to me
Why was it meant to be?  In the garden his agony.

He said,
The day before I died, I was in agony
I cried out father, Oh God, Father;
 take this chalice away from me,
Why was it meant to be this agony?
in the garden,  in the garden I was in agony.

Lift this dark cloud off of me, Father I can’t bear it; 
Take this shroud away from me, Father I can’t wear it,
Not my will but thine, I said, and by the morning I was dead.
Could the death of a son of god have been a suicide by cop?

When  Soldiers  came I didn’t hide,
 It was by their hand this Jesus died.
They say I’m Jesus the Nazarene,
 Of the Jews, I am the king.

All my friends were sleeping,
In the garden I was weeping.
Just a decade in the rosary, my agony, 
it wasn’t meant to be.  This agony.

You make a hero out of me,
you worship me, adore me,
You pray to me to save you by his amazing grace.
All the time forgetting  that  the price glory
Is to bear the pain of  all the human race.

I’m not the only son of god, perhaps the first but not the last.
They say the good die young, they must, to let this chalice pass.
Many hearts are broken now,  many lives touched by the blast, 
First the anger, then the bargain, then acceptance comes  at last.

They don’t deserve to die
 these brilliant stars in our night sky.
When the concert is over, the sermon is done,  
the heart may lie empty, absent the sun.

He was a kind, a gentle soul,
and he loved all children so.
Let them come to me, he said,
 I will give them wine and bread.
He cured the blind; he healed the lame;
and he took on our human shame

Did he have a motive?  He was in agony
Did he have a plan? Sure, They’ll hang him on a tree.
He gave them opportunity, to kill him when only thirty-three.
They say,  I’m  Jesus the Nazarene,  Of the Jews, I am the king.

It’s part of their make up, these brilliant night stars,
 their lives like beacons, that  flame out in the dark.
When the concert is over, the sermon is done,
the heart may lie empty, absent the sun.

What if their friends had stayed awake,
 What if they saw what is at stake
They didn’t know they were part of his plan,
their guilt and shame, came when they ran.

Jesus lived to love and show us;  They didn’t kill him just to save us;
The concert was over, the sermon was done, the heart it lay empty, absent the sun.
We’ll never know what might have been, had a friend been there for him.

RIP Robin Williams 8/11/2014

Monday, August 11, 2014


Today Robin Williams, took his life. Last month, a young woman well loved by many left behind a loving partner and daughter, her pain too great to bear. Last year the husband of my dearest friend took his life after a long chronic condition left him with intractable pain and vomiting. I wrote this piece with the intention of setting it to music. However, I feel moved to post it here. It speaks to pain and grief of those who suffer and of those who would do anything to lift their pain from the hearts. In my life, the love of my life was caught in the trance that would have ended in suicide had she not told me her intention. It is only Grace that she is here with me today, to stand together by the waterfall.

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Sometimes you feel  like a motherless child.
So alone,  so all alone.  Wound in your soul, a black hole.
black magic, its tragic, a dark spell is cast, holding you fast.
Feeling you slide into the dark night of the soul
I stay by your side, day after day,

Your pain weighs on me like a lode stone.
All my love can’t heal your pain
Your sorrow has become my shame
My hand can’t hold your sorrow.
Your sorrow has become my shame
Your pain weighs on me like a lode stone

Here’s what I need to tell you;
I cannot take your chalice, from you.
my joy can’t fill your cup
I pray that you can give it up,

Let the wind touch your face, feel the grass where you stand
For I can never hold your sorrow in my hand
Look to the mountain high and strong; look to the valley green
And pray for the day when we will lie down by a quiet stream

Pour your pain into the river, float on the river down to the sea,
Bless you child, let the cool of the river wash your pain away,
Rolling rolling down stream to the sea.
Sweeping  the pain away,  Feeling  your pain slipping away.

Let the wind touch your face, feel the grass where you stand
For I could never hold your sorrow in my hand
Look to the river cool and clear look to the aspen tall
I Pray for the day when we will stand tall by the waterfall.

One minute of your joy will fill me up, Pour your joy into my cup,
I want to hear you laugh again,
Sing your songs of hope again, just for a few minutes each day.  

Eileen M. Jackson

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

The Unseen Moment

Comforting a family
In the darkest hours
Celebrating a new life
On the brightest days
Caring for those who
No longer can for them selves
Compassion for those whom
Society deems unworthy
A routine that seems
Cold and methodical
Can be recited by a heart
That is so full
Of humanity and mercy
That it almost daily breaks
Spilling out behind closed doors
And into soft pillows
Only to be sutured by the understanding
Of an empathic companion
Who has also chosen to walk the path
Along a river forged by
The quiet tears of a Nurse.

by Laura Tarasoff
"I often see the tears of a nurse. Yesterday, stepping off the elevator I encountered such a moment. That inspired this."

My friend Laura wrote this beautiful poem that so captures

the experience of being a nurse. Thanks Laura for letting me

share this beautiful poem.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

of nursing and mothering

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This is Nurses Week. The one week a year when we stop and reflect upon the women and men who dedicate their lives to the care of the sick, the prevention of illness, and the development of health policy through nursing.

Nursing is one of the most misunderstood professions.
This is because much of what nurses do is invisible; it takes place within the mind of the nurse. Nurses observe patients, figure out what they need, whether with and without technical equipment. They see everything from noticing and smoothing wrinkles from under a patient, to locating a neighborhood where lead paint pollutes the dirt where children play, and advocating for clean-up. Nursing is seamless; there is no disconnect between the nurse's care, and the patient's experience.

Medicine and most of the healing arts are goal oriented, and are distinguished one from the other by their interventions: one does surgery, another dispenses medication, another does massage or reiki.

Nursing is not like these. Nursing is seamless vigilance; it is deciding what is necessary in the moment, being with the person, with the patient as they sail on through sickness on their journey  towards health ebbing and flowing. Health is about how well we live within our changing environment. The patient's limitation in caring for self is the determining factor in how the nurse will be with the patient. Health is not based upon circumstances; it is dependent upon how we living beings respond or adapt to circumstances. Nurses are our allies picking up the slack, sometimes for perfect strangers in the most intimate of ways.

It is appropriate that Nurses’ Week leads up to Mother’s Day. Florence Nightingale saw nursing as women’s work. “Every woman is a nurse.”, She said. Nursing is an extension of the work of nurturing life.

Taken as a whole, women are traditionally found in positions where their purpose is to support the birth, growth, and life of a person, a place, or a thing.
Whether we are serving as mothers, teachers, domestics, herbalists, village healers, or community health workers, veterinary technicians, nursing assistants, teachers aids, secretaries, or nurses, women’s work requires attention to the hundreds of changes that occur in daily life.

Woman’s work varies in the amount of attention and action required moment by moment by environmental flux, both internal and external to the entity for which we are caring.
Women’s work is so basic to life that we don’t even recognize that it is occurring,in our homes, our offices, our gardens, our hospitals, or classrooms, our forests. Women’s work is the web of nurturance that sustains.

Rianne Eisler described it as partnership and indeed it is. In my experience and my research it is not the man that is the partner of woman, it is the life for which she is caring. Together, the nurse and the life force with the support of men  partner to keep life going forward.

Men’s work is to, build the shelter, fix the plow, the car or the body; slaughter the cow for food or chop down the tree for wood, watch out for the hostile intruder who might disturb the flow of life.  

The work of men that is assistive to the continuous work of nurturing life not the other way around. Men’s work, is the model for the healing arts. It is goal oriented with a beginning a middle and an end.

Over millennia the work of men became dominant. Growing in status,  without awareness of their effect on life itsself, men produced and produced until like cancer the products of men’s work metatastized. Disconnected from life they have become the enemies of future life. Growth unbridled and for its own sake, whether in nature, in society, or in economics, leads to death.

So as we celebrate Nurses’ Week and Mother’s Day it is my fervent wish that day by day, we see more clearly, love more dearly, and protect more fully this miracle of life that is our Home. May women’s work be seen for its essential contribution to our continuance as a species, and may men’s work continue to develop only in those ways that sustain life for all beings here on Earth.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Why I Have Not Prepared for Disaster

When a mountain fell down, there was no warning; or was there? Geologists have done study after study and they knew the mountain would fail some day and come crashing down. Loggers had cut away trees from the side of the mountain decades ago and yes, even a short time ago just to the side of the place that cut away a logging company got permission to clear cut. Yet, the people felt they had no warning. The slide is 1 1/2 miles across at the top. But they called it Slide Hill! Here is an aerial photo showing the extent of the slide.
 Courtesy Gov. Jay Inslee via Flickr.

I understand. I have been pondering in my dreams what might happen here where I live. I try to think what might cause us to evacuate? What if we have no warning. What would I save? Is there anything aside from myself, my spouse, Mary, my dog Miles Jo Cocker, my two cats, Lili and Dash that I would try to bring with me?

What should I do to minimize the destruction? We have two 250 gallon propane tanks with open valves. Should I close them before leaving? Should I turn off the water; trip the circuit breakers?
Is there anything that I should do, that we should do? I have journals that I’ve been keeping since I was 16. They aren’t even in a box. I could get a metal box and store them, or I could transcribe them.
My resistance to preparing for a disaster is as big as the mountain that fell on the people who lived on Steelhead Dr.. Here is what it looked like before the slide. Now, the whole neighborhood is gone.

Steelhead Dr.  before the slide.
I resist even writing  here about the potential of a disaster. A great mountain of denial is protecting me from feeling the impermanence of this creation of ours -- this living being we call Gaia of which we are only a small part. We humans have built whole belief systems to protect us from our vulnerability.  We have become so comfortable in our denial that we are unwilling to face the fact even as we continue to over populate, over fish, over log. We would rather deny that we have created the conditions to which Gaia is responding with big weather than face our need to change the course of human civilization.  
If I can’t even muster up the courage to call my neighbors together to prepare for the earthquake we have been told by seismologists will come to us, how can I expect those who are profiting in the trillions from our civilizations depending upon big oil to give up their lion’s share of world’s resources to give up their search for big oil and natural gas?
Do I have the courage to care for my neighbors, my own legacy that is stored in my journals? I don’t have the answer. It is hard enough to have posed the question.What about you? Are you willing to look chaos in the face and stare down your fear? I'm curious about that; let me know what you think.

For those families in OSO you have brought out the best in all of us here in Washington. I am sorry for your loss yet grateful for the compassion you have shown and the community you are forging.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Community Organizing the Woman's Way


“What we need beyond anything  else, is a frame of reference, a model of cherishing care for the earth and all human needs. … Have we, then, another model? I believe we have. It is women’s unremitting care for their families and homes. “  Margaret Mead 1970

Mead argued that the way women work, their centuries of experience in homemaking  is a viable framework needed to save the planet. We know that creating thriving communities is key to our survival as a human family during these turbulent times.
Creating thriving communities means kindly nurturing what is alive within the community. This might be a new model for community organizing: a woman's way of organizing through nurturing.

Nurturing requires watchfulness, gentleness, being awake and discerning what is needed. Nurturing is continuous, responding to subtle changes in the community so that what is needed to foster resilience is created, discovered or otherwise manifested.

Nurturing requires intimate knowledge of the community, a feeling for the organism. Nurturing is focused upon the present being of the community  always looking beyond the present that the future may materialize.

Nurturing includes play and rejoicing, music, art, laughter and beauty. These create resilient community and are nourished by a resilient community. 

 Community resilience is nourished by good ideas, humor, events, plans, good conversation, random acts of kindness, and a welcoming presence.

Resilience is seen in community gardens, thriving farms, ride share programs, credit union meetings, and community owned cooperatives, neighborhood tool sharing, and all efforts that support the health, the wholeness of community.

Nurturing requires a view of the organism as it is -- a living interdependent whole greater than the sum of assembled parts. 

Nurturing requires that we hold the sum of our knowledge with respect. Science, common wisdom, direct experience all support our ability to provide appropriate care to nurture the resilience of our community.
Nurturing requires foraging for those things which the community is lacking whether it is water or microloans or a source of affordable nutritious food or shelter.
Community organizing is just doing what is necessary.
You know how to do this if your mama taught you how to care for your family. The same principles apply. It is time to fearlessly take on the work of nurturing your community how ever you see it. If not you, who; if not now when?