Many dreamers dreaming dreams!

I don’t remember my life before Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Well, I do. Glimpses of this house or that puppy. Snapshots of my family. But not life as an American. Or life as anything other than a Boardman.

I’ve been sitting, these last few days, in the shadow of a tree and pondering the impact of this man on my life.

Actually, I’ve been sitting under a picture of a tree which is mostly still a sketch and, oddly, a revelation.

My nails are splattered in brown paint and the dogs are beginning to grasp the notion that they need to stay out from under my feet while I paint.

I am still learning.

My Intentional Creativity friends and I are painting trees of life.

Well, we’re painting lots of things but this seems to be where I am just now.

One day, back in December, the notion came to me that my tree would want to be a Banyan tree.

An enormous tree like the ones where I grew up in Florida, systems of branches and roots and trunks, communities of breathing life.

I visited a few of those trees in Key West and they kept whispering to me.

Kelly and I took some pictures. Mine were mostly roots.

Roots that reminded me of the ancient wisdom of elephants.

Then, we came home.

The time to paint came closer and closer, and the Banyan tree kept tugging at me.

Then, I found out why.

In the online newsletter, Aeon, Jonardon Ganeri, a contemporary philosopher whose work draws on a variety of  traditions to construct new positions in the philosophy of mind, metaphysics and epistemology, writes that:

…knowledge should be pictured as a banyan tree, in which a multiplicity of aerial roots sustains a centerless organic system. The tree of knowledge has a plurality of roots, and structures of knowledge are multiply grounded in the earth: the body of knowledge is a single organic whole, no part of which is more or less dispensable than any other.

Dr. King is one of those roots in my Banyan tree. Justice. Equality. Community.

His tree had many roots, as well.

The prophet Isaiah. Abraham Lincoln. A dream of what hadn’t been yet but could be.

And his tree is growing still.

Bernie Sanders, perhaps.

We need all the dreamers we can get!

For today, though, I’m sitting with my tree and recalling a wise old friend named Puddleglum who had a pretty big dream of his own. Taking his leave from the Queen of the underworld to search for Narnia, along with his young friends, the Marsh-wiggle said this:

…All you’ve been saying is quite right, I shouldn’t wonder. I’m a chap who always liked to know the worst and then put the best face I can on it. So I won’t deny any of what you said. But there’s one more thing to be said, even so. Suppose we have only dreamed, or made up, all those things–trees and grass and sun and moon and stars and Aslan himself. Suppose we have. Then all I can say is that, in that case, the made-up things seem a good deal more important than the real ones. Suppose this black pit of a kingdom of yours is the only world. Well, it strikes me as a pretty poor one. And that’s a funny thing when you come to think of it. We’re just babies making up a game, if you’re right. But four babies playing a game can make a play-world which licks your real world hollow. That’s why I’m going to stand by the play-world. I’m on Aslan’s side even if there isn’t any Aslan to lead it. I’m going to live as like a Narnian as I can even if there isn’t any Narnia. So, thanking you kindly for our supper, if these two gentlemen and the young lady are ready, we’re leaving your court at once and setting out in the dark to spend our lives looking for the Overland. Not that our lives will be very long, I should think, but that’s a small loss if the world’s as dull a place as you say (C. S. Lewis, The Silver Chair in The Chronicles of Narnia).

Many dreamers dreaming dreams. Justice. Equality. Community. Hope. Love.  All of them feeding the branches and leaves still to come.

I suspect Dr. King would approve. Our four-footed Luther does, too!

 

 

Danger!

I cut my left thumb last week.

It turns out that chopping kale stems can be dangerous.

I was instantly transformed from chef-y mode to nurse mode, grateful for the paper towels hanging just above the chopping block and the fact that Bill was actually home, slaving away in the basement.

Good news… a sharp chef’s knife and organic, washed kale stems.

Other news… lots of blood. About half an hour of pressure and elevation before I could even find out what, exactly, was cut.

Then some more good news… it was a good, clean, straight cut which would be easy to hold in place with some tension.

And the really good news… I could fix this, even one-handed. I wasn’t going to the ER anyway.

After a whole house search for bandage options, I washed it well, dried it all over again, and went to taping. (Bill peeled the Band-aids, which is hard with one hand.)

I won’t lie. It hurt.

The bigger issue was the need to keep it taped and dry for at least 48 hours.

Bill was despatched to the local purveyor of just about everything for more Band-aids and a box of disposable gloves.

The biggest challenge has been dog food of the raw meat variety.

Did I mention that it hurt?

Somewhere along the line I realized I might, just maybe, be over-protecting it a wee bit.

Rather like the time I was in fifth grade and tore all the ligaments and tendons in my ankle during gym class.

Back in those days, the casts were big and plaster and heavy. I learned to walk by swinging my foot out and around in a half circle to take a step.

It took about a month after the cast came off for me to find my regular gait again.

This time, it’s typing. Fortunately, my left thumb is one I can kind of do without but my whole rhythm is off-balance.

My hair is clean, though! In this moment, I’m choosing to celebrate that.

My thumb is clean and dry again.

I’m still not ready for chopping onions, but I am healing.

And reminded of a quote from The West Wing.

After Leo had his first heart attack, and was on the road to better, his nurse told him one day that, “Part of healing is going on.”

Wow, does that feel true!

Going on takes courage and some hope that what was once true will not always be so.

Sometimes it just takes Band-aids. Sometimes it takes some more help. Sometimes it takes a lot of help.

Clean and dry is generally good.

So is the (metaphorical?) wonder of clean hair!

For now, I’m going to be looking more closely at places where I might be being called to go on.

You could join me…

 

 

2018 : My Year of Beginner’s Mind

Recently, some of my creative friends who hang out in the Planet SARK atmosphere got me thinking. What, they wondered, was my “word” for 2018?

If you’ve known me a while you won’t be too surprised to find out that my “word” is actually two words. But it’s only one idea so I decided it counts because it feels so true.

Beginner’s Mind. 

The first time I recall this notion knocking on my brain was at a Qigong retreat, five years or so ago. It was kind of a radical notion for me, that showing up not knowing could be a good thing.

I’ve done a lot of not knowing since then. Blogs, social media, electronic publishing, species appropriate food, and a rather more challenging than usual rescue dog.

My latest venture is, perhaps, the farthest afield for me.

I’m learning to paint! More specifically, I’m learning the process of intentional creativity which is both ancient and really new to me.

First, in case you’re new around here, let me be clear. I am not “the artistic” kid. A maternal pronouncement which I grew up believing must have been carved on the flip side of the 10 Commandments.

The process of following a call to actually pick up a paintbrush and create something more artistic than really great wood work was a huge deal for me. And it’s happening!

One of the things I’m working on at the moment is a Tree of Life painting. It’s all very primal and mythical in the most true kind of way.

Well, in theory. In actuality, it’s a couple of really rough sketches and several layers of background work.

But, I know where I’m going.

Sort of.

The first thing my tree decided, after the initial background layers, was that she prefered a landscape orientation to the portrait one that seemed more tree-like to me.

In the midst of not knowing, I went back to my source and watched the next video step of the process, even though I wasn’t quite there yet.

That’s when I learned a major miracle for fixing things that aren’t working! (Thank you, Shiloh Sophia McCloud!!!) It has a lot to do with using the negative space, which I wouldn’t have thought of but changes many things.

Then the dream arrived. An actual dream.

Tree of Life. Tree of Knowledge. Banyan trees. Many trunks and roots.

Philosophy. Quantum physics. Community. The things that connect us, one to the other.

A whole new world, rather like the one through the back of the wardrobe C. S. Lewis made famous.

And a realization. Not new, so much as deeper.

It’s all energy.

From the clean, sustainable broth simmering on my stove that warms me even hours before dinner will be ready, to the message of the Tree of Life, it’s all energy.

Energy which cannot be created or destroyed, but which can only be transformed.

Transformed, in our world, through intention.

Intention, I hope, in this New Year, for good.

Good for me and mine. Good for you and yours. Good for us, in the sense that there are no others.

Which sounds a lot like fixing things in the negative space!

And may be an even bigger story…

 

 

Pondering the New Year

I’ve never been a huge New Year’s person.

In my hospital nursing years, I worked almost every New Year’s Eve, often putting back together the results of partying a bit more than was optimal. This was part of my deal with the establishment, as a single mom with a young child, that I’d work all the rest of the holidays but I needed Christmas Eve and Christmas morning off.

One of my more memorable New Year’s Eves happened when Dave was about four. We’d been to church and then came home and read three whole extra stories.

About then, my phone rang and it was a couple of friends from my youth group days wondering if I wanted company. I said sure, if they didn’t mind the flannel jammies. They brought the bubbly and I broke out some herb roasted cashews and we had a blast catching up on everybody we knew.

This year is a food year at our house. And some time for pondering food traditions.

My mom didn’t care for shelling beans or peas, or for cooked leafy greens. This was a perspective that worked fairly well in Minnesota. Not so much after we moved to Florida!

According to the old southern traditions, we may be in trouble when it comes to luck in 2018.

My hog jowls won’t be here until the middle of next week due to some glitches in local farmer land.

I don’t have any collard greens in the garden just now, but there’s gorgeous black kale in the fridge which will just have to do.

And, with a smidge of regret, we’re skipping the black-eyed peas this year. It seems I really do feel better when I don’t eat them.

So, what, then?

Well, my best ever pot of butternut squash soup with mixed bone broth from Saturday night. Bright, velvety, comforting little pint-sized gems in the freezer for dark winter days.

Gorgeous, local rib eye steak for Bill and stone crab claws for me on New Year’s Eve, along with a big bowl of very green salad. (There are advantages to not being able to leave home!)

And, for Monday, dry brined local pork chops and barely wilted kale with garlic.

At the very least, we’ll be ahead on vitamins!

We might be ahead on community, as well.

We’re helping to support our local foodie farmer and butcher friends.

We’re voting with our wallets on critical issues like health and the environment. It may take a while longer, but I have faith!

We’re stashing enough food in the freezer to help out friends and neighbors.

And, next week, I’m trying out a new recipe for making broth from crab shells. One of these days, I’m going to get it right!

It would also be ok if we won HGTV‘s dream home giveaway.

Which would, by the way, need to be big enough for a couple of freezers!

For this moment, know that you and yours are in our thoughts and prayers. And may 2018 be filled, for all of us, with a whole lot of loving our neighbors as ourselves.

Blessings and Peace from Sue, Bill, Sarah, Phoebe, and Luther

 

 

 

 

 

 

Come to the Table

Have you ever noticed how certain stories keep reappearing in your life?

Tales of experiences that changed you and change you still?

This is one of those stories for me. It was first written almost 20 years ago and it still has a lot of energy. In fact, it’s been whispering in my head for the last few weeks! Read on, and I’ll tell you why at the end…

Some folks collect coins or stamps or baseballs or shoes. I’ve got a thing for tables.

I painted a table not long ago. It has wild colors and quotes from many of my favorite folks all over it. It sits in the room where I write and pray and ponder. The coffee table in our living room is an antique claw-footed bathtub with a quilt draped in it and a piece of glass on top. 

My very favorite table, though, is one I don’t own. In fact, this “table” is actually a huge hunk of granite that sits deep in the catacombs of a Catholic church in Hungary. 

I “met” this table in the late ’80’s, just before the Berlin Wall fell. I was traveling with a group from Columbia Seminary. An English-speaking priest gave us a tour, taking us down flight after flight of steep stone stairs. It was cold, dark, and unfamiliar.

Finally, we gathered in a tiny room where the priest explained that the Eucharist had been celebrated there, on that table, every day for 1,500 years. Every day! It didn’t matter who occupied Hungary at the time, or what they called that nation. It didn’t matter whether religion was illegal or merely ignored. Still folks came to claim power beyond that which seemed to rule their world.

I just had to touch that table. It should have been rough and cold, but, instead, it was warm and polished by all the countless hands that had lifted bread from it and poured wine over it. Every day. For 1,500 years.

   by Sue Boardman,  Monday Morning, March 8, 1999

I suspect the reason this table has been whispering to me in these days is that I’ve just been invited to a new table.

Wisdom’s Table. 

It’s a two-year long program in which women will gather from many cultures and faith traditions to explore Wisdom and the Divine Feminine.

Frankly, I have no idea what will happen!

I do know that the notion of Intentional Creativity, as I am just beginning to experience it, has sparked new questions and new understanding within me.

Part of the invitation to Wisdom’s Table reads:

Prayer. Painting. Poetry. An experience using our Ancestors’ Stories and the mystical teaching of the Tree of Life to explore our relationship with the feminine mysteries.

We start January 1, 2018 and there’s still time to learn more…

I’m excited about this new table in my life and those who will gather around it.

For now, though, there’s a pot of soup to make and a painting of a very special tree, which found me in Key West, to begin.

We’ve never done it this way before!

For many of us, this is a season for the way we’ve always done it.

When I was growing up, it went something like this…

Frantic housecleaning.

Three kinds of cookies. Always the same. Just like Granny.

Church, when I got old enough to insist.

Gifts on Christmas morning.

Most years, leg of lamb and, later, wild rice pudding. A wrestling match over who stirred the gravy.

Ed Ames and Andy Williams singing versions of carols that still run through my head.

(Feel free to adjust the details so they feel familiar to you!)

This year, though, has been different in our world and, just now, it feels like much farther than an hour and a half long flight from the deck of a ship wandering the western Caribbean, rocking my dearest ones gently.

And I, who generally “sort for” different, am oddly undone.

I’ve spent much of the day looking for words. It hasn’t been a wild success!

Just before brunch, I spent about an hour playing with a riff on Clement Clarke Moore’s A Visit from St. Nicholas.

It started something like this:

’twas the day before Christmas when all through the house, not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse.

No stockings were hung on the bookshelf this year. Our gifts had come early. Our people most dear.

The beasties were settled, all snug in their beds, while memories of Camp friends danced in their heads.

And Bill in his hoodie and I with my scarf were plotting and planning a long winter’s nap. 

Well, you get the drift… And then, just a bit later… out on the lawn there arose such a clatter!

Literally.

Red winged blackbirds, 100 or so, fluttering from ground to trees and wires, some of them pausing on the roof of the house across the street.

A dark cloud with flashing points of fire. Like the recent flock of crows but decorated for Christmas! Up and down. Swirling and arching in a perfect ballet.

And then, just two, in the skeletal dogwood, just beyond the roses.

A sign, says my book of symbols, of a very large gift.

Come to encourage all who are open to draw out from each self the beautiful being aching to be born.

Which is, when you think of it, quite a huge thing that started long, long ago and lives within each of us and keeps growing and growing until all the world will glow with love.

Unlikely angels, those blackbirds, but singing peace and good will all the same.

May it be so for you and for those you love, however it is this year, now and forever.

Love, Sue

 

 

 

 

 

 

And some celebrity interviews…

We’re a bit over half-way along with our big adventure. Here are a few things we’ve learned…

The accupressure bracelets for motion sickness help a lot!

The tiny house craze might be a bit of a stretch for some of us!

One cup of green tea, after a year of no caffeine, is ok if you have puffy feet. (Still!)

My favorite cruise buddies had some things they wanted to mention, too, and agreed to an interview…

Me: What are some of the cool things you’ve learned on the cruise?

Kenzie: You can make a bat out of towels! And try not to get stung by jelly fish!!!

TaylorYes! Try not to get stung by jelly fish!!!

Me: What are some of your favorite things so far?

T: Snorkeling and seeing really cool fish!

K: Being with everyone and snorkeling!

Me: What would you bring along next time if we went on another cruise?

K: Scuba gear!

T: One of those neck pillows for the plane and bug spray!

Me: What are you hoping might still happen on this trip?

T: We get to go to the beach!

K: More snorkeling!

Me: Is there anything else you’d like to say? 

K: Go on a cruise and try snorkeling!

T: Nope!

And, a few more thoughts from Grammy…

If you bring along a 7-year-old princess who happens to be gluten-free you get lots of attention from the fabulous dining staff. These folks have done an amazing job!

Christmas at sea was fun! Lots more focus on doing than having. Much painting and coloring to do and tomorrow is a long day sailing.

Sadly, not even a floating theme park with ice cream all day long makes us immune to tragedy. There was a serious tour bus accident in Costa Maya, involving 30-some people, four of whom were passengers on this ship. One of those did not survive.

So, we hold each other even closer and file away snapshots of this adventure in our hearts. Which, I suppose, if you’re a New Years resolution kind of person, is a pretty good place to start.

IMG_1777In the meantime, I just wanted to mention that Anne Lamott was right! Reflecting on an adventure of her own, Annie reminds us that it’s time to be kind to the cellulite “Aunties” and let them enjoy the sun and the breezes of cruising. Which is, perhaps, another option for New Years resolutions!

 

(This particular image of the Divine Feminine is courtesy of the art collectors at Royal Caribbean International.)

I didn’t know I could bring the dogs!!!