Dona Nobis Pacem ~ Bathing In Persimmon Trees

Welcome to the 14th launch of BlogBlast For Peace aka Dona nobis pacem in the Blogosphere. 
Our theme this year is Change Your Climate. Many are choosing to write about global climate change. Others are choosing to write about the need to change their own personal climates in order to create peaceful spaces for themselves ( ie: eliminating stress, self-care). I have chosen the latter.  
Please sign the Mr. Linky at the end of this post so that others may visit you and see the beautiful peace globes throughout the Blogosphere. Remember to tag me on Facebook  or wherever you are on social media. Thank you for being a part of this community of peace bloggers. Your words are powerful and important to all of us. May we lift and encourage in our quest for a peaceful more sustainable planet earth.  Grant us peace!  

Bathing In Persimmon Trees

As she got older and more introspective, my mother would spontaneously start talking about random things from her faraway childhood. On this day, she began to weave invisible spinning yarn in the air in front of her. “There are these threads….you see….threads….” as her hands moved in and around them,  making sense of mysteries in her mind,  weaving and talking as she spun, connecting branch to branch to branch. Except she wasn’t really sitting there with me. She was somewhere back in time playing dodgeball with the curse.
 “I can see them going back generations.”“What kind of threads?” I asked. “Poverty. Brokenness. Abuse. Depression. Alcoholism. Divorce. Conflict. Addiction. Bad threads….don’t you see them, Mimi?”Yes, mama, I’ve always seen them.
Like shadows on trees in a cemetery, cast long from eons of time and generation, I had always seen them. 

If you want to go mad, cover them up.
If you want to break the curse,
stand in the Light.

Generational threads can tie together what desperately needs to be broken. They are inherently binding and strong.
Made of flax. Faith. Fiber. Custom. Tradition. Tribe. Toxicity. Untruth.
Even and especially love.

Whether they remain tied and woven into the next generation depends not on the strength of the cotton, but on the spinning of the pattern. Twisted legacies take whole life spans to unspin. It requires laser-sharp discernment and a willingness to plant a new field. To begin a better story. Harvesting new tribes is not for the faint-of-heart. My mother was anything but faint.


And that’s when I began to remember…
warm water washing down my back.
I felt the heaviness of long tangled hair.
Soap.
And her hands in my hair.

Scrubbing and soothing at the same time.  Bare feet on a dark linoleum speckled floor, bent over the kitchen sink in the middle of a fifties wood frame in the heat of summer and the only running water in the house.  Daddy hadn’t finished the bathroom yet.My mother stood untangling the mane that was always tangled and drying me off with a ragged towel. 
And then I started to cry 
Uncontrollably. Sobs from an eight-year-old that should never be heard by a mother. She knew. I could see it in her eyes. She knew. From the covering of shame I felt underneath the thinness of fabric that could not cover could not cover could not cover the confusion and tremble of a skinny little girl who had just been reminded of more than innocent suds running down the back of a dark-haired freckle-faced me with grownup questions swirling in her mangled head.She looked straight into the dripping freckles and raised her eyes to meet mine.


It was my mother’s greatest gift to me. 
Unwavering trust. Unquestioning acceptance. She believed what I was about to tell her before I said it. I can still taste the shampoo on my lips and see the horror in her eyes, the quiver in my voice. I remember the way my eyes wanted to only stare at the linoleum while she gathered herself.  Standing there dripping in a torn towel while she called someone to tell them what she’d seen in her daughter’s eyes.I never had to see him again.She saw to it.
She sacrificed family and relationships to protect me. Had she chosen to look the other way, I am sure without a shadow of an oak tree doubt,  I would have crumpled into a broken twig on the sudsy floor and never recovered.Instead, it was the moment that defined me. 


In the deepest part of me that day, she taught me to trust the sacred places that no one should touch.  I owned every nook and crevice again before she even finished with the tender drying because my mother believed me she gave me permission to trust myselfShe had no idea that she’d just given me my voice.

Of all the trials that came later – our arguments, her quirky temper, my stubbornness – our differences growing wider in the middle of our lives, then circling back to unconditional love, as happens with mothers and daughters  – I’m not sure she ever fully recovered from the sadness of that moment. 
ThreadsYou see them, don’t you Mimi?


I wanted so much to know her and understand her better and all that mysterious weaving in the spirit. Those strands had names. They had stories. But there wasn’t time and she was gone.  What made her so unbreakable? What stopped her from untying the last piece of tangled life and freeing herself? What kind of woman knows by instinct and love how to run straight into battle for her daughter?  That’s the indestructible mother I longed to fully know.

When I felt she had no faith in my endeavors or no understanding of my independence, in hindsight, now, I wonder if the moment under the towel defined the way she would forever try to keep me from straying too far into unfamiliar territory. As I spread my wings to fly away, perhaps her holding on was the only way of protecting me.  Perspective.
I went through some things this year that broke my heart. Multitudes of unkindness and wholly undignified days. But the more vile they became, the more grace I received. 
 My body is recalibrating. Balancing. Resetting. Changing my climate, my environment, is not just necessary for peace of mind, it’s mandatory for my survival. I am ready to put this decade behind me but not without the wisdom it contains.

Standing under the canopy of trees gives me courage and strengthens my vulnerability – that delicate balance between authenticity and prudence.   It resembles the act of protection and trust. Intimacy and connection.  You might not have a lifetime or even a decent swath of moments like these with the people you love. 
But it only takes one.  
Divine grace echoes on the walls of my heart. 
My mother’s grace reverberates decades later.
And she is the reason that I can stand uncovered in a field of persimmon trees
without fear 
without shame
without scars

I finally learned to accept all our twisted roads and fallen places.  How she tried to exhume the genesis of those invisible threads in her hands, never quite finding where the first broken piece began and the last continued.   You see them, don’t you Mimi?
She died before she could unravel all the threadsBut she deposited in me just enough spitfire to keep my end of the peace treaty intact:To leave the untelling on the kitchen floor To live without hiding behind trees 
To forgive those who want to see me brokenTo be open and brave when your words need wordingand to be loud in the most vulnerable of places
and that’s why I need treesHad you told me a year ago that people can feel energy from trees, I would have silently patted you on the head and sent you on your way. And yet, since her death six months ago, I find myself running to the forest on my mountain, sitting for hours in the sanctuary of their branches. Breathing in oxygen. Absorbing life into the cells of my stress-laden body. Finding the Mother trees. They shelter the young saplings and strategically branch out in directions that give them the most nourishment from the sun.Did you know there are mother trees?
We are made stronger when we understand where we came fromwhen we uncover what is hurting usWe discover which branches are strong and which need pruning.I am learning to be thankful for the miles of memories that created meall of them
Safety sometimes lies in being unseenbut never in being unheard.

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BlogBlast For Peace 2018 ~ Dona Nobis Pacem

Welcome to the 2018 launch of Blog4Peace. We are an international group of bloggers and social media gurus who promote the cause of peace on our blogs, websites and pages. Click one of the links above to get your own peace globe and join us. It’s an amazing day on the Internet! Our theme this year is the power of words. Here’s my peace post. I’ll be by soon to read yours!
Words in Blue Kyanite
If there are stories to be told in heaven, let them be these. 

Let them be told as these have been told. Let verse and lyric rhyme as old saints do on the eve of great awakenings. Lean your ear toward what matters most and listen as spirits mutter sacred texts and beautiful songs. Stretched across the throne of the world from the top of heaven’s doorstep, words can still reach earth.  Stretched across the world’s doorstep in many homes and hovels today, words can still reach heaven. And you will say them again. And again. And again. That’s what storytellers do. That’s what peace bloggers do.
For you see, words are not only powerful for the content and wisdom they bring to bear; they are powerful for the reason they came to bear. There is no great catharsis, no sudden shift in the universe, no real progressive change in the world without storytellers. And you thought your chapter was over? Let me tell you something…it doesn’t end until you tell it to end. He had this twinkle you see….A spark of something that resided deep inside the brilliance of his mind. Something that glowed with kindness, documenting years on earth like centimeter markings on a ruler.  My Papa. He is the one who inspired me to write in the first place. He is the one who left me with an earth marble full of continents and rivers and mountains. He left me the whole world. 


And his hammer.Words are not the only tools we have.  He needed it to make things. I need it to smash my fingers. He understood hammers. I do not. 
 .
I’ve been asking him lately, in my dreams and in my mind, what story he wants to tell today on November 4th, because he always give me a nudge. And all I am hearing from him is that he wants me  – and you – to tell our stories. Now. Not his. Ours.  
 It is the most basic of human needs – the power and joy of connection. Of being heard. Of being heard!!!  Not because someone is shouting, anyone can start a movement if they’re loud enough, but because purposeful intent behind mightily built well-chosen words is strong enough to make a whisper ripple across seven continents and twenty-five rivers and still be understood on the highest mountain peak a thousand miles away.That’s what Papa’s marble did for me. That’s what your words do for the world each and every year.
And while there was serendipity and more than a few God winks to get the ball rolling (so to speak), the discovery of the marble only served to help me understand that in this life there are no coincidences. Every person you meet brings their energy, their intent, right smack-dab into your personal space…sometimes so close you want to (and should) run away and hide from it when things don’t feel right. That is discernment. Others bring the healing you need when you didn’t even know you needed to call a healer.


That is grace.
Which brings me to my friend.  It happened at the beginning of a new school year.  I bent over in agony when I heard the news, so unexpected it was, so cutting. It was a physical pain in the caverns of my body. I could hear the bones break in my brain.  I didn’t expect to feel her loss so viscerally. Peacefully housed in pine she lay weeping and exhausted no more. She was free. I was not.


I was afraid.And angryLet’s be real. My life was full of complaining. And whining. And posturing. And planning. And pondering. And procrastinating. And even whining to myself that complaining would do me in.  I was even tired of my own complaining! I’ve been tired and exhausted this year. Not.peaceful.at.all.
And there she was. Asleep forever in a cold pine box full of peace. Not even fifty years old. My heart broke for the losses and pain she endured on planet earth. 
I was at the crossroads between terror and panic. Would I be next? Would my body betray me as well? Can I live up to the example of courage she set?  Could I maintain this pace and keep my health intact? After all, she was the strongest person I knew. Heart-stopping, constricting air-depleting suffocation. Did I mention the fear?  Even so, I felt guilty for focusing on myself when it wasn’t about me at all. 
What was her story? She spoke loudly from the pine box. The silence was maddening. Knock it off, Mimi, and listen up! I can’t remember one single meeting, one single instance, one day or second or smile that was wasted on her. She made me better and sometimes made me mad doing it. Oh, but she didn’t know it. And she had no patience for my histrionic nature. She didn’t waste time worrying about how other people perceived her, whether or not she hurt your feelings, or how you arrived at any conclusion without her. She was too busy living strongly while she was dying slowly.
You knew you were in the presence of someone who knew what it meant to inhale and exhale with intent every single day. You knew, somehow you knew, that time spent with her were masterclasses in how to live fully.Image result for blue kyanite

Could there be a better time to shake up the world than on the day you decide to die? She shook up my world! Yes, I said decideI know that I know that I know (as my grandmother would say) that some people decide it is their day to die. Ascended gurus manage to mark the hour quite regularly. When it’s time for the body to give up its usefulness, it’s time to give up the ghost and take up a new identity somewhere else. 
And so my friend became my catalyst for change in a year that began in fear. That happens when you see someone you just talked to reposing in a pine box too soon. 
**Excuse me, Miss Pencil Skirt, said the doctor…but I don’t think you’re breathing quite right** 
 Fear is a simply a jumping off place. “What you do in this moment will determine everything,” whispered the Voice of reason.
I decided to change my words. Starting with my thinking
I wrote pages of self-talk: I will not tolerate pity. I will not tolerate blame. I will not tolerate complaining. I will not abide negativity. I will not entertain anger. I will not surrender to bitterness. I can breathe I can breathe I can breathe I can breathe…. 

“Gather your strength,” whispered Spirit. “Gather strength for yourself.”  I wanted to live well. I needed to love myself well enough to gather my strength and heal. Those who live well, by default love well. 

Image result for pyrophyllite images
Pyrophyllite

 I mean the kind of love that makes you sweat, requires your blood, makes you live in it, slog through it, talk about it, wade in it, fall down under the weight of it until you can’t even breathe because that devastating love is so full of itself. Have you ever come to a pivotal moment in your life when days were so dreary you’d rather feel something than nothing at all?  Your lungs are tight from holding back the light that so desperately wants to get in…but you can’t exhale well enough to inhale?  Stress will do that to a person. At least that’s what the doctor told me. What? What?? I can’t breeeaaatheee?? 
“No, Miss Pencil Skirt, something seems to be affecting your lung capacity.”  

This is not what you want to hear the day before you go to a funeral.
**raises hand**I think I need to call a healer.


I didn’t understand the world until I was sixty-years-old.It was then that understanding became too soft a word for the depth of knowing residing in the bones of six decades on earth.It was more like burning lava cooled by the flames of tea leaves. 

I love leaves

When my Papa was in his early sixties, he fell on the kitchen floor and took his last breath. Just like that. Suddenly. Without premeditation or fanfare. His lungs collapsed and the poison inside caused a massive crumble of tissue and structure.  He was gone before his head hit the floor.  

Kyanite blue in pyrophyllite stone


I never knew he couldn’t breathe. There was a ticking time bomb inside the man whose heart was overshadowed by a pair of lungs full of pyrophyllite dust. He never told me he couldn’t breathe!  I always thought he’d die of arthritis. Or working too hard. Or loving too much. I never dreamt he’d fall in a heap of poisoned air and give up the ghost on the kitchen floor. 

Look familiar?

He was too busy living to die of sensible causes. 
All he did was love me. In large loud bouts of contagious love. His love was all I heard. It. Was. All. He. Said.
Papa worked in a pyrophyllite plant (think talc) back in the day before it was safe to mine or breathe dust particles from the clay or work with the intensely heated kilns which were to used to mold particles for commodities like furniture. It caused fibrosis in some and unknown lung ailments in many. I didn’t know Papa couldn’t breathe. Apparently, neither did he. He just kept living. And loving everyone around him. Until he decided to fall on the kitchen floor. 

Kyanite

That one blue marble in the center of the bowl – yes, that one – is Kyanite, infused with and altered by pyrophyllite. It is a metamorphic mineral found in sedimentary rocks within soapstone mines in the southern United States, Brazil, New South Wales, Australia, India and Kenya. It contains aluminum silicate (hence the silent poison).


Kyanite gets its name from the Greek words for fire and leaf. Tonight I have discovered that this same blue stone has crystal healing properties especially in the throat area near the bronchial tubes.  I know little to nothing about the realm of gemstone metaphysics, but I do respect the power of Earth and the ancient wisdom of chakra healing. 
**You can’t breathe said the doctor You can’t breathe said the doctor*I never knew I couldn’t breathe until they told me I couldn’t breathe!! Has this ever happened to you?
And what other silent gift did he pass on to us?Pyrophyllite is also known as “Pencil Stone” (said The Pencil Skirt) and has been used to enhance writing abilities, helps to speak one’s truth with clarity and brings balance to all the Chakras. So you see, that wonderful blue marble we’ve gazed at since 2006 might well be one of the reasons that peace bloggers feel compelled to write. On some deep spiritual level we feel it. 
It’s alright if you don’t believe that. I’ve just unearthed this myself (so to speak). But doesn’t it make sense?  That blue stone became something beautifully rare and healing to all of us. Papa’s intent was good.Papa’s intent became our words.Papa’s destiny is still evolving.
I want mine to do the same.  Don’t you?
It wasn’t so much what he said throughout the years to his curly-headed, hardheaded granddaughter that made the cataclysmic shift in my DNA; it was the unspoken life of a simple man too busy living a simple life he loved to die conveniently proper. I want to die inconveniently improper too. 

Kyanite crystals.jpg
I think I just found my healer

 While Papa harvested dust and clay, he fashioned a symbol of the world for a granddaughter he couldn’t have known would ever even exist. Harvesting and working in the dust of those stones eventually led to his death. For him to pass this treasure on to me – to us – is surely more than coincidence. It illustrates how every single act we do on planet earth has a consequence, often far-reaching and seismic in nature. 
 All I remember was that he loved meand that was enough
He didn’t have to say a wordThat is the powerof words laid carefully round in blue Kyanite  

Jamie White ~ Washington


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Join us for BlogBlast For Peace Nov 4 Like Our Facebook Page ~ Peace Store How To Get Your Own Peace Globe”

Peace Globe #10,330 ~ The Matriarch’s Corner

 http://thematriarchscorner.blogspot.com/2015/11/blog4peace-november-4-2015.html
Kathy Duffy Thomas
Original Peace Blogger 
30 Days of Love Challenge
South Carolina, United States
 She writes, Maybe if we pretend that the rest of the people in the world are ours, we will love them.  And maybe that will give us peace.”
Thirty Days Of Love Challenge posts HERE and HERE

Peace Globe #10,318 ~ Crow’s Feet with Michelle Frost

 

Michelle Frost 
Scotland
She writes,
“This is the greatest challenge humanity faces, as our planet hurtles towards and unknown and seemingly unsettled future. We need to teach our world’s children how to be peaceful; how to love themselves and others.”

BlogBlast For Peace ~ The Tablecloth

Welcome to the tenth year of BlogBlast For Peace aka Blog4Peace. We speak Dona Nobis Pacem (Grant us Peace) all over the Blogosphere today.
 I hope you have a wonderful Blog4Peace. Please visit each other on your blogs and see all the beautiful new peace globes flying around. 
Don’t forget to sign the Mr. Linky below! We want to read your posts!
This is my peace story for NOV 4.

The Tablecloth


I never know how the story will end once it begins.
I only know it begins.
I get one sentence at a time.

The muse said, “Get your grandmother’s tablecloth, Mimi. It’s time to set the table.”
Set the table?
Yes, said the muse, set the table.
I never argue with the Muse.
 There was something in the way the cloth hit the table as soon as it was laid….

My Papa would come home everyday for lunch from the furniture plant.  We could hear the whistle blow and we’d have exactly five minutes to finish the biscuits in the oven. If my grandmother ever burned the bread (which wasn’t often) she’d throw them away and start all over. I saw her do that once and remarked what a waste it was to throw food away. But I knew from the look on her face that perfectly cooked flaky biscuits for Papa with melted butter was more important than spilled flour in the trash can. I remember watching him walk in the door, down the little hall toward the kitchen and being so proud that the biscuits were steaming hot and perfect, brown milk gravy in the bowl, crispy fried chicken, cheese, black-eyed peas, cantaloupe and iced tea. Sometimes we’d have vinegar pie.

  
From Maya Angelou’s kitchen

Do you see this serving spoon?

It belonged to Dr. Maya Angelou. A wordsmith capable of stirring up change in a young girl’s heart and one of my heroes.  She dedicated her life to the magic and power of words. When I was a young girl she reeled me in with “I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings.” I’ve hung on every word she said ever since. 
Sometime after she passed away, I had the privilege of being able to walk through her estate which was being sold at auction. Being in her home among her books, furniture, paintings and the many rooms and grounds in which she lived was an amazing glimpse into her life. I sat in her den in front of a small bust of Gandhi which was also for sale. A woman of  powerful words and influence whose possessions reflected what she valued most. Peace. Love. The power of words.

But it was her kitchen that drew me in. Opening cabinets (soft yellow paint) and being able to choose a few utensils she’d used on a daily basis was even more important to me than the hundreds of books in the downstairs library.
I chose the serving spoon, a pressed cut glass serving tray, and a whimsical green flower vase sitting on the kitchen island top.  I use the spoon every single day. Each time I use it I’m reminded of the power of words. Her words. My words. Our words.  I explored the greenhouse and found a beautiful tall fluted rose vase.

Outside the potting shed door underneath the garage I found a footed topaz fruit bowl from Poland. I have no idea why it was outside or who might have left it there. It now graces the coffee table in my den. A few other small Christmas items came home with me. I treasure them because they were hers and because her words resonate with me, in the same way I treasure my grandmother’s cloth and her white porcelain dishes. Each piece laced with remembrance you see, and meant to be used, not stored away in a display cabinet. 

 My grandmother knew how to set a table. She cooked by instinct, not recipe. She would have the dishes washed before the last tea glass was poured.  She knew what it meant to serve her family. White linen laid lovingly for Papa’s lunch. 
White linen laid boldly with love. 

My two favorite quotes of Dr. Angelou’s reflect our theme.  She said, Love recognizes no barriers. It jumps hurdles, leaps fences, penetrates walls to arrive at its destination full of hope.”
 I would argue that peace follows.

Maybe it’s the place I find myself at this stage of my life. I know I don’t have time to waste being cautious to love; I only waste love being cautious.

The past year of my life has been interesting. I had to knock down some walls.
It started way back in the spring of the year. Something inside me wanted to clear things out and make open spaces. In the yard, in the house, in my soul. I raked. I cleaned. I sorted. I prayed. I threw out piles of regret. Cried over things and people one more time for the sole purpose of being done with the crying. It was a silent and fierce  rearranging of me.

Then the joy came.
 I threw open the shutters. I stood with my arms wide open and asked the Universe to notice. I no longer prayed that God would send the “right one” or even resurrect the wrong ones. I started to pray that He would grace me with love – wherever that love came from. That he would mend my relationships. That He would give me chances to settle my scores and dig deep into the reasons I’m still walking solo in a world full of couplings. That He would show me what it is I keep doing to keep it at bay, why I reserve a little corner for doubt and end up unconsciously sabotaging imperfect relationships for the sake of some high-end unattainable perfection. He knew I meant it this time.
And that’s when the easiness came.

Some sure kind of surrender happened in me.   I wasn’t even aware of the moment it came. But suddenly a long line of wrongs began to right, an unruly crowd of bygones begged one more reflection, and people I never thought I’d see or hear from again in this lifetime began to trip over my corner of the universe and demand my attention.
And Lo and Behold the most holy and unexpected peace swiftly followed.

When you choose to be vulnerable, you choose courage.  You stand in your truth and you own. Whatever that brings to my life is enough.  Enough!  Not good enough, not settled-for-enough, not hammered-out-and-negotiated enough, not just enough, but ENOUGH….as in twice-baked biscuits good.  
That good.

I’d been holding onto a whole batch of burnt biscuits you see…not wanting to waste what I’d put into them. I had my reasons. I thought if I held onto them long enough and stared at their imperfections, it would remind me that I didn’t need them after all. They would serve as a warning that scorched manna is painful to the touch, therefore, I’d never want to make another batch. That’s a nice safe way to live, isn’t it?

 But love cannot abide in the same kitchen as fear. 
Fear will choke the life right out of every biscuit you try to make.

So I took Maya’s things and put them side-by-side with my grandmother’s dishes on my grandmother’s tablecloth on my own imperfect table close to the heart of all I am. Beautiful things from a world-renowned poet beside everyday white porcelain tableware from a kitchen of brown chicken gravy stains  spilled on woven cloth that once bore perfectly delicate biscuits. My kitchen merged with Maya’s kitchen merged with grandmother’s kitchen and before I knew it we were cooking up a storm.

Dr. Angelou leaned into the batter bowl and said,
Have enough courage to trust love one more time. And always one more time.”

So go ahead…
Burn the biscuits, mess up the gravy, tousle your hair in a wild tangled love. Then start all over again.
Be brave in the unraveling and retelling of someone’s truth. Be brave and bare in your own. Open yourself to hear forgiveness and then forgive. Because strong love can only rest mightily and sure in the arms of a vulnerable vessel. And don’t we all want strong love?

 Walls are built for keeping out.
 Break
them
down.
And I don’t mean brick by brick, year by year, tedious by tedious conversation.
Knock them down
all. at. once.

Then stand back and watch what comes to you.

Now serving in the kitchen of Bloggingham. 
A spoonful of peace

Are you hungry?

 
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Dona Nobis Pacem ~ Write On My Heart Every Word

When my Papa was middle-aged, he found the love of his life.
She was my grandmother.  And through the years I was privileged enough to watch them live out that love right in front of me. While they surely had struggles and bumps like everyone else, they had something else too. What was it?
I am pleased to report that I don’t know.

But I saw it when he looked at her.
And I heard it in his laugh.

I learned what to expect from men in my faraway future by watching him treat her with respect, with dignity, with never-ending fascination. I learned what a real man worth his salt in this world should look like, should act like, should be.  For all her many quirks and eccentricities and no matter how many times the wigs flew off or the cigarette dipped in the morning coffee cup, he gifted her with unwavering love and devotion. Sometimes it was eye-rolling twinkled-eyed devotion – but devotion nonetheless.
She was and would always be the love of his life.

  There were many things about my beloved grandmother that could-make-a-preacher-cuss (some might say I inherited some of that cussability factor) and many differences in the way they went about coping with their worlds and dealing with people – she, a colorful and semi-raucous individual with a sly and wrinkled nose glance, a hopeless and rather comical hypochondriac and a penchant for high heels and gentle dancing. He, a protective bear of a man at every turn, confident, happy and a hopeful sufferer of legitimate ailments yet incapable of feeling anything but gratitude for each day he lived, whether or not he was in pain and more than determined to make her imaginary illnesses tolerable by ministering to her every need even when we all knew that the bat of her eyelash was more for his benefit than needed salve for any ailment. It wasn’t in his nature to argue with the beautiful and whimsy creature he called wife.

She was a character foreign to his outward way of living but crucial to his inward way of loving.

The inward was always more important to my Papa.
They were delicately and diametrically different. 
All of that disappeared the minute she looked across the table at him. I saw it many times.
She never smiled at him; she smiled into him.  He smiled into her.
What WAS that?

I am happy to report that I do not know.

All I know is…..
You don’t know you have it until you’ve got it.
You don’t know you don’t have it until you’ve got it.
You don’t know you need it….until you don’t.
Enter gothic grandmother and a tall praying man in a fine starched shirt and matching hat.

It occurred to me this week in preparation for peace week that as much as I’ve focused on what my Papa and those marvelous marbles have taught me in my spirit and heart since this whole peace globe movement began and how the whole blessed thing is in reality based on NOTHING I can logically explain and how it was birthed with the little girl in my heart who missed her grandfather ….and wanted to honor his influence in my life, that really, in essence,  the entire scope of the peace globe movement is based on coincidences of random occurrences that blossomed into a cohesive ball of fire and substance – much like their relationship, much like their example, much like their love.

  I wrote a post. I made a graphic.  I found the earth marble made by my Papa in the 1920s.
  I write a story. I tell it to you. You tell it to others. A movement begins.
And it makes perfect sense, no?

Like the round agate blue earth ball in the middle of the wooden bowl I love so much, there is a never-endingness in the idea that when one story, one idea, one truth touches the global heart of man  it spontaneously perpetuates into all manner of mutated species and cultures, blind to the differences, tolerant of the language barriers, spinning wildly out of control on the same blue rock we call planet Earth. It still maintains the composite structure of rocks and of people and of Earth, building strength as it cohesively binds to the next rock and the next rock and one after that.
Until finally there is nothing but a big blue rock of all that is, hopefully, peaceful and good.

Somehow in a roundabout collision course of uncanny coincidences from start to finish, it makes perfect sense and it makes no sense at all. And on a personal level it seems the salty lessons are engraved on my heart in reams so deeply true that I can’t tell where one memory ends and another begins.
And that’s just it.

The most eternally rich experiences in life make no sense at all.

If I knew how to explain it all in scientific cosmic terms that make sense, I would. I would tell you why it is that out of my pen keeps spinning tales of a life that began nearly a century ago and speak to me now …I would tell you how that came to be if I knew how to do so.

I am pleased to report that I do not.

And really.
Why do I want to mess with a perfectly imperfect chain of events that led me here…to one of the happiest places in the span of my life?

And then I remembered the Cokesbury.
And the song.
What WAS that song?

I’ve had that book on my mind for days. Where is it? What have I done with it? What does it have to do with peace globes? Here I sit on another Dona Nobis Pacem Eve and have not finished my own post. It is perfect imperfection! Again!  Four hours ’til the stroke of midnight and I have a half-baked peace post. When the muse stops speaking, I stop writing. That is how it is in my pen-shaped pencil skirt world.
So this afternoon while Australia and New Zealand blogged peace on the other side of the world, their fearless leader went outside to pick a few wild pink mums. I had visions of hippie flowers in my hair and silliness for BlogBlast For Peace Day.

The muse had another idea.

The song…the song….Something about moving along and being tempted and tried and it had a certain predictable lilt that made you want to know more and yet somehow you knew there would be no answers really and that the same song would be sung next Sunday in the very church you see here by the same out-of-tune grandmother and all would be right with her out-of-tune world.

I decided to find the hymnal. 

So I went downstairs to a box of music books and fished it out from the dust of funeral services gone by. It was Papa’s personal copy. I ran my fingers across the inside cover scribbled with the name of a man who could not sing above a mumble. And I remembered…and heard the music….and remembered.  The smell of the wooden pews. The polish. The carpet. The altar. The tinny tuned piano. How joyfully my grandmother stood in the little country church you see here and held that proud brown Cokesbury with his name in it. She was an “alto“ and proud of it. On the back row. Middle. She sang. And sang. And sang. And even as I use that term loosely in her dearly departed presence I remember how she made me learn to read shape notes. It made her happy. It made my piano teacher crazy. It didn’t matter. Nobody could sing as badly and with as much joy as my grandmother. Truly. (don’t tell her I said that) Oh I knew I’d get a rap on my knuckles from my teacher. It didn’t matter. I’d rather have my grandmother’s joy.

Opening the leather-bound 1939 “Favorite Books and Hymns” I sang the song.
There it was. Page 38.
I laid Bloggingham’s flowers on the page.
 “Farther along we’ll know all about it. Farther along we’ll understand why. Cheer up my brother. Live in the sunshine. We’ll understand it. All by and by.” 

 NOW I remember why that song bothered me so. Who wants to wait to understand? Sigh. I found it uninspiring… so….so….depressing. Yes, that’s it. Depressing. Except for one thing.

My grandmother. She always smiled through the whole thing. Every square sour note. Like there was some secret between the tempteds and trieds and the toils of the wicked verse that I just didn’t get.
What WAS that?

I am happy to report that I do not know.

But I’m betting she did. Maybe I was more than a little irritated that she could grin through natural spiritual disasters and I couldn’t. Who wants to “cheer up and live in the sunshine” when the world is falling apart?

Certainly not moody Mimi.

I was a serious child. When things worth being serious about show up in my world, I tend to be a serious adult. And I see the enormous challenges we face as a global community. I know you do too. As a people struggling to live in peace with one another on the world stage of mismatched choirs,  fearful that this great blue earth ball of dirt and water we inhabit will one day implode under the weight of it all…we are perpetual experts at the struggle. It is sobering. I understood Grandmother’s song better than she thought. We are brilliant at round tabling. We are bodacious builders of peace-seeking strategies. PowerPoint pacifism. Stupendously adept at the fine fine art of peace-building on paper.

We fail miserably at retreat.
We run screaming from surrender.

We don’t want to believe in anything we can’t see, smell, touch and understand.
I understood that grandmother couldn’t sing.
I understood that I hated that dreary song.
I understood that grandmother understood that there was no rhyme or reason in her Pollyanna philosophy.
And I understood that it mattered not one iota to her.

 I wondered why….why the winks and smiles in church…why the knowing nods between the two of them…..why the certainty that every uncertainty known to man was a certain source of their joy. They didn’t need to understand why. 
I was certain of that.

My grandmother couldn’t carry a tune in a bucket. But she thought she could. And when she would sing in the old country church choir, it would make my ears hurt (Don’t tell her I said that).
But Papa didn’t mind. He couldn’t sing either. And to him, her voice was as beautiful as her face…or her Hollywood sunglasses, her long dark hair under the hats they shared or the strange strange way their unlikely union seemed to jell into one –  despite her minor-keyed world of wigs and harmonies unknown to man.

He learned to surrender.
No. I take that back.
He loved to surrender.
And that is the word we must put before any attempt at laying down of arms

We have to teach each other not how to unmake war but how to remake peace.
Because truly, if we believe that words are powerful and if we believe those incredible words of Mother Teresa’s about how peace is unattainable because we have simply forgotten that we belong to each other, then we wouldn’t have to think at the think tank of perpetual peace talks at all.
We could just step out of struggle and live in the shiny world of Cheer up my Brother and actually live in the sunshine.
All it takes is a life force on this planet willing to take the first step.
And show the other side that trust is not only a scary thing, but the only way.

Which brings me back to my grandfather’s Cokesbury Worship Hymnal.

I needed to trust the muse.

The last time he held this book in his hands was the Sunday before he died. In the back of the book there are Responsive Readings. He often led the congregation in those readings. I could not get that book off my brain this week. I needed to find it. After I brought it upstairs, sang from the shaped notes hymnal of cheer-up doom and gave my mums to my grandmother’s memory, I started thumbing through the back of The Cokesbury.

Would you like to take a wild guess where his page was turned down?

Why is that?
I am happy to report that I do not know.

But here in Bloggingham tonight, bound to my grandparents’ memory is a small bouquet of wild pink peace mums laid on a bed of uncommon love, shaped oddly like the sound of a far away tune in a church full of cheer in the middle of plowshares and pruning hooks. 

“Nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more.”
Maybe we keep asking for the same struggle and getting exactly what we ask for because we’re not ready to lay down the most powerful weapon we have
Love

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