National Poetry Month: Crossing The Bar

I’ve had death on my mind for a while now. It’s probably because my dad is in ill health and I’m not sure how much longer he’ll be in this world.

I want to live a long life and live to be 99 and ½ so I can participate in the tricentennial. I’m not looking to die anytime soon but I have given my funeral more thought than average. There are certain songs I want played. There are definitely certain poems I want read. Today, tomorrow and Friday, I’ll be posting the poems I want read at my funeral.

The first is “Crossing The Bar” by Alfred, Lord Tennyson. I don’t know when I first encountered it, probably in junior high, but it has stuck with me. And, coincidentally, I’ve discovered that my maternal grandfather, the one that my middle name comes from, had this poem printed on his funeral memorial cards.

“Crossing The Bar” sums up everything I feel about death and dying. I’d rather people not cry at my funeral. I’m not sure what lies ahead after this world but I have faith that it’ll be better.

“Crossing The Bar” — Alfred, Lord Tennyson

Sunset and evening star,
     And one clear call for me!
And may there be no moaning of the bar,
     When I put out to sea,

  But such a tide as moving seems asleep,
     Too full for sound and foam,
When that which drew from out the boundless deep
     Turns again home.

  Twilight and evening bell,
     And after that the dark!
And may there be no sadness of farewell,
     When I embark;

  For tho’ from out our bourne of Time and Place
     The flood may bear me far,
I hope to see my Pilot face to face
     When I have crost the bar.


Of Chakras & Scripture

Wednesday has become as spiritual as Sunday morning.

On Wednesday afternoon I have my connection group. We’ve finished The Book Of Forgiving but people are finding it difficult to find copies of the next book at the library. The book, Between The Dark And The Daylight, is $15.45 on Amazon but that’s a little steep. I have the e-book and I found two used copies for less than $10 so I’ve ordered them and they’ll arrive sometime next week.

Laura isn’t feeling well so I was in charge. I wanted to accomplish two things at the meeting. First, I wanted to check in and make sure people were okay with the books we’ve been reading. We’ve been reading a lot of personal growth books. I feel that, the more we grow as people, the more we grow in spirit. Thankfully, the group is on the same page.

Second thing I wanted to do was give a brief introduction to the author of our next book. We watched Brène Brown’s Super Soul Sunday episode before we started to read Rising Strong and that seemed to give us an idea of what to expect. I couldn’t find a complete version of Sister Joan Chittister’s Super Soul Sunday appearance so we watched a few short clips of her appearance.

When connection group ended I made my way to meditation. I’ve been skipping it lately because of church leadership classes but I felt the need to attend. Niki wasn’t there so I was able to sit in with Jai Jay.

I haven’t done a chakra clearing meditation in a long time. I used to scoff at chakras but I’ve changed my tune after doing research. The body is a mysterious thing and sometimes our energy gets stuck. From my root to my crown, I knew there was a reason I felt I needed to come to meditation and chakra clearing was the reason why.

I asked Diana to inform whoever was going to run leadership classes that I was going to be a tad late. Guided meditation ends at 6:30 while leadership classes start at 6:30 and I still haven’t found a way to be two places at once. It’s pouring rain and has been for hours now. Meditation when it’s raining is short of magical but walking the few blocks to church not as magical. I was about 15 minutes late, exactly what I had figured but Rev. Deb was only starting when I arrived so I didn’t miss a thing.

It was an interesting meeting. We’re at the point where we’re discussing what type of ministry we’d like to become involved with. The church is in the process of trying to find a new building because we have to be out of the current one at the end of the year.

Our current vision statement says that we “lovingly transform lives by including all, inspiring each other, and influencing community” and we’ve focused on those three “I” statements the last three years. Because we’re at a stage of change we were talking about drafting a new vision statement.

As an affirming church, we are filled with marginalized people. I’d think that the marginalized would be more accepting but that’s not the case. I feel that we should be a church for all and when I say all I truly mean all. If a person, no matter if they are a murderer, rapist, homophobe, etc and feels repentant in their heart, they should have a place at our church. Acts 3:19 says “Therefore repent and return, so that your sins may be wiped away, in order that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord.”

But I learned tonight that there are people in my church that feel that there should be some sort of litmus test before you can come to our church. I don’t know how that’s going to affect me as I move forward but I hope I don’t bump against others because of the social justice aspect I want to bring to the church.

April Fool

It’s April Fool’s Day. I’ve been thinking about the Fool and how everyone seems to misunderstand the Fool.
In Medieval times, the Fool had a leeway that others in the Royal Court did not. The Fool was set apart. The diarist, Samuel Pepys, wrote that “The King’s fool and jester, with the power to mock and revile even the most prominent without penalty.”

In the traditional tarot, the Fool is an unnumbered card. The Fool doesn’t have a set number because he has unlimited potential. The Fool is always present and needs no number.

The Fool card is shown at the beginning of the journey. The sun rises and he prepares to step off on his way to a new adventure. He is facing towards the west, the direction of the unknown. The Fool represents beginnings and innocence, spontaneity and free spiritedness.

The Fool is a card of potential. It shows the highest potential for your life, reaching a state of renewal and new beginnings, where each day is an adventure and each moment is lived to the fullest. The Fool card represents the beginning of all creativity and a desire to accomplish new goals (or to, at least, start the process of working towards those goals). The Fool indicates that anything can happen and the opportunities are just waiting to be taken advantage of.

In a Tarot reading, the Fool represents the need to set forth on a new journey, one that is completely unknown and will take you to uncharted territories. The Fool is all about new experiences, personal growth, development and adventure. The Fool Tarot card asks you to take a ‘leap of faith’ and to trust in the Universe in that if you begin a new journey, you will find success. This Fool lives a carefree life, free from worry and anxiety. He does not seem to mind if he does not really know what lies ahead.

The Fool card may represent a choice to be made—one of vital importance. However, there are always many different options available and the choice must be made wisely. If you are facing a decision or moment of doubt, the Fool encourages you to believe in yourself and follow your heart no matter how crazy or foolish your impulses may seem. This is a time when you need to truly ‘believe’ and have faith in where the Universe is taking you.

The Fool is an excellent Tarot card to meditate on if you are experiencing a lot of fear in your life. The Fool enhances courage, risk-taking and the creative expression needed to open up new areas in your life. The Fool is always whole, healthy and without fear. He is the spirit of who we are, the spirit expressed and experienced as wonder, awe, curiosity and anticipation. We never know what is in the future but like the Fool we must blindly go forward. You need to trust that you are a spirit born into flesh to enjoy life and grow in experience. Take a chance and see what happens.

Time Marches On

I can hardly believe that it’s almost April. When I was a child, time seemed so slow. It was so long until the end of the school day. The weeks between Labor Day and Thanksgiving were insurmountable. The time between Christmas break and summer seemed endless. And summer fun seemed to go on forever until Labor Day rolled around and it was back to school.

Now time seems to move much more quickly. I sometimes want to pause so I can catch my breath. The days fly by and blur into each other. I remember ringing in the New Year. Now I’m seeing March go out like a lamb.

I’ve been looking at the etymology of various words and their different meanings. March gets its name from the Roman god of war, Mars, and it is defined as “to walk somewhere quickly and in a determined, confident, or angry way.”

I can understand now why it’s said time marches on. Time is determined to get to the next place. I, on the other hand, have been stuck marching in place. The arrival of Spring and of April has me determined to break out of my rank and take the next step, the first step on my next journey. As Lao Tzu is quoted, “The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.”

Goodbye Winter

I haven’t been feeling well and that means I haven’t been sleeping. I’m currently been awake for almost 21 hours. Last night I couldn’t sleep at all. My stomach felt queasy. I thought I was going to vomit and have to sleep on the couch. The queasy feeling went away around 6:30 but, by then, it was pretty much too late to get any sleep before I had to get up for church. I tried in vain to sleep but, once the sun rose, I gave up and went to breakfast.

I’m usually not a breakfast eater but I keep seeing this IHOP commercial for their cinnamon roll French toast. I decided I wanted to enjoy the Sunday paper so I bought one at Rite Aid then headed down to IHOP.

I don’t know if it’s because it was Sunday or if I was there at 9:30 but IHOP was packed. I was seated next to a Detroit police officer and his girlfriend. I had a really great conversation with him. We talked about the travesty of the Sunday morning newspaper being so thin compared to the thickness of the past and how the newspaper strike and its eventual end plus the advent of the Internet and social media signalled the end of the print newspaper. I loaned him my paper while I chowed down and that lead to a freewheeling discussion on a host of topics. I found it a great way to start the day.

I arrived to church super early so I didn’t know what to do with myself. Service starts at 11 and I usually waltz in around 10:50. I have just enough time to fill out my prayer request and take my seat.

We’re deep into a sermon series called “Get Up And Get Out”. So far the sermons have centered around the various disciples. This morning was quite profound. Rev. Roland preached about the jealousy among Jesus’s disciples. Then he started talking about friendship and how we rank our friendship. He said that most of us have friends that are either objects or subjects. An object friend is a friend that only takes up space and is there for your convenience. Just as objects on a shelf are admired and used for status, object friends are the people we use to help ourselves. A subject friend is someone we have a mutual respectful relationship. With subject friends, we care about their well-being and we don’t try to dictate the friendship as we do with object friends. I’d never thought about friendship in those terms but it makes sense.

Then he dropped a question that still has me thinking about the answer. Where do you rank God? I don’t think of God the way that Rev. Roland does but I still can answer the question. I consider my relationship with the Powers That Be set aside from everything else in my life. Scripture in Matthew chapter 6 talks about how, if we are to pray and do good works, we should do them in secret and in silence. We shouldn’t be out in the street bringing attention to ourselves. It’s a concept I practice. I’ll write about my spiritual life because this online space is partly somewhere I keep track of my everyday life but I don’t really talk unprovoked about my spiritual beliefs. My relationship with the Universe is different than anything else because the Universe is within me and surrounds me. We all come from a source and we all return to that same source. I have a symbiotic relationship with the Divine Wow so I can’t really rank it.

Today marks the end of winter. I’m actually going to be doing some spiritual craft this week and I need some candles so I stopped by Candlewick. There I bought a few candles, a stone bowl and a stone. I usually don’t get into stones but, sometimes, one will call out to me. This time it was a dalmatian stone. I hadn’t heard of it so I did some brief research. (h/t to Crystal Vaults for the info)

“The determination within Dalmatian Stone encourages one to carefully think over plans for any project, reflecting on every phase of development, and then to translate the ideas into actuality with enthusiasm and vigor. It is an excellent talisman for the early stages of setting up a business or solo venture. It is particularly beneficial for those who are overly analytical, returning some of the intellectual carefulness back into the physical joy of simply being. Dalmatian Stone encourages fidelity and emotional harmony, strengthening family bonds and long-term friendships. It encourages team effort and cooperation at work. Dalmatian Jasper supports the body’s physical balance and is a great stone for those who engage in the martial arts, tai chi, or chi gung. Its ability to balance yin-yang energy helps one capture the essence of this art for good health and well-being.” Hmmm, it like the Powers That Be know what I’m planning and sent the proper stone my way.

Sunday Prayer

I’m about to leave for church but I stumbled across this prayer so I wanted to share. I’m beginning to realize each day that we are all part of the human family.

A Universal Prayer — Vince Milum

Dear God of All Humanity,

We ask that you empower us to be
ambassadors of your love and wisdom to all the peoples of the earth.

We know that, with your grace, we can disrupt the cycle of pain and suffering visited upon your children — including those who appear to be agents of hate and intolerance but who are, in fact, victims of suffering as well.

To remedy our imbalance, we ask that you give us the strength and courage to act as one family deserving of your mercy so that peace and unity may be realized in our lifetimes.

We ask this in your name.


International Women’s Day

Today is International Woman’s Day. I keep thinking about a Tupac song called “Keep Your Head Up”.

And since we all came from a woman
Got our name from a woman and our game from a woman
I wonder why we take from our women
Why we rape our women, do we hate our women?
I think it’s time to kill for our women
Time to heal our women, be real to our women
And if we don’t we’ll have a race of babies
That will hate the ladies that make the babies
And since a man can’t make one
He has no right to tell a woman when and where to create one
So will the real men get up?
I know you’re fed up, ladies, but keep your head up

Since we’re living in the OrangeAsshole regime and he seems to have little regard for the modern forward thinking woman, today was also a day that woman, if they were able to, went on strike.

I’m the only male in my connection group. I usually host it but it was at Diana’s house. I’m thankful that the women in my connection group decided to show up. We’ve been having great discussion as we grapple with forgiveness. This afternoon was a discussion about needing forgiveness. I know that I’ve hurt people and I’ve needed to ask for forgiveness. The odd thing is that the consensus was that it’s easier to grant forgiveness to another person rather than to ask for forgiveness. It plays into being vulnerable, lessons we learned about in our previous book, Rising Strong by Brêne Brown. 

What I’m loving most about The Book Of Forgiving is the choice between renewing relationships or releasing relationships. I’m at a point of my life where I’m more likely to release a relationship than I am to renew it. At forty I don’t feel like I have the time or want to make the effort to deal with other people’s drama.

Ironically, I wore red without knowing that supporters of woman’s rights was supposed to wear red. I’m at the end of my laundry cycle so my red sweater was the only thing I had clean. I’m wearing dirty pants because I split the pants I was wearing earlier taking a case of bottled water out of the back of Laura’s SUV. 

Of course if I had known I would have worn red regardless. I support women and I don’t understand those who don’t. I have a mom. I have a sister and a sister in law. I have nieces and great nieces. I had a grandmother. I have aunts. I have female cousins. I have female co-workers and classmates and friends. Some of the most important people in my life are women and I support them 100℅.