Monday, January 30, 2006

Big Friend/Little Friend

A friend, who became my friend at the age of five, wrote this for me when she was close to thirty. It brought tears to my eyes and made me wish everyone could have the wonderful experience of being a Big Friend to at least one child.

Big Friend / Little Friend
When I was five, my mother took me to visit a big lady who lived in a big house with her big husband and a big dog. The lady had neat toys and lots of fun kids movies and her big dog was friendly, not scary. The big lady talked to me like I was a real person, not just a kid. She had kind eyes and a warm laugh and from that day on she became my Big Friend.

Over the years, as I was growing up, my Big Friend taught me lots of thing. The first thing I learned was not to knock something until I've tried it. The second lesson was to never be afraid of trying new things. To this day, I like olives on my pizza and fried green tomatoes.

When I entered my terrible teens, and I hated everyone, even myself, my Big Friend understood when I stopped coming to visit. She never pressured me or made me feel guilty. She just said “I'd love to see you when you have more time.” and I knew she'd be there when I was ready.

The time came when I realized that life didn't have to be as hard as I made it out to be and I went to visit my Big Friend once again. She welcomed me with a big hug and her wonderful warm smile and it was like no time had passed. In fact, my visits with my Big Friend became like time spent in a Time Warp. Her little corner of the world seemed outside of Time. Things going on in the rest of the world had little effect in the Time Warp. This was a place to rest and rejuvenate. Even just hours spent in the Time Warp was enough to recharge my batteries.
Slowly, subtly, at a pace I unknowingly set myself, my Big Friend began to teach me once more. By now the lessons were more complex, yet at the same time, so simple.

“Always reach out to someone in need” was such an easy concept. My Big Friend expanded on that by adding “Always walk your path with one hand stretched out ahead of you to receive help when you need it, and the other hand reaching backwards to help those struggling behind you.” Simple, basic, profound.

When I was struggling with religious issues, I came to my Big Friend for advice. “We are all following our own path, and all paths lead up the same mountain, converging to meet at the same place, the top” My Big Friend has a way of drawing pictures in my mind to help me understand the answers to my questions.

As most of us eventually do, I met the person who I plan to spend at least the rest of my life with, and I began to bring him along on my visits. My Big Friend extended the same kindness and understanding to him as she always did to me.

The day came when my Big Friend decided it was time to teach me about the birds and the bees. I was in my twenties and had been with my Significant Other for several years. I knew all abut the birds and the bees, but this was to be, as usual, a different kind of talk. The birds in question were my pets. By caring for them together, my partner and I would learn more about each other and ourselves, in a way similar to parents raising a child. The bees were not the winged variety, but those people whom we meet every day, some of whom will sting us, usually out of fear. By learning to see the fear, and choosing words and actions that would not feed it, I could soon learn to avoid many stings altogether.

My Big Friend surprised me one day by telling me she generally didn't like kids. “But I was a kid and you liked me… didn't you?” I asked. She informed me with a smile, that I was the exception that proved the rule. I was her Little Friend, which was something much more special than just a kid. I could hardly believe it when my Big Friend told me that she got as much out of having a Little Friend as I did from having a Big Friend. I'm still working on understanding that one, but she assures me that one day, I will understand, so I know I will.

Recently it dawned on me that my Big Friend had stopped being my Big Friend long ago. Somewhere along the way, I had mentally dropped the “Big” and kept the most important part, “Friend”.
By Jennifer Mertel

When she sent this to me, the accompanying letter stated that the enclosed is a “work in progress. I have a feeling that it will never be finished, because the more time we spend together, the more I will want to add.”

As I read it, with the tears streaming down my face and a big warm glow in my heart, I wished with all my heart that everyone could experience the joy that having a Little Friend has brought to my life.

Sunday, January 29, 2006

The Path

We come into this life with a path set before birth. This path is chosen for what we need to learn, what we need to do in this lifetime. This does not mean that The Fates rule our lives. It simply means that we are born with a road map, preserving free choice within that map.

Our choices before each birth determine our geographical location, family into which we will be born and the time of our entry to the world. We could not be born to Native American parents in Canada and through choice, become African-Americans in Egypt, however we can make choices during our lifetime that would take us from Canada to Egypt. We would still be Native-American Canadians, born of Native American Canadian parents.

Our early lives are governed by our pre-birth choices, but as we get older and start to make conscious choices, our road map is laid out in front of us. Each choice we make can change the course of our lives on that map. Free Will......

The Way It Is

When I open my eyes in the morning,
I see your face in the dawn.
I remember my reasons for living
And Honey, I’m sure you are one.
I close my eyes in the darkness.
I feel your warmth by my side.
Of all, with which I’ve been blessed,
I’m most thankful for who I’m beside.
I stop work in the afternoon
To wonder about how you are.
Knowing you’ll be home soon
Makes me listen for your car.

Saturday, January 28, 2006

Ode To Lost Innocence

A soul stands naked in the cold,
Innocence in tatters at his feet.
In times gone by, he was so bold,
Not knowing his future need.
Innocence stripped from his very soul,

The layers peeled without any heed.
Fleeting joys, memories grown old
Provide no warmth in his hour of need.
His youthful senses were dulled

“By my innocence” he said.
To feel the pleasures of the world
Was why he did what he did.
But now, in nakedness and dread,

He awaits the cold reality.
Innocence, once lost and dead
Can never again protection be.

Thursday, January 26, 2006


Standing on the brink of panic,
Self induced.
The feeling builds within me,
I ponder the reason for my racing heart,
Am I at war within myself?
I seem to be spinning out of control,
I’ve lost the harmony between my selves,
I need to stop and think it through,
Restore my perspective and re-establish


Since I am always here,
Right where I am today,
I am always beginning
From where I am now.
I never have to continue
With leftover dreams,
I needn’t cope with a future
That may never be,
From the perspective of a past
That probably never was.


I’d like to be perfect,I try very hard.
But the weather affects me,
The news and the blues
Disturb my calm.
I don’t want to be angry,
I try very hard.
But your attitude bothers me,
Your reasons and views
Disturb my calm.
I don’t want to be frightened,
I try very hard,
But the world situation affects me,
Their bulletins and blurbs
Disturb my calm.
I’d like to be placid,
I try very hard.
But your whole way of being affects me,
Your humors and fears
Disturb my calm.
I’ll likely be perfect
When I’m dead and gone.
The big world out there won’t affect me,
All the laughter and tears
Won’t disturb my calm.
I’ll sit all alone
When I’m dead and gone,
Contemplating my naval,
And if I did wrong,
I’ll vow to do better.
Go ahead, disturb my calm.

Thursday, January 19, 2006


Waiting for a sign,
I sit in almost stillness.
Could I but know what tomorrow holds,
I could be guided in my acts today.
But on the other hand, if today’s acts
Are the building blocks of tomorrow,
Then I must determine what it is to be
And proceed today, to mould my tomorrows.
What do I want?
A shared peace and tranquility.

An orderly life with spaces in it,
Rhythm and a forward motion ,
Love, caring and warmth,
Communication and companionship,
A reasonable physical security,
Laughter and contentment,
And the knowledge of how to obtain it all.


A sunbeam caught in a spider’s web
Struggling to be free,
Dashing back and forth along each strand,
The sunbeam and me.
One last shimmering dash
And the sunbeam is free.
Could I but ride the sunbeam ……
I’ll learn. … …

Monday, January 16, 2006

The Magic

With our changing world, so much of the continuity with the past has been lost, partly due to the break up of the extended family and the frailty of the marriage bond. This is a major concern because it is part of the magic that children used to inherit from the older generations. It allowed them to know what was real and what was make believe, but also allowed them to dream great dreams. If our children do not dream, they will not do great things. a recipe for disaster in these most terrible of times.

So much of the magic is gone that many young parents do not even know about it, so how are they to teach their children. What always comes to mind when I think of this is the news item a while back about the young boy who shot his brother, then waited for him to come back to life and continue playing. He had been brought up on a steady diet of violence on TV and in the video games his parents used as babysitters.... and they said Mother Goose is too violent for the current crop of children. At least with Mother Goose, Grimm's and grandparent's stories, we knew what was make believe, and we absorbed the moral of each story without even noticing. We also absorbed the moral fiber of their generation along with our daily bread. We knew what was right and what was honorable. We knew that dead was dead!! Our innocence was preserved for as long as possible to give us time to mature enough to handle the harsh realities.

We live in a society that is stressed to the extreme just trying to provide the necessities of life. Family play time or story time or even participation in group activities has become extremely rare. These are the times that should be providing the magic of dreaming big. I was always told that if I wanted something bad enough, I would find a way, that hard work and integrity were rewarded, that I could be anything I want to become ....when my daughter was in grade 7, her teacher told her she would make a good secretary, not to dream beyond what was logically do-able. We had words, that teacher and I!
The schools are letting the children down and the parents are not taking up the slack, they simply exhaust themselves trying to survive and there is nothing left over for the children. Everything is done in the fast lane, no time to cook, no time to teach, no time to participate in activities together, no time to share memories of accomplishments, dreams and ambitions, no time to learn sportsmanship, life skills .........and on and on. Often there are no aunts, uncles, cousins, grandparents..and the rest of the extended community that earlier generations belonged to and were supported by.

When something died, it was given a fitting burial and the occasion was used to teach the sanctity of life, the logical rhythm of living and dying. Now the dead thing is disposed of and the children are told that it went to live with Aunt Marthy on the farm. Parents do not face the big questions with their children, they take the line of least resistance. This may be because they did not learn these things in their childhood either.The first funeral my children went to was for a favorite goldfish. The children decided the fish was hungry and gave it a whole oatmeal cookie. The next morning I found the fish had tried very hard to eat it all, but had not been up to the task. He barely fit into a matchbox for his burial, but we sent him on to the next world with full honors and the children knew that dead is dead and he was not going to wake up.

I am not saying there are no good people left, only that the balance has shifted with more young parents not having learned the skills and are now unable to pas them on. So many are unaware that there is anything missing. There are really no words to describe exactly what this missing magic looks like to anyone who has not experienced it. Maybe part of the answer is for those of us who know, to reach out to those younger ones who know there is something missing, and help them find it.

Sunday, January 15, 2006

Suspended Animation

The way it was is perhaps the way it will be.
The way it is, is different, altogether
From anything ever experienced before.
Caught up in suspended animation,
Afraid to breathe, lest I be disturbed,
Desiring to know the future,
Desiring not to know the future,
Caught between yesterday and tomorrow
Wishing to remain here always,
Oblivious to both

Saturday, January 14, 2006

Looking Within

If you could look within yourself
You would find the answer
To every question you have ever asked
And more, much more.
If you could be so quiet

You could hear your toenails grow,
The knowledge of the universe
Is there for you to know.
Your inner self is but a part

Of all that is and was
And ever will be.
You are IT, could you but see.
Turn you eyes and ears inward,

Look within your soul, listen to your heart,
Recognize your rightful place
In a Universe of love.


Waiting for a sign, I sit in almost stillness.
Could I but know what tomorrow holds,
I could be guided in my acts today.
But on the other hand, if today’s acts
Are the building blocks of tomorrow,
Then I must determine what it is to be
And proceed today, to mold my tomorrows.
What do I want?
A shared peace and tranquility.

An orderly life with spaces in it,
Rhythm and a forward motion ,
Love, caring and warmth,
Communication and companionship,
A reasonable physical security,
Laughter and contentment,
And the knowledge of how to obtain it all.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Another Dimension

Untouched but not unaware,
I walk through the throngs of shoppers.
Unreal but not unanimated,
They move through the halls and shops.
There but not there,
I seemed the only reality in a cartoon land.
Alone but not truly apart
I strolled through the world of every day.


Adrift on the sea of life,
In a raft as fragile as a leaf,
The calm in the eye of the storm
Was made for weary travelers,
A place to gather strength
Before braving the forces once again.
How long may I drift here
Before a vagrant wave
Picks up my fragile craft
And hurls me once more
Into the teeth of experience.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

A Trip Down Memory Lane

Thinking about the great flu of 1918 led me to thinking about my grandparents and how much they shaped my life. If there is any good in me, it is because of them.

My grandfather was born in 1877, grandma a few years later. She had been a nurse before they married; he had no education at all. She was disowned by her family for marrying “beneath her station”, but they raised five kids below the poverty line and spent a lifetime together.

I experienced their lifestyle because I lived with them for a number of years as a child. They had retired from the farm to a small clapboard house that the town fathers had built on half an acre of land deeded from the community fairgrounds for my great, great grandmother. She was the first white woman to settle in the area. Ownership passed down through her line to my grandmother. My parent’s generation sold the property because it could not be divided into five parcels. The house stood until I was well into my twenties and I have such fond memories there. There was no water on the property, nor did they have electricity. My grandfather’s sister and family lived across the street and all water was dipped from her well and lugged across the road. It was heated with a wood cook stove. A Coleman lantern and coal oil lamps provided light. There was a barn, small trap shed, smithy and carpentry shed on the property. They had a cow, chickens and an old retired workhorse. Grandma sold butter and eggs when she had them. They also grew a small garden, with golden bantam corn being the main crop, sold at the roadside. Grandpa made axe handles and did a little woodworking and blacksmithing to supplement their meager income. They trod gently on the land, taking only what they needed. Their motto could well have been “Fix it up, use it up, wear it out, or do without”. They taught me that poverty is not a financial limitation, but a barrenness of spirit. They were rich in all that matters.

My grandmother passed away when I was around twelve, grandpa at the age of eighty-seven in nineteen sixty-four.

I am now past sixty myself, and I treasure those memories of a simpler time.

Sunday, January 08, 2006

The Great Flu Of 1918

There has been so much in the news lately about the potential for a pandemic and the likelihood of the bird flu mutating, that it has brought dusty old memories to the fore. One such is remembering my grandfather recalling the events of his life. As a child, I would sit mesmerized for hours, as told his stories.

He was 41 years old in 1918, with a wife and 5 small children on a farm about 10 miles from the nearest town. He told me about the terrible flu epidemic, of rising before dawn, kindling the fire then going to the barn to harness the horses to the sleigh. My grandmother would get up and prepare hot tea and porridge, wrap them in blankets to keep them warm and my grandfather would put them in the sleigh.

He would then follow the same route every morning, looking for smoke rising from chimneys. If there was smoke, he knew for certain that there was someone still alive in that house, and would stop to make sure that they were still strong enough to make meals. Then it was back into the sleigh and off to the next house. If there were no smoke, he would stop as well, to see if there was anyone alive. If so, he would bring in his porridge and tea and feed them, light their fires and do what he could to help them survive another day. At the end of his route, he would return home, put the horses back in the barn, feed the livestock and go back into the house for his own breakfast and tea. In the afternoon, they would return to any of the homes where the families could benefit from nursing care and do what they could.

Many families were wiped out totally, none were spared completely. Such hardship and heartache! My grandparents and their children all survived, and I believe the angels watched over them because of their dedication to helping their neighbors as best they could.

It was a different world, a different time, with different values and ethics. I wonder how we would fare if such a pandemic were to happen now.

Saturday, January 07, 2006

The Green Music

Let me never be unable to hear it.
Let my steps be guided by it’s sound.
Let my passing be in harmony with it.
Let my actions reveal its existence.
Let my voice echo it’s wisdom.
Let my soul reflect its beauty,
And let my very being be a note within it.


In a short period, six people for whom I cared a great deal, passed through transition. It seems to be a truth that the older we become, the more funerals and fewer baby showers we attend.

We take for granted the family connections, from the generations ahead, through us to the generations behind, with offshoots for siblings, cousins and such. When all the generations ahead have moved on and the side shoots have uncoupled, you are left at the head of the line, feeling very disconnected.

I’m not sure how I feel about that, There seems to have been a form of security in being part of a chain, which is definitely not there when you suddenly become the “Older Generation”, right up there at the front of the line.

Another thing I wish is that when I pass on I could somehow come back and tidy up the loose ends, do the paperwork, make the phone calls, allocate the accumulated physical trappings, make the required arrangements to spare those I love from this hardest of pains. But, perhaps that is not the way it is supposed to be. Maybe doing these things allows us to adjust more quickly to the fact that the loved one is no longer in our physical sphere. It may also facilitate contact across the divide by putting the sufferer in a receptive frame of mind.

I wish I had some more answers than just “What is, is and in the grand scheme of things it is OK.”

Friday, January 06, 2006

Hurricane Katrina's Aftermath

This was written after Hurricane Katrina, with all the attendant destruction and loss of life. In the case of Hurricane Katrina, the lack of early response and the attendant suffering and deaths make it very hard to come to grips with.

There is an old saying that power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. There are no psychological profile tests given to the leaders we elect. We only learn the truth of their strengths and weaknesses after a catastrophe of such magnitude. Perhaps part of the blame for this is the Pollyanna attitude that “it will never happen to me”. Well, it can happen to anyone and is happening more and more everywhere. Last month, six commercial airplanes fell from the sky. There have been fires, floods, disease and all sorts of natural disasters piled on top of wars, political actions, rebellions and just plain anarchy.

I believe the world as we knew it ended on 9/11. Our innocence was lost, not to be regained. Until we stop ravaging our earth, the catastrophes will not stop. Until we use better judgment in our elected leaders, more and more people will be lost each time. If we don’t soon start to deal with the roots of the problems, it surely will be the end of the world. Civilizations rise and civilizations fall, but never before with such devastation to our planet.

There is no sane way to view what is happening. Every thinking person on the planet is experiencing feelings of helplessness. We give until it hurts, then give a little more, but it is never enough! If we don’t find a way of thinking about these things, and doing what we can, we will collapse into madness trying. When I think about how different my world was as a child, the change is staggering, and happening so rapidly that I can not even catch my breath. Today’s children will live as adults in an even more changed world.

The only thing that saves my sanity and allows me to get up each morning and do whatever little thing I can, is the knowledge that there is a higher power, a higher purpose, that we cannot even begin to understand.

My role, my life can only be counted as a success if I bring positive change in the world that I touch. This is a very small world, but if we do nothing, it will rapidly become smaller. Individually, we cannot effect any great change for the better, but as an army of voices, perhaps we can at least lessen the damage by even a small amount.

Our children are our hope. We need to pay attention to them, try to raise them with an understanding and an appreciation for nature, life in general, and our fellow human inhabitants. Magic filled my world. We had no money, but we had so much love. The things I learned at my grandparent’s knee have lasted me all my life. The little, seemingly unimportant things, make the biggest impact. Who knows what ripples are caused by little acts of kindness.

An example of this is seen in my grandmother’s philosophy, that she lived by all her life. I lived with my grandparents for quite a while as a small child. They lived in a small clapboard house on a quarter acre of land cut from the public fairgrounds, built for my great, great, grandmother who was the first white woman in that small village. They had been farmers, and my grandfather hunted, trapped for furs and did some blacksmith and carpentry work for a little money. In their golden years, when they could no longer farm, they moved into that little house with no electricity, or running water.

In fact, there was no water, it had to be dipped from the well across the street, and carried home by the bucket full. They grew a small garden, had chickens for eggs and Sunday dinner, a cow for milk, and a pig for winter meat. A neighbor half a mile away lived with an alcoholic husband and struggled to feed her children. Many times, my grandma would dress me as warmly as possible, wrap a cape around me and send me off with a basket of eggs or a quart of milk or a pound of butter for this lady and her children. As a result of my grandmother’s example, I have always tried to be open handed, giving away the last of what I had on more than one occasion. The Creator has always looked after me, not often providing what I wanted, but always providing what I needed..............usually at the very last moment.

As I said, magic filled my world, but these days, magic has almost disappeared from the lives of children. Any time we can return some of that magic to them, we are helping them to grow up dreaming big, trusting in the Creator to provide, and having an open heart and an open hand in their dealings with the world. We cannot know what ripple effects it will have, only that it will be good.


The truth is within us all. We need only to recognize it.
When we hear the words of truth that we have not yet remembered,
it resonates within and awakens that truth in us.
With truth comes a positive feeling; We simply know it is a truth.
To progress on the path, we need to listen, read and research
other people’s truths in order to find our own.

Our physical minds are sophisticated computers.

As such, we need to expose ourselves to a wide variety of input.
If the words are not in our computer, we are not able
to recognize or articulate our truths when they do manifest.

Monday, January 02, 2006

The Inner Light

Always I am guided
By the inner light of love.
Often, I don’t listen
To the voice of my inner light.
Unchanged by my ignorance,
The light keeps shining through.
Constant, steadfast, dependable.
Such love sets an example
To my struggling self each day,
And gives me added courage
To try again each time I fail.

To See God

To see God in a flower,
I must first see Him in me.
To see order in the universe
I must first see it in my life.
To see love in your eyes,
I must first see it in my heart.
To survey the valley,
I must first climb the mountain.
To climb the mountain,
I must first take a step.

Peace Profound

My life of pain is written
In the tears upon my face.
My capacity for joy is written
In the depth behind my eyes.

Understanding is reflected
In the timbre of my voice.
Peace Profound is waiting
In a chamber in my heart.

The events of each day
Form the path I must take
To reach the chamber
Holding ultimate bliss,

And gladly I walk
Through the refining fire,
To reach such an ultimate goal.

Life's Work

The soul within us all is perfect in it’s expression.
It is only the flaws in the vessel that contains it,
which cause the imperfect reflection.
It is the duty of each of us to mend the flaws
in order to allow the beauty of
perfection to shine through.

This is the life’s work of many life times.
We must show each other by example
that progress can be made.