Uncover the Sun

Blue Sky

On days when the sky

holds a danger of gray

let each flavor linger

like unfamiliar fruit,

slowly, with delight

and a bit of wistful wishing

that you hadn’t tried it yet,

that the first sweet surprise

still awaited your tongue

 

Greet each person you know

like a world

you’ve never traveled,

wild terrain

both foreign and friendly,

with unexpected paths

perhaps long forgotten,

and vistas that awe the heart

and catch the breath

 

Embrace every tree you meet

like a whole forest 

of wonder 

rooted more deeply 

than any human kind,

rich, earthy, expansive,

not prone to pettiness,

but magnificent 

in generosity

 

On days when the sky

holds a danger of gray,

you might think it 

the only color you will ever see,

then with all of your senses

seek blue, find blue

taste it, greet it, 

embrace blue sky 

in you

3/18/20

Uncover the Sun

Impossible

 

We think we know

what will come

and then

something unheard

or unthought

or never experienced

plummets us

out of our minds

and into our small bodies

 

This human wear is wearying

and humbling

because just when we think

we are powerful

life fells us with a bold ask

to see more deeply

to feel more fully

to be more than we ever thought

impossible

Uncover The Sun

Egg

 

Once, the egg of the universe

cracked wide

and spilled into clusters

of planets and stars

in space

 

And our little blue round,

if only we held it

as tenderly

as any bird ever sheltered

her unhatched brood

 

Perhaps the mothering sky

waits for the day

that our hearts crack

wide open

and we all fly

 

 

Uncover the Sun

Pause

 

let us take

a brief pause

in our regularly scheduled

human mayhem

 

to hold a pine cone

and notice the seeds spiraling

in orderly splendor

of reproduction

 

and how the fern knows,

without complex calculations,

which way to reach

for the sun

 

and how flowers,

making no distinctions,

blossom sweetly

among the weeds

 

and how stones come to rest quietly

where they are placed,

and even earthquakes

open in a line we call fault

 

and how humans

in their civilized fashion

may be

the wildest things here

 

Uncover the Sun

Transition

 

Catch hope

as only a cat can,

with a smile, a purr,

and a pounce

 

Count the gifts

of imagination

no longer buried

under too many rules

 

Carry petroglyphs

of possibility

carved

into new walls

 

Hold your heart

carefully open

and run dance

passionately forward

Uncover the Sun

Chronic

By the time we reach our 40’s and 50’s, most of us have had some kind of health issue or have suffered losses of friends and family members. And some have already experienced a great deal of loss in their early years. I barely know anyone my age who does not have some kind of chronic health issue, whether serious or relatively benign. And anyone who has suffered a loss knows that grief is an on-going chronic process too. I am always struck, in listening to others’ stories as well as through my own experience, by how our country shames the physically and mentally ill, and provides so little safety net that any major illness may result in deprivation and poverty. If the statistics that 70 percent of the population is living paycheck to paycheck is correct, any sudden change in health or circumstances may be catastrophic.

So far, I have seen Go Fund Me accounts set up for long or short-term medical expenses, (even among insured people, because most policies don’t cover much) for funeral expenses, legal assistance, schooling, transportation, living expenses, catastrophic accidents, and lately, for out of work and non-paid government employees. Despite working sometimes two or three jobs, people are basically being forced to beg for survival.

It is no wonder that a great deal of the population is anxious, depressed, and addicted to opioids. When I talk to overseas clients, whose countries have universal health coverage, they want to know how anyone could ever recover from an illness given the stress we are under. And many don’t. In a country where our only value is based on whether we can earn a living wage or not, many of us don’t survive, hence our increasingly high rates of suicide.

I think as human beings we have a duty of care. To treat one another with respect and as if we have the right to say alive, be healthy, and pursue that elusive thing called happiness. This used to be called basic decency, but apparently in this country, it is now reserved for the privileged. We currently have cities with whole neighborhoods of people living in tents. We are our own refugees. And this is a rich country!

Lately, I’ve been wondering what it would be like to live in a country whose laws actually reflected values of care rather than cruelty. A country in which we had access to clean water and air, non-poisoned food, medical care, decent education, equal rights, and we knew that our country actually had our backs. Given how much we work, and pay in taxes, it doesn’t seem too much to ask.

Uncover the Sun

Family Holidays

Some of my friends are traveling to see family during the holidays. They might wish that their families got along like the ones in the holiday movies, the ones where issues get resolved in the last half hour, but they don’t. At most, they may be hoping for fewer pointed remarks, less drinking and more laughing, and not getting an upset stomach or headache. Many are planning a few extra days off to recover from visiting.

Why do they go at all? Partly guilt, but mostly love. Even though they may not like the way family members behave, talk, or feel, life is short and they still want to see them, even if only occasionally. And the visits invariably bring up sorrow at how different their family’s behavior is, compared to what they wish it to be.

In families where people stay in designated roles, those who have focused on self-growth and having better boundaries, may feel uncomfortable or no longer fit. Families can be rather closed systems, and introducing new behaviors might really blow things up. Feelings of estrangement make the holiday season extra painful for those who did not grow up in a Hallmark movie, which is actually most of us.Continue reading

Uncover the Sun

Holiday Grief

The first holidays after a loss may be a blur of sorrow and avoidance, or a kind of numb shock as it sinks in that the person you miss is still missing and will keep missing every family gathering and special event onwards. The idea of celebrating anything may make you want to scream and clout well-wishers over the head, even though you know they care. You might perk up for Halloween, but ignore Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Hanukkah, and then vaguely register New Year’s. There is nothing particularly rational about any of this.

And experienced mourners warn you that holidays are hard, especially the first few years, or if the person died around the holidays. You may not feel like doing much of anything at all. Favorite rituals you had with the person who is gone, have to be done without them. Or not at all. You might come up with new rituals so that you don’t have to miss doing the old ones. And some people simply skip the whole thing completely by getting on a plane to some place where no one celebrates anything that time of year.

Even when people understand everyone grieves differently, they may still get angry when others in the same family won’t participate the way they want them to.  Trying to replicate previous holiday rituals with someone missing, might seem unbearable to one person, but comforting to the next. And going along with what the other person wants sometimes just makes a tough situation worse.

I know one couple who tried to compromise. One wanted to spend Christmas day visiting a distant gravesite, and one really didn’t, but accompanied the other person anyway. The second person wound up really depressed and angry over spending Christmas at a cemetery. And the first person felt terrible that the other was not comforted. It is much easier to grieve with people who need what you do. And being able to identify what you need and follow what works for you is important.

It may also add another whole layer of grief and loneliness if we feel we cannot be with close friends or relatives because we have different needs. And face it, holidays may be difficult already, due to family issues, previous losses, financial constraints, or other life problems. Luckily, the time encompassing Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s is only about two months, even though it feels like three years.Continue reading

Uncover the Sun

Distinctions

We humans like making distinctions. We spend a great deal of time classifying and naming things, even categorizing each other by skin color, gender, age, socioeconomic status, culture, ethnicity, and religion. People we can’t pigeonhole often make us nervous, as if reducing people to categories makes them more real somehow. If we can label people, we assume we will know what to expect from them. It’s a way to make the strange more familiar. And we humans are predisposed to view the strange with suspicion.

There is a difference, however, between making distinctions and judging. For example, we might distinguish between foods we like and dislike, without deciding that all grapefruit are bad because we don’t like them. Having our own opinion does not necessarily negate someone else’s. And yes, it is possible to disagree about the merits of grapefruit, without condemning every single fruit and deciding that all those who love grapefruit are wrong.Continue reading

Uncover the Sun

Grief Styles

All of us grieve differently, and depending upon the culture there may be expectations of how to do so “properly.” In some cultures, talking about the person who died is considered taboo, because it may bring back their spirit, resulting in a haunting of the living. Mentioning them by name or even naming a child after a departed soul may be frowned upon. In other cultures, naming a child after a dead relative may be a way to honor the relative and impart some of their strengths to the child.

In many countries, mourners create an altar in dedication to their ancestors, treating them as if they are still part of everyday life. The dead are not considered to be really gone, just physically away for now. Some folks keep many mementos visibly displayed around the house, others may have a special corner, or not want to share them with guests at all. And one woman told me that in her country everyone knows that sometimes dead relatives get into fights with other people’s dead relatives, and she has had to leave parties because of the spirits arguing so much.Continue reading