In Memorium

Arlington flags

Photo by outontheporch.org

Americans began commemorating the deaths of soldiers after the Civil War in different states. On May 30, 1868, the first national commemoration was observed when flowers were placed on the graves of Union and Confederate soldiers at Arlington National Cemetery. Since that date, over 360,000 soldiers are now buried in Arlington Cemetery, and each year soldier volunteers place a flag in front of each grave.

My vision is that we build a future in which we will be able to celebrate the victory of the peacemakers.  Let us create a world in which we no longer arm our young men, and now women, to die in battlefields that are more and more becoming about maintaining the wealth of a few, rather than truly protecting the welfare and freedom of the many. Let us also use this time to commemorate the deaths of the millions of innocents, women, children, the elderly, who never carried a gun and are the true casualties of war.

PEACE

Can justice and order by force of arms ever bring peace?

Defeated tyrants tortured remorse is not real peace.

Ideals and truth, like the value of one precious life,

are lost in the economic discourse that limits peace.

Science and research can answer a thousand questions

except a method to implement universal peace.

Everyone should conquer their own greed and ignorance.

Clear compassion must divorce selfishness to find peace.

Striving to be a beacon of light amidst the dark

She who writes seeks diplomatic words to promote peace.

My Lucky Bamboo

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Joyce, I call her after the nurse

who gave me this curling beauty

an unexpected perfect Christmas gift.

Quickly her roots screamed against

the narrow black ceramic vase

as she towered tall

but I wanted her small

wax halted her height

so her leaves

sprouted sideways.

Grass green, fern deep leaves

lift upward praying palms

roots rest now on stones

in a perfectly sized pot

to feed her

heavenly aspirations.

Happy Mother’s Day Lucille – A Book Review

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Who would believe that a cigarette smoking white woman with only an eighth grade education, five children, and more than twice divorced could plant the seeds for Vajrayana Buddhist practice in the United States? But it is true, a little known story related, in all of its mysticism and contradictions, in the book Luminous Sitting, Torturous Walking, Lucille Cedercrans Schaible, by Gretchn Ann Groth, Dakini Wisdom, 2011. Hundreds of us who today practice Vajrayana Buddhism under the direction of His Holiness Shephen Dawa Rinpoche are the spiritual children of this unusual woman.

In 1948, some Americans were familiar with the teachings of Alice Bailey and Theosophy, but Buddhism and Tibet were by and large viewed as oriental magic. Lucille, at that time already a wife and mother, had no experience with mysticism, spirituality, or even religion. But, one day while taking a few minutes to rest from household chores, in the house alone, sitting in a rocking chair she had an experience that changed her life.

“Suddenlly, my mind opens up and merges with. . .with what? With a Presence. This Presence and I are one. . .But how could this be? . . .so peaceful and expansive. . . . So much energy. Radiant light that seems to be everywhere. . .I am infused with thoughts, concepts, and ideas that I have never considered. It is amazing . . .”

The following year she began teaching meditation in Boise, Idaho and developed  The New Thoughtform Presentation of the Wisdom which she taught to groups around the country through the sixties. In 1973 she studied with Tarthang Tulku Rinpoche and he authorized her to teach Nyingma meditation techniques and Tibetan Buddhist philosophy. Three years later she met His Holiness Dudjom Jigdrel Rinpoche, Supreme Head of the Nyingma School of Tibetan Buddhism, father of Shenphen Dawa. Under His Holiness Dudjom’s guidance Lucille established Udiyan Maitreya Kosha in Denver, Colorado in 1978. Twenty years later I took refuge in that Center, unaware of the woman who made it possible.

Just as her life did not fit the image of the average American fifties female, her story is told in a unique way. Groth, who admits to not being an experienced writer, presents a well written book approaching the narrative in four ways. Lucille’s original writings, poetry, stories, and journal entries are interwoven throughout the book; some chapters are written by Groth using the techniques of creative non-fiction; in other chapters the writer describes and explains Lucille’s method of spiritual teaching and her influences; between chapters are personal reminisces by Lucille’s students, friends, and family members.

In the Buddhist interpretation, Lucille had experienced many reincarnations so that in this birth she was able to serve as a vehicle for spreading the spiritual teachings introduced by Sakyamui Buddha over a thousand years ago. Her story, however, is not one of a benevolent, long suffering compassionate saint such as the Dalai Lama. Groth documents Lucille’s insecurities, her resistance, and her manipulative use of others which manifested in physical illness. Despite, her weaknesses, Lucille’s commitment to sharing the spiritual truths and light she received succeeded in creating a living lineage of Vajrayana Buddhism in this country.

The light she experienced in 1948 continues in the lives and work of those who were influenced by her teachings and presence. One such example is Lea Groth-Wilson, daughter of the author. Lea is a translator of Tibetan texts, and now mother to a Tibetan-American son. Lea’s memory of Lucille illustrates the power of the light Lucille shone throughout her life.

“I don’t remember finding out that she died . . .what I remember most clearly, was the light. The sunlight seemed to be streaming into the temple from everywhere. . . It was this brilliant, sparkling, bubbling light, as though millions of circular rainbows were flooding through the walls and the people and the space and that empty chair. . .her funeral was not sad, not sad at all; it was magical, at least to my four-and-a-half year old eyes.”

Meditation and Tibetan Buddhist monks have become common place in the USA today and Lucille’s teachings pioneered that acceptance. But, for anyone who has little understanding of Buddhism, this book is an excellent introduction. Luminous Sitting, Torturous Walking, Lucille Cedercrans Schaible, by Gretchn Ann Groth is available for purchase at http://www.dakini-wisdom.com.

Ancient Trees – A Poem

General Sherman

ten-thousand-trees.blogspot.com

This poem speaks for itself and is appropriate for this spring time season. Enjoy.

Ancient Trees

Tall and strong you stood

before Buddha turned

the wheel of Dharma.

You smiled in wisdom

at the birth of Jesus.

How many civilizations

have faded into the ethers

while you still endure?

If you could walk

men would have killed you

so someone named you

General Sherman

35 feet wide 275 feet tall.

Humans, birds,

the four leggeds

make your limbs and branches

homes or saloons

of pleasure and protection.

Immense Redwoods and Sequoias

who can practice your

strength in patience?

Rooted to the earth

towering with life

ceaselessly growing.

Humans dare to fear

for your survival?

You whose limbs kiss the sky

whose roots flourish

and feed the earth

if we would listen to you

maybe we could

learn how to live.

Free Write Friday – Awake

Today’s prompts were these words,  lazy – rain – perspective – glint – somber – trinket – static  provided by Kellie Elmore

Awake

The lazy girl turned over in bed and pulled the covers over her head as the rain beat against the window panes. She knew she needed to change her perspective about looking for work but she was so tired of rejection. The rain reflected her state of mind. If only a glint of light could break through this unchanging landscape of no. Sleep slipped over her and she walked through a dark and somber forest. But she was not afraid. The full white moon shone like a beacon guiding her through the tree laden path.

Suddenly a faint static sound buzzed in her ears. She stopped and looked around but saw nothing but the trees standing tall and static as soldiers in the night. Her feet moved forward and the sound grew louder and louder and louder. But she was not afraid. Just as the sound seemed unbearable she saw a glint of gold sparkling in the moonlight on the ground ahead. Trinkets of metal turned and swirled around each other creating the sharp sound and a strong blowing energy.  The wind swept her up  into the sky and she flew past the moon into a blazing sun.

The sound of the ringing phone pulled her eyes open. She swept the blanket from her head and grabbed the phone.

“Hello. . .Yes, I can start right away. . .Monday? . . .Yes, I’ll see you at eight.”

She put the phone down and smiled as the sunlight streamed through the window

Spring Awakening – The Ghazal Series

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The slow awakening of spring parallels an awakening in my life and maybe yours. Early morning sunrises, warm afternoons, colorful blooms help remove the dour days of winter. For some of us, like me, we are entering a new cycle, another move, another job, and most importantly publication of another book.

So today, I’m sharing another ghazal. This poem was written after the sudden appearance of flowers in the desert in December one year. But, it also brings to mind the wonders of spring. Enjoy.

Flowers

December blue skies bring sun coloured flowers

beyond belief winter day welcomes flowers.

Smoothly, time’s web captures surprise hours

warmed by beauty, heart kisses wild flowers.

Delightful reverie intrudes cold season

sensual scents announce fragrant flowers.

Skin holds memories of fiery warm days

snow will soon succumb to flowing flowers.

Epics written in moments of magic

Skywalker’s song spins in sparkling flowers.

Gingko Tree in the Iowa Sky – The Ghazal Series

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Gingko Leaf painting by Joan Webster-Vore

When my husband and I moved to Des Moines, Iowa in 2000, a tall, full leafed tree stood in front of our house, next to the street. The leaves had fluted, lace like edges and it was tall and elegant.  But, months later small round fruit began to fall from the tree that smashed to the ground leaving a noxious odor. We tried to clean it up but it was a losing battle. Although, as the photo shows, the tree was beautiful.

It was a female gingko. Now, as I reflect, although the tree had stood for years, it must not have matured until we moved there, because everyone acted as if the fruit had never fallen before. For two years we endured this fight, not being ones to want to destroy a tree.  But, the murderous looks and complaints we received from our neighbors, that it was actually on the city’s property, and the sickening odor led eventually to the tree being cut down. But, we did plant another tree in its place.

Gingko Tree in the Iowa Sky                                                                       GINKO 2

Crystal blue laughter beneath Iowa’s autumn sky

naked and grey gingko tree limbs embrace the sky.

Bright diamond light feeds and fills our hungry souls

like gold, creative visions free rainbows into the sky.

Wishes woven out of tinsel dreams beyond time

carry thoughts beyond misery to swim in the sky.

Some tears well for no reason we can fathom

the heart of infinity seduces the sky.

Like honey on the tongue music slips into rhyme

ephemeral as a bee, images from Sky.

Free Write Friday – Synchronicity

This week’s prompt has a special significance for me, although Kellie has not made any claims to being psychic. So, that is why I have named this poem –

Synchronicity

“The truth is, unless you let go, unless you forgive yourself, unless you forgive the situation, unless you realize that the situation is over, you cannot move forward.”
― Steve MaraboliLife, the Truth, and Being Free

I release

let go

the moments are over

Let the tears

flow freely

all dreams

come to an end

All work

passes

seldom receives

the value

for time and energy

expended

Release

let go

don’t hold on

All things pass

all dreams

dissolve

The universe hands me

this moment to smile

I’m moving on

darkness is gone

Light kisses my face

I am awake.

Awards, Awards, Awards – Outstanding Bloggers List

Over the past several months I received several awards and recognition which I have not yet acknowledged. I just saved the posts and kept planning to follow the rules – but time kept flying past my good intentions.

When WM included me in his Best Bloggers List, I resolved to do as he did. I would  acknowledge all of my awards at one time and provide a list of the bloggers I feel deserve recognition. Well – time kept flying fast . . . So, here I am finally. The award logos I have received are on my sidebars.  Storiesbywilliamsgraypoet,  dearkitty and 85degrees were the kind bloggers who nominated me for awards. Yes, a couple of them graced me with more than one award.

To the above bloggers, I say thank you, many thanks. I am grateful that my words, poetry, stories, and observations have been meaningful to you. You belong to the following list of bloggers whom I feel are deserving of recognition for the quality of their blogs and for their support of my work with their comments. Through these blogs I travel around the world, experience exquisite poetry, receive thought provoking information, delight in artistic photos/paintings, and enjoy delightful stories. You may enjoy a taste of their posts also.

jumpforjoy;  bartwolffe rebeldarling;  taozitreeyoga;   wisegrrrljoannafunk;   bodhisattvaintraining;   sakshivashist;   malekoartsdeconstructingmyths;    inspirationimport;    synkris;    charleslmashburn;    kirstywirsty;    kellieelmore;   sandybblog;           atthewellhead;    quotesofbuddha;     mylifeinyellow;    violalilacindue;    trailofcrumbsblog;  seanbidd;  photonatureblog;   zinccomicswatusithetalkingdog;    ellisnelson;     repurposedredhead;   jacquelinevalencia;  ericjohnbaker;   sherijkennedyriverside

Gold – the Ghazal Series

This first ghazal was written in 2001, the revision 2011, with recent changes. Yes, constructive criticism or preferences are welcome.

Gold – #1

Sadly sweetly surrenders autumn’s gold

to winds that wildly sunder lovely leaves of gold.

Warm and cold the days change like the wind

But no one now wanders in search of gold.

In summer, the sun set in fiery roseate blossoms

now chill descends to plunder the pleasure of gold.

Always I see my skin as a special golden shade

often my body falls under the sway of gold.

When Skywalker finally masters the ghazal’s grace

her hard-wrought words of wonder will be worthy of gold.

 

Gold #2

Autumn’s richness explodes in full wonder, red and gold

glisten until cool winds rip asunder leaves of gold.

Centuries of lives wasted and forever destroyed

in the relentless quest to plunder treasures of gold.

A woman’s heart warms with the hope of eternal love

with her finger graced in wonder by a ring of gold.

Dance in the bounty of Lakshmi, consort of Vishnu

all wishes are granted under her body of gold.

Skywalker seeks to bestow beauty, grace, compassion

these invisible bounties sunder glittering gold.