Handle with Care

They say there are no accidents, those that throw such weight behind limited wisdom. Maybe so, maybe not. But today, sitting in a bookstore whiling away the time, I ran across this post I had saved in draft mode a while ago. As fate would have it, it is exactly what I needed to hear.
Today. Funny how that can work. 😉

Thank You.



The life we forget to live is our own.

The craft most urgently needed is to attend life’s unfolding with the same care as one has for the borrowed lamp on the living room table.

It is priceless and must be returned in a while.

It is a beauty (born the same day love was conceived) that stops the eye,

even as nicks of time appear–

a devil wind spilling it,

overzealous polishing,

a child’s ball.

That craft finds a way to love what comes, with joy or sorrow.

Never forced or contrived, it remains in a fluid state.

Never consumed, it is deprived of nothing, but rather increased, by its object.

It remains forever in the background, a penumbral glow to the dawn and dusk of experience.

This craft, of love, of urgency, is that of real desire.

Desire lives in the absence of its fulfillment and grows fuller.

Since what it seeks can never be won, desire moves restlessly about,

“a mighty hunter, and a master of device and artifice” (Plato, Symposium).

Most energetic in a still moment of existence, its ceaseless pursuit of that which lives beyond–Life–nourishes the world.

Its transit of the space of its longing opens a heart to what there is.

A faintest glimpse of its object intensifies yearning, loosening bonds of petty thoughts and vain appetites.

What is this craft, and how does a householder practice it?

He carefully wipes dust from the window each morning to let the sun in. Shining through, the sun illuminates the care with which the home is kept.

— David Appelbaum Everyday Spirits


Door to Door Soul Salesmen

**Reposting from July 2008**

RANT alert!

True story.

The phone rings and I check caller ID. Hmmm… I don’t KNOW the person listed, but it IS a local number.


“Is this Miz Fencepostings?”


“Hi. This is SomeRandomName and I’m a Jehova’s Witness and recently while in your neighborhood we stopped by your house, but you weren’t home – so we’re calling you instead. May we talk to you about some scriptures important to the salvation of your soul?”


What makes them think that they hold the answer to my soul’s longevity? If I’d not ever been Soul Solicited by them through the years, I would have answered the door to begin with. I’ve listened before, when caught unaware doing some gardening in my front yard on a weekend. To be polite. Maybe I would learn something, who knew?

I’m not opposed to soul saving. Really. I just don’t want someone coming to my home and trying to convince me of their point of view…especially when they feel as though everyone else requires “saving” and they are just the ones to lead the way.

And how did they get my phone #? Isn’t that just a little presumptuous? I mean, I have to give them kudos for their tenacity, but really? Seriously? Could it be that the fact that there were cars in the driveway and obvious signs and sounds of occupancy present when they knocked (not once, but three times! Yes, I saw them through the window coming down the road), yet nobody answered the door -could it be a sign? Is a literal sign on the door saying “No Solicitations” really going to be necessary?

If I were a different person, or if I gave in to my baser nature, I could EASILY imagine a scenario where I call the number that called me and say something along the lines of

“Hi! My name is FillInTheBlank and I’m with the Southern Branch of the Souls Without Borders(sort of catchy, no?).

I’d like to talk to you about privacy and respect of people’s personal beliefs. How about if me and several of my fellows come by your house, oh, say right around dinnertime? Maybe on a beautiful Saturday while you’re trying to catch up on yard work or spending some time with your family? We’d like to enlighten you as to the error of your ways of believing – SAVE you from your current state of spiritual ignorance.”


I get the idea. I really do acknowledge all the people who so loudly have an opinion about this subject which they’ve seemingly done so little to try to understand. An “open mind” doesn’t come from one source you draw all your knowledge from. An open mind comes with realizing that the universe is full of countless ineffable things that defy our limited understanding, as everyday people.

And an open mind implies a somewhat open heart. Maybe outside of the boxed and neatly tied package? How can so many just walk around, spouting that they know the truth about all of it?

I do sincerely believe that the Bible is full of eternally relevant thoughts, beautiful teachings, and spiritually valuable lessons. So is the Torah. Metaphorically, it allows for a vast range of interpretations, like many other similar religious and faith-based tomes. Yet so many have used it to divide, to ridicule or criticize, to justify a reason for their way of life, without considering the possibility of an alternative being just as right, sometime even to the point of war. My understanding is that is not what that book, or any of the books, were meant for. I’m not arguing the things many people say are aimed to “save” their fellow people. Really. But is it possible that it may be more helpful to listen than to speak over? Or to live by example according to the principles laid out and be a LIVING example of your beliefs?

To be humble is to know that you know nothing. To realize that even though your beliefs say you are somehow superior to the person beside you, you are the same, made of flesh and bone. And you can keep your faith without espousing it to the people you have not begun to try to know. The Truth, however well you think you may know it, is too far beyond you to fall from your lips. It’s too simple and infinite for we mere mortals.


Keep it simple.

Listen rather than convince.

Respect rather than besiege.

Live and let live.

Accept people as they are, knowing you can’t know everything.

Be open to possibilities.

And finally,

Treat them as you wish to be treated.



What’s my legacy?

*This is a re-post from 3/08*


I was driving down the road today and passed a clump of bright daffodils. It wasn’t really that they were extraordinarily bright;

its just that they were in stark contrast to the overgrown weeds and trees that still wore their winter browns.

And the sight made me feel…well, melancholy.




characterized by or causing or expressing sadness; “growing more melancholy every hour”


grave or even gloomy in character; “solemn and mournful music”; “a suit of somber black”; “a somber mood” [syn: somber]


1. a feeling of thoughtful sadness

I know, I know… flowers usually brighten up my day, but these were all that remained of what was once someone’s homestead – their home. The house was long since gone, the trees and underbrush stretching themselves into the void.

But the flowers kept growing where somebody once intentionally planted them, multiplying each year. They were unaware that the hands that dug them a bed and placed them there by the road no longer lived in the world around them.

I doubt they would have cared, if they had the capacity to. They were just doing what flowers were intended to do.

I really do have a reason for all this introspection. I’ve been going through boxes. Boxes of memories. Of pictures of a young girl, dressed in her best Easter dress with a basket of eggs, squinting into the sun … of notes scrawled in childish writing professing things important to them in that space in time…of ribbons won on long, hot afternoon swim meets decades ago … of dolls given by family no longer living, that sat on bedroom shelves, reminding me of the smell of my grandmother’s house at Christmas … of love letters written 20 some odd years ago by the man I still wake up and go to sleep with each day. I think you get the picture. Sitting there amongst WAY too many boxes, I think of the person who planted those flowers, however long ago it was, and wonder,

“What will be MY legacy?”

It surely doesn’t lie in a box. Comforting and nostalgic as all these things may be to me, in 50 years will they still matter? More pertinently, if I died today, the task of going through all of these would fall to someone else. Would they find value in things tied to the past? Probably not in the same way I do, probably not at all. All of my things will pass away with time, just like my grandparents and great-grandparents before me. I can’t imagine what I would do with memorabilia from my parent’s high school years…why would I expect anything different for my children? If these things are SO important that I’ve kept them all this time, then why are they in a box that hasn’t been opened in years?

At least the flowers lived.

So I try to look at it from a different point of view. As I judicially choose what I just can’t part with (today) – and I’m not exaggerating about being judicious – I try and think of what my family would find in these boxes. If I can’t find permanence or a piece of personal history, I chuck it. I certainly can’t take it with me! I look for opportunities to plant the the same type of memories that these THINGS represent to me instead. Moments of laughter, tears, music, and love that will live on in the souls of those that I love when time has warped the papers, faded the pictures, and age has rendered fragile the things that were witness to them.

I think I will plant myself some flowers by the road ~ daylilies, peonies, freesias, and irises – all in a clump together.

And of course, some daffodils.



What makes a book you’re reading a ‘well-written’ book?”

Errrr…. I don’t… know. Hmmm. Never really thought about it before! Give me a minute…

A friend and I were talking about books – what we’d been reading lately. Having been a voracious reader when I was young, I fallen out of the habit sometime in my 20’s. Life had crept up and ambushed me with all sorts of things that left me mostly comatose by the time my days ground to a halt at night. Outside of an article here and there, a bedtime story, or maybe a label, reading had become a luxury. Opening a book and sticking with it until the last page wasn’t high on the priority list. But life is always moving along and priorities change as surely as spring follows winter.

You see, it had occurred to me that my life’s pace had changed. As in S – L – O – W – E -D down.  Between problems with my backbone, stepping out of the work force, and my kids advancing through their education, I really had no excuses as to why I couldn’t start, read, then finish a book. Well … except being out of practice.  And while I do love to write, if I don’t feed my inner WORD NERD (the ever hopeful romantic in me), then writing is an exercise in futility. Stymied by a lack of inspiration and haunted by an absence of muses, I knew I could revive myself through a little reading CPR.

So I picked up one of the many, many books collecting dust on my shelves and began to read it. I didn’t let myself pick up another one until I had finished the first one.  Uh uh. No easy task, especially if you’re like me and you tend to start one, pick up another one and read it through the end of chapter one, put it down and see yet another one and want to  “just read a couple of pages“… an nauseum.  Is it possible to be ADD with books, as in life? How better to break that cycle then to force myself to finish what I start?

So as I’m telling my friend about this book or that book I’ve read, I qualify what I’ve read. I say one book was so-so and not as “well-written” as this other one I just finished.  The question she interrupts me with is this: what do I consider a “good” book or one that is “well-written”?  Hmmm …

I love a book whose words I can wrap my soul up in. Words that flow like prose and make me say “Oooooo, I LIKE that!” Words that paint a picture in my mind that I can not only see, but feel and smell and taste. Phrases that marry the most unlikely subjects together in a way that makes the most unexpected sense.

Giant sunflowers, like junkie scarecrows on the nod, dozed in one spot with their dry heads drooped upon their breastbones. Their lives extended another day, flies buzzed everything within their range, monotonously eulogizing themselves, like the patriots who persist in praising the glory of a culture long after it is decadent and doomed.

–from Even Cowgirls Get the Blues

Oh,” she said. “So a well written book for you is like colors are to a painter: YUM!

Yes. You could say that! 🙂

I wonder what everyone else uses as criteria for a “well-written” story?



Everything is Writable About

One of my favorite quotes, especially when I am plagued by self doubt or writer’s block:

…Everything in life is writable about

if you have the outgoing guts to do it, and the imagination to improvise.

The worst enemy to creativity is self-doubt. ~Sylvia Plath

If you think about it, everything really is writable about in life, isn’t it?

The truly awesome aspect of this self-held truth for me is that we each have our own perspective on life, so the variations and flavors to the story are infinite!  Because no matter how unique or mundane the path your life takes, nor even how many others are right beside you, each moment is lived by you through your eyes and experiences.

So when I share ‘my world’ (as I tend to call it), its my version of life. I’m certain if you asked the people who live with me about a common moment, say a shared memory, then each would re-tell it from how they remember it from  inside themselves. Nuances and impressions and feelings and intuitions would all color the same moment differently.

Now multiply that by 1 billion people or so in this world and you have the largest potential library ever! 🙂

Look around you the next time you’re in line at the supermarket or waiting in a car line at school or at a park. Every face you see is experiencing the same moment and event, each in a profoundly different way. If everyone stopped and wrote about what it was that they were seeing,feeling, hearing, thinking at the same moment, no two would be the same!

How cool is that??



Tween Seasons

The tween season weather is by far my favorite time! Almost “winter cold” mixed with “practically summer” days tossed together by the thunderstorm’s tempest.

In my element. Transitory, to be sure, but I am reveling nonetheless 🙂



Out my window

Out my window

To be interested in the changing seasons is a happier state of mind than to be hopelessly in love with spring. ~ George Santayana (via my Zen Calendar)

Reading Books Like Tea Leaves

How about this quote?

“All the books we own, both read and unread, are the fullest expression of self we have at our disposal. … But with each passing year, and with each whimsical purchase, our libraries become more and more able to articulate who we are, whether we read the books or not.”  – Nick Hornby

I found this quote and began looking at the shelves of books I have – both read and unread. How true it is! I know I often look at the titles, imagining why they chose what they did. Then I look at my own and wonder what somebody else would discover about me by doing the same. Changes my perspective a bit.

What’s on YOUR shelves and what does it say about you? Try looking at the books on your shelves as though you were a stranger – what would your shelves tell me about you? 🙂