Posts tagged as:

Loss

Disclaimer: Run now or hold your peace

No parent wants to read about their child’s first sexual encounter under their own roof. And so for that reason, I caution my dad and anyone else who feels fatherly or motherly toward me, or anyone squeamish about teenage love to click away right now.

See you clickers in the next post. 4 – 3 – 2 – 1 . . .

Virginal

For all who have stayed. Welcome. To the night I got naked. With a girl. In my brother’s bedroom. It’s a passion play that, like all good dramas, begins its slow turn much earlier.

She and I were best friends. On this night, we turned lovers, in a willful gesture that I learned was desire. It took over me as if I was watching myself on a movie screen. And yet, I lived each moment in the heat that spread in my heart, my gut, my skin, exploding my head. Each choice. And then the next. I was 16.

My dad was a preacher. My mom slept nearby on the living room couch. My brother was no longer. At least, not his physical form. He had died suddenly, nine months before, at 17.

The end of innocence

His room was intact. I would go in there from time to time, to make his absence real. And to pierce the mute, open doorway standing at the end of the hall, that no one walked through anymore, but which shone blue from the paint on his walls.

It had a bigger bed than mine, covered by the blue and red afghan our grandma crocheted. I would sit on it and stare out the window. Run my hand over coarse yarn and stare out the door. Stare into his closet. Velcro my eyes to the song lyrics he had written on the pad still on his desk. The cartoons he had drawn. His life still in the lines.

But this night, the scratchy afghan slipped to the floor. My best friend and I, we’d been to the beach. Heat from our sunburns made the room feel like day. Street lamp light sifted the darkness telling us it was night. All of it transcended time.

Resurrection mix tape

Dawn came. Then morning sun. Then sleep.

It was Easter Sunday. My dad woke us ten minutes into slumber, to get ready for church.

Pastel floral farm skirt and my favorite greenish cropped top. What I wore that day is sealed on my memory, as is the way the sun slanted through the windows and her next to me in the pew in black pedal pushers. Somebody preached. About Jesus dying for our sins. And coming back to life. While I flashed on fresh sins I could still feel. And felt alive in them.

The people here hurt for me and my family’s loss deeply. They wrapped me in love as much as I would let them. And I knew with fearful certainty that if they knew the sins I knew, they would reject me without argument. That was the day a new piece of my spirit struggled free, while my relationship with religion ground to its end.

Lost

As it happened, it was my job to drive Grandma to church. That wasn’t going to change. So I went, every Sunday, for the next three years until I left for college, smiling to see the folks that raised me in this community, and dying inside to think we wouldn’t be having this conversation if they knew what I knew about me.

If you’ve ever been a closeted gay teen stoic at church, you know that hyper-self-awareness can widen into silence and separation. Turn into rejection and resentment. Years into the shut-down, I became allergic to all things holy. The day, a decade later, that I sat in traffic behind a Christian fish symbol bumper sticker, and raged at the intolerant audacity of a blindly religious vocal majority, I heard the silence in my car stab back at me. My outrage, the silent echo suggested, might be a bigger fish to fry than the one on the bumper.

A modern chance

There was no where to go in the traffic. No one to hear but myself. I’d learned enough to know that inordinate venom is usually the tip off to a personal problem buried so deep you can’t see it. It was there, gridlocked behind the Christian fish car, that I missed spirituality.

If I were a preacher, I’d be fourth in a generational line of them, starting with my great-grandfather on my dad’s side. Church, before there was a building for it, used to be held in the very house that I lived in. My dad as a boy would set out folding chairs in his living room for the congregants, which, if you’ve ever crammed into a living room and shared stories and reverence, you know is a silly name to call each other when it feels rather like family.

I missed…a feeling. That family. The reverence. The sensation of awe and peace and wonder that my dad called “the spirit.” I missed people caring and loving and coming together just to be together in a sacred hour. As much as I had grown to detest all things related to a religious tenet that would kill me if it had a modern chance, I even missed praying.

Found

And so there in my car, I cracked open and allowed myself to feel, allowed myself to wonder, and to wander through thoughts of God as God related to ME and not a religion.

That was the beginning of what has become an increasingly spiritual journey. I remembered the reverence with which I absorbed nature on the walks to school and in the national parks we traveled with my grandparents. I remembered the joy and gratitude of stewardship that my grandma modeled. And I remembered that I had as much fascination for a fundamentalist’s diehard faith as I had vitriol for what it espoused.

I think they call this collection of attributes “humanist,” and maybe that’s what I was becoming. But what I knew in the moment was that access to spirit was no longer trapped in the church box. It was no longer separate from me and my heathen ways. Access to spirit is mine if I want it, even if religion has its party without me.

Thank God.

In the Pulpit with Ronna Detrick

In addition to stripping down and exploring through memories, I’m gearing up for Sunday morning in the pulpit with Ronna Detrick, spiritual adviser and conversation sparker extraordinaire, creator of sacred community through conversations on God and women. Please join us for her inspired invocation of the divine in all of us, as we talk about new ways of understanding and incorporating faith, beliefs, spirituality, and gorgeous, significant story.

Sunday Services you want to WAKE UP for!
with Ronna Detrick, Spiritual Director and creator of Inspired by Eve.
and guest, Pema Teeter, Story Charmer
May 27, 2012
10:00 am (PST)
We need congregation. We need sacred space.
 And we need conversation that is unscripted, unedited, and unboundaried.
 We need each other.

Dial: 530.881.1300 Code: 590920#

(Skype callers: Add ‘freeconferencing.5308811300′ to your contacts.
Once you’ve dialed in, locate the key pad and enter the access code. )

Smart, engaging conversation about topics that matter. Soak up community wisdom. Even worship. It’s divine.

I hope you’ll join us.

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What an incredible month of writing it was, leading up to September 11. Deepest of heartfelt thank you’s to everyone who read along, who dropped in to read a couple of days, who wrote comments and shared stories, on this blog and also on your own. I am moved by the community here and moved by our universal experience. I am grateful for your presence. Hearing your experiences kept me writing every day, got me past doubts that wanted to quiet me down.

We all reflect each other. For this reason alone, I am seven levels of grateful to you. These stories ranged in me for years. Without you, they may still be ranging inside, and they most certainly wouldn’t be echoing with all of the life you helped to infuse in your comments and companionship and eyes-on-the-words, hearts-in-the-experience.

A process of healing

The 31 days of writing was meant to be an exercise in expressing grief and loss. It was meant to be in honor of the 10th anniversary of 9/11. What it turned into was a process of healing for me, and from what I read in the replies, a process of healing for others, too.

And memory really did turn to light. There are gorgeous experiences that keep surfacing, and conversations I had during the 31 days that still are waiting for their way to the blog. I thought I might be done writing about loss when the project finished, and maybe I am done writing about loss as loss. But what has opened up, what lies beneath the grief is the other side. Loss has turned into something more, like the gifts I keep finding after my grandma’s death–the inspiration for this project being one of them.

The grief season

In Dorothy Allison’s Cavedweller, the narrator is a young girl. Her mother suffers a severe trauma, moves the family from Los Angeles to a remote area of Georgia, and gives up drinking. The narrator says that her mother cries every day for three months straight, and calls that time, in retrospect, “the crying season.”

In my own world, in the wake of Memory to Light, I’m very conscious of being that girl that talks about death all the time. But as this content persists, and as it grows open, I wonder, maybe this is “the grief season.” I can tell that I am lighter, and changed. I hear from others that they are growing and writing their own memories.

Life at every turn

Maybe it is just a season. There will be different topics soon: the dark does always turn to light. What I notice in the conversation about death is that is it not completely dark. There is life in it at every turn. It’s part of our lives, one that is not acknowledged in most circles.

Having walked through loss, and witnessed the other side of grief, I want to normalize it and help make fluid the relationship of death inside our lives.

Please stay tuned for my continued post scripts to Memory to Light. They will more personally thank the wonderful people who contributed to the month of writing, and they will include conversations and interviews that there was not time to include. More gorgeous words and wisdom from insightful thinkers and talkers.

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9/11/11 – Memory to Light

September 11, 2011

(Post 2 of 2 today. Please let your eyes wander from the end of this post to today’s first piece, from Laura Smith, a mom remembering 9/11/01 and every day since.)

# #


A masterpiece of moments came together in a swoop. They are coming together still today.

. . .

Plans

It’s early July. I have plans to spend the tenth anniversary of 9/11 in New York. My stories will be written by then. The circle that opened there in 2001 will find some bit closure there on September 11, 2011. My pilgrimage will culminate in glorious celebration of the city on the Wonder Walk, the Secret City’s annual 14-hour art and performance walk from the northern tip of Manhattan to the Brooklyn Bridge. There will be much to marvel at and much wonder to behold, in a city that is still healing from its loss.

I have plans to spend August writing in Santa Barbara. I will miss a big portion of my best friend’s pregnancy. But the project is necessary. It’s a healing and a calling. I’ll squeeze in as much time as possible to make up my absence when I get back, and before I go.

I have plans to spend my birthday with my boyfriend. He’s taking vacation from work to come visit for the week and make it special.

Departures

I get a call from a friend in Santa Barbara who says a mutual dear friend and mentor has died suddenly. I feel shocked and sad and unhinged. I feel out of control of my fate in the universe. I set about making it to his funeral, against all good judgment regarding time and distance. But I am resourceful. I have spent a life organizing on the fly like this. I can make it happen. I can begin my stay in Santa Barbara early.

I cancel everything.

In the call to cancel on my best friend, she asks, “When will you be back?” And I say, “I’m, I’m, I’m just not sure.” And she says, with some futility in her voice, “My baby shower is September 11.” My best friend tried for five years to get pregnant. Now, she is living her dream, due in November, with twins.

And I in my spin say, “September 11??” While I’m thinking, “Does she not know me??” And I say, “It’s the tenth anniversary!” And I can hear the loss in her silence, the shock in it, and I can feel the shock in my reply. I can feel the impossibility of it. My best friend. Living her dream. I am not there for it. This dream of my own–these stories that have been trying to get written, too intense to ignore, finally finding expression, ending on September 11 in New York, my dream against the grain of her dream, impossible fusion.

The spin

I tell her I have to go the next morning early. Which means no time to come over and say goodbye. She’ll understand. It’s a funeral. I have to go.

Inside a day and a half I have made all of the arrangements. They slid into place strangely easily. But by the time I finish making them, I am no less unhinged.
I call my friend, Lisa. “Can you help me?” I ask. “I have to talk this out, will you listen?” And Lisa agrees. She listens. And when I’ve spun my wheels to exhaustion, she quietly asks me, “Why did you come to me with this?” And I say, “Why?” And she says, “You know, we go to different people with our problems when we want to hear particular answers. What kind of answer are you looking for from me?” And I say, “Whatever there is for you to say.” And she proceeds–softly, with the precision of a friend whose love observes and waits for the right time to share–to put words to the moments over our years, that I have prioritized death over life, even when we were young and still figuring things out.

And I see all of a sudden that I have chosen death over life. I have chucked my plans that are full of life, full of people I love and who love me back, to be present at a funeral that, while very dear, is a two-hour memorial, for a friend who is gone.

Overtaken

I sit with that. I get it. It is part of the uneasiness I have been feeling in my spin. I just haven’t been able to grasp it.

And Lisa, as my friend for years and years, quietly testifies that it is not the first time. That this impulse in me has had impact on my relationships in the past. And I for the first time am seeing them in this context. Seeing my leaving in this light. Seeing my running toward loss against the presence of love, right here, right now.

I feel the gravity of that. I feel like heaps of shit. I have made a very big mistake. For decades. But for the first time in two days, I am calm.

I hang up with Lisa. I hold my head in my hands. I begin the effort of patching back together what I have undone.

. . .

The Dream

It’s August. I’m in Santa Barbara. I am writing a story a day to give grief its due. From August 11 to September 11, I am airing out grief, telling stories of trauma in my life that came before 9/11, and telling my stories of what I saw that day in New York.

I have come to believe, at the time I begin this project, that giving space to grief by telling its stories is the process of transformation. When we let grief move through us, and outside of us, we let ourselves become who we are meant to be, or who we have the opportunity to be, should we take it.

There is an end to this project, on September 11, 2011. What will the story be on that day? What is the takeaway experience of witnessing, allowing, feeling opening, healing collectively from loss we share in stories?

. . .

Light

It’s September 11, 2011. Yesterday and the day before, I spend in my car, driving to the final chapter.

I arrive. I help set up tables in prep for a gathering. I spend the morning crying while listening to radio interviews and audio files played in honor of the tenth anniversary. I wipe my face of tears while watching videos that are traveling around the internet. I post a poem, remembering what has come and what has gone. And soon, I choose a time to let my crying cease, let the grief be fully felt, and then recede, let light come back into the day, as I get dressed for my best friend’s baby shower.

There are new twins being celebrated today, as we remember the Twin Towers that fell. There are new lives coming into focus today, as we remember the lives that extinguished ten years ago. There is love in a tribe today, collecting around parents and two little humans finding their way into the world, as our nation forms community in remembrance of whom we have lost.

There is life here. There is life in the pain. It’s why it hurts.

There is life in the grief, in astounding volume. There is life past it.

There is love here and love and love and love.

There is light here.

 

(Post 2 of 2 today. Please let your eyes wander from the end of this post to today’s first piece, from Laura Smith, a mom remembering 9/11/01 and every day since.)

. . . . . . . .

(You can read all of the Memory to Light stories in order on the side bar –->)

P.S. I miscalculated. There are, I discovered last night, 32 days between Aug 11 and Sept 11. Today is 31 days + 1. Thanks for reading all this way, or reading bits and pieces. Your presence has moved me into each day’s post.

Thanks for reading Day 31 + 1 of “Memory to Light: 31 Days of Stories, August 11 – September 11, 2011.” It is an exercise in writing about loss, for the purpose of letting grief wake, live, and pass through the system. Grief is transformation. Story is transformation. Our world could use a some wakeful transformation right now. Take a peek at the introductory post for the full story of what we’re up to.

Join me

Consider this project an online story circle. Read a story that moves you. Write your own on your blog. Link it to the comments below, so we can read your piece. If you don’t have a blog, write your story in the comments.

Let your memories live. Let small corners of your grief breathe. Let your loss be swept into the collective experience of people sharing, witnessing, and letting be.

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(Post one of at least two today, in remembrance of 9/11/01, in witness to grief in our lives from our collective and individual loss, and in offering to the evolution that awaits us in our willingness to feel. Much love to all we lost ten years ago today, peace to all who lost a part of themselves that day and since. May we together heal, and blossom anew in perpetual healing.)

9/11, and every year since, remembered

On 9/11/01, after I saw what I saw, heard what I heard, I walked with a few students and administrators to an office with a land line, so we could call home and tell our people we were okay. I am blessed. I have a lot of people. But I didn’t have a lot of time on the phone. So I called one household, holding two of my core, with spokes leading to everyone else in my circle, and gave them phone numbers of family to start a calling tree.

Laura bolted out of bed with a grumble to turn on the TV at Suzy’s urgent demand she do so. Suzy was on the phone with me. We connected, I shared phone numbers, we told each other we loved each other, and I went back out into the city. In California, Laura and Suzy watched the news play and replay the iconic videos of the attacks.

Today’s first post is a remembrance from Laura, of that day, of these past ten years, of motherhood and possibility and impossibility and peace, in observation of September 11, 2001.

Setting it free: My poem 10 years later

by Laura Smith

It’s 1 am and I can’t sleep.
4am on the east coast.
I walk to the kitchen to get a glass of water.
Place a finger beneath my daughter’s nose to make sure she’s still breathing.
Can’t shake the feeling that something’s not right.

4am on the east coast, 9/11/11.
Ten years ago, thousands of people still sleeping in their beds.
Deep in their peaceful REM cycles on a crisp fall morning,
Unaware that they’ll leave their homes for the last time that day.
Unaware that something is just not right.

What did those people leave undone that day?
Lawns unmowed, fish unfed, dishes unwashed?
Last month’s electric bill past due and fallen between the desk & the wall.
Who were they and how did they live, how did they love?
And how do the people they loved continue to go on without them?

And what, I must ask, what in their names, have WE done?
How many times has a mother in Bagdad felt every day for the past 10 years
What the mothers of this nation felt on that one terrible day?
Waiting to hear if her children have survived a battle zone.
Waiting for someone to walk thru the door who will never come home again.

And what, if anything, do we still need to do, 10 years later?
Is it even possible for us to choose peace?
Is it possible for us to rise up as and say that we were wrong?
Can we ever convince our leaders that a war on fear
Is like smacking a kid to teach them that hitting is wrong.

It’s 2am and I might sleep.
I might dream of the stories of my friends who have started to share
Where they were and what they saw and what they remember.
In the sharing of memories and emotions, we breathe it out, and we honor it.
We honor the dead and the grieving and the wounded by sharing and setting it free.

 

Laura writes at her blog hipmamababe.blogspot.com. You can find some of her constantly effervescing brilliance there.

. . . . . . . .

(You can read all of the Memory to Light stories in order on the side bar –->)

P.S. I miscalculated. There are, I discovered last night, 32 days between Aug 11 and Sept 11. Today is 31 days + 1. Thanks for reading all this way, or reading bits and pieces. Your presence has moved me into each day’s post.

Thanks for reading Day 31 + 1 of “Memory to Light: 31 Days of Stories, August 11 – September 11, 2011.” It is an exercise in writing about loss, for the purpose of letting grief wake, live, and pass through the system. Grief is transformation. Story is transformation. Our world could use a some wakeful transformation right now. Take a peek at the introductory post for the full story of what we’re up to.

Join me

Consider this project an online story circle. Read a story that moves you. Write your own on your blog. Link it to the comments below, so we can read your piece. If you don’t have a blog, write your story in the comments.

Let your memories live. Let small corners of your grief breathe. Let your loss be swept into the collective experience of people sharing, witnessing, and letting be.

 

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Leap

Today I am making muffins. I am driving to Portland from San Francisco. I am getting a pedicure because I’m going to a party where there will be pretty girls in pretty dresses and I want to be one of them. Today I am fighting with my boyfriend. I am feeling like a woman. I am arriving home.

Ten years ago today I was sitting in a café in NYC, across the street from my new grad school, writing a letter to a friend from days and cities gone past. I was attending our first taping of Inside the Actors Studio, and riding the subway with excited classmates to Brooklyn after the show. The car was nearly empty. We were singing show tunes and I was imagining a new play.

Levitate

Eight weeks ago today I was moving into a $20/night hotel room on the edge of a factory town, because nine weeks ago yesterday I got a call that a dear friend and mentor died suddenly, and I backed out of every plan I had made for the remainder of the month so I could make it to the funeral, four days and a 16-hour drive away. This included securing cat-sitters that would call my apartment home while I would be away, cancelling a weekend on the coast with my pregnant best friend, and canceling my boyfriend’s vacation of a week-long visit for my birthday.

I worked like a whirlwind in my panic. I have to be at the funeral. I have to drop everything and go. He was important to me. He sent the last email in our correspondence on the morning of the day he died. We were making plans to see each other a few weeks later, when I would arrive for my August stay. We were going to share ideas. We had plans.

Dime

They changed. The plans all changed.

Today I am back for the first time since it all began.

Tomorrow, the rest of the story.

I changed too.

. . . . . . . .

(You can read all of the Memory to Light stories in order on the side bar –->)

P.S. I miscalculated. There are, I discovered last night, 32 days between Aug 11 and Sept 11. Tomorrow will be 31 days + 1. Thanks for reading all this way, or reading bits and pieces. Your presence has moved me into each day’s post.

Thanks for reading Day 31 of “Memory to Light: 31 Days of Stories, August 11 – September 11, 2011.” It is an exercise in
writing about loss, for the purpose of letting grief wake, live, and pass through the system. Grief is transformation. Story is transformation. Our world could use a some wakeful transformation right now. Take a peek at the introductory post for the full story of what we’re up to.

Join me

Consider this project an online story circle. Read a story that moves you. Write your own on your blog. Link it to the comments below, so we can read your piece. If you don’t have a blog, write your story in the comments.

Let your memories live. Let small corners of your grief breathe. Let your loss be swept into the collective experience of people sharing, witnessing, and letting be.

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Mind’s eye

It is a Saturday. I pin my voice recorder mic to my jacket and lie down on the crest of a grassy hill. View of the ocean. University buildings behind me. Weekend courses in session and people around, but no one close. I plan on talking to myself about some very off-the-wall stuff, so “no one close” is important. No more futzing. Final falsetto trill shakes the nerves. I close my eyes.

I breathe. I meditate. Almost immediately, I see a woman in my mind’s eye. She wears white denim pants, a white sweater, loosely knit, and a slender belt on her jeans. She is barefoot. She stands there looking like she is waiting for something. Of course I figure I am making her up…so she waits. Finally I say, “Nancy? Are you here?”

The image smiles.

Ohmigod.

Reach my story

An image of a DaVinci drawing pops into my head, the man in the circle. I ask her if that is for me, and she nods.

Weird. Okay, continuing. I notice a few other things about her out loud, like she’s not wearing glasses, she’s standing, not sitting. I get this feeling that she’s still waiting, and that something is working. So, I launch in.

“Can you tell me why I’m here today?”

She has been nodding up to now. I tell her, “You can speak to me. I would like to hear your voice.”

Nancy speaks. I can’t hear her, but I am reading her lips as she speaks slowly. “I want you to tell my story. I want you to reach my story to the world and all who will listen to it.”

She is nodding and saying thank you. I’m watching her mouth move, turning into communication, and I get a rush of wonder.

Rush of wonder

“Thank you, Nancy. I’m listening and I’m watching. What is your story? What do you want me to say for you, on behalf of you? I feel an urgency in my chest and my heart right now, kind of a welling up.”

Nancy’s nodding is vigorous now. Yes yes yes. Her feet are together, her hands on her knees, which are together. She is s sitting up. “I want you to share and to pray. Pray for yourselves, for your welfare. Pray that your welfare be in good hands.”

And immediately my heart plunks a minor key. “Pray?” I ask her. “Is that what you said?” I am definitely not making this up.

She nods again. “The most important word is ‘pray,’” she says.

“Who should we pray to?” I ask.

“Your god, your nature. Your spirit. Just be quiet.” Nancy is closing her eyes in stillness. She brings her hands together in front of her chest, drops her head in a bow and says, “Just be still.” She takes a deep breath. “Go inward.”

Letting the light shine

At this point as I lay on the blanket, I feel an odd stillness in my feet, as if they are sleeping, not tingling, but as if they are taking a nap and I don’t want to disturb them. I tell Nancy this and she nods. Then, they do begin to tingle, but only from the top of the arch to the underside of the arch. The tingling intensifies to give me another image in my head, and yet another plunk in a minor key. But, I’ve come this far. I decide to go for it.

“Nancy, do you mean Jesus?”

She nods.

This is not the hip, New Age experience I am expecting. I follow the image she is giving me, the Jesus in my feet, and her hands placed together in prayer, and continue speaking, “Letting the light shine through the crucifix holes of the palms as they’re placed together.”

She nods. My feet begin to buzz.

Fiercely love

“Is Jesus present?” I ask.

She nods again.

“Did you pray to Jesus?”

Nancy is crying. She was very afraid before she died. She prayed. I am seeing her on her knees. She was sending her daughters love. She was wishing they could hear her, that she could be with them, wishing that the distance between them in that moment was not so impossibly far. Nancy is crying. Her face is wet with tears. She stands up and looks out a window of the World Trade Center.

“You should love your daughters fiercely,” she says, “but tenderly. Bless them because they are not only your daughters in flesh but they are your tribe, your people. You reach far forward and far back in time together. You miss them not only when they die but when you die. You love them as family forever.”

One

Nancy is now on her knees with her hands together. “Tell my daughters to take the best of me and send it along through their lineage. Let them know they carry the lineage of light. It is our lineage to spread this light, to share it, in being this family of light, this soul family that started long before our human flesh. Remember what begins with you ends with you, and connects in you, and together, you are whole and one, and you may walk on the earth as one, together in light, with Jesus, who is light, beaming through him. One.”

The words come in a rush. When they are over, the image of Nancy is quiet, still kneeling.

I am quiet too. Then, “Nancy,” I say. “Do you have more to say?”

She shakes her head. I thank her. And then I open my eyes. The sky is as blue as when I started. A bird circles overhead. I am a little afraid to notice myself now that I am back in real time again. Did all of that just happen? I press a button on my digital recorder and hear the words again. I press stop.

It did.

I give thanks, fold my blanket, and drive away.

. . . . . . . .

(You can read all of the Memory to Light stories in order on the side bar –->)

P.S. The name in this story has been changed.

Thanks for reading Day 30 of “Memory to Light: 31 Days of Stories, August 11 – September 11, 2011.” It is an exercise in writing about loss, for the purpose of letting grief wake, live, and pass through the system. Grief is transformation. Story is transformation. Our world could use a some wakeful transformation right now. Take a peek at the introductory post for the full story of what we’re up to.

Join me

Consider this project an online story circle. Read a story that moves you. Write your own on your blog. Link it to the comments below, so we can read your piece. If you don’t have a blog, write your story in the comments.

Let your memories live. Let small corners of your grief breathe. Let your loss be swept into the collective experience of people sharing, witnessing, and letting be.

{ 3 comments }

In 2006, I had a series of readings with Robin, the psychic medium who confirmed what another person had suggested were “souls in my field.” Earlier posts refer to her channeling them. It was also suggested that the serious, seemingly impossible-to-heal problem I was having with my skin was directly related. The following is an excerpt from one of our readings.

Ash

R: How are you feeling?

PT: I guess it comes in waves, I’m, well. I’m really, really itchy. I mean, that is there all the time at different parts of my body. But in terms of anxiety, like when I saw you guys last, I was a wreck, so anxious from all of the itching. In the past week or so I’ve gotten some calmness but I still get pretty anxious sometimes when the itching is bad.

R: Yeah I would think so.

PT: It’s, bad. I look like I have the chicken pox.

R: I’m so sorry that’s happening to you. What did the doctor say?

PT: I went to the homeopath, and he’s just checking it out. It’s just the beginning. I didn’t go to the regular doctor because they haven’t tended to help me and also, every time I take something for it it seems to get worse.

R: Yeah.

PT: And a couple of things have crossed my mind, like today I noticed, I was scratching and scratching and scratching and the skin I just leave skin behind like dust, and I saw it falling to the ground and I thought, “it’s like ash.” And then I thought oh, it’s like ash, it’s the working title of my book is Voices from the Ash.

R: Yeah, well that is what I feel vividly, is that this is about that, and I guess you have a predisposition to it anyway, but this is really intense. So I am hearing to proceed in reading so I’m gonna go ahead and connect with your soul and say a prayer and then just see where we go and take it from your questions and just see what happens, okay?

PT: Okay.  . . .

Charge

R: The voices from the ash are telling me we need to clear your system so that you’re not carrying it through your physical body but you’re downloading their experience through your higher states of consciousness, so that– There it goes it’s shifting.

Now I seem to be inside either a room or an airplane, and I just heard “Airplane is it.” And I’m seeing people in their seats and they’re not very alarmed. There’s people walking up and down the aisle, but there’s no disturbances, no energetic knowing that harm is about to descend on people, so the lack of awareness is really permeating this vision, the innocence of this vision is coming in, and then I’m seeing an individual begin to make some sort of an attack, whether it’s someone taking someone else hostage or a verbal exchange, you know getting people to understand what’s about to happen. And there’s a lot of emotional response here.

You’ve picked up on the emotional charge of the people this time. I’m hearing it’s a byproduct of the people in the plane. I’m hearing there’s 8 people here that are somehow involved with you that are running your energy. I’ve got to find a way to communicate here.

Long strange trip

Okay I’m going back up into the vision of the airplane. And there does seem to be an individual who is remaining calm. Very calm. I’m gonna see if I can bring some of that energy into your field. And I’m hearing that approach isn’t working either. So I’m just gonna stay with that individual and just see if there’s um—okay let’s try tithing that calmness out to the group and bring them in this pre-death experience to—there it goes, it’s shifting. What are you feeling in your body right now?

PT: I feel like  calmness washing over my skin, not just over my muscles or something but over my skin.

R: Good. Your energy became your own again. Now, “transmutation device is deficient.” What the heck does that mean? Is that in Pema or is that in the soul group? I’m getting soul group, Beloved. Okay. So, what is a transmutation device?

PT: I keep thinking that I’m the transmutation device, if I’m trying to transmute their voices out from my body and from this experience into, you know, existence. I feel like, my biggest question is, “How do I train myself through this?”

R: Yeah, I think this is exactly it. And that’s what I’ve been feeling that this story is about your experience with these people, it’s not—Like I think before you were thinking about just channeling them, but what you’re having to go through to be their transmutation device so their voices can be heard I think is just as important, because I think as people. It just feels like it’s really important that in the process of all humans waking up, we all become more telepathic, we all become more sensitive, so how does one cope with that?

PT: Right.

Prayer

R: Okay. . . And now I’m back up on the airplane and the man who was calm had the tools to remain calm in a crisis. He had the metaphysical tools, he had the knowing, he had the trust, that you know, no harm would come to him, you know, even if he blew up in an airplane, he trusted that everything was happening for a divine purpose and he was equipped for the danger, if you will. So okay let’s see, he says he wants to speak a little bit more here. I’m feeling that he might have been either of Indian descent, although I feel he may have been American as well, so he may have been both, or he had studied the India approach to using the different tools of staying calm.

It seems like this person had something red. And I’m also hearing he had prayer beads. And the power of prayer is very strong here. He’s saying that he was praying that their voices would be heard. He was praying for peace. He was praying that there would be a transmutation device who would hear him beyond death and be his voice and speak this information that’s coming through. And he’s saying it’s not about religion it’s not about that separate thinking. There you go, you’re taking it in. What’s happening with you?

PT: When you were talking I had chills all over, I have tears in my eyes, like I’m here, like I hear him, like, “Oh, it’s me.”

Impact

R: Yeah. Yeah. I feel like tonight is really about connecting with this particular soul, because he knew that there was no other means of communication but to go directly to his soul, to his high self, and put out a signal from that high place, that he would be heard beyond the grave, that he knew the eternal.

PT: I feel that so much I just keep getting chills all over my body, and I feel really close to him.

R: Yeah. He feels really close to you too. My feeling is that there was almost like a moment of impact where your souls connected. And I’m hearing prior to death is strong, so his conscious attempt to reach out to someone and your willingness in your ability to pick it up feels very very strong to me.

PT: I have chills again.

R: Yeah. So I’m feeling like he may have actually had some kind of a vision, or a knowing, he’s saying it wasn’t a vision it was a knowing just prior to the impact that caused his death, he knew someone had conn—he knew he had connected, and he’s saying when that happened, his soul purpose was fulfilled, and what you do with it, Beloved, is up to you.

. . . . . . . .

(You can read all of the Memory to Light stories in order on the side bar –->)

Thanks for reading Day 29 of “Memory to Light: 31 Days of Stories, August 11 – September 11, 2011.” It is an exercise in writing about loss, for the purpose of letting grief wake, live, and pass through the system. Grief is transformation. Story is transformation. Our world could use a some wakeful transformation right now. Take a peek at the introductory post for the full story of what we’re up to.

Join me

Consider this project an online story circle. Read a story that moves you. Write your own on your blog. Link it to the comments below, so we can read your piece. If you don’t have a blog, write your story in the comments.

Let your memories live. Let small corners of your grief breathe. Let your loss be swept into the collective experience of people sharing, witnessing, and letting be.

{ 3 comments }

Memory to Light began a long time ago as a book project. It was going to be about souls, of people that lost their lives on 9/11, and attached themselves to “my field.” It was going to be about how, when l started to investigate why I felt so tense and unfamiliar to myself, I learned they were there, and that they had something to say. And I was the channel for it.

Unsuspecting channel. Unexpected job. I called it “Voices from the Ash.”

Over time, the body and substance and delivery of these stories began to change. It started as a journey, an investigation, a challenge to believe–or not to believe. On the journey, it became not only about hearing what the souls had to say, but also about what I was hearing from the living–voices that had witnessed the attacks on that day, and could still speak on their own accord. What the ash left behind.

So many voices

We are so many voices, we humans. We are so many varied and breathing experiences. We affect each other, with the tales we share, of the moments and people that shape us, and unwittingly we go on to shape others in the telling.

My project about loss and grief and transformation has become a collage of voices and memories. Today’s post returns to a September, 2001, NYC, when the voice of another collective speaks for his hurting city, through tears, in public, and in the action of grieving through tragedy together. In the grief, flayed open and pulsing, he finds light.

September 20, 2001

The Daily Show, with Jon Stewart, on Comedy Central
(Opening address is 9 minutes long. Or, you can read moving and pointed excerpts transcribed below, with timestamps.)

“There’s no other way really to start this show than to ask…Are you okay? We pray that you are. And that your family is.

 

 

Excerpts, (cont.)

(3:45) The main reason that I wanted to speak tonight…We’ve had an…unendurable pain, and I wanted to tell you why I grieve, but why I don’t despair.

(4:40) One of my first memories is of Martin Luther King being shot. I was five. And if you wonder if this feeling will pass–When I was five and he was shot, here’s what I remember about it. I was in a school in Trenton and they shut the lights off and we got to sit under our desks, which we thought was cool. And they gave us cottage cheese. Which was a cold lunch because there was rioting. But we didn’t know that. We just thought, My God, we get to sit under our desks and eat cottage cheese. And that’s what I remember about it.

(5:29) That was a tremendous test of this country’s fabric. And this country has had many tests, before that and after that. And the reason I don’t despair is because this attack happened. It’s not a dream. But the aftermath of it, the recovery, is a dream realized. And that is Martin Luther King’s dream. Whatever barriers we put up, are gone, even if it is just momentary. And we’re judging people by not the color of their skin, but the content of their character.

(6:25) All this talk about, “These guys are criminal masterminds, they’ve gotten together, and their extraordinary guile, and their wit and their skill.” It’s a lie. Any fool can blow something up. Any fool can destroy.

(6:47) But to see these guys, these firefighters, these policeman, and people from all over the country, literally, with buckets, rebuilding, that, that is extraordinary. And that’s why we’ve already won. They can’t– It’s light. It’s democracy. We’ve already won. They can’t shut that down.

(7:35) The view from my apartment was the World Trade Center. And now it’s gone. And they attacked it. This symbol. Of American ingenuity and strength and labor and imagination and commerce. And it is gone. But you know what the view is now? The Statue of Liberty. The view from the south of Manhattan is now the Statue of Liberty. You can’t beat that.”

(Watch 9:01 for a lightening laugh, after Jon Stewart’s–and his viewers’–difficult but necessary trudge through the grief.)


. . . . . . . .

(You can read all of the Memory to Light stories in order on the side bar –->)

P.S. Thanks to Matt Stillman and AAS Holmes for the blog post that carried the link to the video.

P.P. S. From a reader, a message of peace in storytelling and social media, that calls upon Americans to pledge and spread a message that Muslims are our fellow Americans: http://myfellowamerican.us

Thanks for reading Day 28 of “Memory to Light: 31 Days of Stories, August 11 – September 11, 2011.” It is an exercise in writing about loss, for the purpose of letting grief wake, live, and pass through the system. Grief is transformation. Story is transformation. Our world could use a some wakeful transformation right now. Take a peek at the introductory post for the full story of what we’re up to.

Join me

Consider this project an online story circle. Read a story that moves you. Write your own on your blog. Link it to the comments below, so we can read your piece. If you don’t have a blog, write your story in the comments.

Let your memories live. Let small corners of your grief breathe. Let your loss be swept into the collective experience of people sharing, witnessing, and letting be.

{ 4 comments }

Beginnings and endings

I hear so many stories of beginnings from people who were witness to the 9/11 attacks in New York. A friend I met recently arrived the day before in a moving truck. Meg got sober the day before, conceived her child two days after. I arrived three weeks before: Grad school started on 9/10. And the stories continue. Was it a season of beginnings? Or was it a heyday of creation, creativity always beginning at something?

When I went to grad school, I didn’t do it alone. I often referred to it as church camp without God. We bonded immediately, the actors, directors and playwrights. Orientation week got us settled into the city, and on the first day of classes and the first night of taping at Inside the Actors Studio, we laughed as Bruce Willis told us he had saved the world 17 times in his movies. We were 12 hours away from a plane hitting Tower 1 two miles south.

Light framed

We would get to know each other deeply in the ways we exposed ourselves in our work. But the events of 9/11 sped that up in a ghastly precursor that blew open the doors of us, ready or not. Being creatives, the only way to survive was to create. Being theatre folk, the way for us to create was to be together, to open up and dive together into the places in us that would be freed.

Last weekend, Rhea MacCallum, my fellow classmate and playwright, posted a letter on Facebook to Cohort 8 of the Actor’s Studio Drama School. She captured with crystalline detail our excited sense of “purpose, potential, community, security and hope.” Her images are so clear, her memory so dear in framing our hopes and courage and leaps of faith and people who supported us to be there taking them, that they tell a story of light I have wished for as this series nears its conclusion.

With great thanks to Rhea, I invite you into the picture of light that brings to life those days in the beginning, as the end of what we knew of our world was beginning, too.

Dear Cohort VIII,

Ten years ago today we introduced ourselves to each other. So much of our orientation week bounces around like a fiery comet trapped in my brain.  As we filtered into Tishman we were continuously instructed to ‘come forward, move to the center, leave no empty spaces’ and the mostly vacant auditorium vibrated with our exuberant energy.

That day, that first day, we met James Lipton.  We were told that our talent was as recognizable as spotting your sister in a crowd.  We were told playwrights don’t hug and most of us promptly decided that we would be the exception.  Then we got up, one by one, alternating sides of the room and introduced ourselves.  Our name, our track, where we were from, what brought us here.

A few weeks later, after the planes hit, after the towers fell, after walking from hospital to hospital looking to give blood, after surviving world altering events, we gathered again, a bonded unit, for a workshop led by Lisa Formosa.  Our homework was to bring a personal object, something of great significance to us.  Our class work was to share with each other what we brought and why we choose it, in three sentences.

Ten years later our orientation week and personal object workshop have become bits of memory strung together in a not so linear fashion.  When I look back at our grad school experience, and think of it fondly, these two events emerge as moments in which I was filled with a sense of purpose, potential, community, security and hope.

This is what I remember…

Henriette’s map of NYC.

The wooden box A’ndrea received from her boyfriend.

Jamie’s chilling rape monologue.

The beer scarf.  I think it was Waldron’s.

Bi with her boyfriend’s wallet filled with cash he’d earned over the summer.

Pema, the freelancer from Santa Barbara/San Diego/San Francisco, who had a 30th birthday/going away party who also received cash… in a wallet?

Holly and her grandfather’s cross, monologue about being invisible and mutual North Dakotian cheering with Brandon.

Naveen and her frog puppet Dostoevsky.

Monica, who left us for Cohort IX, delivered a monologue about feeling like an object.

Chantel and her cherished bookmark

Fred who brought a telegram from his sister and sang and sang and sang his little heart out.

The clown that Vered brought creeped me out.

Kari’s plain vs. pretty monologue.

Sean Harris in his Counting Crows t-shirt and Claddagh ring.

Bob and his backpack.

Nancy who people seemed to already know and talked about a Friday night party at Battery Park City.

Jacqui tripping her way out of the aisle to introduce herself sang Easy to Be Hard, dedicating it to the people working in the Financial Aid office

Moti sang a funny song.  I want to say from South Park, but something tells me it was Russian.

Mr. Lipton calling attention to Ronit who he swore was the spitting image of Susan Saradon.  And a sheep.  I’m pretty sure Ronit’s item was a sheep.

Billingsley, who made me snort when he delivered the line “Fat people make me feel good.”

Eriko and her father’s watch.

Francis’ photo album.

Cole’s navy polo tee.  It’s the only top I ever remember seeing him in.

Terry who made a number of people sit up and take notice when he said he applied to grad school because “he always felt like a fraud.”

Yasmin calling herself a former Muslim and carried a new ID having destroyed all others.

Uran who sang White Snake, “lived all over” and within seconds of knowing me talked ‘shrooms.

Sari’s rendition of Bohemian Rhapsody and her brick napping picture taken on Lucielle Ball’s property during construction/demolition.

Melinda bringing an American Flag and espousing the virtues of exercise in her monologue.

Larry’s Hairy Ape monologue and plaque that was given to him as a thank you gift from a recent production.

Jesus who sat next to me and already had an MA from NYU.

Kawanda who thought life stopped after 25.

Luis’ hand carved lady with his grandmother’s name on the bottom.

Casy brought and wore a brooch of comedy/tragedy masks.

Brian with the mug with his brother’s picture on it.

Nichol who ranted like Homer Simpson, carried a journal that was a gift from his father and had just returned from an amazing hike in Alaska.

Sean Stevenson’s miniature mouse.

Kristen, the NYC tour guide whose friend had recently passed.

Mary, who was still holding onto Beth’s ring when she walked away to go to the restroom, leaving a nervous looking Beth alone.

Sayeeda singing You Are My Sunshine and weeping unabashedly about Ellen Burstyn’s performance in Requiem For A Dream.

Soft spoken Matt from So. Pasadena who seemed to have a case of the sniffles.

Rich, who I met in line at the registrar’s office, brought a wallet with an emblem on it.

The ball from Arnold’s first date.  I think it was orange.

Miranda, who tugged at our heartstrings as she spoke of her janitor father who worked extra shifts so she could pursue her dream and made us all chuckle when she brought in a strawberry air freshener that survived, what was it, 7? car accidents.

Trevor and his passport.

Michael Raimondi who had never lived away from home and brought a turtle from Brandon… I think.

Jonathan and the journal his mother gave him.

Colette brought a book.  I’m guessing it was Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, not that I remember the title from that day.

Doug and his flask.

Aziza’s evil eye.

Stephanie called herself a Jewish drop out and brought a stuffed animal from an ex-boyfriend.

Seibert who sang The Smiths.

Max and his ball.

Nicole Hurley who sang Lean On Me.

Linda, the lawyer, whose conservative mother would rather she was unwed and pregnant than going back to school to be an actor.

Kira who worked the hell out of her Vagina Monologue.

David Salsa, as in chips and salsa, who spoke from the heart about the Smurfs.

Seth, in his white baseball cap, who showed up to the workshop with Papa Smurf.

Jake who sang If I Were A Bell brought a sprig of eucalyptus, one of my favorite scents.

Kristen and her pig.

Poorna and her house keys.  At least I think it was Poorna.  There were definitely house keys.

I remember we prayed to the sun and the moon and the stars.  We burned sage.  We sat in silence.

I also remember my mother being comforted to hear that I was studying playwriting with a Teeter (my grandmother’s maiden name) and a Stevenson (her maiden name) taught by a Laura (my sister’s name).  She wasn’t normally one to view the world through cosmic signs, but she made an exception.  She felt I was in the right place, at the right time, with the right people.

Try as I might, I don’t remember every one from those early days.  Isn’t the brain a funny thing?  Why do I remember, so vividly, Nicole Hurley who I spoke to once, once in my life, but not so many others?  And as for the accuracy of my memory, well, only you can tell me how well I did.

I just wanted to let you know that I’m thinking of you, as I do every year when it gets to be about this time.  And when I think of you, when I think of us, as we were in these days, I smile through the tears.

Lots of love,

Rhea

P.S. from Pema: Rhea brought that day a wooden, multiple-holed picture frame filled with pictures of family and friends and inscribed with “Best of Friends.” It was a thank you gift from a dear friend for having hosted her baby shower.

Rhea’s most recent production, “Independence Day,” won the Audience Award for Best Drama at the Life and Death Matters Film Festival last weekend.

Not her first, and not likely her last award. Congratulations, Rhea. To find out more about her work, find her on her Facebook page.

 

(You can read all of the Memory to Light stories in order on the side bar –->)

. . . . . . . . . .

Thanks for reading Day 27 of “Memory to Light: 31 Days of Stories, August 11 – September 11, 2011.” It is an exercise in writing about loss, for the purpose of letting grief wake, live, and pass through the system. Grief is transformation. Story is transformation. Our world could use a some wakeful transformation right now. Take a peek at the introductory post for the full story of what we’re up to.

Join me

Consider this project an online story circle. Read a story that moves you. Write your own on your blog. Link it to the comments below, so we can read your piece. If you don’t have a blog, write your story in the comments.

Let your memories live. Let small corners of your grief breathe. Let your loss be swept into the collective experience of people sharing, witnessing, and letting be.

{ 2 comments }

Flights. Of fancy.
Falling. Without fear.
Attacks. Of joy.

Sony BRAVIA Bouncy Ball Advert from Josip Kostic on Vimeo.

 

Fleeing. In release.
Corridors. Of color.

Smoke. Replaced.
With joy. In light.
Souls. In flight.
In remembrance.
In memory.
In living. Wonder.

–    –

…At the end of the wonder
you may find this experiment
is an advertisement
for the makers.
Let not commerce keep you
from expanding
(your screen)
raising your volume
and
. . . floating
in
wonder.

(Totally 100% recommended): —> Super high definition, for watching, listening and floating full screen

. . .

Writing this I can’t help wondering what life itself is an advertisement for, what life is experimenting. The joy, the loss, the grief, the dark, the wonder . . . the light.

Any ideas?

. . . . . . . . . . .

Thanks for reading Day 26 of “Memory to Light: 31 Days of Stories, August 11 – September 11, 2011.” It is an exercise in writing about loss, for the purpose of letting grief wake, live, and pass through the system. Grief is transformation. Story is transformation. Our world could use a some wakeful transformation right now. Take a peek at the introductory post for the full story of what we’re up to.

Join me

Consider this project an online story circle. Read a story that moves you. Write your own on your blog. Link it to the comments below, so we can read your piece. If you don’t have a blog, write your story in the comments.

Let your memories live. Let small corners of your grief breathe. Let your loss be swept into the collective experience of people sharing, witnessing, and letting be.

{ 3 comments }