Tag Archives: religion

Temporary Saints

Temporary Saints

Sunday morning, dressed to the nines,
we joined our proper church school lines,
sat upon paint-peeling chairs
that barely fit our derrieres
and were shaken free of sins and taints.
Rows of little Sunday saints,
we learned our Bible verses well,
secure from thoughts that led to Hell—
at least until the closing bell.

 

You’ll find more about Sunday School and bleached-white souls here: https://judydykstrabrown.com/2015/12/30/i-used-to-eat-red/

The NaNoWrMo prompt for this ninth day was to write a nine-line poem.

 

An Agnostic’s (Creed?) Query

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An Agnostic’s Creed Query

Who knows, in the end,
what will be good fortune, what folly?
We make our choices, take our chances,
drawing straws that synchronicity turns long
or misfortune cuts in two.
One person’s good luck
is another’s ruin—
life, perhaps, being the biggest lottery
while the lord of games sits above
in his windowed cage, viewing the results
of his design. The wheel? Blind luck,
but part of some larger mechanism
rigged to keep the house functioning
for purposes that the faithful, those addicted to the game,
repeat like a litany, still pulling the slot handle, sorting the cards,
assuring themselves, over and over,
that they are taken into account.

 

 

The prompt today was “folly.”

Tree of Faith

Tree of Faith

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Please click on the first photo below to enlarge and read captions that explain the pieces.

For any of these creations, I could be beheaded in Saudi Arabia. Then crucified for the poem. This holy examination of self is not tolerated in some countries, or by certain factions of our own. This is what we are trying to guard against in a democracy, but its guarantee in our constitution is not, evidently, a given.  It must be fought for over and over again. That open eye of the Madonna was never more called for in our country.

This poem and these retablos are dedicated to   Ashraf  Fayadh.  Please click on the below link if you doubt the veracity of what I say above or if you want to see an example of why it is so important for us to continue to embrace diversity in thought , faith and culture:
https://thegadabouttown.com/2016/12/10/speak-out-for-ashraf-fayadh/

The prompt word today was “mystical.”

 

Keeping Sacred in the Right Order

img_0404Last Night’s Sunset over Lake Chapala: jdbphoto

Keeping Sacred in the Right Order

How ironic that that which should unite us so often divides us instead. If there is one reality, then every religion that unites us with that sacred reality should unite us to each other as well. But sadly, that which should be sacred turns us scared instead. Just one slight shift in the letters creates what man creates when he attempts to define the universal instead of just feeling it. In vehemently insisting that our way is the only way, we are both demonstrating our fear that someone who thinks differently from us might prove our way to be wrong as well as setting up the same fear in them. We are one. Everything points to it, and it is what most religions profess in words regrettably finite which cannot quite grasp the concept that no matter what our belief, it should in the end profess that one truth. The fact that what prophets once expressed has been bent by those less prophetic to promulgate division instead of oneness is the great irony of organized religion down through the ages.

These factions and sects and denominations that set themselves above the rest—that declare one group heathens or infidels or unsaved, move themselves one step farther from faith and one step closer to dogma. The entire world is sacred. We see it in the petals of a hibiscus or a dandelion, a Christian or Jew or Muslim.  All children, in their innocence, possess this sacred quality and then we go about trying to help them define it and in doing so, kill the very thing we are trying to define.

Sacred is not limited to churches or synagogues. Sacred is a holy place within us that we go to to connect with the universal. We could do this as well at home if we took the time to do so. But all people and all places that call themselves holy are not so just for the telling. If the “holy” man speaks of divisiveness, he is not holy. If he holds his religion up above the rest and points fingers at those who believe differently, he is not holy. He is a politician as surely as the man who runs for congress. He is politicking for his own beliefs rather than trying to guide you to your own.

A walk in the woods or a swim in the sea, the painting of a picture or the careful stitching of a quilt, lying on a blanket in the shade with a child and watching the progress of ants—all are holy pastimes that can take you closer to the sacred in yourself.  Do not let anyone turn your “sacred” into “scared,” for holiness is in every molecule of our universe, and all of us have it spread equally within ourselves.  It is just up to us to find it.

The prompt today was “sacred.”

Lighting a Candle for San Antonio: Five Days, Five Photos, Five stories, Day 1

Five Days, Five Photos, Five Stories, Day 1

Lighting a Candle for San Antonio

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When I arrived home and found the candle burning next to the virgin of Guadalupe on the counter between my kitchen and dining room, I took a fast survey.  It wasn’t mother’s day as there was no photo of my mother next to it.  The celebration of the Virgin of Guadalupe was months away.  It wasn’t Dia de los Muertos.  What could this new conflagration represent?

I had left soon after Yolanda arrived in the morning. She had run out to the car with coffee in my go mug and a bottle of water.  Sweet Yolanda, who was half mother, half sister.  She had been helping me since I moved to Mexico fourteen years before: cleaning my house, bringing a local healer to my house when I was ill to “cure” me via massage, now and then bringing her babies for me to dance around my house as she cleaned or ironed or washed clothes.

We had a wonderful symbiotic relationship.  She made my house a home and relieved me from tedious tasks so I could write.  I was her chief bank and no-interest loan officer…loaning the money for their new house, more land, a new used car when theirs was totaled by a drunk with no insurance. She always paid me back, either via installments deducted from her salary or in lump sums sometime down the line.

Yolanda, Pasiano my gardener, their families and I went on short vacations together to the Guadalajara zoo or to see the wildflowers in Tapalpa, loading up my full-sized van to capacity. This happens in Mexico.  Your gardener and housekeeper become your extended family and you become theirs.

So it is that Yolanda occasionally sets me right in the world as well.  The first year I didn’t build a Day of the Dead altar for my husband, she queried.  “Oh, so you no longer miss your husband?”  I built a shrine.  On mother’s day, she was the one who moved my mother’s picture from the guest bedroom onto the counter next to the virgin and lit a candle.

What was the candle for this time?  I asked her on Wednesday, when she arrived for one of her three-times-weekly three hour sessions.  This time, Senora, it was for San Antonio.  He was the finder of lost things, and we had been searching in vain for weeks for the lost cord and microphone for my amplifier.  The bowl of water under the glass with the candle in it was to cool the glass so it didn’t shatter.

I had let the candle burn all day until I went to bed.  When Yolanda arrived two days later, she lit it again.  Then hours after her arrival as I still sat at my computer blogging my blog, she came into the room carrying a large Ziploc plastic bag.  It was the cord and mike!

“Where did you find it?”  I asked.

“It was in with the sheets,” she answered.

“We’ve been losing a lot of things lately,” I said.  “Remember when we looked for weeks for my bag of lost keys and I found them in the drawer with the light bulbs?”

“Yes,” she answered.  “And do you remember that I lit a candle that day as well?”

Let me say right now that I am not a religious person.  I don’t pray, although now and then in a really stressful situation, I will address the God of my youth.  But, I am coming to have faith in Yolanda.  When she tells me to light a candle, I do so. And I’ve never missed a Day of the Dead Shrine since her last reminder.

I was nominated by Irene Waters for this challenge.  You can see her first day’s submission HERE.

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In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “The Kindness of Strangers.” When was the last time a stranger did something particularly kind, generous, or selfless for you? Tell us what happened!

I was about to tell a story and then had a fleeting memory that I’d already written about this occasion, so I searched backwards in my blog and although I couldn’t find that story, I did find a poetry version of two kindnesses by strangers that changed my entire life.  If you’ve read it before, I apologize, but since I don’t even remember my own poems and stories, perhaps you’ll read this with new eyes as well. It’s a bit long.  Sorry, Ann and Audrey. I’m trying for more brevity lately and I have shortened this by one stanza. Hope you enjoy this or get something from it, be it new for you or a repeat:

Unsolicited Kindness

The stranger on an airplane in the seat right next to me
never said a single word, and so I let her be
until our arrival, when I prepared to stand
and she produced a paperback—put it in my hand.

“I think it’s time for you to read this,” she said, then went away.
I didn’t say a word to her. Didn’t know what to say.
That book, however, changed my life and attitude and choices—
encouraged me to listen close to interior voices.

Buscaglia, Jampolsky and all of Carl Jung’s books
drew my mind away from appearances and looks
and into that finer world of instinct and of mind;
then drew me westward to the sea and others of my kind.

After a writer’s function, a stranger sent to me
“The Process of Intuition,” which I read from A to Z.
I read it twenty times or so, then sent it to a friend.
Then bought up every copy left to give as gifts and lend.

I don’t remember talking to the one who sent it to me,
but if I need a proof of faith, I guess that this will do me.
For if I follow instincts that hint and prod and clue me,
I believe there is some force that draws the next thing through me

I don’t believe in any faith that has a name or church.
I do believe, however, that I’m guided in my search
by something that unites us and sets our pathways right
so long as we listen to our own interior sight

that urges us to follow the right side of our brain
even though those choices are logically inane.
I know that it takes many types of brains to run the world,
but for me it’s intuition that when carefully unfurled

guides me best—towards art and words and unplanned days and oceans
and prompts me make a Bible of what others may call notions.
And so to simplify I’d say it’s vital to have faith in
that voice we’re all a part of that leads us from within.