Friday, November 28, 2008

Wisdom from Jen Gray...

Jen wrote the words. I am adding my own photos.

As we walked through the Daniel Stowe Botanical Gardens a couple of weeks ago, we came upon a butterfly sunning and drying herself.
We sat down to watch and take pictures.


We have been learning with every
wipe-out, there is always something
or someone still worth getting
up for.

with each diagnosis, we learned to be thankful for the
parts that are still healthy and strong.

with each dark day, we learned to absolutely
treasure the easy sunny ones.

with every news report and worldly update,
we have taken hope in our new President
and the good changes to come.

with the loss of friends and loved ones we
learned to value the days we have still have
left with you.

to be able to say:

"i have shelter.
i have food for my belly,
i have the love of a pal,
i have my freedom,
and i still have some pretty good laughs..."

means you are doing,

and if you have more than that,
these days,
that makes you a king.

learning to be thankful when things are easy and breezy is one thing.
being able to be thankful when you have had a more than a few wipe-outs,
makes you especially beautiful and wise and right on.

Jen Gray

Thank you, Jen, for your wisdom and beauty and grace in sharing your stories with all of us, your faithful readers, and for encouraging us to stay awake and alert on our own paths, to walk with courage, to live fully and laugh and love and learn and maintain hope. No matter what life throws our way.

When you wipe out, try not to land on one of these!

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Thankful Thursday

On this most thankful of Thursdays, I am most thankful for:

1. The constantly improving health of my dearly beloved daughter. There is light at the end of the tunnel. Thanks be to God!

2. The outpouring of love and support for us from friends all over the world.

3. The delicious meals that have been brought to us this past week and have been promised to us in the weeks to come. As many of you may know, I do not like to cook. At a time like this, when my attention is short-lived and certainly not on what I am eating these days, the blessing of not having to do something that I dislike so much, is beyond description. Thank you!

4. Along the same lines, I am thankful that I don't have to cook today. My mother has volunteered to do all the preparation.

5. The time I have had with my son to talk, play ping-ping and tennis and Scrabble, and to watch his new favorite show, "Malcolm in the middle."

6. Laughter.

7. Well-taken photographs.

8. Well-crafted stories.

9. Taking the time to stop myself and ask this question: "What do I need right now?"

10. Listening to my body and soul answer that question.

11. Not feeling guilty for asking for what I need and accepting it with grace and gratitude.

12. Loose leaf tea.

13. Homemade cookies.

14. Sandalwood incense in my bedroom.

15. Silver crosses.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Thank you...

thank you, thank you all for your kind thoughts and prayers.
Keep the candles burning.
Keep the prayers going.
We are being buoyed by your love for us.
We are seeing light.
We are maintaining hope.

Just so you know, this beautiful girl is the one you are praying for.
Kristiana, my precious daughter, is sick.
Please pray that she will soon be made whole again.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

If you pray...


If you meditate, meditate.
Burn incense and candles.
Lift up my family, I beg you.

We are deeply hurting right now. Deeply.
This is the toughest thing we have ever faced.
But we know that God is with us in it and through it.

I won't be online for a while.
I need to be focused. And present.
And praying.

So, if you pray, please pray.

Lord, have mercy.
Christ, have mercy.
Lord, have mercy.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Too many days...

An old favorite photo and memory: Gelato in January in Rome.

I have spent a lot of time this week feeling sorry for myself.
I have thought back to trips I have taken earlier in my life
and lamented the fact that there are no future trips on my calendar at the moment.
I thought: "Too many days have passed since my last seven to ten day solo journey."

See the two candles burning on the lower right side? I lit them - I always light two. These were lit at the church of Santa Maria sopra Minerva in Rome.

I have thought back to meals and coffee shops
where I have sat alone with The Alone,
lost in my thoughts
and lamented the fact that I don't do that nearly enough anymore.
"Too many days have passed since my last three to six hour solo journey."

Then yesterday, I slapped myself in the soul and thought,
"How dare you complain? How dare you feel sorry for yourself?
Yours is a blessed life. You have more than you need of everything you have ever thought you wanted.
Be grateful."

The problem is not that there have been too many days since something significant has happened in me or to me.
The problem is that I have not accepted this day, this hour, this moment
I have not loved this day, this hour, this moment,
and lived it fully. Here and now.

I have allowed myself to believe that there is some future moment,
some future journey, some future relationship that will fill the emptiness in me.
That some other person, some other house, some other body,
some other something or other
will satisfy me.

The truth is that the freedom I feel on the streets of Spain and Italy,
the joy of those peace-filled hours of wandering without accountability,
the soul-filling that comes from soul-stirring conversations and exchanges -
all of that is available to me right here in Charlotte.
Because that joy and that freedom exist within me
right here, right now.

Earlier this week, I wrote the following in my journal:

"Too much time,
too many days
without me writing
without me praying
without me reading
* without me. *

I miss myself.
Alone. Quiet. Wandering.
Walking. Listening.

So, G, what are you gonna do to meet up with you again?
To reconnect with yourself? Where will you go? For how long?
What will you do there?

I need to begin right here, on the floor of my study."

So that's where I began that morning.
That's where I began this morning.
On the floor of my study. On the floor of my soul.
Forgetting the days "I have wasted." No such days have ever existed.
Forgetting the days "I will make the most of." No such days will ever exist.

No, live this day. Right here and right now.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Gotta take a chance...

Nearly 43 years ago, my parents took a chance on raising a daughter after trying their hand at raising three sons. Over 20 years ago, Steve and I took a chance on a long-term relationship after trying our hand at several less successful attempts with other people. Fifteen years and two weeks ago, we took a chance on brining a child into the world; we welcomed a second soul to join our clan two years and eleven months later. Over six years ago, we took a chance on life in Charlotte after more than a dozen years in suburban Connecticut. Over a year ago, Lisa took a chance to come here to Charlotte to meet us. Last week, this nation took a chance and elected a President who is unlike any other president we have ever had, and not just because of the color of his skin.

The thing is, relationships, raising children, moving to a new city,
making a new friend, and new government officials -
life itself can get wet and messy.

And tangled.

And thorny.

And even rotten inside.

But sometimes, somehow, it works out.
It is beautiful, fragrant, warm, and deeply soul-full-filling.

And even when things don't work out as I hope,
when the messiness is more than I can withstand,
and I have to retreat from the battle line with the white flag waving behind me,
I know that I tried.
I tried really hard.
I did.

In the end, I am learning to sing in the rain!
Life may be messy, but at least I'm alive to make the mess!
Like Billy Blanks says at the end of many of his Tae Bo workouts,
"Everyday above ground is a blessed day."

Monday, November 10, 2008

I had no idea

Sorry, this image is so small. But I couldn't figure out how to enlarge it.

I had no idea how happy I would be that Obama won the election.
I had no idea how sad I would be to hear that people in my state
are buying more handguns and assault rifles as a result of his win.
They say they are buying them because they fear he will increase gun control,
so they'd better stock up now.

I had no idea how much I would think about Barack Obama's family life in the White House. The girls going to school. Raising their new puppy. Deciding on dinner menus and birthday guest lists.
I had no idea how sad I would be to have to wonder and worry about whether or not the President-Elect would survive until his inauguration.

But I am happy, hopeful, prayerful, and excited.
I had no idea just how happy I would be.


Here is an email I received recently that moved me deeply.
I don't know who all the people are that are referred to in this piece,
but that's okay. They all had a part in what we celebrated last Tuesday night.
And they have much to celebrate with us.

Inauguration Ball 2009

Guests began arriving early. There are no place cards and
no name tags. Everyone knows everyone else here. Now, there's a grand
foursome - Malcolm X and Betty Shabazz sharing laughs with Martin and Coretta
Scott King. Looks like Hosea Williams refused the limo again, keeping it
real. And my goodness; is that Rosa Parks out there on the dance floor
with A. Phillip Randolph? Seated at a nearby table, Frederick Douglass has a captive
audience in W.E.B. DuBois and Fannie Lou Hamer, and Medgar Evers has just joined them.

Marian Anderson was asked to sing tonight, but she only agreed to do it if
accompanied by Marvin Gaye, John Lennon and Jimi Hendrix.
Look, there's Harriet Tubman. No one knows how she arrived, but there she
is. And my guess is that, when the time comes, no one will see her leave.
There's Jackie Robinson swiftly making his way through
the hall as the crowd parts like the Red Sea to the unmistakable sound of
applause. "Run, Jackie, run!"Along the way he is embraced by Jessie Owens.
Three beautiful young women arrive with their escorts - Schwerner, Goodman and
Chaney. Ms. Viola Liuzzo flew in from Michigan, exclaiming, "I could not
miss this." Richard Pryor promised to be on his best behavior.
"But I can't make any guarantees for Redd Foxx and Moms Mabley," he
chuckled. Joe Louis just faked a quick jab to the chin of Jack Johnson, who smiled broadly
while slippingit. We saw Billy Eckstine and Nat King Cole greet Luther
Van Dross. James Brown and Josh Gibson stopped at Walter Payton's table
to say hello.

I spotted Congressman Adam Clayton Powell of Harlem having
a lively political discussion with Eldredge Cleaver. Pearl Harbor WWII
hero Dorey Miller shared a few thoughts with Crispus Attucks,
a hero of the Revolutionary War.. And there is Madam C.J. Walker talking
with Marcus Garvey about exporting goods to Africa.
General Benjamin O. Davis flew into Washington safely with
an escort from the 99th Fighter Squadron - better known as The Tuskegee
Airman. At the table on the left are three formidable women - Shirley
Chisholm, Sojourner Truth, and Barbara Jordan - gathered for a little
girl-talk... about world politics. As usual, all the science nerds seem to have gathered off
in a corner, talking shop.

There's Granville T.. Woods and Lewis Latimer needling each other about whose inventions are better. Someone jokingly asked Benjamin Banneker if he had needed directions to Washington. And George Washington Carver was overheard asking, "What, no peanuts?"

Dualing bands? Anytime Duke Ellington and Count Basie get
together, you knowthe place will be jumping. Tonight is special, of course,
so we have Miles, Dizzy, and Satchmo sitting in on trumpet, with Coltrane,
Cannonball, and Bird on sax. Everyone's attention is directed to the
dance floor where Bill "Bojangles" Robinson is tap dancing. Right beside
him is Sammy Davis Jr., doing his Bojangles routine. And behind his back, Gregory
Hines is imitating them both. Applause and laughter abound! The Hollywood
contingent has just arrived from the Coast. Led by filmmaker Oscar Micheau,
Paul Robeson, Cana Lee, and Hattie McDaniel, they find their way to their
tables. Dorothy Dandridge, looking exquisite in gold lamé, is seen
signaling to her husband, Harold Nicholas, who is standing on the floor with brother
Fayard watching Gregory Hines dance. "Hold me back," quips
Harold, "before I show that youngster how it's done." Much laughter!

Then a sudden hush comes over the room.
The guests of honor have arrived.
The President and Mrs. Obama looked out across the enormous
ballroom at all the historic faces. Very many smiles, precious few dry eyes.
Someone shouted out, "You did it! You did it!"
And President Obama replied,
"No sir, you did it; you all - each and every one of you - did it.
Your guidance and encouragement; your hard work and perseverance. .."
Obama paused, perhaps holding back a tear.
"I look at your faces - your beautiful faces -
and I am reminded that The White House was built by faces that looked just like yours.
On October 3, 1792, the cornerstone of the White House was laid, and the
foundations and main residence of The White House were built mostly by both
enslaved and free African Americans and paid Europeans. In fact, most of
the other construction work was performed by immigrants, many of whom
had not yet become citizens. Much of the brick and plaster work was
performed by Irish and Italian immigrants. The sandstone walls were built by
Scottish immigrants. So, I guess what I'm trying to say is that The White House is,
ultimately, The People's House, with each President serving as its steward. Since 1792
The People have trimmed its hedges, mowed its
lawn, stood guard at the gate, cooked meals in the kitchen, and scrubbed its
toilet bowls. But 216 years later, The People are taking it back!

"Today, Michelle and I usher in a new era. But while
we and our family look toward the future with so much hope, we know that we must
also acknowledge fully this milestone in our journey. We want to thank each
and every one of you for all you have done to make this day possible. I
stand here before you, humbled and in awe of your accomplishments and
sacrifice, and I will dedicate my Presidency, in your honor, to the principles of
peace, liberty and freedom.

If it ever appears that I'm forgetting that, I know I can count on you to remind me."

Then he pointed to me (the author of this piece) near the stage...
"Kenyada, isn't it time for you to wake up for work?
Isn't it time for all of us to wake up and get to work?"
Suddenly I awake and sit up in bed with a knowing smile.
My wife stirs and sleepily asks if I'm OK.
"I've never been better," I replied, "Never better. It's gonna be a good day."

A good day, indeed.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

A prayer for peace

Lord, Make us instruments of your peace,
Where there is hatred, let your love increase
Lord, make us instruments of your peace,
Walls of pride and prejudice shall cease
When we are your instruments of peace.

Where there is hatred, we will show his love
Where there is injury, we will never judge
Where there is striving, we will speak his peace
To the millions crying for release,
We will be his instruments of peace

Lord, Make us instruments of your peace,
Where there is hatred, let your love increase
Lord, make us instruments of your peace,
Walls of pride and prejudice shall cease
When we are your instruments of peace.

Where there is blindness, we will pray for sight
where there is darkness, we will shine the light
Where there is sadness, we will bear their grief
To the millions crying for relief,
We will be your instruments of peace.

(from Rejoice Africa!)

Alice Walker wrote a long poem called, "These Days," a long time ago. In that poem, she describes people she loves and tells why she loves them. At the end of each stanza, she write, "Surely, the earth can be saved for ________." That's how I feel today.

As I think of the people I have met and come to know and love,
as I think of places I have visited and have come to cherish,
as I think of this pivotal election day in this nation I love,
I return to those words Walker imprinted on my heart years ago.

Surely the earth can be saved for them.
For you.
For me.
For all of us.

Let there be peace.

Thanks, Lisa, for posting this prayer. It is one we all need to pray far more often.

Monday, November 03, 2008

Whatever "it" is...

Between appointments today.
A quick stop at Starbucks for a drink.
Pull out my journal, of course.
Pause. Breathe. Give thanks.
Look down at my cup.

What is "it" that are you looking for?

Saturday, November 01, 2008

As we enter the final days...

Here's what Kristiana and I heard at the hairdresser on Thursday:

"Rosa Parks sat so Martin Luther King Jr could march.

MLK II marched so Barack Obama could run.

Barack Obama is running so our children can fly."

Win or lose, he has fought a nation-stirring and historic battle.
He has earned the attention not only of our nation but also of the whole world.
He is the embodiment much of what MLK dreamed of 40+ years ago.
He has changed the landscape of Presidential politics forever.

I truly did not think this would happen in my lifetime.
I am so glad it has.

Let there be hope!