Thursday, May 26, 2011


As the Memorial Day week-end ushers in the season of early summer, I am reminiscent of my Grandma who truly is one of the great loves of my life. As she entered into her final years she became somewhat fixated on the upkeep of her impending cemetery plot. Her name had already been engraved upon the shared stone as my step-grandfather had died some years previously. It was her tradition to make sure that the family plots were decorated for the Memorial Day holiday, a tradition she took very seriously. As she was not physically able to do the actual decorating, she began early in the month of May to find the person that would be commanded to help in that particular calendar year. My grandma was not one to suffer fools lightly, a saying that she used and took to heart. If someone was going to give an excuse as to why they were not able to help her decorate the graves on what for her was such an important occasion, they were sure to endure one of the forms of grandma’s wrath. Even if the chosen reaction was her infamous silent treatment, you could not mistake the power of her punishment.
You see Grandma wanted to be extra sure those graves were decorated yearly because she was adamant that her own grave would never go unadorned. She would threaten to haunt the family members who allowed “Decoration Day” to go by unacknowledged. She clearly equated that slight with being forgotten after she had left the earth plane. Though I have never placed a single flower upon my grandma’s grave, I have never forgotten the powerful woman who gave my mother life and so greatly enhanced my own. She was a relentless tyrant in many ways. She had ruthlessly strong opinions and life-long prejudices that frequently made me blush. And yet I loved her and love her still. While I can easily report upon her foibles I can also readily recall her radiance. She had a laugh that could light a room and an integrity upon which she could and did build a family. This writing is my way of remembering her this year. This blog is my Memorial Day tribute to my precious Grandma.

The deeper lesson for me of the Memorial Day holiday and of the preceding story is that though I was brought up with a tradition of decorating grave plots as a way of honoring the deceased it is more my personal practice to bring conscious honor to my relationships while we are still in this incarnate state. I do not so much share Grandma’s interest in being remembered after I am gone. I do choose to live in such a way as to leave a legacy that I trust will expand and transform the field of human consciousness. I feel no need to have a plot of land where people may come and visit and pay homage. If I am indeed remembered I pray that it will be because of the way I lived and the way I loved. I pray that a memory of me will be of the felt-sense way I made you feel when you were with me. The unwavering attention I gave to you, and my heartful invocation that called forth the best in you when you were in my presence. I will not pretend to ignore your human flaws and foibles, yet I will always embrace them as a unique part of your perfect sacred emergence. I will hold no judgment about the way you walk your path, anymore than I do about my strong willed yet wondrous Grandma. I will die daily to my personal opinions of myself and of you and of the way that life is unfolding.

And maybe that is at the core of the Memorial Day holiday. Everyday is a day to remember who and what has gone before, and yet it is also an invitation to die to the interpretations of such that keep us fixated on perceptual graves where there truly is no life. Everyday is a day to attend to the living. It is a day to honor the person that is right before you, even if that person is triggering the wounding that you are here to heal. If there are flowers to be given, give them now. If there are accolades to be spoken, speak them now. If there is praise to be proclaimed, proclaim it now. It will be the things left unsaid that will haunt you later, not the graves that go undecorated. Remember and see and feel it all this Memorial Day holiday. Shed the tears you perhaps never shed, and internally say what is calling to be said. And then live. Live this day as if it were your last. Love as if you won’t get another chance. Give your very best to this day, and know that when it is your time to go, you will have truly lived.

You see, Grandma. I did remember.


Monday, May 16, 2011


Everyone in the world deserves to have a Mary.

My dear friend and spiritual companion Mary Ownby is turning eighty this week, and I am as gleeful as a kid at Christmas time as I celebrate her rich and wondrous incarnation. I reflect back over the thirteen plus years since first we met, and I am more certain than ever that ours is a Divine appointment that we were both born to keep. Not that it was our sole purpose or appointment; certainly not. Yet it is a Soulful union that has enriched my days in ways immeasurable with words.
Mary grew up in a strongly Catholic home and education, and entered into the Adrian Dominican Order right out of Academy. While she left the Order several years ago, the archetype of Sister is in so many ways the lens through which she sees the world. She serves humanity as a way of being, and is always leading with her loving and compassionate presence. She embraces life and lives it with a gusto that is compelling and contagious. She is rigorously generous, and is a constant champion to those of lesser esteem and minimal resources. To be around Mary is to feel uplifted. Her laugher is free and full, and her wisdom rooted and profound. In these eight decades Mary has not only made a huge contribution to the planet and its inhabitants, she IS a contribution of the highest vibration.

And that being said; everyone in the world deserves a Mary.

I speak to my dear friend Mary almost every day. We share in a long time personal tradition of touching base at noon daily to connect in a prayerful presencing for the upliftment of the world. She is religious in this in the best sense of the word. Her devotion to Truth and her dedication to practice are unwavering. Though she calls me her spiritual director she continues to constantly inspire me with her chosen way of being. Her love for me is relentless, and I am aware that I am always living in the Light of her affirmation, admiration, and unconditional acceptance. In her vision I can do no wrong, and it is a daunting containment in which to dwell. Her boundless embrace continually calls me to step up to the highest Self expression that I am currently capable of. In her uncompromising encouragement my own courage is strengthened. I reach to be the me that she seems to see even when I don’t. She is a human rock on which I may stand, and though I know it is my own inner atmosphere that determines the quality of my life experience, she sets a standard of love that is a beacon for my own emergence. Because Mary is in my life, my life is better. I have become better. I have become more of who I truly am. I am eternally grateful for the gift of Mary in my heart and in my life, and she is and will remain one of the great loves of this incarnation.

Everyone in the world deserves a Mary.

And so I celebrate my precious friend not by showering her with material gifts, but by looking for opportunities to be the Mary in someone else’s life this day. I open to embrace those in my own circumference with the same uncompromising acceptance and affirmation that I have enjoyed with Mary. I expand my own sense of service to the world, and pray to recognize the opportunities to help, to uplift, to give to all those who enter my sphere. I freely and generously share of my laughter, my insight, and recourses, and my love. For you see I know experientially that everyone in the world deserves a Mary, and that everyone will benefit from basking in the kind of unconditional loving embrace that Mary provides. I am paying her forward in honor of her birthday, and embodying and giving the qualities of my friend that I so greatly admire and respect. The world is sweeter because Mary has lived. I am richer because Mary has loved. The world is blessed because Mary has been given. Everyone in this world deserves a Mary. Will you allow me to be yours?

Happy Birthday, Haily.