Medicine

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Medicine for Surgery:

 

Mindful view of glass-paned greenscape, incoming-

the gloss and black-masked glaze of a cedar waxwing,

floating onto a branch from the larger greyworld.

 

Rose honey- in a jar- “good for the heart” my visiting

alchemist said, “scientifically, not just metaphorically”,

the antiquing beige petals floating in a sweetness sea.

 

Words, words, words, words. Flowing through the

portals of Facebook and phone call- friendly chatter

cresting in a light crescendo of levitation, laughter.

 

Small, simple grace of an extra helping of sleep amid

cries from the deeper wound seeking to heal Itself

through pains of a red inner world unseen.

 

Music- Melody. Blood-red beets on a salad of flowers.

Appearances on the stages of dreams. Colors in my fingers

foraging forms from cuttings, crumbs of origami scraps.

 

Breathing. Baring. Bearing. Being

here now.

– Gina Marie Mammano

A Fresh Morning Perspective from a Friend

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I asked the whitebark pine

 

a question, and he said to me,

“aren’t you glad we don’t all talk?”

And in silence he spoke:

a million voices whining, droning in

each other’s ears like a carnival madhouse?

Each leaf, each tendril, each rooty spine spinning

sounds, yabba, yabba, yabba, yabba.

The quiet madness of the mosquito multiplied

more than a million times over?

Aren’t you glad some of us convey

by bark, by bearing, by Being?

Aren’t you glad some of us commune

in the quiet witness of Living?

 

and in Silence, I understood.

 

  • Gina Marie Mammano

Swamp Lanterns

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Up here in the Pacific Northwest, we have a plant called, “skunk cabbage”. You may know it, as it sprouts up in other parts of the country as well. It appears as a yellow sconce of slick petals housing a small “wick” of seeds. It can be quite startling passing by a “barren” patch of a mud hole for most of the year, then seeing these “surprises” pop up as a roomful of yellow lights, populating the ground with color.

The other name for this plant is “swamp lantern”. I prefer this name. I think it represents the plant more elegantly, and truer to its form. A thing of beauty. A thing of brightness. The unexpected emerging from the thick and lightless.

For those of us who traverse often or not so often, through the mud, we are grateful for swamp lanterns as they appear- yellow and bright, a sudden burst of glow from seemingly out of nowhere. This metaphor can reach into so many corners. A loving, energizing phone call or email in the middle of the day. The peeking out of the sun, creating seams of light on hems of dark clouds. A kind gesture, simple and human.

May swamp lanterns appear in the muddy places throughout your week. And may you, yourself, be a swamp lantern as well.

In Passing

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Just a couple of days ago, a dear friend crossed one of the two ultimate thresholds; in his case, death. I think one of the most refreshing things I have ever heard, came from him during his last days. So honest. He said, “I really don’t know how long this will go on, hours, days, weeks?” He was truly present for the unknowable threshold that was unfolding. We sat with him. Enjoyed some well chosen words, planned on returning the next day with some requested tulips and chocolate, and then he slipped into unconsciousness, ultimately moving on to his next adventure. I wrote a poem about this moment I would like to share with you.

 

It is here.

 

You always wondered how you would go.

At a gas station with heart in flames, the ticking stopped,

then down for the count, a quick and simple death.

 

Or outliving your spouse, wandering the lonely halls

of forest and bedroom, your own soul, wondering

how you would manage as you slowly trickled away.

 

I’m sure in childhood, like the rest of us, you were sitting

in a rocking chair, on a porch, in some soft form of robe

or blanket, slowly disappearing into a long, long sleep.

 

But here you are. And even on your death bed, you say,

“I really don’t know how this works, how long I will go on,

will it be hours or days or weeks?” And you smile as we offer

you a tomorrow of flowers and chocolates alongside a book to read.

 

“That sounds lovely”, you say, then words slowly slip

from your veins and you go very quiet; and life slowly

drips from you body and you go very still; and now the

soul slowly seeps from your self, and

 

it is here.

– by Gina Marie Mammano

Being here. That’s all we can truly ask for every moment. May we all be here right now, together.

Peeking into the Nest

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As spring crawls slowly up the Northwest coast, and a crocus, like a purple hand, pushes soft fingers through the ground, as well as the cherry trees wink pink blossoms at passersby, I make my way in a couple of days to check in on one of the birds that have flown from my own nest. I go to visit my son. He has flown with fairly agile wings south to live in San Francisco, find work, live with roommates, and look for his life. I’ve heard good reports chirped my way so far.

Though my nest is now empty, I look forward to taking to the air to sit in my son’s nest for awhile, not to hover, or look too closely at the fibers and feathers he’s used to create his own domicile. I hope to quell my eagle eyes, and choose a softer view. Look gently, and realize that fledglings are in the process of wing-spreading, not yet in perfect form. I’m also looking forward to stretching my own wings out a bit. Perhaps not arriving as mother bird, but loving mentor, proud coach, guest. This will be a challenge. We invest so much in our offspring, those we look after so carefully for so long. But the song that keeps singing in my ear this season of my life is a phrase by Ram Dass, so simple: “Be here now”.

Maybe that’s the key to every life situation, every change, every sameness, “Be here now”. And so perhaps learn with this, as spring approaches, how to make this newness, this change, this nest-visiting moment a “be here” moment, in all its messy beautiful feather-filled ways.

A word from the wise via Ginny, my rite of passager

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I share with you today a wise and loving statement that my daughter has embraced as her own over the last several years. It gives strength, dignity, and a joyous realization to all of us about ourselves and our unique contributions to this world as we continue to “come of age” in youth or adulthood.  A quote by Marianne Williamson:

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate.
Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.

It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us.
We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant,
gorgeous, handsome, talented and fabulous?

Actually, who are you not to be?
You are a child of God.

Your playing small does not serve the world.
There is nothing enlightened about shrinking
so that other people won’t feel insecure around you.
We are all meant to shine, as children do.

We were born to make manifest the glory of God within us.
It is not just in some; it is in everyone.

And, as we let our own light shine, we consciously give
other people permission to do the same.
As we are liberated from our fear,
our presence automatically liberates others.”

You may have heard this quote before, but I find I can hear it again and again and find nourishment in its soul opening words.

How big will you cast your shadow today- the evidence of your large and lovely being?

The Eternal Gift Shop

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The very first episode of my very first self-hosted radio show aired last week. The show is on Whidbey Air and is called “Ear Candy (a piece of sound candy for your mind to suck on)” and the episode was called “The Eternal Gift Shop”. The scripting went something like this, and is purposely in sync with the season:

Welcome to the The Eternal Gift Shop.

What’s in this ethereal souvenir booth for tourists and wayfarers like you and me? Postcards from the edge”? Trinkets wrapped in soulful paper? Things that jingle, dangle, tinkle from the inside out? Surprises?

In childhood, there’s an expectation, an ideal; there’s magic to gifts- it’s that thing you’ve always wanted sparkling in your mind’s eye, rattling lifelike in the toy store of your imagination. . . and sometimes it’s that thing you’ve never ever wanted or never even thought of before, but it appears to you, as a gift from the world’s lost and found, something like Phil Harris found in his song “The Thing” (I’d recommend looking up the lyrics, it’s quite funny, and crescendos with ‘get outta here with that boom boom boom before I call the cops!’ A “gift” with some unpleasant twists for sure).

When it’s our turn to be the giver of gifts, we get to turn the twist around; we get to surprise others and hope their eyes will shine. Even if the gift is not worthy of what the receiver should receive, there is something so shiny and shimmery about the act of giving itself, the gift . . . of giving. I heard someone once say, “it only lives when you give it away,” (Bruce Cockburn).

Some gifts can truly surprise us, not wrapped in silver or slathered in pink frosting, but by themselves, naked, without paper or ribbons, sitting quietly under our feet or scented subtly under our noses; they are legacies, remnants of love from the people who love us; they are acts of service, acts of kindness.

Gifts can also be treasures disguised as hidden pennies at the root of a sycamore tree or the outlines of birds costumed as the outlines of our souls taken into pure magical flight. Mary Oliver once said in her poem, “The Uses of Sorrow”, that “Someone I loved once gave me a box full of darkness. It took me years to understand that this, too, was a gift.”

They come in so many shapes and sizes, don’t they?

What gift will you unwrap in the darkness or in the starlight or in the splendor of broad day?

What will you take away from the Eternal Gift Shop?

Thank you for “listening”.