A Moment with the “Memory Keeper”

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Another taste of that “good medicine” flowing out during ordinary time is that of visiting the “memory keeper”. Those places in your mind and soul that hold where we’ve been and the lessons we’ve learned. No, not always the big, difficult ones, but the little ones we’ve forgotten we’ve found on the side of the road, like wildflowers picked at just the right moment.

I took a brief trek into my childhood days recently, meandering back in time, climbing up a small hiking path to a white rock at the top of a place in Idyllwild, California, that had some sort of magic or sacredness to it. I recollected the crunch of pebbles against mountain earth beneath my feet, my knees, the feeling of being 11 years old, wide open, and trusting the process, through passages of sweat and naivete. I took the time to try to re-travel that hike from that day, in my mind’s eye, in order to recapture the freshness, the smallness of myself, as well as the places I was and now am in spirit. There was a bit of writing involved as I revisited that moment, and much reflecting, but I found that a side trip with the “memory keeper” was a good idea. It helped re-collect the precious lessons learned at that time and how they translate into this time. It helped me gather some stems of gratitude in my day’s “ordinary” bouquet.

I recommend this. Like staring at clouds, and indulging in moments that others would consider “wasted”, recollecting is making a long term investment in your soul, at least, that’s what I think.

The author, Jamie Sams, once again got me wandering in this delicious direction, and a few words came out of it from my direction:

“In Idyllwild,

was a time we climbed

with scraped kneecaps- tender-boned turtle-shells,

the holy mountain, the white stone, “Skyland”.

We had heard there was a cross there, sacred monument

that scraped the sky and punctured the skin between earth

and heaven. . .

wandering, searching for the intersection of life and death,

the compass rose of sky . . . .

– Gina Marie Mammano

May your memory keeper show you paths bedecked and deckled with wildflowers.

After the gathering: “The Archaeology of Hospitality”

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I included this poem in a scrapbook created after my daughter’s rite of passage. It is by my friend, Drew Ward, and it captures so eloquently the magical richness of ruminating over gatherings and events evidenced by the artifacts of smudged glasses and dirty dishes.

As we fill up our minds and souls this National Poetry Month with good, nourishing thought-food, may we enjoy this tasty poetic appetizer on the benefits of gathering together:

The Archeology of Hospitality

They participated in a rich exchange of ideas and raised eyebrows,

Trading on a wealth of possibilities,

Freely spending the currency of their lives and voices,

Investing in each other,

Creating a common market of generosity

Generated from renewable resources of broken hearts,

Passing touches

And homegrown vegetables—

They were a community.

In the early morning light

They stand on the counter like monuments to another time—

Dirty bowls,

Lip-smudged silverware,

Finger-smudged glasses.

Emptying the sink will be an excavation,

A dig through strata of tableware and cooking utensils,

Uncovering relics

Of last night’s brief backyard civilization,

Where a moonlit people

Ate and talked and worshipped,

Laughed and sang and made a world together.

They made alliances of an hour

Or of a glance

Or spanning the precarious epoch of a joke.

They participated in a rich exchange of ideas and raised eyebrows,

Trading on a wealth of possibilities,

Freely spending the currency of their lives and voices,

Investing in each other,

Creating a common market of generosity

Generated from renewable resources of broken hearts,

Passing touches

And homegrown vegetables—

They were a community.

And though I’m up to my elbows this morning in soapsuds

And the artifacts of a bygone culture,

I smile,

Knowing they are not lost—

They have merely passed out of the door,

But not out of the world.

And Tuesday another great people will arrive

To leave their own indelible mark

Scattering remnants of their habitation

On countertops and coffee tables—

Leaving us forever changed.     —Drew Ward (7/11/06)

 

Beautiful, isn’t it? . . . .

First rite of passage: reflecting your own journey – “Turn Around”

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Me, age 6.

One of the tunes I chose to share at my daughter’s first rite of passage was a real tear-jerker. I didn’t choose it for that reason. It was a song recorded by Nanci Griffith that happened to pluck at my heartstrings just at that moment, resonating with the internal music of my daughter’s coming of age. The song was “Turn Around” and I’ve included the lyrics further below.

Sometimes you need to make room for the rite of passage (your own) within the rite of passage (your child’s). Don’t negate your own feelings during this time of change. Honor them as well. As your daughter, or son, is crossing a threshold, so are you. Your shining bridge is a parallel one to theirs- equally important, equally paved with bitter and sweet. Take the time to take the time. Savor the flavors of this journey for yourself. “Turn around” for just a moment.

“Turn Around”- composed by Harry Belafonte, Alan Greene and Malvina Reynolds

Where are you goin’ my little one, little one? Where are you goin’ my baby, my own?

Turn around and you’re two

Turn around and you’re four

Turn around and you’re a young girl going out of the door

Turn around, turn around, turn around and you’re a young girl going out of the door

Where are you goin’ my little one, little one? Little dirndles and petticoats, where have you gone?

Turn around and you’re tiny

Turn around and you’re grown

Turn around and you’re a young wife with babes of your own . . .

Kind of old fashioned lyrics, I know, but it spoke to some ancient mothering place inside of me . . . perhaps to you as well.

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Me, reflecting, age 47.