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

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“Ordinary” Wrapped up in Extraordinary

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We continue to edge deeper into the holiday season, leaving the green grass and gentle breezes of ordinary time behind. This is not to say there has not been the extraordinary, both beautiful and excruciatingly challenging within the reeds and gentle winds, but the temperature is now dramatically changing. The challenge now is to find the “ordinary” within the extraordinary. The small spaces in the largely decorated places. The remembrance of warm cups of coffee and a glint of sunlight amongst a big season, loud, wonderfully in-your-face season.

I hope to be able to hold hands with both “the biggies”- the extraordinary, and the ordinary things that come my way. These are a few ways I might try:

– biggie: buy and write out cards   -ordinary: brew a hot cup of tea and let the card                                                            writing last for 1 1/2 hours instead of 1- moving a                                                        little bit slowly and nourishing the process

-biggie: shop for presents online    -ordinary: stop and read a great passage from a                                                           inspiring book, chew on it for a few moments,                                                             even have a conversation about it with someone

-biggie: try to use up all the Thanksgiving leftovers in the refrigerator

-ordinary: re-member how each dish was shared, people’s reactions to it, mine as well, and incorporate it into a new dish, now re-imagined with memory and gratitude.

May you make the ordinary feel extraordinary in the gratitude of the moment.

The Play is the Thing

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photo courtesy of Ginny Schneider

On these “ordinary” days of extraordinary color, magic, and mystery that the subtle winds of October bring to us, I find that like the sweet nectar of savoring that swirling and cascading leaf, or the tramp, stumble, and skip down the road-memories of childhood, the pseudo indulgence (an actually necessity) of play also draws us in. We hear it whisper, “oh, please, just one game, one dance, one indulgent giggle!” And we give in (thank goodness!)

I found myself in a small intentional community gathering the other day, asking me to “come and play” for an hour or two. The format was simple: take 8 adults, an outdoor space, and a few games (like toss the ball, say a name, next person goes, remember the order, then do it all backwards!) and suddenly, enter the doorway into fun. It doesn’t take much, just a little time and a little willingness. The results are: easier breathing, lots of laughter, and more playmates!

Today I’m hanging out with my dear friend’s two boys who love to join with me in adding a little silliness to a ping pong game (can you do a dance move in between each paddle swing? let’s see how many rhymes we can come up with for our names. . . card trick anyone?) And the free and easy, breezy attitude of play releases me into movement, unpolished cleverness, and belly laughs. The drive with my daughter and a friend or two the other day belting out at the top of our lungs a well-trodden song from the nineties did the same thing.

What would you like to play today?

Timeless in Ordinary Time

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Many Native Americans call those things that are nourishing, healing, and wisdom-giving, available to us in the natural world “medicine”. I like this way of seeing because that implies that a spoonful of cure, a helping of wisdom and encouragement is always around us.

I went for a walk early this afternoon, watching the maple leaves whirling down from their attachments, glowing with autumn sun, and thought, “medicine”. Detaching and surrendering into the free fall, the provision of sun and sky, the knowledge of ground warm and certain beneath, and even playing as you go is indeed medicine.

I noticed the reemergence of blackberries as I continued to walk. A lovely surprise after seeing them dry up and wither at summer’s end, just a few weeks ago. Medicine. The surprise re-gathering of our own juices to produce fruit after a time of dormancy gives me hope.

By the end of my walk, the sun was back in full swing, after a morning of chill and heavy grey clouds. This, too, was an elixir. Not only for my body, but for my soul, during this “ordinary time”. The idea that change is always constant- a grey sky gives birth to a sunny day, and a sunny day can curl up under the cover of clouds- can be encouraging when things aren’t going as we would like them to go. At these times, change can be a welcome friend.

What medicine can you find in your own path today?

“Extraordinary” time in Ordinary Time

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photo by Ginny Schneider

I was diagnosed with a form of kidney cancer very recently. This turned this “ordinary time” of the year into “extraordinary time”, with new things to consider outside the arms of the hourly ticking clock. The prognosis looks good, but it still takes me to the edge of a threshold where I had not expected to go (which I’m sure is true for anybody gazing suddenly over a seeming precipice!)

Being “here” in this moment, at this time, brought me back to an exercise I had created several years back, appropriate for the now of “ordinary” time surrounded by the now of “extraordinary” time.

For those unfamiliar with the term, “milagros” are small pieces of metal, often shaped into parts of the body that serve as both a reminder, a desire for a healing of that place, and/or a token of gratitude after the fact. Fascinated with these little symbols mostly prevalent in the southwest, here is a threshold crossing exercise.

Milagros Exercise

Take some time to write on 5 slips of paper, 5 praises to the part of the body you choose. For example: “I cried out to my______ (hand) and my hand said, I ____ (write messages of stars, hold tiny fingers of bone and flesh, paint the world with colors).

Here are mine:

“I cried out to my kidney, and my kidney said, ‘I am the seat of wisdom, I purify, I hold streams of red life, flowering gifts like flame-flowers on the Red Road of Life.”

“I cried out to my legs, and my legs said, ‘I take you where you want to go, bark-less trunks of determination, bringers of new gifts of new experiences.”

“I cried out to my heart, and my heart said, ‘I bear all things, believe all things, hope all things, endure all things; when prophecy comes, it might fail, when words come, they may cease, but I endure forever, for I hold Love.”

“I cried out to my mind, and my mind said, ‘I take in the above and I take in the below; I am the great sifter of thought, the great dreamcatcher of wisdom. I will walk with you on this journey.”

I find that marking the places of hurt and of health, and honoring them, gives awareness and somehow resurrects gratitude, even though at times, the going is tough.

May all of your “parts” support you, and may you rise up and call them “blessed”.

Sipping the Nectar of “Ordinary” Days

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picture by Ginny Schneider

As I continue on my journey through the days of  the ordinary (which, by the way, is amidst some rather “unordinary” life circumstances), I am reminded, believe it or not, of the word, “nectar” . Besides the sweet, sticky, sugary substance which is lifeblood for pollinators, one of its other definitions is “the life-giving drink of the gods.” That brings to mind for me some sort of amazing golden liquid that both delights and sustains.

So as I think about it, taking in the sweet, the good, the beautiful, the “daily amazing” nectar of life is literally “life giving”. Sucking the marrow, drinking the nectar, tasting the ambrosia are not only pleasantries, or delicacies for special occasions, but are actual necessities. We can’t do without them.

They are like the free gifts tumbled out on our doorstep with a note and a giggle as the giver runs away. They can be as simple as the relishing of the taste of coffee mixed with cream and warmth at breakfast time. Or the re-reading of an email or an instant message that was just so nice that it had to be savored again.

I received one of those today:

“I prayed for you on the edge of Spot Pond thinking of the water carrying my prayers to you on your island. Blessings. Blessings. Blessings.”

Refreshing. Tasty. Nectar. And you can always go back and savor it again, as memory is its perfect gustatory accompaniment!

Happy daily ambrosia to you!

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.