The Time of the Year for Giving
by Bobbi Bartsch Curtis
I look upon this season that is supposed to be a time of great joy for most of the world’s major religions and for many others who say they have no religion at all with great sadness. We’ve seen many scenes of devastation during this past year – more so than most years in recent history. There are so many in need, so many who’ve lost everything, so many who didn’t have all that much anyway; but what they did have is now gone. In every community there are those who are homeless or on the brink of it; those who live in abuse; those who can see no way out of a dark, deep hole.
I had to go to an area of town where many city, county and state offices are. It is in one of the less attractive areas of the city. There was no place to park near the building, so I reluctantly parked in a lot down about three blocks from my destination. Although it was mid-day, the people roaming the streets there did not give me reason to feel comfortable. I went inside the records office as fast as I could, got the report I needed and left quickly – all I wanted to do was get in my car (if it was still there in one piece) and go home as fast as I could get there.
The building I was in is next to the bus station. Sitting outside on a bench was a woman. It was clear that all she had was in the backpack sitting at her feet. The sun was behind her, so I couldn’t see her very well. As I’d walked out of the building, I’d noticed that she’d bent her head down a bit, as if in shame. I walked past her but had to stop and turn toward her. I don’t know what made me do that. All I really wanted to do was get out of there. I took a step toward her, and she looked up at me, startled. She could have been anywhere from 18 to 30. She had a beautiful, if a bit haggard, face with one black eye and a split, swollen lip. She looked at the ground again. It was at this time that I realized that the hood of her sweatshirt (hardly warm enough for the weather) was pulled too far forward over her face. She was hiding, hiding her beautiful face because someone had punched her more than once. I don’t think it would be fair to her to discuss the conversation that we had or the outcome of the encounter. Suffice it to say, I forgot completely about my own discomfort at being in questionable surroundings as we spoke for a few minutes. Just being next to her filled me with an immense sense of loss and fear. One other thing – she never asked me for anything although she seemed to relax a bit upon hearing a few kind words and a loving tone.
This lovely, well-spoken young woman’s situation is quickly becoming the rule instead of the exception. As our economy declines, as our moral fiber disintegrates, as the self-absorbed become more prominent in our society, as we care less and less in greater and greater numbers, the quantity of those who deserve better and get nothing or worse increases.
Yep, life can deal out some hard knocks. We should learn and grow from them. We’ve all heard that it builds character. But what if it breaks you? What if your perspective is that there is nothing left and nowhere to turn? What if it were you out on the street with nothing but a backpack that wasn’t even full? What if you put your trust in someone who talked you into moving to a new community and then beat the hell out of you and threw you out with nothing? What would you do? Where would you go? How would you get there? What is the worst thing that you can think of that could happen to you? What would you do? Where would you go? How would you get there?
If you are able, please do what you comfortably can to make a difference. If your heart has been touched, please don’t let it stop here. Please don’t sign off your computer, shaking your head at the sadness, maybe shed a tear or two, and then forget and go back to your busy life. Find room in your heart to take some sort of action. Donate money; unwrapped toys; old clothes, coats and blankets. Put some loose change in the Salvation Army bucket outside the grocery store. While there are still more of us who have something than there are those who have nothing, please remember the truth of this season and help someone. If you found your way to this website, you can surely find a worthy charity online. You don’t have to give ‘til it hurts, just ‘til it helps. I guess I’m asking that you show your good character and do something for someone who can do absolutely nothing for you.
© Bobbi Curtis 2015
by Bobbi Bartsch Curtis
I live in an amazing world. Flowers, trees, bushes, stones, clouds, sun, moon, stars, fish, fowl, dogs, cats, horses, breeze . . . as I relax on the sun-warmed surface of a large, flat stone, my toes only six inches from the water in the duck pond, nineteen ducks and seven pigeons are stationed on rocks or floating on the water within five yards of me. They are not afraid of humans since they are fed regularly by most of the residents of the complex. They are plump with birdseed, stale bread, and (unfortunately) old donuts. Some bask in the sun, others preen, yet others stand an informal guard – there are stray cats in the neighborhood. Since the pond is man-made, there is a spot, not quite center, that bubbles up as the water from the lowest of the three ponds is recirculated in order to keep the waterfalls flowing. It creates ripples and small waves and causes the ducks who are resting on the water’s surface to bob gently. The sun is warming my back, my neck, and the back of my left ankle, for it is getting closer to winter than summer; and, though it is mid-day, it is low in the southern sky. The breeze rustles the palm fronds and purple plum trees’ leaves, creating a soft, lulling melody, which is in harmony with the water splashing from the fountain in the lowest pond and the water lapping up against the rocky edge at my feet. The movement of the leaves creates sunshine, shade, sunshine, shade on the paper as I write; and I can feel the hair on my arms move in that breeze. The stone has begun to feel cold underneath me since it is in my shadow, and the heat that was only surface-deep due to the night chill now doesn’t really ever go away in the weaker rays of the non-direct sun. Four more pigeons have landed on a larger, flat stone to my left. They don’t seem to notice that I’m here. One just flew over the pond to join his friends on the rock two feet to my right, and two of the remaining three join him within seconds. The last, a pure white one, took his time surveying the rocks around the whole pond before taking short flight to rejoin his group. The ducks remain as they have been except that the preening ones are now resting with heads tucked under wings.
I live in an amazing world – don’t you?
© Bobbi Curtis 2015
Suffer Defeat or Overcome?
By Bobbi Bartsch Curtis
[Originally published by SCPE Inc. April 7, 2007]
They (whoever they are) say that what doesn’t kill us makes us stronger. In times of adversity, we have to wonder why we need to be so strong. Maybe weakness isn’t so bad. Maybe it isn’t necessary to be so internally powerful. Maybe that isn’t really the key.
Some of what we are forced to endure as “learning experiences” come on us as 500-pound dumbbells. Believe you me, we can prove to be strong. If one is looking for lessons, they are certainly out there waiting to drop boulders on us; and, if one attempts the “that could never happen to me” approach, be aware that, yes indeed, whatever it is, it can happen. We do not expect our three-month-old to be dead in her crib. We do not expect the “authorities” to take our other children away because they seem to think that we killed our baby; so that, when we are grieving more than we ever thought possible, we are doing it alone and are afraid for our remaining children. We do not know what pain and trauma was caused to the twin of this three-month-old infant, and there lies the biggest lesson. She had never, ever been alone. Suddenly, she finds herself not only without her sister, but her mommy’s disappeared as well. Her two-year-old brother is wondering why he and one of his sisters is at their aunt’s house; but the other sister is, according to him, home with Mommy. Do you suppose he might have thought that Mommy didn’t want them? At least he can talk and be spoken to in an attempt to explain that his other sister is gone and never coming back, but what do you suppose was going through the mind of the three-month-old:
“Ah, ah, ah.” Anna called to her twin. “Ah, ah, ah.” Why isn’t she answering? She always answers. I feel kind of empty. “AH, AH, AH!” Anna screamed, then started crying. My (I think the big people call her) “sister” is gone! She cried and yelled to her sister until she was hoarse and exhausted. Finally, she fell asleep. When she woke up, she called her sister again, “Ah, ah, ah,” but again there was no response. Something smelled different. Something wasn’t right. Everything was all wrong. Anna could hear voices, somewhat hushed voices. She pushed hard with her arms and got her head up (more wobbly than usual), but she couldn’t see her sister. The sounds weren’t familiar. The room wasn’t right. The smells were all wrong. “Ah, ah, ah.” Another desperate attempt to have her sister answer back to her. There was nothing, nothing but things she didn’t know. Anna started to cry again. Someone came, picked her up and tried to soothe her, but the lady didn’t feel right, didn’t smell right, didn’t sound right. She yelled out for her sister again, “AH, AH, AH!” This is our language. Why isn’t she answering me? Ever since they were born, they had spoken to each other with a soft “ah, ah, ah”. They seemed to continually check for the presence of the other, even when they were sleeping. I’m alone. I’ve never been alone. I don’t know how to BE ALONE. WHERE IS SHE? WHERE IS MY SISTER? WHERE IS MY MOMMY?
The lady tried as hard as she could to calm the baby, but all Anna could do was cry. She cried so hard that she threw up. She cried; she didn’t sleep. She kept hearing things, things that sounded bad, really bad. The other thing she heard was silence – no one answered back to her calls. She tried more times to call her sister, but there was never an answer. No matter how much it hurt her already raw throat, she called out to her sister. She kept looking around for her mommy. She saw the boy they called “brother”. So where did they go? Wait, someone else is talking – I wonder what “dead” means.
Although within 48 hours the Coroner’s Office had determined that there was no sign of neglect, abuse or foul play, the children were kept from their mother for a week. I guess it wasn’t enough that the mother had lost a baby. The county officials found it necessary to rip her other two children from her AND keep them away.
We have not as yet reached the moral of this story. It continues: On the day that the children were returned to their mother, she had to rush the living twin to the emergency room. She was hospitalized and diagnosed with RSV (Respiratory Syncytial Viral Infection) – possibly what caused her twin’s demise. (As of the original writing of this article, April 7, 2007, there was still no formal Coroner’s Report – 24 days after that beautiful baby’s last breath.) Within a couple of days, Anna was moved to a Pediatric ICU at another hospital. Three days later, she was basically dying before her mother’s eyes. Preparations were being made to transfer the infant to a specialized children’s hospital in a larger city nearby. That evening, a large group of people from all over the world were praying, lighting candles, sending healing energy, using whatever modality they practiced. By the next morning, the doctor pronounced a “miraculous recovery” and moved the child to a regular hospital room. She was released a couple of days later.
Here’s the moral, folks: Considering what this three-month-old child had just been through over the course of just two short weeks, she managed to fight for her own life. She was on her way back to full health, gained weight, and acted like a baby – laughing, cooing, playing. Anna did not suffer defeat! Anna overcame! When you start to feel sorry for yourself, think about the strength and determination of a three-month-old. I will be.
She does stare at the picture of her sister every time she gets near it. I wonder if, in her head, she’s still saying, “Ah, ah, ah.”
Live in the Light!
UPDATE 2015: Although Anna spent most of her first year of life in and out of the hospital, on forced oxygen and on a special, expensive formula that was, for her, digestible, she is now eight years old, beautiful, smart, demure and willowy. She is a breath of fresh air with a sweet voice and winning personality to go with a wry sense of humor. She has some health issues that do not get her down nor stop her from acting like a normal child, and they are not apparent to those she meets. She tends to keep to herself and find quiet things to do, reading being one of her favorite pastimes; but she is also an avid swimmer. She does her best to behave as she is expected and is both helpful and compassionate, often putting the wants and needs of her younger sister ahead of her own. She still has conversations with her twin. Personally, I doubt that she will ever allow that bond to be untied. If you are nearby and paying attention when she lets down her guard, you’ll notice the dark circles around her sad eyes. You’ll see part of what is under her well-maintained façade. I may be too close to her to be totally objective, but what I see there is not strength. What I see is fear that someone will see her vulnerability. So, is it strength or fear that facilitates our abilities to overcome? I wonder.
© Bobbi Curtis 2007
By Bobbi Bartsch Curtis
[Originally published by SCPE Inc. in the Fall of 2005]
As I sit here in my cozy room, drinking a cup of spiced tea, I feel spoiled. My home is intact. I know where my family members are – in their respective homes, safe. Everything I own is where I last put it. My pets are secure, happy and well fed. I eat meals cooked in my kitchen. The food came off the shelves in my cupboards and refrigerator, and when more was needed I drove my car, that is full of gasoline, to the grocery store and bought it. When my mother needed medical attention, she made an appointment by phone and drove to her doctor’s office, then to the pharmacy to get her prescription filled. I have access to the internet. My TV and DVD player are right where they should be and there is electrical power available when I want to watch something. I drive to my job five days a week and perform all necessary functions with a minimum of unusual occurrences. My life is not interrupted by anything like the roof flying off my house and the walls falling down on people I love and everything I own. My feet are not wet.
The events of the past couple of weeks must, if nothing else, teach us to remember our blessings and to appreciate those whom we love and all the wonderful things we have. I had not intended to write about Katrina’s aftermath. I could not stop myself. As I’ve watched news programs, I have not been able to stop the tears from filling my eyes and overflowing down my cheeks. I cannot imagine the fear, the loss, the emotional devastation. We have not yet discovered all the intricacies of the destruction. People were lost. Pets were lost. Homes and possessions were lost. Critical records were lost – personal, governmental and medical. Those who survived have been without food, water, shelter, medicine, understanding, dignity and respect – to say nothing of being without those whom they love, whether alive or now dead. Shall we please remember that lives were torn apart along with plaster and lumber? I continue to try to plunge myself into the abyss in which these people have found themselves. I can’t do it. I get part of the way and can go no further. It is not, I don’t think, beyond my imagination. It is, however, beyond the reaches of my sanity. My mind will absolutely not allow me to go there. My mind will not let me become a three-year-old child who was taken from the roof of my home; the only place I’ve ever gone to sleep at night; the place where I felt safe; a place that is now filled with stinky water; and away from my mommy; carried away in a basket below some noisy, windy flying thing to be placed in a huge, echoing room, full of scary strangers. A place where I don’t know anyone. I curl up in blankets that smell nothing like my cozy, little bed. I hear people, but no voice is familiar. I miss my mommy and my sister. I curl up tighter, trying to pretend that my mommy is with me and that everything is OK. I start to suck my thumb, though I know that makes Mommy a little angry. I’m not supposed to do that. But, I’m three years old – I get that far and can’t . . .
Then my mind goes to that tiny child’s mother, frantic. She also was removed from the roof, but she was taken to a different shelter, miles away from her younger daughter. In this scenario, I don’t sleep for several days. All I can do is wander among all the other people there, looking for my two daughters. Hoping with each sound from any child that it is one of my babies. Walking and looking into faces and finding only strangers; imagining how my children must feel. Feeling lost and empty and worried and scared and crying. Where are they? Are they alive? Are they safe? Do they have something to eat? Are they . . .
Then I wonder how one would go about cleaning up what might be left of my home. In some cases, it looks to be rather simple. All that’s left is the foundation. Everything I ever had is somewhere else being thrown away by someone else who is also starting over. All I have is a cement slab and some mud – oh, with some debris that used to be part of someone else’s house in what was once my yard. How do you put nothing back together in order to recreate the home that you’d made. Try to imagine that all you have left is what you are currently wearing, keeping in mind that your house filled with water as you slept and what you’re wearing is what you had on when you went to bed the night that the storm went through.
May I humbly suggest that we never take anything for granted again. Tell the people whom you love how much you love them – every single day. Hold your family and friends close. Treat them with respect. Pat the dog on the head a few extra times. Let the cat crawl up on your neck and tickle your ear with his tail. Kiss his nose. Enjoy the essence of your home. Make it a sanctuary for your family and yourself. Say thank you to whatever it is that you believe in for everything you have. If you believe in nothing, at least treat the things themselves with respect. Take nothing for granted, for tomorrow it may all be gone.
UPDATE: Over the past ten years we’ve seen more and more of this style of catastrophe. I felt this bore reprinting.
© Bobbi Curtis 2005
Not Your Time
by Bobbi Bartsch Curtis
Before we get into the meat of the matter, I want to throw out a few ideas, philosophies if you will, which are relevant to the discussion. The first is: Nothing happens by accident. The second: We are all here for a reason. The third: There is a Higher Power. The fourth: We are meant to interact with each other, working toward a positive outcome. If you agree with these, then we have some common ground. If you do not, please take the following into consideration from your viewpoint and arrive at your own conclusions. One other thing: This is not being told to illicit sympathy, empathy, blame or anger.
A baby was born; she was beautiful and apparently perfect – ten fingers, ten toes, all the appropriate gear inside and out. When she was about three months old, she began gasping for air and turning blue. The diagnosis was that she had extreme sinus allergies. This occurred in a small town, back in the 50’s. There were few remedies that were allergy specific, so she was treated with adult strength and dosages of meds that were developed to relieve sinus congestions due to colds or flu. That was all there was. Her mother, fearing for the baby’s life at all times, since she was incapable of breathing unless her head was turned to one side or the other to keep a nasal passage open enough to allow the intake of air, held the baby while she slept even throughout the night. The mother sat upright in a chair every night holding her child to make sure she could breathe until the child was about three years old, and her nasal passages had grown larger and she had learned to mouth breathe appropriately. It is possible that the mother did not need to wait ‘til the child was that old for it to be safe to let her sleep on her own in a bed. However, the fear of losing the child made it impossible for the mother to “experiment” at an earlier age. The basic premise is this: the child was near death many times during her first at least two years of life.
The child grew to be a beautiful little girl. She was quite often too sick to go to school. Her mother dutifully went to school to pick up and drop off her schoolwork (she was both home taught and provided the public school experience). Since the child was an excellent student with no disciplinary issues and since the mother took such an active part in her education, the school system was willing to overlook the excessive absences. When she was about seven or eight years old, she contracted chicken pox just past mid-December. Throughout the week before Christmas until a few days after, the girl spent most of her time passing out from the pain in her throat and head, especially when she tried to swallow anything. She has no real memory of any of this herself. However, her mother clearly remembers the entire experience and wondering on several occasions if her child was going to live through the end of the year. Since the child had chicken pox, no doctor or hospital would allow her to appear in person. Her pediatrician made house calls, but there wasn’t much that could be done. Again, adult medications to attempt to relieve the pain and congestion were prescribed. It was nearly impossible for the child to take the medicine since her throat was swollen nearly shut and every time she tried to swallow, she passed out; so, for all intents and purposes, none of the medication was ever ingested. In a perfect world, she’d have been admitted to a hospital. OK – in a humane world, she’d have been hospitalized where she could have had intravenous saline and necessary drugs. The child was dehydrated along with the other issues, but it appears that this was overlooked. (NOTE: We cannot blame the mother. She was not trained in medicine. What we consider to be common knowledge now was not necessarily common knowledge in the late fifties.) Well, the chicken pox went away, as they usually will. The child survived – no one is really sure how.
She was small for her age – probably due to the effects of her body fighting off illness so often. One would think that her mother and father would have been radically over-protective under the circumstances, but they were rational people who led a balanced life. When on vacation at a lake resort, she slipped out of an inner tube and spent longer than was healthy under water. Her mother dove several times looking for her in the murky water before succeeding in grasping her child and pulling her to safety. Again, she should not have survived, but a few minutes later she was on the beach building sandcastles.
The years went by, the child grew, the allergies lessened in intensity to some degree just due to natural physiology. She graduated high school with honors and went to college.
She flew back home for Christmas after her first quarter in school. Her parents picked her up at the airport in a community about 75 miles from their home. The fog was of the pea soup variety and they drove in and out of it as they made their way through the hilly countryside. While heading downhill into the next fog pocket, both her mother and she yelled to her father to pull off the road. Neither of them knew why. He, having been well trained by his wife to listen to every word she said and to respond immediately, pulled from the middle lane of the three-lane highway and onto the berm of the road. They had entered the next fog pocket by this point and could see what had previously been curtained by the fog bank — the gasoline tanker that was overturned across all three lanes of the highway as well as the 18-wheeler that had been behind them in the middle lane. It hit the side of the tanker head on. Had they not pulled off the road, they’d have hit the tanker first and then been rear ended by the Kenworth, sandwiched (or pancaked due to the flattening effect) in between with infinitesimal chances for survival.
The college she attended was in an area surrounded by ski resorts, so she took skiing as one of her mandatory electives. On the way down a winding, snowy, but well packed, mountain road, the car she was driving hit a ridge of hard-packed snow and became air-borne. The next bend in the road was a right-hand curve. Straight ahead was a cliff. All she could do was look ahead at the treetops. Who knows, maybe a gust of wind hit the car head-on, but it stopped moving forward, dropped to the snow-covered surface, and she was able to steer the car around the right-hand curve with minimal difficulty especially considering how badly her hands were shaking. On another occasion, on another mountain road outside the same community, she and a friend were returning home from a late autumn nature hike that was cut short due to rain and a sudden drop in temperature. Her friend had turned her ankle running back to the car to get out of the rain, so she was driving her friend’s car. They came around a curve and hit an unexpected patch of black ice. The car spun out of control. It made three complete circles and came to a stop on the gravel of a scenic view overlook, missing going over the edge of a cliff by about 10 feet. You might think at this point that she was a lousy driver. In reality, she is a very good driver based on her performance over 35 years of never having been in an actual accident. By the way, she left the small town in the early 70’s and has lived and driven in large cities ever since.
While driving from her home to her parent’s for Christmas, she was sleeping in the passenger seat of the car while her husband drove on the lonely, two-lane highway that wound through southern Utah. For no reason of which she is aware, she reached over, grabbed the steering wheel and jerked the car to the right. As she began to reach full consciousness, she saw the truck that was coming toward them just a moment before it passed them on the left. Her husband had fallen asleep at the wheel. Her stepson had awakened in the back seat just in time to see that his new step-mom had saved their lives.
While living in an area of the country that experiences torrential downpours, she was driving a van down a two lane road. Running across the road surface was what is termed a “wash”. It is a natural ditch that fills with rain quickly and becomes a rushing river. Since she was dealing with an emergency situation at the time, against her better judgment, she drove through the wash and found that the road surface had already been washed away. The van stopped moving forward and began to move with the water in the wash – sideways. The wheels of the vehicle could find no purchase. She took her foot off the gas, having been used to the rules of driving in snow – slow down and gain traction. As she mentioned to her daughter that they might be in for a bumpy ride, the van was pushed from behind and began to move forward, straight into the head-on, gale force winds. As they came up onto the road surface on the other side of the wash, she looked in the rear-view mirrors. There was nothing there. She looked around and behind the vehicle – nothing there. Both she and her daughter were convinced that another vehicle, larger than theirs, had come up behind them and done them the favor of pushing them out. There was nothing else on the road anywhere. The wind was coming at them from the front, battering the rain against the windshield. It would have been more than unlikely, near impossible, that a gust of wind had pushed them from behind instead, yet the vehicle moved forward, into the wind, against the sideways force of the flowing water, and moved them back to relative safety. Then she noticed that her right foot was still on the floor of the van, not on the gas pedal.
It would seem that in none of these cases was it her time to go. She believes that she has purpose. She believes that she is here and has been allowed to stay here because there are things for her yet to learn and to teach. That is what she does. She believes that each of us touches the lives of others, and this should be done with purpose of intent for the greater good of all. She believes that we leave our legacy with each word we say and with each action we take.
These are just a few of the experiences that this one person has had. Many others have had experiences of either a similar or even more profound nature. They are documented in magazines, newspapers and books, on TV shows and websites, and in movies. I offer this as additional proof of the theory that we are here for reasons, and it is our responsibility to determine them and to follow through.
“Every day create your history.
Every path you take you’re leaving your legacy.
Every soldier dies in his glory.
Every legend tells a conquest in liberty.” ~Michael Jackson – “History” – HiStory Album~
NOTE: This story has been told with full knowledge of the individual described. No names have been used on purpose in order to help depersonalize the situations. Again, this was not told to illicit an emotional response. It was told in an effort to support the theory that there is a reason why each of us is alive, that there is purpose to our lives.
Be well, my sisters.
© Bobbi Curtis 2015
Wanna’ Hold a Grudge?
By Bobbi Bartsch Curtis
According to Webster a grudge is “a feeling of ill-will.” It is an on-going animosity toward another. Why do we harbor grudges? Usually it is because we feel that someone has wronged us. Another person did something that hurt us in some way . . . physically, emotionally or mentally. That person made us miserable. They lied, they cheated, they stole, they took away our dignity, they made us feel small and unimportant, they took our promotion, they stabbed us in the back. We hate them.
According to Judeo-Christian teaching, “You shall not take vengeance, nor bear any grudge against the sons of your people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself; I am the Lord.” (Lev. 19:18) In Toltec teaching (according to Don Miguel Ruiz) the Second Agreement is to “not take anything personally”. The Judge within us has sent down another decision; however, the Judge is one of the Parasites with whom we are at war (or should be). The inner Judge causes each of us to determine how someone else should be punished for harming us. The grudge we hold is part of that punishment. In conjunction, the Third Agreement in Don Miguel Ruiz’s The Four Agreements is “don’t make assumptions”. We can never really know why someone else has acted poorly toward us so we should never even assume that the intention of that person was to treat us in a manner that is less than appropriate.
Zen Buddhists practice “Entrance by Conduct” which consists of four acts, the first of which is “to know how to requite hatred.” In Hinduism the law of Karma steps in. Every negative must be paid. Thus every grudge held onto will cause a consequence to the holder. The Qur’an says, “The ultimate judgment belongs to God alone, not to man (3:73). The Babylonians believed that Belit-Sheri, the scribe of the underworld, kept the records of human activities so that she could advise the Queen of the Dead, Ereshkigal, on what each individual’s judgment should be, the judgment that Ereshkigal would mandate. The Syro-Mesopotamian Goddess, Isara, was their Queen of Judgment. Osiris (Egyptian) ruled Amenthes, the abode of the spirits of the deceased, where He passed their final judgment. Pagans along with most other earth based instruct followers to do as they see fit, BUT they are not to harm anyone including themselves. Judgment of any kind is not really part of the model for Pagans, traditional witches, Wiccans, Druids and the rest of the earth-based religious/spiritual groups.
I guess I could go on and on; but, no matter, the final outcome is that nowhere could I find a religious reference that stated that we are to EVER judge each other. My guess is that we humans have enough to do to just keep our individual selves under control. I wonder how any of us (those of us with consciences and some ethical standards) would feel if we knew how much we’d hurt others without any intention, especially if it were someone undeserving who got hurt.
What if you got home one evening, popped open a soda, poured it over ice, threw your shoes in a corner and slumped down in your favorite chair as you hit the power button on the TV remote to watch the news and as the picture fades in you see a 50 car pile-up on the major arterial on which you just drove home. The whole road is closed due to the accident that caused five deaths and over 55 major injuries. How could this be? You just drove home, and it was a little slow-and-go, but nothing was unusual except for that jerk in the big, white Escalade who kept cutting you off. You know, the one that you called every name in book? The one on which you finally took out your vengeance? The one you cut off well and good at mile marker 47? The one you now see on your TV screen, swung sideways at the head of the pile up at mile marker 47 that caused death, injury, destruction and delays for all those other people who were just trying to get home to their families after a hard day’s work . . . just like you did.
Imagine the path of devastation you may have lying behind you.
© Bobbi Curtis 2015
(If you are aware of the author, please me.)
I wrote these stories of the Grandmothers because they have helped me many times in my own life. Perhaps they will help you as well. They are the Grandmothers of the Wheel and they teach us balance.
North Grandmother – wisdom
Northwest Grandmother – receptivity
Northeast Grandmother – birth
West Grandmother – release
East Grandmother – vision
Southwest Grandmother – balance
Southeast Grandmother – identity
South Grandmother – growth
Each of these Grandmothers offer you a gift of her wisdom. You can either begin your visit with the Northeast and go around the circle clockwise or simply visit the grandmother of your choice. Many return again and again, whenever they need the gentle support that these Grandmothers offer.
The field is deep in snow and the bare branches of the tree have a fluffy layer of white piled upon them. Inside a cozy fire lit cabin we find an aged crone. It is late but she no longer sleeps well anyway. Soon the deepest sleep before the next awakening will come for her. But this evening gratitude wells up within her as she remembers the blessings that have come her way.
She and her granddaughter are drinking raspberry tea as they talk into the night sharing what is in their hearts. A bond of love across generations is re-affirmed. North Grandmother knows when to listen and when to share her quiet wisdom. As this young woman talks of her mistakes and her regrets, her grandmother’ s love and humor helps her to see how unimportant these are in the greater picture.
North Grandmother reminds us to pay attention to such precious moments, the little things that make up our lives. We will find much beauty there. As we attend to this we see our life’s possibilities with a clarity that we have never know before.
Northwest Grandmother is bundled warmly as she walks beneath the evening sky. The heavens are crisp and clear and the night is long.
The endless stars are her gateway to vision. Tonight she sees far beyond them, into eternity. Because she has learned to release all expectations she is receptive to the wisdom of the universe.
In the past she would touch this deep wisdom for a fleeting moment. But each time it would quickly slip away with the busyness of her days. As she has grown older she has been able to hold on to this understanding longer and longer.
This gentle Grandmother helps us know that beyond hate and suffering lies the capacity for unconditional love. She shows us that our ability to dream and create is unlimited.
It is very early in the morning, just a hint of light is in the sky. An old woman is walking across a field. Seeds are just beginning to sprout beneath the ground. New growth is everywhere.
As she walks she seems to become younger and younger and for a moment she looks like a little girl who is seeing this early spring world for the first time. Her eyes look young and filled with awe as she looks at the beauty around her.
She is Northeast Grandmother and her gift is in showing us life as brand new. This is not her first time around the wheel. She has traveled it many times. She offers us the wisdom of viewing life as ever fresh and full of renewed hope. She guides us when we anticipate new experiences as she reminds us of the unlimited possibilities that lie before us.
The sun is setting leaving beautiful reflections of pink and peach on the clouds above. An old woman sits beneath the tree on a blanket of russet and amber leaves. As she retreats into darkness she holds her shawl tightly around her against the chill in the air and wraps herself in solitude.
Many times she has railed against the injustices and pain to be found in her life. She has clung desperately to the old until circumstances have forced her through illness or crisis to at last let go. These lessons have not been easy ones. But they have built a great deal of endurance, strength, and courage within her.
She helps us learn to accept our losses and reminds us that life is ever changing. She nurtures us with her understanding that we must honor our need to grieve so that our tears may cleanse and renew us.
We learn that beyond these losses lies a deep connection to the universe.
A lively old women is coming our way. She seems to dance across the field. Spring is in full bloom with a profusion of colors. The fragrance is wonderful. It is mid-morning and a gentle breeze gives us a sense of being alive and ready to engage in the day.
This grandmother is the sort of woman who is unafraid to travel about seeing the world and meeting new people. Today she sees a world of life and beauty in this meadow. She is playful and always seems to totally enjoy herself no matter what she is doing.
But don’t assume the playfulness indicates a lack of depth. Remember that she has been around the wheel many times before. East Grandmother brings us fresh new perspectives and helps us with letting go of the shoulds that limit our creativity. She reminds us to be flexible and to pay attention to the miracle of beginnings.
It is afternoon and we find yet another grandmother out in the late summer field. She is unhurriedly picking berries while quietly chatting with a young mother. This woman is worried and unsure about where to go with her life just now. The love and understanding she is receiving from this old one is much needed nourishment.
The grandmother’ s young companion wonders how someone so old could be so ever present in the moment, enjoying every little sound and fragrance as well as the beauty of the day. She does not yet realize that Grandmothers know how to live in the now.
Southwest Grandmother reminds us that our set backs are opportunities to develop wisdom and discernment. She teaches us that when we pay attention we will find a way to walk toward balance.
It is late morning and we see that an elderly woman has paused for a moment. She stands beneath a tree enjoying the beauty around her. She has a quiet assurance about her that tells us she knows who she is and what she believes. Don’t let her quietude fool you though. She will fight without fear for what she thinks is good and right.
She has traveled the wheel many times and has not always met the Southeast in this guise. At times she has been helpless, angry, arrogant or manipulating. But now she glows with the beauty of her true self.
Like her, each time we meet this place on the wheel we present different aspects of our ego. Southeast Grandmother reminds us to stop and notice what we are reflecting to the world. As we begin to follow our heart, instead of living our life according to the expectations of others, we too begin to radiate our beauty.
Move on to South Grandmother
We find ourselves in the fullness of summer. Out in the field a group of children are sitting beneath the tree eating lunch and talking happily to a grandmotherly woman. She glows with warmth and love for each one of them.
As she enjoys a picnic with these little ones she encourages a child who is drawing a picture of a flower, hugs another one who has just come up to her with open arms, and then comforts another who has fallen and scraped his knee.
She understands that children must know they are loved and must learn to trust in their own abilities. Her sparkling laughter frees them from fear of taking risks as they learn from their experiences.
South Grandmother nurtures us as well. Through her gentle humor she helps us realize that our mistakes are never as important as we think.