Archive for the ‘kindness’ Category

When Batlight Calls

October 8, 2017

One day my daughter in law, Hope, called to tell me that the children’s school was having super hero week & knowing how I love to go see my grands in their second natural habitat, she told me parents & grandparents could go & read the children a story in their classrooms.  I’d read to their cousin, Benny’s, preschool class a while back & shared lots of bedtime stories to all of these beloveds, so she knew i had experience, heart & qualifications for the task proffered.  Also, knowing my love of school activities & being involved in the children’s lives by showing up to their events, she asked if I would like to do this fun sounding job.

Would I!?! And how!

‘Please, Let them know that’s a resounding yes!’

Date & time set, my mind started whirling.  Hmm what to read? Level. Subject. Time needed. I’d be reading to Selia’s 2nd grade class & Jack’s kindergarten. How long? It’s super hero week. Which books? I checked out the artwork projects in the school hallway to get the drift. Did the adult readers dress up? As specific characters children would know?

With it being short notice (no months to make a full costume & Superstorm Sandy had sadly taken all my stock of Halloween & stage costumes from various shows I’d done over my career.   It was next week!  & I found out it really wasn’t necessary….the focus was on simply reading.

Still….how to make it fun for the children? What books did I have left intact & unsodden by the flood from which I was still struggling to recover? If so, were any of them specifically about super heroes? Hmmm. No books on the totally loss first floor, survived. I looked through the 2nd floor, where what I could put upstairs on the day of prep for the coming storm, I’d done as best I could. What a wreck to wade through! ”That would take a super power!’ I thought.

The few survivors I could find were old dusty ones from their Dad’s childhood. I kept searching until, lo & behold, I found a slim unopened Amazon book mailer among the piles of pillows, blankets & boxes. Upon opening, I found what must’ve been kept for Christmas or Birthday gift giving. (I always shopped well ahead of Holidays & celebrations; keeping an eye out for sales! & stacked away the gifts until the fun days arrived. Friends fondly called this yearly clutter, ‘Gramence’s store.’)

Staring up at me was a crisp glossy white-jacketed book entitled, “The Invisible String.”

It had a drawing on it of 2 children & a heart on a piece of string flying above them. I opened & read a most wonderful story of children & loss & how ultimately no matter how far away we all may go or be, we are always connected by love in our hearts. It was packed with feelings that every human has & I remembered purchasing this gift for the two of my grandchildren who lived through the night of the terror of the giant storm with 100 miles per hour wind whipping & whining in the night; rocking the 7 story building in which we sheltered;  hunkering down in the dark with flashlites when the power went out in the whole town & the ocean roared down every street; smashing into houses & buildings.

People got uprooted & families got separated

In the storm & after.

Many people had to find other places to live, away from their houses that got damaged in the flood. Kids couldn’t go to their regular schools. They too were flooded & wrecked. Everyone who knew everyone got scattered.

I wiped my eyes touched with tears as I finished reading & wondered if, as lovely as this book about hearts always being connected no matter how far away people can go; the next room, across the world or out of it when they die, might be too heavy for the elementary children of East School of Long Beach New York.  It had just gotten repaired  & opened again & was filling up with students who were returning to their home area as it healed.

Yet no matter what other book I found, this slim volume tugged at my heartstrings & its simplicity & comforting truth gave me the courage to choose it.

Now to tie in the fun of the theme. Super Heroes with Super Powers!

I borrowed the short red cape, I’d given Hope for a prior Halloween Super Woman costume, because she is a super Mom & woman.  I Tied it around my neck, scrunchied my hair up in two pony tails; standing out, one on either side of the top of my head, wore red clogs, blue slacks & a turquoise long sleeve top.

& off I went to school!

Arriving & reporting for duty at the principal’s office, I, announced myself ready for heroic reading to class.

They cracked up at the ‘costume!’ & loved it!  Calling the teacher, for time to read & getting the ok, off I went; cape flying in the hallway breeze. Kids on errands turning like tops,  agog with the sight. Who was this superhero?!

As I knocked on the door, one teacher invited me in, introduced me to the children while another got their students seated in a semi-circle on the carpet of the story time area of the room; a small chair awaited me at the front of this arc of bright eyed, bushy tailed kiddles who chorused good morning Gramence! I took my place & Selia took her special place for the visit, on a little chair next to me, as the privileged page turner.

After the exchange of the ‘hello chorus’ & book title introduction, I took a deep breath, centered & began….’once upon a time…there were two little children who couldn’t sleep one night. ..who cried for their mother because she was so far away from them…in the living room!  So, their Mom told her not-so-sleepy, sleepy heads about how many ways people can be far apart & still always be close with each other.

The children in the story asked lots of questions & so did the boys & girls in my reading circle when the last page was turned. What I thought might be possibly a tale too serious for young children,  turned into fresh-scrubbed, upturned faces of thought, understanding & inventiveness of their own, as I answered the end-of-story curiosity.

Selia was beaming from ear to ear; centered with me in the ‘stage-door-after-show-mob-scene’ on the reading carpet; holding the now beloved book up for her classmates to see up close & personal.

Questions, questions, oh, boy, did they have questions! Silly & serious. How far out into space can the invisible string go if you’re an astronaut? Does it work with pets? What about fish or turtles? Or Grandparents who live far way & only get to visit on your birthday. One boy told us his grandfather had just died. Hearing that the invisible string could never be broken even when some one goes as far away as heaven, he was serious & seriously smiling when he approached me after the reading; adjusting the little yarmulke on his head; nodding the tone of certainty like he was a miniature Rabbi instructing me of this knowledge; happy in his step as he went back to his desk to inform his two friends. All three conversing on new insights.

At the moment before I left for my  next class, a tiny, wisp of a girl who had sat at the edge of the carpet circle in complete silence, came up & whispered haltingly in my ear, “The hurricane broke my house & we had to move away. I miss it & my doll & kitty. My best friend next door had to move away too. I don’t know where she is. Do you think she remembers me? Does she have an invisible string? Do I? Everything is gone, I’m very sad.”  Visibly heavily burdened,  she barely got out this confidence through tears rolling down her sweet cheeks. Answering her in gentle affirmative that when she was missing her friend, her friend was probably missing her too, evoked one of the biggest hugs I’ve ever received!

I enfolded her in my arms, thanked her for her brave  sharing & questions & told her that she & I now had an invisible string & that no matter how far away I was, I would always remember & think of her & that when I did I’d send love through our special invisible string from my heart to hers…just like I do for Selia & her brothers, Jack & James & cousins, Sofia, Benny & Joey, when I go traveling.

Out of the corner of my eye, I caught both teachers nodding & when I stood at the door to the hall, one said, “ ets  all thank Selia’s Gramence & say good bye!” & the other whispered to me, “Thank you. You have no idea what a positive breakthrough you created. That little girl lost everything in Superstorm Sandy. She & her little family evacuated to a shelter & have been displaced ever since. A shy girl to begin with, she hasn’t talked about any of the losses since. None of us has been able to get her to open up. Did she tell you?” I nodded. “She rarely speaks. This was major. Thank you so much!”

As I waved goodbye & walked down the hall from 2nd grade to kindergarten, I now knew why the Angels kept drawing me back to this book of choice…

For this boy & this girl…and for the children

in a community where children had been scattered & were first returning to the homes, schools & safety from which a major devastation had wrenched them.

My heart swelled with gratitude for the ‘super guidance.’

My grand son, Jack’s, kindergarten class was equally receptive & the children just hopped in on the reading of the last page with their own delightful additions as to who & what their invisible strings were attached. Spontaneous happy hugs arose from one child assertion that hugs were part of the whole equation & could be visible AND invisible; seen with your eyes… & stuffed in your pockets for when you went on vacation!

Such were the super powers of super heroes like themselves.

What a day in my ‘still struggling to survive ‘3 years & counting, Sandy aftermath, where  not only possessions were ruined, but in the dealing with the wreckage of my own home & life, where they’d been  no time or ability to even remember connection to beloved books, teaching & learning.  Fun had faded to a too distant memory.

What a gift these children, this school, this daughter in law gave me… under the guise of helping out a school project; helping children, I got the gift of opening of my own heartstrings!  Remembrance that, though beaten by weather, insurance crookedness & helping agencies hamstringing’ which had narrowed me down to slim scope of ‘one foot in front of the other,’ ‘recovery’ survival, I was still connected by my own invisible string to people I love & the work I have been given abilities to do,  which can enrich others.

We all can & do make positive differences & can  be pleasantly surprised by that.

We are all worthy & we all have superpowers of our own, which we can choose to implement when need arises.

Children gave me back a clue in their response to a story.

I can now happily say: “My name is Gramence & one of my superpowers Is reading!”

What are some of yours?

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A Good Look In A Full Length Mirror

June 4, 2016

by Florence Ondré    c.7/5/99

 

there it was staring back at me

full of doubt, discomfort and discouragement

the image of frustration and fearfulness

the judgement of years of not good enough

a frame around a forever changing façade

years flying by in reflection

looking good for nanoseconds

still, never quite good enough

 

breathing in bits of courage

prying eyes from the want to turn away

I glance at the nakedness of the familiar stranger in that glowering glass

someone I’m afraid I’ll know and not like

a blink and every wrinkle, bulge, bone and contour

cling to the lingering lens

all that I did not like or approve of was waiting there

 

tremulous, almost too quiet for dogs ears to hear

the words slip semi-silently from mouth to air

“You are beautiful.

You are worthy.

I love you.”

‘oh, not good enough’ rings in my ears

and I feel foolish and false

day after day, the same act plays out upon this silver-backed stagepiece

cardboard-cutout rote

until the moment arrives when the foolishness fades…a little…

when awkwardness softens, my gauging gaze befriends

when the bulges become curves; bones artistic angles;

wrinkles warmth of wear; hair a halo;

when the voice inside attempts more than

a whisper of the extended hand of friendship,

in soft reply,

‘yes’

‘yes, I might be’ ‘yes, I think I am’

‘yes’ unfolding from within me, in each new day;

each new lesson; each new opportunity to stretch my wings

and notice that they are stretching far beyond my wildest dreams

I’m a butterfly, a bluebird, an eagle,

a metamorphosis of all I was, thought I was, am now,

wished I could be and am becoming

spirit flying free

 

so much more than good enough

this reflection that faces me from within..

within a good look in a full length mirror.

 

 

Who I Am What I Do

December 4, 2014

“It’s not a ‘rant.’  I am not ‘fussy.’  I just tell the truth, ask q’s, be reasonable, kind & then express appreciation for what is & for what is still coming.”
florence ondré dec 4th, 2014. inconvenient truth teller & survivor.

Standing On Ceremony; Looking Back And Forward

December 4, 2014

by Florence Ondré

For years I made a formal burning bowl ceremony for all my New Year’s Eve gatherings and have had slips of paper for everyone to write their release wishes on and slips of paper to write what they would like their angels to help bring to them in the new year and an envelope to but their names and addresses on, so nearing the end of the coming year I could send them to them &/or give them to them at the next year’s New Year’s Eve gathering as we shared a feast at my home.

Even a tin foil pan large enough to accommodate safe fire-releasing was done outside in any weather…snow was present many times as we bundled up and trudged through the winter white to each take our sacred turn.

At each New Year we could share what we’d wished for and then, with the help of our dear friends, find that even if we thought we didn’t get what we wanted in the ways we’d written down, we found that angels had heard us and answered in ways, many times, better than we could have imagined.

Through tears and revelations; with a little help from our sharing, caring friends, we healed in addition to being included in a tradition of closeness, caring, kindness, compassion and enfolding in the hearts of each other.

No one was excluded and tables and chairs got added when needed….even one year when I had no heat in my house due to a heating system break, and an insurance company overlong refusal time for fixing what coverage had been paid for years, we few friends and people invited to join, who had no place to go; bundled up, sat on the living room floor, ate from a communal pot of of chilli and paper plates of salad and shared round a few candles, how we’d experienced the past year and what miracles we’d seen in any of it… the burning bowl tradition was started…in our modern day version of a long ago time in a manger, with people who knew and had never known each other; simple gifts of honoring and finding peace and joy for going forward with hope in our hearts, because we had come together. That was the first year with many to follow; each with more delight and sharing of food and friendship and holiday spirit enriched. How we all looked forward to that every year now traditions filled tradition.

There came a time when illness took that ability to be the open house of my open heart and a couple of people stepped up to step in and host the annual togetherness from the warmth of their abodes; a joy in tradition taking turns.

Differences showed up. The in-house-ness became..go to restaurant then perhaps back to someone’s house to play games & have dessert…or gather at a friend’s lovely bachelor pad, everyone bringing a dish to continue to enjoy another tradition of my instituting; gathering around the piano and singing together.

Since Hurricane Sandy demolished my home and swept away that sacred gathering open house, more things and people went out with the tide too.

The piano which sat in my lovely warm living room; where we all sang amidst freshly hung fresh, front door, pine-coned, red-ribboned wreaths, fir roping across the mantel and mistletoe in the hallway; pine scent wafting heavenly amidst aromas of home cooking & happiness… these were the visions and memories in my sad and numbed mind, as that, now sodden with sea, bay and sewage water piano got hauled to the curb and the contents and possessions of my home and life became garbage in dumpsters and high heaps of ripped and bagged, barely recognizable, wreckage.

Photos of family green and growing and all the wonderful gatherings blurred in waterlogged albums turned to mush.

Every letting go tore my heart out and yet reminded me of so much good over the years for so many.

I think when they took the piano out to the curb and a sanitation worker; spotting the broken musical instrument got down off his bulldozer, pried the lid off the keys and stood over it to play a tune, was one of the most poignant times for all of us present in surviving the biggest national disaster in the history of our east coast of our country in over a hundred years.

We were, bereft and broken & grieving & stunned into silence as our next door neighbor’s piano joined ours at the curb and the music stopped and the gatherings without kitchens and warm shelter and holidays and burning bowls stopped.

Survivors who were the open and welcoming, warm hosts for many years got left out of inclusion in the last two years.

Connection has dwindled down to a rare returned call or a call-in just for caring and connection.

Last year friends of ours who were always at our gatherings, went out to dinner and didn’t even manage to invite us to join them at a local restaurant minutes from our shelter.

That ripped my heartstrings and severed my illusions.

This year, a call to wish me a Happy Thanksgiving turned into a crabbing about how upset this woman was at my recent in-communication, as she wanted to vent her frustrations on my ever bearing ears…yet it never occurred to her that I might be depressed and ill, these 2 yrs later still displaced without hope of my still gutted to the studs house, cold and emptier than her own totally rebuilt arm abode.

The next disappointment was from someone I’d thought of for over 25 yrs, calling the nanosecond before Thanksgiving to cheerfully wish a happy holiday…this from one who has dimmed her closeness down from daily visits and sharing cheesecake, tea, cocoa and confidences and phone calls several times a day, just to share a laugh or something we see funny; like good girlfriends of close heart who went with tears and trials to the Blessed Mother statue on the beach to sit together in sacredness and closeness like sisters to gather hope and just to be happy in each other’s company… now boiled down to barely ever calling and avoidance of connection with rare returned calls in days or weeks.

And another who I introduced to my own friends who went on to make my connections her own, only to exclude me and still post happy pics of her with my friends, sans my mate & I…phone calls reaching in, which did not ever say ‘would you like to join us?’

Even if one knows you might be under the weather, it is still nice to be invited….but I only heard the whispered, ‘oh’ dear, so want to hear what is going on with you’ instead.
It sounded so unrealizing, or was it hoping i wouldn’t be aware that it had no feel of real concerned because there hadn’t been any regular connection or caring for a long while; knowing sadly that it was as it had been before… just to get the dirt and gossip about it later with my ‘old friends’ so she could say, ‘aww poor them’ and look into her own mirror to say, ‘see I’m a good friend. I called.’
Becoming aware that these calls were, strings attached; more about and for the callers than simple expressions of unconditional love for me, silenced me more than the pneumonia with which I’d just been diagnosed. No one took my quiet or silence for sacred time for me or possible illness or loss of voice or hope. Sadly, these supposed friends rife with promises of get togethers which never happened, just got crabby, angry and dismissive that they didn’t get their wanted on their schedules, self-centered results.

I got referred to this past week as ‘fussy’ and my expression of hurt spoken of as,’rants’ and dismissed with self serving anger from those who hurt me, judged and tried to ‘fix’ me, dismissed me and forgot the heart of the warmth and caring of years of sharing home and heart.

On this planet, my path has been varied leading ultimately to becoming a teacher of Spirit, an Angelic Channel and Reiki Master Teacher. Yet, after seeing firsthand, the tsunami sized waves cover the world and plunge it into darkness and devastation with no essentials left standing for human survival which devolved into anarchy and streets under armed guns, Marshall law, drove me to my knees. I lost myself and my beliefs; feeling a failed healer. Aspirtual person bereft of spirt or connection to spirit.

It is a long walk home in more ways than one. Yet, I am remembering. I am a sensitive, I can feel the real emotions under the facades from afar. There are those who forget that about me and count on me forgetting too or sweeping the dirt under a forgiving heart; forgetting, being and staying less than I was.

Years ago a spiritual mentor, once seeing my good and forgiving, generous heart getting tromped on, gave me this reminder, “My dear, you must remember that Jesus said, ‘I am the door’ …not the door mat!”

Until reading this lovely piece, I was so sad and in grief and mourning; wondering in all the let downs, what my life had been for, if anything, that I almost forgot that the tradition I started does not have to die along with the self centeredness of today or the friends who I now move into acquaintance areas of past as I let go of deeper layers of losing so much.

I am homeless in another level and, yet on the porch of my shelter/little off-site storage unit, there is a tiny terrace. I have a tin pan and scrap paper upon which my love and I can write what we want to release. We are still paddling together the rough seas of a recovery which is no where near recovered and healing only becoming apparent as bones are laid bare as my house bones.

Relationships may have gotten washed away. It continues to become apparent as facades crack and truth outs; so I place my energy to surviving and helping the storm homeless and hungry like myself that people don’t want to hear about.

Even though now outsider, treated as an inconvenient truth, I remember including all in my home and in my heart.

I am reprioritizing the minuscule energy and health and time on earth that I have left….

And thanking the Conscious Shift Community and Lauren Mclaughlin for reminding me that I can stand on a different ceremony which is familiar and soothing and honoring, which no one can take from me.

I can take the sadness, hurt, loss, grief, unfair treatment and selfish, compassionless, unkind, treatment, heart sobbing and write these things down on paper to step out onto the terrace of cold air and put match to make ashes of my heart lift up to the heavens to be taken by angels away to leave me again lighter and ready for better than I can imagine to show up in ways I can’t imagine at this time….

Free to be grateful and appreciative for all that I become awake and aware to…

To remember that I am a spiritual being in an earth suit having human experiences with a most wonderful angel at my side always, my dear Tom, a sensitive spiritual teacher too, who holds the burning bowl up for me and stands beside me though it all with unwavering light, love and honoring.

Standing on ceremony indeed, dear ones, standing in good company and honoring.

in light & love, enjoy reading : http://consciousshiftcommunity.com/standing-on-ceremony/

 

“Believing Is Seeing”

December 1, 2014

by Florence Ondré- 11/29/00

 

The day was gray and cold.  Wind cut through layers of clothing.

Who cared?  This trip of a lifetime was incredible and had presented itself in a most curious set of unfolding events.

First there had been the the fleeting thought of possibly going to England for Valentine’s Day.  That idea  had been scotched when we lost everything in the stock market crash.

How could we even entertain being so frivolous when we had no idea how we were going to live this coming year?

Then Tom found the vouchers for airline tickets in the back of the file cabinet.  They were from a trip that had been botched for us last year and had to be used by the end of February or be lost.   Free tickets for a trip to somewhere.  Great but what would we do when we got there? Where would we stay?  We’d been told that  the tickets were for travel in the continental U.S.  Upon investigation,  Tom found  they were transferrable for travel to the U.K.

England danced in our dreams again.  Not London of last year, but the Arthurian and Celtic countryside of Glastonbury and Stonehenge I’d always dreamed of seeing.

With his usual trust-in-the-Universe optimism, he said, “Hmmm. I can’t see how  but maybe there’s a way we can go.”

“Out of the question,” I said with practical opposition.  “Surely this is a time of tightening belts,  bucking up for a tough climb out of the hole and work, work, work.  No time for fun.”

That’s what I  learned in my childhood.  Seeing is believing.  If it can’t be seen,  it isn’t real.

As I sank back into  fear and depression; just when the cloud over us looked  blackest; when my brain was screaming,  ‘what are you crazy?’  the call came from London.

Our travel-guide friends were going to be filming in Egypt in February and they offered us their home in the countryside- 20 minutes outside Bath, half an hour from Stonehenge and an hour from Glastonbury.

“Just look after the plants for us.”

Wow!  Ok, there were the airline tickets and where to stay,  all for free, but how would we be able to afford a car?  Rentals’ notoriously expensive and gas prices through the roof in Europe.

“No.  We can’t go,” I stated; still the practical parrot.

Tom was not dissuaded.

After a few inquiries, calls started coming in like a bidding war for our business.  Messages on our answering machine sang out bargain prices that plummeted from $300 a week to $150 with free mileage no less!

“Yes,  we can do that but where was the money for daily needs?”

No sooner than I’d asked the question, two clients paid their overdue bills out of the blue and there was enough cash to carry us through a week’s stay.   All that was left to worry about was  being up to the adventure of driving on the left hand side of the road.

The house in Midsommer Norton turned out to be a wonderful greystoned estate.  Our thoughtful friends had left food for us, drawn maps of the surrounding areas, jotted down clear notes on how to find everything we might need, from petrol to marketing, and left stacks of books out for us to peruse for history and traveling.

In the town of Bath, after visiting the ruins of the Roman pools and lingering over clouds of clotted cream on scones at late afternoon tea, theatre tickets popped up for us at the very last minute before show time.

In Glastonbury, being part of the filming of an historical reenactment of the Passion play at the ancient cathedral where, Peter’s tree bears white blossoms from Jesus’ rood and King Arthur and Guinnevere  are buried touched our former lives remembered with incandescence.

Climbing round the Glastonbury Hill beyond the running red sacred waters and sitting  atop the windy Tor, treated to an impromptu, sunset didgeridoo concert; echoing inside the tower, while hawks circled and sheep ran round the steep, grassy slopes, more than fulfilled our dreams.

In each place,we met wonderful people who welcomed us and felt like dear friends and family.  Serendipity was everywhere and time seemed to blur between past and present.

We chose to spend Valentine’s Day going to Stonehenge and Avebury.

For the past 20 years walking into the center of Stonehenge had been off limits.  For protection of this wonder of the world, a pathway many feet away from the circle had been constructed so that people could walk around the circumference to look but not touch.

Some time ago, we’d heard a whisper that it might be possible to get special permission to enter but we couldn’t remember who  to contact.  We’d read it was open  to Druid gatherings at Solstice but you had to know one of the Druid priests to be invited as a friend of ours had been.

I would have given my eyeteeth for that experience.

Before we left NY,  Tom had called the  tourist board and any office he could think of to find a way to gain us entry- all to no avail.

We inquired at the National Heritage office in Bath and they’d never heard of any such thing.

“No.  That’s been ended for about 20 years now, dears.”

The London office was called to make sure no stone had been left unturned as it were.

“Sorry, no not possible anymore,”  was the answer.

“Any other places to call?” asked my determined Tom. Got to give him credit for stick-to-it-tiveness.

“No, see here, the rules state ‘off limits to the public,’ luvs.”  She kindly held up the directive for us to see with our own eyes.

Ah, well, just being there would have to do and at Avebury we could actually walk amongst the giants encircling the little village. A woman in Glastonbury said that simply putting your hand on them was an incredible experience and since we were sensitives and the energy so great, we’d be able to hear them sing.

I walked on air at the mere thought.

On February 14th, as we crested the hill to Salisbury Plain, it seemed to me that the hugeness I’d always read about had shrunken to a small group of grey hulks, huddling together on a flat stretch of land with a few mounds in the background.

“It’s dinky,” I said,  “I can’t believe how much smaller it looks than in pictures.”

“It’s Stonehenge, honey!”

“It’s dinky,” I replied.

From the parking lot we could see lines of people stretching before us to a little ticket booth.

“This is gonna take forever,” I moaned.   “We can see this from the roadside.  No need to pay to not even be able to get close to it.  Let’s go on to Avebury where we can hug those stones.”

“We’re here, honey.  Let’s just check it out,”  Tom encouraged.

Off he went to the front of the line, poked his head in the window and asked if there was any way to get in to the center of the stones.

“No. Next.”

Onward my man went to a uniformed guard with the same question.

“Go see the gent in the office over there in the back corner,” he whispered as he quickly motioned us away from the crowds.

A knock on the weathered, grey wooden door brought a silver-haired gentleman into view as the top half swung open like a portal from the Emerald City in the Wizard of Oz.

Again the question.

We were informed  that we’d have to read the quite strict rules, fill out  proper forms to request  permission and state our purpose.  “What month & year would you like to apply for?”

Omigod!  We can actually get in?

Filling out the paperwork in shock at having finally gotten an affirmative answer and writing the single word, ‘spiritual,’ under the heading marked, ‘Purpose,’ Tom replied, “Today, please.”

With a soft chuckle and a kindly smile reserved for maiden aunts gone round the bend, he gently told us that people like scientists, historians and filmmakers generally reserve months to years in advance.  To give us a visual confirmation, he hoisted a huge, ancient, dusty green ledger out to show us the pages filled with appointments for the coming years.

“See, here’s today’s date. There’s a party of two.”

“Only two people? Do you think they’d mind if two more joined them?” I asked.

“Oh, no, Miss, that’s not possible.  Just the people who’s names are in the book are allowed to go in at 4 PM, after closing, for a single hour’s time. Even if there were one name, only that  person alone would be allowed.  Sorry.”

Barring some miracle from Heaven, this was obviously  not going to happen.

He took our application and, as we disappointedly began to walk away, Tom  turned with one last ditch effort and asked,  “Do you ever get any cancellations?”

My immediate thought was, “What? Are you out of your mind?  What do you think this is?  The Holiday Inn?”  But the gentleman took pity on us poor foreigners and said , “Well, not really but you could give a call around 3  o’clock… to see.”

“Great.  We’re outta here. Off to Avebury and we’ll call later to see if we need to come back,” said I, not wishing to miss getting up close and personal with ancient stones.”

“Well, we’re here. Why don’t we just pay the admission, go through the tunnel under the road and across to take a quick look-see at Stonehenge,” offered my dear, Tom.”

I acquiesced.

Nothing prepared me for the energy that took me in like a kid gazing at the magic kingdom.  It held me in its thrall at every angle.  On each inch of that walkway, I was mesmerize; pinching myself to belief that we were actually looking at one of the most historic and enigmatic wonders of civilization that we’d only seen in films or books.  Tom couldn’t pull me away.  My feet were numb with cold and Avebury was forgotten.  This was more than enough. I felt grateful to my core for this opportunity as one of the guards described her experiences with the stones.  This was her last day and she generously shared facts and stories with us.

I asked, “What was your favorite time of day with them? Sunrise or sunset?”

Her answer was, “When the mist rises off the moor and rings the stones.  It’s magic.”

“Ooh, I wish I could see that,” I sighed, “That would be my favorite too.”

Feeling  blessed and radiant, as we returned to the entry gate, the keeper of the Register, came running up to us.

Visibly out of breath, “Oh good you’re still here. I’ve been looking for you,” he said as he motioned us out of earshot of the human herd.

Back in the private office, he opened the ancient ledger.

“See here,” he pointed to today’s date and then flipped the pages two weeks forward.  “This never happens.  The names are the same and I’ve no confirmation for today’s appointment, so I’m putting you in for today.”

He scratched out the other names and wrote ours in beautiful flowing inked script.

“You must be ready for the guard to take you over at precisely 4 o’clock.  If you are late, you will lose your time.  You’ll have one hour alone in the center of the stones and he will come again to collect you and bring you back.”

Stunned we paid the fee and went to sit in the car.

Tom was taking no chances of driving anywhere with the possibility of getting lost and losing this amazing miracle.

We sat for hours  in a pool of  wonder and joy, feeling the incredulity of the miracle which had just come to pass.

‘Breathe,’ we reminded each other as tears of gratitude flooded through us as we sat in the car looking out at the barrows in the surrounding countryside.

I wished I had brought my silver Celtic love knot ring to energize here.  Tom had given me one of a matching set.  Well, at least he could soak up the energy for the two of us. He always wore his.

I glanced over and noticed his empty ring finger.  He told me he’d left it in his suitcase.

‘Nevermind,’ I thought,  ‘We’re here together to experience this magical Valentine’s Day.  That’s what counts.’

Then at 3:30 it started to afternoon drizzle.  We watched people baggy up to go see the stones and run back as it became a steady rain.

‘Oh, no.  What’s the purpose of this?’  I silently asked the Angels.  ‘Why give us this opportunity only to turn the weather foul?’

Umbrella at the ready, we would go no matter what.  Cameras were loaded, video charged, extra film stuffed into carrying case and fresh batteries and tape put into the tape recorder.  I would get the fantastic opportunity to channel a meditation from the consecrated center of Stonehenge.  My skin tingled with excitement.

The car park emptied and only a few hardy souls hung around the outer fence across the road at the henge.

We tugged on layers under our raincoats and went out to meet the guard who silently escorted us under the roadway tunnel through the gate to the other side of the fenced in span of earth and stone.

We cleansed our energy, took a deep breath, and as we stepped over the rope of the outer pathway, touched the heel stone and stopped in awe as the reason why rain had fallen became apparent.

Before our eyes, the downpour stopped and the mist rose from the ground, just as had earlier been described as magical; ringing the stones with the ethereal quality of another time.  The hair stood up on my entire body.

Voices of people behind the fence gasped as we smiled at each other, joined hands and began the long walk up the avenue of grass to enter the hallowed hall of Stonehenge much as we realized we’d done lifetimes ago.

There was familiar sense of ritual as we chose to enter through different linteled uprights and we gave each other time and personal space within the ring, to simply be.  We felt the awe  of being alien and the sense of belonging all at the same time.  Tom’s walk  from stone to stone was the grace of a silent prayer.  A mantle of serenity descended upon him like invisible royal robes.  After completing  the entire inside circle, being afraid to touch yet unable not to, I stood still at the fallen altar stones sunken in the middle ground. The amazons’ energy vibrated and sang their tones into the air and into our being.  I sank to my knees and channeled a meditation of peace for the world from that sacred center.

And when I finished, my dear Tom came to me, gently lifted me up and knelt at my feet; his palm open; our two silver Celtic love knot rings shining there, as he whispered the words, “I have loved you for lifetimes.  Will you marry me in this one?”

Tears of surprise and love splashed a cascade of  ‘yes, I will’ down my cheeks onto his face to mingle with his own liquid prayer.

He had surprised me again and been prepared; believing without visible proof that we might  see this moment.

After setting our rings upon the grass to be blessed and thanking God and the Angels  for making possible the great gifts given this day in so much love,  we  placed the rings on each other’s fingers.

Now, here we were standing on the wind swept plain of Sarum with the saracens of Stonehenge drawing us into the magical energy of their ancient circle; shielding us from the cold.

Knowing the full truth of Believing Is Seeing, we held each other and sent the warmth of our love and appreciation out to light the world.

Threads In Theatre Tapestry

October 20, 2014

by Florence Ondré

 

My friend, talented actor, Ashley Grantham, posted on facebook, these profound and grace-filled words of newly passed actress, Marian Seldes, from one of her interviews with James Grissom for his book, “Follies Of God:”

“The theatre keeps presenting to me the wonderful experiences of learning to tell time and falling in love for the first time.   I get these experiences-these feelings- every time I work on a play.  I get to start all over and relearn things, and I get to meet new friends– family, really– to whom I can give and receive love.  And this rejuvenates me, and it keeps me strong to serve the writer, to serve the play.  I guess I’m saying that I am always loving and I am always bending  time, and that’s as good a description as I can manage of a life in the theatre.”

Reading this perfect description of work and purpose in the theatre, simply stunned me with the accuracy of what it is all about and how fortunate we are, both those of us who do this work and those who experience the soul and life touching in the witnessing.

Over the years, I’ve struggled with the my own high respect for all aspects of theatre and, as time moves on, feeling a bit like performing has slipped into more a personality contest; worth minutes of limelight and too light an affair of single dimension, than a craft with depth in the endeavor.

I think to myself as I read Ms. Seldes words of wisdom, garnered from years of experience and well-earned success, ‘Who speaks like this anymore?

Who waxes multi-levelly on ever-expanding understanding of the depths and heights of their work with such careful and honest thought?

Who shares, with such kindness and generosity of heart, the inner workings to inspire and give how-to-gifts to co-worker-family with regards to spending well the coin of their realm of time upon this stage of life?

Who ‘gets it’ on so many layers of understanding lessons come to fruition by humble work ethic and love of profession?’

To be able to ‘start all over,’  ‘relearn things’ and know family of choice shows up in family of work for the claiming, if one is lucky enough to be awake and aware; to go beyond what one can see and touch to ‘always being loving’ and ‘time bending,’ both of which we are all capable of if only we would be open to that inner viewing, knowing and relishing.  How fabulous is that?!  How fantastic is the possible zest and willingness to see our own lives and work and days filled with this kind of love, service to chosen craft and be in awe of the time-bending we do in our mortal moments?

For me, I have to go back to my roots to see how far I’ve come on my journey and what light of clean scrubbed-faced-wonder still lives and breathes in me and whatever work I do.  What integrity, such as the above, was in me at the beginning and what wisps of wonder waft through my being today?  What nugget of motivation fuels my creativity and how have my perceptions changed or remained the same?

Surprised by  MS. Seldes beautiful, oh-so-acurate description of acting as ‘bending time,’ the breath of complete understanding and new realization hit me like Cupid’s arrow to the heart. These wonder full words, cobbled together, describe the indescribable; the intangible.  The very reading of the words is an ‘aha’ moment.

This is what work in theatre always felt like to me….working in wonder.

In my early, tenderling, formative theatre years, I fairly glowed with this shining light and thirst for learning and giving; for exploring one’s nugget of skill to be willing to be of service to the skills and talents of others in cooperative creation.

In a world of so much great talent, it is easy to be have humility and keep practicing; working while still searching for one’s own best defining talent.  One can be told by respected teachers what they see before their wise eyes and yet have depth of understanding dawn down the road.

It is only later , I learned what my team of master teachers in my first summer stock, at Dorothy Shay’s Duke’s Oak Theatre, where I was a most grateful apprentice, meant in their end of season review and assessment of skills learned and strengths discovered.

As I stood along on the bare stage, with only a work light for company, I heard their individual report cards.

“You are not the best of the dancers.”  “You may not be the greatest of the actors.” “You do not have the best voice of all.”

Time stopped.  My young heart sank because I was the last of the apprentices to be reviewed and the others, with family lines tracing back to theatre royalty of Lunt and Fontanne, Windust and Ritter had received high marks for at least one of these areas of performance.

It seemed forever in moments, standing statued still in my leotard and tights, waiting for their collective summation.

My mind raced hurdles with fear.  Did I have a career ahead?  Would I be good enough in this life of endeavor which I’d always known since childhood was my passion and lifeblood; a part of me like breathing; a place in the world to contribute and make a difference with my own gifts; to be of service?

Or had it all been in my own head; a fantasy land from which they would flunk me?

Breathe and smile, breath and smile your tremulous teen smile.

“…but you have ‘it,’ ” I heard  director, Mary Ann Dentler, of Broadway’s “Peg O My Heart,”  say.

“It?”

After politely thanking the board of theatre owners and master teachers,  I exited stage right in confusion and disappointment.

What was ‘it’?  Could I put that on a head shot and resumé?  How could this be an attribute when ‘it’ sounded like the plague?

“How did you do?”  my enormously and validated, talented singer, dancer and actor apprentices, excitedly asked as I stumbled into the wings.  “What did they tell you is your best attribute or strong suit?”  “What did they say?”

In a soft, quiet, uncomprehending, green voice, I replied, “They said, I had ‘it.’ ”

They hugged me.

I never knew if they understood anymore than I, what this invisible gift from the gods was, they were simply my first family in the theatre. It was these dear ones I loved; who loved me back in that special energy of unconditional acceptance which I came to know as extended family with each show and cast I’ve been privileged to join.

A life in the theatre is endless learning and growing; transcending all barriers; ascending and plummeting the roller coaster of emotions.

And, when you can touch an audience, even when you are not the best singer, dancer or actor; yet reach into hearts in the dark and move  people to tears and laughter and give them pause for thoughtful looking within, there beyond all wishes otherwise, is the best gift one can bring and give in the theatre, “it!”

You can study til you’re blue in the face, but this odd nugget is what you are either born with or not.

…The incandescent warmth of connection; tender, always loving, time bending, in the ever-expanding family and leaps of learning…. honest to goodness, ‘it!’

 

 

 

 

 

Remembering Robin

August 13, 2014

(by Florence Ondré-8/12/14-)

 

Depression descended like a dark, heavy greatcoat. No matter the good,large or small, on my very full-plated life, I couldn’t get above sea level in feeling overwhelmed with underwhelm-ment.
The emotions were confused and yet clear in “undertoad” waves; making no sense, no matter the ebb and flow of strengthed shore crashing.
An enormity of “yes, I know there is good’ and ‘arrggh! I don’t want to do this show,” “write this assignment,” “accept invitations to dine,” “talk with anyone,” took up battle stations in my brain. All these wonderful things turned to dust devils from one heartbeat to the next. It was too much trouble to lift an arm or leg; to breathe, to stay awake and upright nevermind accomplish my to do list. All the ‘importants’ felt insignificant; trivial in what loomed large in my mind taken up with thoughts of a life wasted.
I could chalk it up to Sandy survivorship; to almost two years after the devastation of my house, community and East coast of America; losing pieces of family and the home in which I raised my children; still sheltering “off-site,” with continuous, health debilitating grief and stress; wading through the most enormous amounts of crazy-making, pencil- pushing, victimizing-victims bullshit any cracker factory could dream up.
Oh, that would be easy.
But then my stubborn, angry, ‘never-let-’em-see-ya-cry’ self would rise up to scream-point of “Oh, no you won’t!” “Never quit 5 seconds before the miracle!”
This inner space stretching before me from within dove back and forth beyond the highlights of career, attributes or life parts well-lived and hard times and tough challenges. This was the “Losing My Mind” Sondheim siren song.
“I’m so depressed.” I murmured aloud. “I know I shouldn’t be but, for today, I’m depressed and can’t get out of it.”
“O.K., stop trying to figure it out. Lay it all down. Let go. Live with the depression.”
So I gave in and did.
And at day’s end, after moody meanderings on the why’s of my own existence or purpose of continuance in the clown chaos, the shocking news came that he was gone.
Gone in a flash!
Not to return.
No rehab reawakening. No healing to go on in his family, in this world, in our lives.
There had been a brief social media buzz about it in the afternoon and then sloughed off by everyone’s denial that it could even be considered on the edges of our belief systems, as a hoax.
Depression? Suicide?
Bad Bazinga!
Reality does bite.
Yet it’s a bit easier to get through the exit-stage-left shock with Robin Williams’ staggering amount of good left behind to focus on in reviewing his movies and considerable career.
Still, the incredulity of such a robust loss remains.
And, though we are left as human beings, ever wanting more, we are the better for his having been here.
As I read Joanne Woodward’s words, “Not only was he a brilliant actor and comedian, he was also a mighty force of philanthropy, doing so much for the homeless, for the arts and for those in his orbit who needed aid,” I shot back in time to a long ago, tucked away memory of a night at “Catch A Rising Star,” the club in Manhattan where comedians and new acts could get a start and established or establishing artists worked out new material where their own gathered and supported each other.
My singing trio, “Amethyst,” was slated to go on at the end of the evening, in the wee hours when stars came in after other gigs and audiences were loosened up liberally with libation.
We waited with our accompanist; huddled at a table in the back corner of the club, watching comedians like David Brenner do their stuff that night.
Lenny, the Bionic Chicken, finished up his set and, at last, introduced us to a round of applause.
We walked into the spotlight, in our fringed, bejeweled, white-booted outfits; a velvet, sultry-voiced, red headed, blues singer to my left, a perky brunette with a pop voice and a belt that wouldn’t quit to my right and me, the fluffy, shag-haired blonde, handling the comedy songs, in the middle.
As we finished our up tempo opening theme song and were about to go into our next number, a group of guys at the round table nearest the stage went beyond appreciative applause into hooting and hollering, “Hey! Blondie!” “Hey Hotstuff!!” and vocalized numbers of their own to the tune of whistles, heckles and stomps until one guy got up from his chair and loudly announced, “Yes! You, sweetheart.  I want you, Darlin!” as he began to climb the stage.
Yep. He wanted the blonde in the middle… me.
And like one of the rough hewn in the movie musical, “Seven Brides For Seven Brothers,” it looked like he was set to pick me up, throw me over his shoulders and carry me off.”
No amount of continuing singing would thwart this late night Lothario.
I froze as he advanced. The music and show stopped.
And moments before he got to me, Robin Williams appeared like magic!
Shazaam!
He jumped in front of me like a cape thrown down across water for protection and started heartily cajolling the guy back to his seat and stayed barrier between us by heckling the heck out of him and the rest of the band of merry men; making jokes at their expense; pointing out the men’s room if they needed to rise to the occasion, to which they laughed uproariously as he got them to stay seated; inviting them to enjoy the show ‘from their buckboards’…..and with his half sweet, half sly ‘we’re-in-this-joke-together’ smile, added, with that shrug of his shoulders that could be mistaken for self deprecating, but-hey-what-do-i-know, aw shucksishness character…“Let’s let the little ladies sing, Hoss.”
We finished our song set to standing ovation and I will never forget that night in my performing career where I could say, “Lenny The Bionic chicken opened for me and Robin Williams closed.” What a show biz night that was!
“In his orbit,” ever so luckily, I was…
A fledgling singer with only a microphone between me and a singer-napping…
And there he appeared, well known by that time; ready, willing and able with his special skills and talents to help someone he didn’t know who was indeed “in need of aid.”
He took no credit, garnered no write-ups or kudos and slipped away as if he were an anonymous everyman just doing what anyone would.
And, though I hadn’t thought about that rescue in a long time, especially being ‘sandy submerged’ for what seems like eons, obliterating thoughts I ever even had a career, it was this memory that came back to me as I bent over the kitchen sink in my little top floor apartment, which I fondly have dubbed, Mount 6 Manjaro, and wept with grief for his going and gratitude for his being.
Andy Hammerstein reminded me today, as we all remembered our favorite movies and characters, that his favorite was mine, “The Fisher King.”
Then the thread rippled out across the minds and media of our world. Everyone sharing which ones they liked and the why of how their lives were touched by this gigantic talent.
As I read, I found my head bobbing up and down in agreement… of course “The Fisher King;” the madness and the fragility making it top the list of craft for me and “What Dreams May Come,” for the muddled and magnificent; “Aladdin”…who else could try to do a more behind-the-scenes voice; taking no credit, and be so recognizable and memorable as to become synonymous with the character onscreen…”Patch Adams,” the tenderness within the boisterous laughter….”Good Morning Vietnam,” the giving of good in horrendous circumstances…”Good Will Hunting,” more good in the will and willingness to be vulnerable on the road to educating the heart and mind…”Dead Poet’s Society”… Who of us didn’t want to stand up on tables to get that different perspective…”Mrs. Doubtfire,” with her layers of persona added, padded and ultimately stripped bare as we all are in our relationships…
The question may arise as we hear there are those who preferred his characters to his ‘hyper schtick,’ “Did the hyper drive the depths and heights of his creative genius, which gifted us with so many multi-levelled characters, or vice versa?
I love how Bette Midler put it, “Oh, dear God. The wonderful Robin Williams has gone.”
There feels to me, a softness in the words, ‘has gone.’
They flutter feather light, gently as a Robin Williams’ smile and warm the heart like the sincerity of his soul… as if he has just left the building like he did the many years ago in a dark nightclub.
And here he is again, in his leave-taking, prompting people to speak in anything other than whispers; aiding so many who struggle with depression; shining the light of his star on another dark place in need.
And…Oh, you peacemaker… you, good-hearted Robin….with all this drawing us together in your leaving.
Look at all the good we are remembering, focusing on and smiling about instead of being at war with each other and our own selves.
There you are superstar, still cleverly at work now…. and forever.
I realized today, after all the ‘why’ questions beyond even my experience with ‘the greatcoat’ and puny human understanding of the rippling and ripping of the fabric of life, as with all great life passings…
Simply put… his journey here was done.

And the words from his movie, “Jack,” now seem more poignant than ever:  “Please, don’t worry so much.  Because, in the end, none of us have very long on this Earth.  Life is fleeting.  And, if you’re ever distressed, cast your eyes to the summer sky, when the stars are strung across the velvety night.  And when a shooting star streaks through the blackness, turning night into day…make a wish & think of me.  Make your life spectacular!  I know I did.”

I join with and quote Shirley Callaway, because I love the encompassing warmth of her words which are in my heart too, “I send light to all who cherished him and his brilliant work.”
Rest in peace, dear Robin Williams.
Job well done.

Project Hope

June 11, 2014

by Florence Ondré      8/5/13

 

Project Hope has helped us cope

 

With surviving superstorm sandy

 

Victim’s pace given space

 

Unwrapped us like Halloween candy

 

Waves came in crashing; homes and lives smashing

 

In aftermath, sane was old news

 

Broken and bent; energy spent

 

We straggled in by ones and twos

 

Stranger than fiction, our stories of friction

 

Sparked up a new kind of flame

 

Within difference in some, rose a new kind of one

 

Acknowledging so much the same

 

A circle was born in piece-mealish form

 

Leading onward by gentlest crew

 

Sometimes we’re myopic and slightly off topic

 

Still one as we all muddle through

 

In rants, tears and raving, our own lives we’re saving

 

While feeling we’ve gone down the drain

 

A labrynthian reeling without any ceiling

 

Upheaves every cell of our brain

 

Rules change hours by day; in Machiavellian way

 

To hamper and truncate our path

 

Driven b.s. crazy, we’re a little less hazy

 

By Monday night’s sharing our wrath

 

Overwhelming sadness gains glimpses of gladness

 

With topics for practising focus

 

Unravelling together helps us all weather

 

Seeing real under pure hocus pocus

 

We curse worse than sailors; we’re weepers and wailers

 

Losers of faith, family, friends

 

We’re tattered and torn; on winds of change shorn

 

Of all we thought we could depend

 

Each week we unfold; heart warm from the cold

 

Tentative, baby skin new

 

Bedraggled and strange; shocked, rearranged

 

With courage, we show up the few

 

Patience at nil; in repetitive drill

 

It can look like we’re stuck in the mud

 

Then just when we’re weary of hearing things dreary

 

Insight can land with a thud

 

Understanding arises with smiles and surprises

 

Just when we think that we’re done

 

The importance we share is the fact that we care

 

When the rest of the world’s cut and run

 

Recovery’s brutal with not much in neutral

 

Nothing of rest or reprieve

 

With lies and deceit the dim, daily treat

 

Monday night is our one sure relieve

 

We can say what we wouldn’t in couldn’t and shouldn’t

 

Honesty down to the core

 

Without judge and jury, emptying sorrow and fury

 

Eases this surgical chore

 

A word on an easel helps with retrieval

 

Of strengths we’ve forgotten we had

 

Giving us pause and plausible cause

 

To see our inner good in a mountain of bad

 

In this circle, there’s quiet, weird rhythm and riot

 

As we talk, listen, flail and sit still

 

The longer we stay, we learn each in our own way

 

That the road is not always uphill

 

And if only brief moment in constant, contentious foment

 

There’s a place to speak honest, truth, free

 

Here victims can rise through any storm skies

 

To become victors eventually.

 

 

Thank you, Chris, Jackie & Mohamad for your kind, gentle, nourishing, caring and constancy in a world gone off the rails.  Lights-off moments in mini meditation, held off until we felt safer, gave us the small yet powerful pieces of peace to take to our mats and shelters. You have reminded us that we have the power to stand in the center of our own peace. You are in our hearts always.

 

To Project Hope: Thank you for being. The gift of the creation of your existence gave us, survivors of superstorm sandy, a much needed light on a path through the darkness of our great losses; our homes, community and lives as we knew them.

Open Letter From The In Between

December 28, 2013
Today, while I’m a bit more rested, coming down from holiday crush to try to be superhuman; having taken silent time, I’m closer to sanity and further away from a slip and fall to match my dear Tom’s. (we do everything together..lol)
Invisible ice will bring you to your knees.
Did it slow me?  Hmmm. yes, in some places, not so much in others, but I did have to make some clear choices as to where and how to expend my dwindling energy.
Grand kids came first, cooking came second, family activities and then somewhere after, came me with  visions of juggling dancing in my head and circus music circling my cerebellum.
It was a fun time with the children and their joy is always worth everything!  I am always glad to be tired from making the kids happy.  It was thus for my own kids and now it is for my grands.  Nice to see the threads weaving through the tapestry.
In my going within, I took a look at what seemed to be wearing away in my own life and missed certain voices and visits dear to me.  it seems time is speeding up, people are speeding up, lives are speeding up.  You can hear it in the impatience in voices and feel the voids of connection.  It bruises the energy, these hit and run relationship behaviors and leaves one feeling unimportant and empty. The question arises, “How meaningful am I to a person who only calls or returns calls on a day labelled, holiday?”
With these ruminations, I’m thinking there was more purpose in slip and falls and nonstop preparations with a physical body becoming more challenged as time goes on its own merry way.
I think the gift of this season for us all might be revelations in the re-evaluations; the questioning, “Who & what is important to me?  How can I better shepherd my energy and have more balance?  What can I let go of to choose more personal closeness?”
I have more questions than answers at this moment and that is a good place to be..open to what comes on the brink of a new year.
For those with whom I did not get to connect, for those who called with well wishes, I thank you and please, know you were all thought of fondly and sent best wishes from my heart to yours.  And it is in that chamber you are always held in loving light.
I’m grateful to know that I express this on a daily basis unreservedly…no holding back or saving for a holiday or rainy day.  I’m a sandy survivor.   I’ve lived through enough rain to float the ark!
As our physical connections change- especially with personal distancing of so many wonderful electronics, may we remember to give each other our best gifts of spending time with each other; in person for those geographically near, or a personal call where we can actually hear the essence of our voices for those farther away in miles.
And may we remember to give each other our full attention when in each other’s company, putting away our smart phones to honor each other with full focus and behavior that says, “You are important to me.”
For we all pieces of God in action;  worthy of this honoring…..and we are gone too soon.
May Angels bring you highest good beyond your wildest imaginings in this coming year and I know they hold you close as this old year merges into the new and exciting energy manifesting.
In Light and Love,
Florence

If Your Name Is Patience Or Grace, Why Don’t You Have Any?

August 29, 2013

by florence ondré

In the oppressive heat of a hazy, hot and humid day in July, it’s hard enough for a person to get around, accomplish the day’s duties and still keep one’s wits and reflexes above functioning level.  Add to this recipe, a physical handicap, the lateness of the day or merely age and the human machine slows, glitches and/or crawls to a halt.

I believe most of us are aware enough to know this from probable first hand experience.  So, why is it that awareness and sensitivity take leave of the human experience at the checkout counter in a supermarket?

Firstly, what is so super about our food markets today?  The experience of shopping for our daily sustenance is hardly pleasurable.  Employees can be rude or ill informed; prices inaccurate and many cashiers could care less whether it’s important to you that your hard earned money stretch as far as possible or that your food be in good condition- i.e. grapes on top of canned goods and bread uncrushed when bagged.  Mostly, now it’s fast zip your groceries down the ramp for a meet and greet with metal armed hangers of plastic bags which you are expected to pack yourself.

“Express line” generally means smaller orders of fewer items to be expeditious to shoppers but to those behind the register it’s more of a “get out of my face fast and don’t ask any questions!” as in: ‘have no needs of your own.’   God forbid, you have the audacity to ask them to bag the stuff or to ask for for a double of those flimsy, chemical smelling sacks so your jars of marinara sauce don’t crash, and slash; sending you to the nearest emergency facility!

Any condition that might slow one up aggravates rather than engenders any compassion and seems to give register ringers a target for whatever pent up hostilities are lurking beneath their badges.

I experienced “The Shopping Trip From Hell” on one of these steamy July days when I had the chutzpah to take myself with my Chronic Fatigue Immune Dysfunction Syndrome to the ‘super’- sometimes referred to as ‘stupid’- market.

Having schlepped my tired self through the aisles, trudging behind my wobbly-wheeled basket, I placed my 6 items on the conveyor belt to the cash register on the ‘Express Line’ designated ’10 items or less.’  Feeling rather safe in doing so, I was shaken and appalled as I heard and saw the demeanor of the checkout clerk, whose name tag read, ‘Patience.’   She was anything but!

A grey haired woman stooped in front of me, was getting a tongue lashing about the number of items she’d placed for checkout-11!  Her hands which formerly may have cared for a home and children, created art or capably closed deals in a chosen profession, today clearly shook as she meekly apologized and tried to give the right amount of money for her tallied food bill.  In addition, she asked in measured speech for an explanation of the charges to make sure her receipt was correct.

The curtness and hostility of the cashier was overt and there was no mistaking the aggression of the loud, large, young woman at the register toward the small, quiet, elderly one who moved a few steps, struggling to get her change into her wallet, while her grocery bag was thrown harshly to the end of the checkout ramp by ‘commandant clerk.’

Then it was my turn!

As Patience totted up my purchases at the speed of light, I found myself aghast at not being able to find the cash that I had just gotten from the bank.  I searched my purse 3 times through every pocket, nook and cranny; knowing I had placed the bills there, yet fearing I might have either misplaced them or been robbed.

Inside, I had a sick, sinking feeling that I get when Chronic Fatigue cognitive block happens.  I know it mercifully passes but I also know increases with added stress, and here I am; face to face with ‘She Whose Name Is Patience!’

“Jaws” music begins to play in my head as she glowers at me for being less than perfect and lightning fast on Her Express LIne!

I begin to feel not so much slow and inept, but rather one who has committed a mortal sin.  She grouses loudly and instigates insurrection on the line behind me which now seems not to be just 2 men and 2 women, but an angry lynch mob of 400!

“O.K., Calm down,” I tell myself silently.  The bill is 14 dollars and 53 cents and,  Whew!  Thank God!  There’s the 50 dollar bill I put in my purse, right next to a 5!

I sigh with relief.  I haven’t been robbed.  CFIDS brain fog hasn’t caused me to mislay my money AND I say triumphantly to Clerk Mengele, “Here’s $50 and I have  the 3 pennies!”

Snarling, she snatches the bill, slams her cash drawer shut like a jail cell; loudly informing me that she ‘will not take my 3 cents’ and shoves the denominations of change, which she deems suitable punishment, into my hand.

I have no more rights for committing the crime of ‘slowness.’

When I say, quietly but firmly, “No, that’s not acceptable,” she imperiously barks, “You’ve taken up too much time!”

Standing firm on the outside but shaken on the inside, I ask to see a manager; even though the larger of the men in line behind me has become belligerent and is siding with the clerk to intimidate me.  Clearly, he would like to do her executioner’s work and if the guillotine were at the end of the bag ramp, my head would be in a basket with melons, to the delight of the onlookers!

I refuse to be cowed.  She glares at me with the intensity of a flamethrower.  I feel napalmed in New York.  I’m a stone-statue-still gunslinger at the O.K. Corral standoff til she finally calls.

The manager, a woman of small physical stature, shows up. hears my complaint of rudeness and ill treatment this clerk has dished out to me and the preceding customer.  She says nothing as I tell her that everyone, including senior, handicapped and slow people, all deserve to be treated courteously when shopping and spending their money in that store.

From the looks she sneaks at pistol packin’ Patience, I can see she will do nothing.  There’s not so much as an, “I’m sorry for your trouble.”

No amends will be forthcoming.

I notice her name tag reads, “Grace,” and what I see on her face is fear and dullness.  All in all, I’m sick to my stomach and I know it’s not from the heat!

Returning home with a lump of anger in my throat, I woodenly put away my groceries, which now seemed tainted with negative energy.  I slump exhaustedly on the safety of my comfy couch; an island of friendly, floral print in a world of khaki conflict.  A knot of hopelessness mixed in with a healthier dollop of defiance in my gut moves me to grab notebook and pen as the following declaration of dignity emerges:

I, hereby, put every cash register clinking checker,  or anyone in service positions, on notice to remember and, better yet, write this down and place it clearly where you will see it every day of your life:

THERE BUT FOR THE GRACE OF GOD GO I.

This means you and every blessed one of us on this planet!

No matter your job, any person who comes before you who is ‘slow’ is your opportunity to become still and practice compassionate patience.

Every person who asks you a question is your opportunity to practice tolerance and generosity of spirit, wherein you can be helpful in sharing your knowledge with others.

Those who shuffle before you with infirmity or age are your opportunity to treat others with the same kindness and respect you would like to receive when you are in similar circumstances.  They may be the mirror image of your future and deserve your admiration for their courage, willingness and commitment to show in the world; attempting to be as self reliant as possible.

These people, ( and remember, you are these people; if not now, later) need your help not your hostility.

O.K., so you got in the right letter of the alphabet.  Try harder.  You can do better.  Get the right word, the right attitude.  I have faith in you.  You can do it!

Anyone who vexes you is your opportunity to grow; to be the best you can be instead of the worst or most mediocre.  This is your chance to notice differences and samenesses of humans; to value everyone just the way you want to be valued and appreciated.  There’s no exact time allotment for getting ‘it’ right.  What is ‘it’ anyway and by whose timeline or definitions are we living?

I know that, even with this day; this experience of mine, I will not die of terminal uniqueness and, still, I feel strongly moved to speak out for all the times any of us has said or felt, “Why bother? No one cares anyway?”

Well, I do care.  I want everyday experiences to be peaceful, harmonious, gentle and interactions respectful of each other.  I believe kindness counts.  How much extra time does that take?

Call writing this my random act of kindness for all who can’t speak up or out.  I encourage everyone to say ‘NO’ to unfair, unkind treatment- one’s own or another’s; to courageously say, “I deserve to be treated courteously and compassionately.  We all do.”

And then, perhaps the market will be ‘super!’


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