A Tale of two orchids

I have no particular talent with plants. Sometimes I’m lucky. Other times not. But  I’ve developed a love for having orchids in my home. It started with Cymbidiums, those tall long leafed showy bursts of longitudinal color, that a friend turned me on to 20 years ago. Currently it’s the common strain of orchid I find at Whole Foods that fills the need. Generally they bloom for several weeks, and then go by. But over the past ten months or so, there’s been one that keeps on strutting its stuff, while its sister plant, which I got at exactly the same time and place, stands beside it, budless and bloomless. An orphan orchid. Barren. Sad. Alone.

Sisters

With nothing to lose,  I decided to experiment. I moved them closer together so their branches were touching. I told them they were sister plants, and encouraged the bloomer to teach the non bloomer its tricks. I spoke to them about loving each other and sharing their gifts (the non bloomer had beautiful unblemished deep green foliage) as I moved my hands around them — the way my mother used to do with the shabbas candles on Friday nights— and advised them to bloom in tandem. A week later, I noticed tiny buds forming where none had gone before. And lo! I now see five new buds, growing larger each day

No Expectations

Encouraging this relationship took little effort, and the results have been amazing. I expected nothing. My only intention was to give them a chance, to see what would happen. And voila! Rebirth. Resurrection. And so forth.

Heaven knows why we’re so self-centered as to believe that this is it. That we’re the alpha and omega. The peak of the mountain. The star on the tree. With our logical minds leading the way, we play the game of life, only by by our limited rules. But suddenly, here’s living proof that the invisible world exists. That there’s stuff going on unaccounted for. Beyond our ken.

Imagine

For, imagine, how it might be if we could rebud and rebloom like these orchids in whatever way we needed.. Perhaps we can. Perhaps all we need is someone to speak to us in loving tones, To remind us that we have the power, the gift, to repair and revive ourselves,—  to burst forth with new vitality. New life. Over and over again. And that this gifted magician is us. You and Me. Reclaiming ourselves in one endless loop of life.

* See my Face book page for photos

Here’s an image you may enjoy using to this end.

Close your eyes and breathe out one time. Imagine yourself as the gifted magician. See and sense your power  to co-create new life, know this power is sparked by loving words and grateful thoughts. See what needs revitalizing, both in yourself and others. Speak words of loving encouragement, and express the gratitude that is called for.  See these words and thoughts manifest as light that emanates from your heart. Notice what happens. Then breathe out and open your eyes.

Love And Marriage

The brides and grooms in Doug Block’s documentary, march down the aisle, and recite their vows. They laugh, cry, greet guests, kiss each other, their parents, relatives and friends. Their eyes shine. Their hair is perfect. They dance, bask in their joy, look forward to a future of happiness, even bliss. And celebrate love and marriage in an endless barrage of toasts.

Twenty years later: 112 Weddings

Fast forward to seven, ten, fourteen years later. How well have these couples fared? Are they together? Divorced? On the cusp of something new? Block, revisits the beginning, middle and end of some of the 112 Weddings he filmed starting 20 years ago when he needed to make some extra money to support himself and his career.

The result is beyond brilliant. He sought to make wedding videos, and instead found the messy facts of real life, hidden in the spaces between words, cannily revealed by the nods, the eye rolls, the hand gestures, the point and counterpoint of dialogue in distress, and conversation that emerges from between the pores of resentment, laughter and love — that place where life and dreams bounce off each other and leave us wondering: what happened? Where did it go? Where did I go? How do I get it back?

During the interviews the women fare better than the men. They are emotionally smarter, more sensitive, more willing to listen and compromise, while the men get lost in their egos and retreat into soured disappointment with the way things are. Like the husband who loses some weight and goes from being the unsought after chubby boy to the desirable middle aged man with money, departing his 14 year marriage to seek out a more worshipful woman who is grateful for his precious presence. And the one who begins with a wife-rant. Then finally admits it was not his wife who was crazy off the wall and needed to be “committed,” it was him. But there are some who rise to the occasion with grace, compassion and a loving concern that never wavers.

A Man of Grace

The most stunning among these is a man whose wife was, only a few years before, an exceptionally beautiful bride, and now suffers from a depression so dark and deep she seems stuck at the bottom of a well with no desire to climb out. She sits immobile in their living room, ignoring their young child and her husband as he points out her fragile victories. Telling her that each step forward she takes is precious, no matter how small, that he has faith in her, and will be there for her no matter what. But she’s unable to accept his stalwart praise and counters his faith with a blank despair. Yet he refuses to give up. He wills himself to see her healed. He dwells in possibility.

Movies, Film, Art, Truth

There are too many stories that deserve telling for me to share, and it’s clear that the nature of this film is as much a reflection of the man who made it as the couples who agreed to participate. I suggest that you find a way to see it. You will not be sorry.

Some people make movies. Some make films. Others make art. In 112 Weddings, Block has made art. And beyond that he has captured that elusive, forbidden, much discussed but rarely mastered quality we spend our lives and loves seeking, even when we don’t know it.The truth.

Use the following imagery should you want to live and love in truth..

The Mask

Close your eyes, breathe out, and see yourself standing at the foot of a hill.  At the top of this hill is a house. Follow the path that leads up to the door. Go inside and find a trunk. Open this trunk and see that it is filled with masks. Pull out a mask and put it on. Now find a mirror, and look at yourself. What do you see? How do you feel?

Choose whether to take off the mask or leave it on. Breathe out one time, and open your eyes.

* 112 Weddings will be shown on HBO starting June 30th 

 

Let It Snow

It’s snowing in New York City. Again!

Wait. It just stopped. Or did it? I am sick and tired. Literally. What else can I do but complain? Who wants to listen? No one!

I make it a habit to look on the bright side. Wait a minute. I’m still looking. There must be something good to say. I’m thinking. Okay. I’ve got it.

The heat in my building is actually working. They can’t get here for the umpteenth time to repair the boiler, which doesn’t seem broken to me, so the hot water is on instead of off. It’s deep-quiet outside. No horns blaring. No trucks idling. No drills drilling. The old City University building stands ghost like, across the street, swathed in netted scaffolding, waiting to be torn down to make way for a high-rise condo, and the work has been indefinitely postponed. The power is on all over town. The streets are being cleared, proudly directed by the neophyte mayor. There’s enough food to last me until tomorrow.  I’m not eating much anyway. And the best part – for a moment it seems like time stands still. And who couldn’t use some of that?

It’s snowing, as well, out at Stony Brook, Long Island, where my brother-in-law, Daniel, my friend, my witness, my last link to my family history – to my beloved parents and sister – to my personal past, has just been taken off a respirator and has begun to breathe on his own. And to see, and respond, and show signs of life.

It’s my niece’s Birthday. She’s driving through the snow to the hospital to see her father. She will get there because that’s who she is and what she does. She’s his rock. He says she likes to boss him around. There are many bosses in this family. All with their own style and expertise. I’m putting my money on the biggest Boss of all. In every situation, at every moment, it’s the best any of us can do . . .

If there is someone (including yourself) who is in need of a heroic intervention, use the following imagery exercise. It offers power, faith, beauty and connection, from both above and below:

Hands of God

Intention: To ask for guidance, protection and clarity in times of need, danger, or difficulty. To develop awareness of, and connection with, the Shekinah (the feminine presence of God).

Close your eyes and breathe out three times. See before you a cone of light descending from above. Know that you are in the revealed presence of the Shekinah

Go into this sacred space and say a brief prayer for what it is you want or need.*Say “Thy will be done.” Then see, sense and feel yourself , or the person for whom you are praying, being lifted up by the Hands of God.

* * *

 

How Will It be In Heaven?

I believe. I always have. There are too many signs, synchronicities and miracles, not to. But there are questions too. Questions that no one can answer. At least not yet.

These include but are in no way limited to:

How’s the TV? Theater may be classier. Movies, more exciting. But without HBO, Showtime, MSNBC, and Public’s American Masters, I just couldn’t do it. Not at all. Not any of it.

And how’s the weather? Is there weather? If not, what takes it’s place? If there’s no weather, what do people talk about?

And the food. Do we get to eat? I was thinking about this yesterday when I bit into a roast beef sandwich with mustard-mayonnaise and grizzled onions. And what about soup? Especially in the winter. But if there’s no weather, there’s no winter, and then there’s no soup, right? And chocolate. There can’t possibly be heaven without chocolate. Not for me there can’t.

And then there’s the thing with people. Who’s in and who’s out? Does my obsessive, lawn mowing, nasty, North Fork neighbor get a pass? That would spoil everything. And what about my relatives and friends, the ones I like and love, will they be there to greet me? Will I finally meet my grandma Fanny? And will she recognize me, or will we need to be introduced? Will I be able to hug my parents, without zooming right through them? And will I get to do a life review, and to apologize for my selfishness, and forgive myself for the stuff I still can’t forgive myself for?

And what about the natural world? The mountains, rivers, valleys and oceans. The sunrise and sunset.The wonders of the earth in Gazillion Resolution 3D. Is it like the old Robin Williams movie “What Dreams May Come?”  A big, beautiful film that morphs from one gorgeous setting to another. Amazing, beyond my wildest dreams.

And music. And dancing. And finally being able to fly. I knew I could do it. Why not!

Whatever it is, it is. But I wont know till I get there, right?

As for those who resist knowing, or even considering that there’s “Something Else,” they get an F in imagination and a X in possibility. For who could ever have imagined This? So why not That?

In a 1935 movie called “Top Hat,” Fred Astaire sang about Heaven as he twirled Ginger Rogers around, up, over, left, right, and backward. The lyrics are old fashioned. The melody, airy and sweet. Fred didn’t need to sell it. It sold itself. It goes like this:

http://m.youtube.naturecom/watchv=WOYzFKizikU&desktop_uri=%2Fwatch%3Fv%3DWOYzFKizikU

Heaven, I’m in heaven, And my heart beats so that I can hardly speak, And I seem to find the happiness I seek, When we’re out together dancing cheek to cheek

Heaven, I’m in heaven, And the cares that hung around me through the week, Seem to vanish like a gambler’s lucky streak, When we’re out together dancing cheek to cheek.

Oh I love to climb a mountain, And reach the highest peak, But it doesn’t thrill  me half as much As dancing cheek to cheek. Oh I love to go out fishing, In a river or a creek, But I don’t enjoy it half as much, As dancing cheek to cheek

Dance with me, I want my arms about you, Those charms about you, Will carry me through…

To heaven, I’m in heaven,And my heart beats so that I can hardly speak, And I seem to find the happiness I seek, When we’re out together dancing, out together dancing, Out together dancing cheek to cheek.

* * *

A Christmas Tragedy: Killing Claire Davis

On December 13th, when Karl Pierson, a student at Arapahoe High School, in Centennial Colorado, shot Claire Davis, he was carrying three gasoline bombs, a machete and 125 rounds of ammunition. Claire Davis died on December 21st. She was 17 years old. She was not a “planned target.”

Hardly anyone noticed. What does it take? If one’s not enough, do we need three, ten, twenty, a hundred? Do we need a room full, a theater full, a packed stadium? Is there any number at all that would make an impact, that could turn things around?

Claire Davis was a high school senior sitting on the steps of Arapahoe High, on her way to the library with a friend.  She was no-one and everyone. She was your daughter and mine. She was the one who didn’t get away.

“It is with unspeakable sadness that we write and say that Claire has passed away from the gunshot wound she received,” her family said in their statement to the press.  “We ask that you give us time to grieve the death of our daughter by respecting our wishes for privacy.”

I can’t begin to fathom the grief and the loss. Each time this happens it’s different from the time before.  Its worse.  More tainted by ill will and ignorance. More uncaring. More loaded with bad karma. By now we should have seen the light.  Become able to set aside the dance of political ego and outdated Second Amendment rights in favor of sanity, respect, reverence, loving our neighbor — opening our arms to life instead of “bearing” them. But if we haven’t done it by now, what are the odds we ever will?

Can one more murder restore us to our senses? Or has the magic moment already come and gone, leaving us to wander in the darkness of our small mindedness till death us do part? Can we somehow manage to remember that the will to power leads us only to disaster, while the will to love, to give, to share, and (yes, dare I say it) to sacrifice, leads us to salvation? Perhaps even to heaven.

While I was living in Vermont, a friend and I attended a picnic given by an attractive, self-promoter whose charm was exceeded only by his unbounded ego. It was a perfect summer day, birds chirping, brook babbling, but my friend was feeling down and out, The previous afternoon had found her bearing a bunch of straw hats, strung along a pole, down to the field by the entrance to our Pittsfield community where we cut a circle and a path into the midst of the high grasses to make her more accessible to passers-by for purchasing her wares. After several hours of standing in the almost 90 degree heat she finally sold one hat with a pink tissue paper flower, artfully attached to its brim. And wound up with ten dollars for her days labor.

She asked how she was supposed to deal with this, and when the good times might begin to roll? The host waved his arm, told her to look around, and said “Heaven is right here on earth at this very moment.” It was what she needed to hear. Though God knows if either one of them knew what he was talking about. At the time, I had no idea.

That was twenty years ago. My friend and I, and the self-promoter guy have all moved on. As for heaven being here on earth at this very moment, I eventually found great value in this belief. For the Claire Davis’s who lose their lives so senselessly each day, it better be. Who knows what comes next? And when whatever it is, does, I hope that by then we’ve worked our way through the pain of our lives so we don’t need to come back and do it again, to finally get it right.

Meanwhile, stay safe and use the following imagery exercise for protection from harm for yourself and for others. And especially for the kids:

Circle of Light

When you awake each morning, before you begin your day, close your eyes and exhale one time through your mouth, and imagine you are surrounded by a circle of protective white light. Know this light is with you throughout your day, wherever you go, whatever you do. Use it when you’re alone and when you’re out in public places. Just see it and sense it and know that it’s there.

Now call upon your guardian angel.* Ask her or him for the protection and peace you want and need. Give thanks, and Know that all is well, that you are safe and sound. And keep saying Thank You throughout your day.

* We all have Guardian Angels.  But If not called upon, they languish.  To create a strong connection stay in touch. Ask for what you want and need. This may be protection from harm, as in the exercise above. Or it may relate to any part of your life in which you desire assistance. Express your gratitude by saying  thank you when you make your request, as though what you ask for has already been given.