Saturday, September 27, 2008
This will be the last post regarding Lee. Thank you for your indulgence. Sharing some of my letters to him is a therapy for me.
Now we wait again! How difficult that must be for you. The uncertainty; constantly wondering what's next. Moving your thoughts through a myriad of mazes made of questions. Is the tumor going to grow? Will there be more chemotherapy? Additional surgery? Can I start my life again? Is it worth it?
My spirit joins with yours in fighting the frustration of concretized expectation. Strength is gleaned from knowing that each contraction of our hearts bares a powerful message.
Listen to your heart for a moment. Feel its' Divine onomatopoeic cadence. Now infuse into your heart rhythm, the words of the phrase "I am love.” In the truth of these words you have the mantra of miracles.
I talked to a friend about you the other day and he asked if I were able to share my feelings with you. He meant, all my feelings. Hopes and wishes, pains and tears, laughs and joys and he wondered if that's hard for me to do. It is and it isn't!
The words I write to you are inadequate representations of my feelings. They are just pieces of my emotions, a plethora of thoughts, made up of sadness and worry, hopes and smiles, truths and tears, then tempered and transformed into a personal and Heuristic belief that I feel I must share with you in this time of accelerated grace.
I love you, not only as my son, but as God in expression.
If I see you only as my son, only as a physical being struggling to heal, to understand, to fight, to accept the seemingly unfairness of it all, then I limit you and me. If I choose to see the Divinity within you, as you, as an expression of the continuing Divine unfoldment, then all is limitless and it is easier to share my feelings for now I see you, your tumor and your struggle and your pain from the level of unconditional love and in that place no fear can exist.
The joy of earthly existence is to see all that is as All That Is, and to learn that different, is not lesser and "the other" is not separate from the self. God cannot be unknown to himself. If you accept the premise that your spirit is Divine, then it follows there is Divinity in all others. If you see all that is through the Divinity within you, then you will see nothing, but the light of love personified. We are all one with THE ONE and therefore one with each other.
The miracle of life, however, is not the Oneness, it is the diversity within the Oneness. An ego focused existence confuses different with diversity. Living, by choosing to see others as different, inhibits the ability to express the Divine within us for we empower the ego sustained illusion that believes we are separate. We cannot be separate from what it is we are. We can think we are separate and thereby choose to live in the illusion, but the reality is we are never separate from Divine Love that is us. We are always only a choice away from the abundance that is our creation gift. The ONE-der of diversity, encourages expression of the Divine within us as us.
Enough for now my Son. Know that I love you very much and send you healing light, use it as you will.
Thursday, September 25, 2008
You know by the reading of previous posts the genesis of these Letters To Lee. Here is another one I have chosen to share from 1994.
Last night I cried again for what you have to go through. I tell you this not to cause you concern as you orchestrate the battle to fight the cancer, I tell you because I want you to know you are not alone in this cancer experience. The internal battle, of course, is yours and the weapons are a positive attitude, chemicals and radiation.
The support for your fight, however, comes strongly from Mom and me and from so many others. Some of them you know, they are long time friends and they love you. Some of the others, who send you healing love, you have never met, but they too are workers in the field of light and know the power of love by giving it.
With so many interested in your well being, I thought it might be interesting today to write to you about our extended family and what it may mean as we experience a community of concern for you. Ehrling Thungren, a teacher of George Christie, once said that "the material for group transformation is shared experience." Evidence of that truth can be found everywhere.
One of my favorite trees is the Redwood. The Sequoia. Magnificent standing monuments to the efficacy of family, of community. These trees are often a thousand years old and grow to 300-feet tall and 30-feet wide. Yet, the root system of a single tree rarely extends below eight feet. Hardly enough holding power to keep these cellulose obelisks standing upright. What keeps them from falling? Community! Their roots intertwine with other Redwoods in a community called a grove. The roots of the grove, interconnect to other groves and an exponential strength evolves as each tree helps the others stand erect against fire and storm.
The human species is similar to the Redwoods. Extended families gather in people groves, and like the Redwoods, intertwine life with life, hopes with hopes, wishes with wishes. Our roots are also shallow, for we are on the earth, but not of it. Shared experience and service to others, provide a strength called community.
Community, as it is understood as family, is the manifestation of Love for a collective purpose. It is knowing that the success of one is ultimately inter-related and inter-dependent upon the success of the other and in a true desire for the the other’s achievement comes a profound willingness let go of the illusion that growth is singular.
Community begins when we remember we are all part of each other and all part of All That Is. There is a community of support out there for you in your healing quest. The favors you carry into battle are their cards and letters and calls.
Forever to be free
the choice is to be,
for the I that you see
is not what is me.
The me that is free,
is a part of thee.
for when I choose to be,
the I sees as we.
Enough for now. Know that I love you very much and send you healing light. Use it as you will.
Wednesday, September 24, 2008
Charles Dickens once wrote: “When death strikes down the innocent and young, for every fragile form from which he lets the panting spirit free, a hundred virtues rise, in shapes of mercy, charity and love to walk the world and bless it.”
As I mentioned in previous posts, when my son Lee was diagnosed with Brain cancer I started to write him a series of bi-weekly letters. My desire was to accelerate the teachings that a father might impart to a son were they to have a normal 20 to 30-year adult relationship. Lee loved the letters and we would often discuss them. One of his favorites was letter number four.
Today I write to you about Divinity. I have mentioned in my previous letters that you, we, are all divine. Not too many of us think about that because we are caught up in the illusion of the day to day, but when we are faced with great crisis and must choose great courage, the Divinity within is the only reality.
The guilt in us says we can't be Divine. We're not good enough, pure enough, religious enough. I often wonder why we choose to energize a thought that permeates the illusion of what we think we are not. We are not the ego's illusion. We are not separate from the Creator, except by believing we are. The All That Is has never broken the covenant of connection and we are eternally welcome to come home. The choice is ours. The Reality is, at every moment, we are safe. The perception of being sinful prevents us from knowing not only that we can go home, but that we are already there.
A synonym for Unconditional Love is forgiveness. We are forgiven and forgiving the instant we think we need to be. To know that, listen to your heart essence and feel your smile for the heart will never mislead you. The ego will deceive, the mind will delude and debate, but the Heart is tuned to the Divine and cannot be false.
You have accepted life to express Beingness through experience, not to impress others through the false effulgence of diamonds or status. I have always honored that in you, although sometimes I had difficulty understanding it. By your lack of attachment, you have reminded your Mother and me that over valuing the crowns of career, in whatever form it manifests, fosters the fantasy that things material, the impermanent objects of coveting dreams, is a false goal rather than just a tool on this life path of enlightening experience.
Owning stuff is the great paradox. Things and objects, whatever value we give them, tend to be the possessors, rather than the possession. Addiction is present when we can't let go of what we think is us. Material objects and accumulated currency are not meant to define the Self. We are only what we think, not what we have. Attachment owns the owner. God Bless you for your exemplary understanding of this.
While I am on the subject of your attributes, let me list some of them, lest they go unsaid. I love your inclusive sense of humor, your comforting ability to draw others around you to laugh and your encouragement, by example, to be positive, when another choice could be easier. I love the way you sing a song and phrase the lyrics that give a meaning greater than the writer intended. I love your appreciation of nature and your attunement to her. I love the way you ski, with grace, flowing form and perfect balance. You are one with the mountain and its majesty moves through you.
I love your free spirit and the dignity you find in honest work. I love your strength to let go of status, despite occasional parental disapproval. Sometimes parents forget that we must love our children for themselves, not love ourselves, through our children.
I love your desire and courage to fight your cancer and your wish to move quickly through anger and denial into acceptance, for we can only battle what we know, not what we fear. Most of all, I love your spirit, that essence of you that has been living for eternity. If I could I would remember all the incarnations we have shared together for I feel the ancient and renewing accumulation of the love we have for one another and that is what makes me proud to be your Father. If, in the next life, I am the child and you are the parent, please remember the tricycle, the bike, the car and the unconditional love I have for you.
Enough for now. Know that I love you very much and send you healing light, use as you will.”
Tuesday, September 23, 2008
Good Evening Readers,
In many ways I wish I could address each of you by name since these are more personal posts, but since that is not, at the moment, possible, I will affectionately call you "readers". I guess by definition you could call me "writer". How about we call or at least refer to each other as friend.
Thus: Dear Friends,
Those of you who have chosen to embrace these posts on a regular basis, I thank you. This week, with your indulgence, most of the posts will deal with my son Lee who died nine years ago this week of brain cancer. He was 31 at the time and struggled with the disease for nearly five years before he succumbed on September 28th, 1999.
A few years after his death, his wife Kelly sent my wife Ann and me a box filled with mementos that were important to Lee when he was alive. He kept them on a meditation altar in his home. These were collections of his traveler's artifacts and talismans of hopeful belief as well as trinkets of happy moments. I believe that all souls who see their eminent ending through a terminal disease tend to collect the minutia of meaningful reminders so that their passing is permissible to their life's sustaining mind.
After the transition from life to life, those of us left behind grab onto whatever is left of the departing loved one and keep it safe for our own catalyst of understanding and use it as a balm to ease the natural ache of loss.
Since poetry is one of my ways of coping with the immensity of losing a child, I wrote the following after receiving the box of Lee's artifacts. It is the first time this poem is published.
© Rolland G. Smith 2003
Your precious items held long past
Their useful time and memory cast
Became the icons of our life
To mark the sacred of your strife.
What do we do with what you held dear
That now are ours? A souvenir?
Of what? Not in your body’s place
Nor of the warmth of life’s embrace.
There’s shells and sand from everywhere
And angel cards and stones as prayer.
There’s shirts and scarfs and statuettes,
A gathering of amulets.
But though we cannot see you here
There’s knowing you are always near.
We honor you, your life and things
Despite the sadness passage brings.
Tomorrow more Letters to Lee.
Monday, September 22, 2008
Some thoughts tonight on an extraordinary person.
I'm going to get personal and if you have a problem relating to death and dying you might not want to embrace this or other posts this week. I am going to talk about a personal sadness not because I choose to share personal grief, but because my son who died nine years ago this week was a great teacher and some of the things he taught by being the evidence of them, may be of value to you as it is to me.
His name is Lee. He was diagnosed with brain cancer.
Lee lived for the moment. To complain, he felt, wasted precious time and energy that he could use for healing. He chose to enjoy and embrace every minute and to gracefully enthuse everyone with whom he came in contact. His humor was infectious and he always chose to be positive even when another choice would be easier.
Lee knew he was on a short life line. Cancer tends to focus one's thinking on the finiteness of life, yet he never complained, despite three brain operations, chemotherapy and radiation and the debilitation that goes with those encounters.
When he was first diagnosed, I decided, as his Father, that I would try to accelerate conversations we might have over the course of a normal life time between Father and Son. Every few weeks, I sent him a letter in which he might respond by questions or dialogue or any discourse he would choose. Over the course of four years of letters we had many discussions. I once asked him if I might publicly share some letters with others if it seemed appropriate. He said yes and it does now.
Here is letter number one:
Since your cancer was diagnosed nothing has the importance it used to have. You are constantly in your Mother's and my thoughts. Wonderful memories compete for mind space and attention. If the spirit centers the thought, then the memory looses the competition and we are comforted by a higher awareness. If the body needs to cry, then the memory wins and we work through it, learning from the emotion, until the choice comes again. It's something parents go through when their adult child is hurting and they can't make it go away. I imagine you are going through similar emotions in your private time, as you and Fran deal with this experience and the choices it forces you to make. I do know it's all right to do and to be both, to be spiritual at times, to be emotional at times. I also know to expect miracles, but remember that holding on to preconceived expectations can bring disappointments. Letting go, with love, will bring peace. Both are important in healing.
We are both physical and spiritual beings. When we perceive, through our physical bodies, via the intellect and instinct, each moment of being is mortally precious because we tie it to time. Our spirit, however, the true essence of what we are, sees each moment as eternity and perfect, for linear time does not exist. If you accept that premise, the expression, "Live in the Moment" takes on a different meaning. You can live in the moment Lee, all it takes is the desire to do so and when you make that choice the result is love, for fear cannot exist in the moment.
The spirit is powerful. It controls the mind, if we let it and we empower the mind by thought and visualization. The mind controls the body. Work first with your essence, your spirit and direct it, to direct the mind, to eliminate the dis-ease within your body. The meditation exercise I taught you using light will be very helpful if you practice it regularly. Remember that life is the illusion and the spirit is reality and we are co-creators of both.
Understanding the dichotomy of letting go, to always have, is the constant struggle of being, of life. Implicit in this Truth is the understanding that we are not our bodies. Our bodies only house what we really are -- spirit! The body is a beautiful mechanism brought into form that allows the spirit to exist in this environment. When the spirit is finished with what it came here to do, it discards the body and returns to the Source and the body returns to the earth. This is why the body and the earth are considered sacred. They are of the same substance with similar functions. Containers of spirit!
The human heart embraces both the spirit and the body. It is, by design, the most important organ in the body, without it, no other organ can exist. It's pith, however, is more ethereal for it is attuned to the Divine and acknowledges that what is, is the Divine will and we joyfully participate in it, not only because we too are Divine, but also because it was a willing choice, prior to our birth, when omniscience was part of our being and we could choose the experiences we call life with angelic guidance and without the ego's intervention.
When you go deep within your being Lee, you will remember this truth and much more. Awareness is an equal gift from God to all. It is the remembering that is selective by each of us, and the levels of enlightenment are the precipitation of our selections. There are only two emotions available to humankind. Love and fear. All other emotions, are derivatives. You will remember more, love more, if you let go of fear. It may seem hard for you to comprehend this as you fight the cancer in your head, but it is very important and I urge you to read the wonderful book of Dr. Jerry Jampolsky -- Love Is Letting Go Of Fear. He is a good friend. He speaks the truth from the Divinity of his heart and I encourage you to read it.
I am going to end this for now. There are more letters to come as I share with you the beliefs of my soul as we both move toward Truth through the magnificent companionship of family.
I love you very much and send you healing light, use it as you will.
Sunday, September 21, 2008
My last few posts were to tell you about my experience attending the Children and Nature Network's annual conference at the Lied Conference Center at the Arbor Day Farm in Nebraska City, Nebraska. It was a productive, positive, and to keep the alliteration going, a profound two plus days.
I have reported on and written about and mused about our human connection to what we call nature for many years, but I have seldom witnessed a collection of folks who not only demonstrate their commitment by daily action, but who do so altruistically for they believe with quantifiable evidence that the survival of our culture depends on the acknowledgement of nature as part of us.
For the first time in human history we are in danger of having a generation of youngsters who have never experienced what we call nature, who have never spent quality time in what we affectionately call the “outdoors”.
It is possible, if we keep going the way we are, many children may never hear wild bird calls, sleep in a tent, paddle a canoe, fish, hunt, or understand the myriad of kingdoms that exist within the forest canopy and also under the leaves of the forest floor and how we have a symbiotic relationship in mutual survival.
To me that is a sadness beyond understanding. I share the goals of the Children and Nature Network and hope that every child, young and old, will experience what I do every time I take a walk in the woods.
My walk began at wooded rim, beneath an autumn sky
The morning air was crisp, and dust came from the dry.
I looked around at nature knowing I would find
Her rhythm in a rock, and reason in her rhyme.
I heard it first on the path, walking, slowly not too far.
It faded in and out of mind, like a distant twinkling star.
Then louder came its gentle tone, uniquely humming mild,
When tuning clear to natures sound, your spirit is beguiled.
You know it in the sparkle of a trickling tiara stream
That slides o’er stone and granite bead crowning Gaia queen.
You feel it in the wilting wind with all its names that please,
“Refreshing,” “Cooling,” “Gentle,” special kinds of breeze.
You see it in the flora and the rainbows of the flower,
As blossoms burst with color, in a natural sculptured bower.
You taste it in her breath when fragrance fills the air,
With tiny pollens of her heart, perfumes of scented prayer.
Nature’s essence is profound; her truth comes when you listen,
To the dew that’s on the grass and hear the sunlight glisten.
Squinting crystals in the bright that hide when it is warm,
Returning precious liquid life in shower and in storm.
I found it tiny, on the ground, in trails of hurried ants.
I found it too, among the herbs and healing medicine plants.
I find it often in the trees, amid a darting of delight
As playful fluttering feathered ones put magic in their flight.
There are other things to know, from the silence of her breach,
And heed the wise and warning shrill of the Owl’s casting screech.
Nature’s sound speaks many tongues to tell us there is trouble
For in the print of humankind, the future reeks in rubble.
But on this day, I shall not dwell on the ablutionary bad,
For it would change my wooded walk and make my smile sad.
In all my walks, on many paths, even ones without a tree,
I choose to find the joy of life, for nature lives in me.
Thursday, September 18, 2008
I'm in Nebraska at the Lied Lodge conference center of the Arbor Day Farm. I rose early and took a solitary stroll onto their abundant trails. I wandered over wooden bridges, across a gentle creek and into a sentient forest full of woodchip paths and life. Whenever I break my usual daily routine - poetic inspiration is often the result.
Before the dawn, below the light
There is a time, that still is night.
A morning dark festooned with song
In arias from flying throng.
A choral mirth and melody,
A whistling chanting rhapsody.
When rising orb bursts from the dim,
The song and light becomes a hymn
As flashing streaks of morning sun
Ignite the path of stroller's run.
Then bleaching light and harmony
absorb the dark from plains prairie.
Soon colors shine from leaf and bloom;
Their fragrant scents belie perfume.
When flowers reach to touch the glow,
The dew upon is lit flambeau.
Refracted rays of golden bright
Bring out the rainbow from this sight.
Like the bloom, the mornin’ flowers
Into a day of lazy hours,
But nothing like the early morn’
With it’s Cantata to adorn
The heart of nature and her tone
That lets you know you’re not alone.
Wednesday, September 17, 2008
There are the new pieces of pain on the planet today.
More death and injury in Iraq, violence in India, destruction and displacement in Texas, new dead in Yemen and there are the old stories of continuing sorrow as ethnic factions care not for the people, but power.
There are the hungry and starving in sub-Saharan Africa and dozens of other places, including the United States where 30 million people, including 12 million children go hungry every day.
But for every dark spot of pain on this earth, there are thousands upon thousands of places and people filled with light.
I am observing one as I write this post. A conference of participants in the children & nature network at the Arbor Day Farm in Nebraska. It is an organization started by Richard Louv, author of Last Child in the Woods. These are dedicated people who want nothing more than for a child to have an experience of the outdoors.
Every positive action like this, every act of kindness, courtesy, compassion, every place or thing of beauty, every smile brightens, lightens the density of dark places. The light of positive thought always dispels the negative dark. All we have to do is choose be it.
Tuesday, September 16, 2008
What with yesterday's debacle on Wall Street and the anniversary of the 1929 Stock Market crash coming up. I am reminded of how a bad time made one man famous.
He was Richard Whitney. A hero of that first day of the crash. Prices were plummeting. The ticker tape was hours behind. Whitney's intent was to restore calm. He began to buy and word spread that he represented New York's major banks.
The market rallied and the press hailed Whitney as a white knight. He was suited for the role. Richard Whitney was one of the most trusted men in America. He had a townhouse on the elegant east side. He raised thoroughbreds on his New Jersey farm. After saving the market, he left for a weekend fox hunt.
Even though the market fell again, people remembered Whitney's hour of glory. He became the youngest man ever to head the New York Stock Exchange.
When Congress investigated the crash, Whitney testified first. He was " Mr. Wall Street".
But he had a secret. The crash had wiped him out. He mortgaged his estate, borrowed from his rich friends, and when the money ran out he stole from everyone. The New York Yacht Club, Harvard, family trust funds, a widow's fund.
No one noticed until Whitney missed a routine meeting and a clerk blurted out the truth. Mr. Wall street went to Sing Sing.
Saturday, September 13, 2008
I just got back from a week’s trip to the Canadian wilderness. The place was way up in northern Ontario where fall has just arrived. The Moose are in rut, the Salmon are spawning, the Beaver are gathering twigs for the winter hibernation and the residents are stacking cord upon cord of hardwood to keep warm in the coming winter.
It’s always a surprise to leave what we think is summer in the South and travel several hundred miles North and suddenly, as if by acclimation, it’s fall. The early part of the day was in the low 30's. Mist from the warmer water hid the dawn's early light on the lake. Splashes of red permeate the Maples. The Birches are intermittent yellow and the Oaks seem to keep their green long past a deep frost and then they keep the lingering brown until a fierce wind forces the leaves to relinquish their hold.
I don’t know if you’ve ever heard the haunting sound of the Loon’s call. It is special and reminding to the mind that the spirit is in control and the body is just going along for the ride.
I was gliding in and out of coves and rocky cuts along the lake in my Kayak and came upon, not only the fishing Loons, but also a Beaver heading to his lodge. He tail slapped the water to warn his family and friends of an intruder.
In such times of intimate connections with nature the soul is energize to acknowledge something greater than itself. Perhaps it is itself and the recognition is both a knowing and a surprise for in our busy lives we forget the interconnection.
What I do know for certain is that silence is the pure conduit to Nature and it is renewing to both body and spirit.
Friday, September 5, 2008
Some thoughts on gifts and giving.
The phenomenal soul of the giver is omnipresent despite the predominance of stories about the sordid and banal characteristics of life. We see that soul every time there is clarion call for help and it echoes through the hearts of all Americans.
It doesn't matter what kind of tragedy inflicts our communities, by the thousands people come bearing, not only the gift of service and time, but also material gifts. With the tragedy of 9/11, with Katrina and New Orleans, with earthquakes and tornadoes, miles of material show up, piles of goods are delivered, and so too are smiles with every donation of money and time. This is the spirit of America in action manifesting into a harmony of help and confirming the axiom that I am my brother's keeper.
Individuals, corporations, unions and organizations, overwhelmingly unselfishly volunteer and respond to the collective ache of humankind whenever it's needed and validate that there is a friendship of strangers.
No one knows all the names of those in need in any situation. It doesn't matter, names are not important when you know someone is hurting. The human face is one in time of need. The community of America and often beyond looks upon that face and responds with abundance and compassion.
It was Thoreau who said, "What lies before us and what lies behind us are small matters compared to what lies within us. And when we bring what is within out into the world, miracles happen."
Thursday, September 4, 2008
The leaders of our two main political parties are now established. Now what do we do to vett our own choices?
From time to time we need to assess whether our leaders in politics and business and even the leader in ourselves, measure to the definition.
Leadership is the ability to enthuse, to inspire, to create, to accomplish goals for the greater good.
Some seek leadership, some are promoted to it, some are elected to it and some have it thrust upon them. There is gentle leadership, ego leadership, benevolent leadership, partisan leadership, inspiring leadership and even tyrannical leadership. Whichever style is chosen by any individual, given the opportunity to lead, is based on character and character is the outward quality of one's inner being.
Character is a visible piece of the heart that others see when action is required.
In these times of political rhetoric, of constant change, of interdependency and minute interconnections, where truly the out-breath of one is the in-breath of another, leaders, in all their forms, need to look for and then act for the greater good.
Anything less diminishes character and keeps leaders from their potential of greatness.
Wednesday, September 3, 2008
Like many of you, I visited Ground Zero a number of times over the years. I would pass the wall of shrines at Trinity Church where flowers, letters, and photos were set in sacred reverence on the wrought iron fence.
Each tribute a collective jolt and individual pain reminding us of what we lost.
In September of 2001, we prayed and tried to rescue those we thought might be alive and trapped beneath the tombs of debris. We cried as each body was recovered and still we hoped.
As the time passed our prayers of hope gave way to the horror of the numbers dead and the knowing that no one could survive. All we could do was salute and be silent as the flag draped bodies passed from the pit into the broken hearts of their families and we ached for those who would have no body to mourn and to bury.
Our leaders carried the war on terrorism to where it began as the civilized world said no to the inhumanity of terror and vowed to destroy the organizations that promote and encourage it as a means to a religious end.
The war is far from over, only another year is over. Like many of you I will visit Ground Zero again and again.
Tuesday, September 2, 2008
I will be traveling to a wonderful wilderness part of this sentient planet at the end of this week and thus I will not post for several days. America is coming up on a sad and tragic anniversary and the next few posts from me will be about that time of terror.
How do we begin to understand the deep desperation, the consuming hatred of the terrorists who viewed life with such little value and with so much darkness, they could not see a future beyond the deaths of thousands? What lesson did they hope to teach? It certainly is not one from the Koran. The true Islamic faith does not teach or preach terrorism or murder.
There are no clean or clear answers to this question. There is only speculation with charges and accusations that go back centuries. Discernment is always difficult when tragedy is the precursor to reason. We must not forget that judgments grow from many seeds and if we plant the wrong seed, vengeance usurps justice and drags us to the level of the terrorist.
Some find comfort in God. Some look elsewhere. Some need to forgive. Some need to blame and some need to hate. All need to heal and to rebuild the empty holes in our hearts and at Ground Zero. And we still ask why and expect no answer we can understand.