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Birthday Letter to my Deceased Father

Today is my father’s birthday. He was my teacher when he was alive and continues to be my teacher after his death. On September 22, I posted a blog, Letters to Lillianne, about my practice of writing letters to my grand daughter to remind her of her Spiritual heritage and introduce her to her ancestral lineage. Another letter writing practice I look forward to is writing my father a letter on his birthday and Father’s Day to honor how he has informed me. And, today is his birthday. While my father walked this planet he taught me: To show up when I make a commitment, To decide I am personally responsible for the well-being of myself and my community, To teach through being and doing, To realize I wear my character on my sleeve and I can’t help but show it to others, To be willing to do what is mine to do whether it’s comfortable or not, To stand up for humanity when they can’t; then to teach...

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Remembering: Ghost Bikes

    This weekend I drove from Phoenix, Arizona to Las Vegas, NV to return my daughter and grand daughter to their home.  Always the consummate curiosity seeker, I see out of the corner of my eye a bicycle by the side of the road. “Oh my God, did you see that?  Someone left their bike by the side of the road and it is all white!” I said to my daughter. We did a U-turn and a slow drive by.  It appeared to be a “ghost bike.” A ghost bike, is a memorial for individuals who where hit by cars; reminding cars to be awake to all road activity.  For me, it was a reminder of how quickly and suddenly we can leave this earth.  One moment I could be rocking my grand child, hiking in the mountains, sleeping in bed, or riding a bike; the next moment my physical life is complete. With no cars in sight, I pull to the side of the road to get...

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Good-bye Whitney

    As my years on the planet increase and my spiritual practice deepens, I become more and more aware of the gift celebrities play for us in our lives.  These are my insights: 1.  They have the courage to be seen. As a magnet for our sight, we give them permission to set our fashion trends.  How often have you seen a scarf or blouse on a celebrity and said to yourself “I want one like that?”  Or, have gone to a hairdresser to say “I’d like a Dorothy Hamil, Farrah Fawcett or Jennifer Aniston cut?  The light side of the celebrity’s willingness to be seen is the bringing forth of beauty into our lives.  The darker side is when we are hesitant to look within our own selves, we will likely hoist our opinion and judgement externally toward another.  Celebrities are great lightening rods, just mention the name “Sarah Palin” and you will get a strong reaction of support or disgust. 2.  They are willing to be...

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What to Do when Someone You Know Loses a Loved One

My friend’s mother died when we were in junior high school.  Unexpectedly, she had a brain aneurism at work. I attended the memorial service, so very uncomfortable with the idea of death and unschooled in what to do, I turned into an entertainer.  At the reception I told jokes and stories, trying to keep it light for me.  Viscerally I was so uncomfortable, my nerves had gotten me.  I didn’t once say a word about her mother. Fast forward decades and I’ve lived a bit longer and stumbled my way through awkward situations, including the death of my own loved ones.  This is what I’ve learned.  When we discover someone we love has died or experienced death within their family, immediately send something.  Send a phone call, a card, a FB post, a gift, flowers, home cooked meals, something.  Let them know they are loved.  My favorite?  Cards and gifts, something personal.  A massage, a mani-pedi, a book on grief, something.  Grief is filled with so many paradoxical emotions,...

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Celebrating Life as a Response to Death

Today am I keenly aware of death. Rev. Jackie Allen, my former practitioner teacher made her transition this week.  Three years ago today, my father passed away.  Last month I attended an out of state memorial service for my high school friend’s husband. Yesterday I dropped a sympathy card in the mail for a friend whose father passed. As a minister, I have conducted many memorial services and a few funerals.  It is one of the reasons I became a minister. There are moments in our lives when people gather together out of love and cheer each other on.  Births, birthdays, weddings, graduations, new homes, and deaths. Death is different than other celebrations as often grief companions us through the process.  Our hearts are broken.  We are at choice to allow our heart to break open, or to close it and try to protect ourselves from any future pain.  The courageous route is to be broken open and to allow vulnerability to rise within us.  The death of a...

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