It Is What It Is. Until It Isn’t (An SWB post)

Outside my window this morning

Beau: Excuse me Louise. That is not a picture of me and as this is my blog, who said you could put a photo of a deer on it?

Me: I did.

Beau: And who gave you that permission?

Me: I did.

Beau: And what about me?

Me: Well Beau, you gotta admit, he’s rather cute.

Beau: What difference does that make? He’s not me and this is my blog. I decide who gets to appear on it.

Beau hopes you come join him on his blog Sundays with Beaumont to read the rest.

Gabriola Morning

From where I sit drinking my morning coffee
Morning slips softly
out of night’s embrace
rising with light 
pouring out of a mist-laden
horizon.

Gently, morning breaks
me open
pulling apart the blinds
that held my heart
trapped
in believing 
amidst the destruction
of man’s fury
morning
would not rise again.

Breathing,
my heart
melts
into morning’s soft light.

Breathing in and out

Leaving the mainland

The float plane is full but I’m the first passenger to check in and score the co-pilot seat.

The rain does not diminish my enthusiasm.

On the short 20 minute flight I spy a pod of dolphins. Entranced I forget all about taking a photo and smile. Ahhhh. The joy of being in the moment.

Silva Bay Harbour

It is my first time on Gabriola Island since the fall of 2019. Or, as it’s so often referred to these days, “Since before Covid”.

It is two years since I’ve seen my middle sister. The last time was when we were all together for our mother’s memorial service, the week before two years of on again- off again lockdowns began.

I feel the stress and worry of worldly woes ease. I am here until Sunday when I will take the ferry back to Vancouver to spend two weeks with my daughter and her family.

Gratitude washes over me like the waves rushing over the black granite of this Gulf island, smoothing, smoothing, smoothing rough edges, rocky crags, crenelated surfaces worn smooth by time’s passing.

A quick check of my news feed confirms the war in Ukraine and other troubled places on this planet still wage.

But for now, I shall breathe into the salt infused air, savour the green laden forests and the waves crashing against the rocks.

I shall savour it all as my breath slows and my senses become soothed by the rugged beauty of this island where rain falls and my worldly woes are washed away.

I am filled with gratitude. Replete with the grace-infused air I breathe. I cannot change the wars that rage. The hunger that looms. The pain and suffering of our humanity without first centring myself in the calmness of being at one with all of nature connecting me to all the world around me.

Namaste 🙏

Where are the women at the table?

I sit in a wine bar. A solitary 60 something woman alone. The girl friend I was to have met had an emergency. I didn’t get her message until after I sat down and ordered a glass of Pinot Noir.

It’s from Bulgaria. The mention of its country of origin in Eastern Europe immediately takes me to ‘the war’. Ukraine under fire.

But then everything seems to take me to ‘the war’.

I notice the single quotation marks I use to encircle ‘the war’ and wonder why I cannot reference the two three letter words without them. As if they somehow separate the reality of what is happening from my life.

Six letters in total and I cannot come to grasp with the totality of what they represent. Death. Destruction. Despair.

Loss of life. The tearing apart of our humanity. The constant fear of wondering, “How much worse can it get?”

Much worse, if I am to believe the newsfeeds I scroll in an endless search for ‘the end’ as if I am expecting to suddenly awaken to a miracle. It was all a bad dream.

But that wish in and of itself minimizes the pain and suffering of those living the horrendous reality of this war.

Negotiated settlement talks resume and I wonder where are the women at the table? The mothers whose sons are sent to war to die at the firing of a stranger’s gun, a distant unseen missile, a lumbering tank.

Where are the women?

Those who carry life and bring it into this world only to witness its demise at the front of a war they did not ask for, did not want, do not condone.

Where are the women?

Those who teach their sons and daughters the sanctity of all life. The beauty of all souls.

Where are the women?

According to the Council on Foreign Relations

Women’s participation in conflict prevention and resolution can improve outcomes before, during, and after conflict. But women are often excluded from formal peace processes.

Between 1992 and 2019, women constituted, on average, 13 percent of negotiators, 6 percent of mediators, and 6 percent of signatories in major peace processes around the world.

While there has been some progress in women’s participation, about seven out of every ten peace processes still did not include women mediators or women signatories—the latter indicating that few women participated in leadership roles as negotiators, guarantors, or witnesses.

Source

Where are the women?

I finish my glass of wine, pay my bill, walk to my car. I do not fear this walk could end my life.

My privilege does not escape me.

I am not evading missiles screeching through the air. I am not passing bombed out homes and firey buildings and burned out tanks along my route.

I am safe to travel the few kilometers home without passing through a checkpoint. Without fearing I will be fired upon as I drive away.

As I drive my daughter calls. My granddaughter wants to FaceTime. Not yet, I say. Let me get home.

I am a woman alone. Unlike my sisters in war-torn lands, I am safe.

And when I arrive home, I call my granddaughter and sing her a lullabye as women around the world do so that when she sleeps her dreams are filled with peace.

I know where the women are. They are sheltering their children, trying to protect them from war.

Let Us Not Forget The Mothers

On this International Women’s Day let us not forget the mothers. The ones who are fleeing war-torn lands, their children’s hands gripped firmly in theirs as they navigate the uncertain terrains they must cross to reach safety.

These women are not feeling the war. They are building the future for all humankind by taking the children out of the line of fire.

They are future-makers, memory-keepers and peace-makers.

They carry with them the memories that make lives rich. Traditions handed down through generations. Recipes passed from one mother to the next. They carry the scars on their bodies of childbirth, of watching their sons go off to war, of burying their children before their time, of moving through exhaustion and fear to care for those who cannot care for themselves. And always, despite the hardships they’ve endured, the losses they’ve experienced, the fear their children would not make it to safety, they carry with them, Love.

It is the courage of these women to love in times of war and unspeakable losses and fear and turmoil as they struggle to get their children to safety that will carry us beyond the tragedy of these days so that one day we can all stand united in peace, together in Love.

I do not want to write of war

I do not want to write of war, of bombs falling and bodies lying in the rubble.

I do not want to read of missiles falling from the sky and shattered glass flying.

I do not want to know of death counts and how many wounded lie untended amidst the shelling that reigns over the land.

I do not want any of this in this world, but it is here, has been here for a very long time, a symbol of our inability to make peace without first killing off those whose peace we do not agree with.

I do not want any of this, just as I do not want to write about how I cannot stop reading of what is happening in Ukraine. Or how I cannot stop the tears that flow as I say a prayer for those sheltering underground desperately trying to protect the ones they love from the destruction happening above them. Or those walking the long road away from war into an uncertain future.

I do not want any of this.

Just as I do not want to hear of how a man who owns a Russian grocery store in our city has been threatened by his neighbours. How he now fears for his safety and the safety of his family.

He came to this country for freedom. Not to be persecuted for the wrong-doings of the leaders he ran away from in search of a place to call home.

My heart feels so heavy. My mind restless. My body weary.

I breathe deep into my body, deep into my belly. I breathe deeply in the hopes that each breath will bring me calm.

Tears flow.

Let them flow, my wise inner guide whispers. In flowing, they create space for calm to prevail.

I do not want to read the news. I do not want to witness the destruction.

But this is happening to my fellow human beings on this planet. Just as it was happening to innocents in Syria and Rwanda and Iraq and so many other places and times throughout our human journey on this planet.

And if I have learned anything through our tragic history of war, it is that turning a blind eye to what is happening does nothing but make me blind to the suffering of others.

Pretending it isn’t happening keeps me stuck in believing there’s nothing I can do.

I am not that powerless.

I have agency. I have a voice. Fingers. Resources. And, while I cannot stop the guns blazing, I can stop staying silent, trapped in my fears and trepidations.

I can stand up and add my voice, donate resources to help those who are fleeing or hiding from war, know, they are not alone.

Grief Is Messy

Grief is Messy…

Grief Is Messy
 by Louise Gallagher
  
 Grief is messy.
 It follows no well-known path
 travelling to the beat
 of its own drum
 pushing through boundaries
 you frantically put in place
 to keep its presence at bay.
  
 Grief is stealthy
 It dresses up in familiar clothing
 masquerading as your best friend
 while it steals your identity
 encroaching on the spaces
 of your heart
 you desperately want to avoid
 visiting.
  
 There is no taming grief.
 There is only its heavy cloak
 of companionship
 wearing you down
 until one day
 you find yourself arriving at that place
 where moments spent wrapped
 in grief’s company
 die away
 as softly as the sweet melody
 of the voice
 of the one who is gone
 fading into memory. 

I re-post this today in honour of my mother who took her last breath on this day, two years ago.

Flashback Fridays: 1

At the beginning of 2012, I started a new journey — I thought it would lead me away from working in the homeless-serving sector where I’d spent the previous six years… life is always full of surprises, but that’s another story.

In the post below, which I shared on Friday, April 13th, 2012, I was immersed in an online retreat, Soul of a Pilgrim, and doing consulting work for a not-for-profit, not in the homeless-serving sector.

In the course, Christine Valters Paintner, our guide, extolled the virtues of ‘beginning again. No matter what happened or how long we strayed from the coursework — because we all would, it is human, she said — we must always do as St. Benedict suggested centuries ago, Begin Again. Or, as it says in the Hindu text, Bhagavad Gita, “Curving back within myself I create again and again.”.

I first posted the poem below on my original blog site, “Recover Your Joy” on Friday, April 13, 2012.

Always Begin Again

PS. I’m thinking of making Flashback Fridays a regular feature here. We’ll see. If I change my mind, I can always begin again.

Hope Called. Change Came.

Hope Called
by Louise Gallagher

Hope called,
hold on, she said.
Don’t let go.
Change, she is a’comin’!

I let go
not wanting hope
or change to come
and turn me around
into their reflections
of a song 
not of my own composing.

Hold on, she said
and I let go
and fell
off the bandwagon
where I found my song
playing between the notes
of a forgotten story
I’d whispered 
to the winds of change
long ago
about being
on the road less travelled
by hope and change
and their compatriots
who would have me
hold on to their coattails
for fear I’d lose my way
on my own.

I let go
and hope rose
and change happened
just the way I wrote it
in my story long ago.

Change is funny.

Take now. The entire world hopes that change will happen fast. For this virus to go away so life can return to normal. As if all the changes we’ve experienced during these past two years of lockdowns and openings and lockdowns again, and learning to wear a mask to forgetting we’re even wearing it. To distances we dare not cross being crossed because a vaccine makes us feel safer to distancing again because the virus has learned to change enough to cross the distance.

When I was a child, I wanted desperately for the growing up and being older part of life to happen faster. Now, I want desperately for the oldening part to slow down, even just a little bit, so I can savour each moment now without wondering what change will happen next.

And life keeps changing and I do too, in spite of all my wishing and hoping change would just slow down.

Except those changes I want to see happen fast. Like the virus dying. And climate change stopping. And the ongoing fight against racism and inequity, poverty and homelessness, war and senseless deaths by bullets flying from guns held in children’s hands and the hands of their fathers and mothers pointing at those they hate, and crimes against humanity, drug wars and overdoses, the destruction of rainforests, and so many other senseless things we humans do to destroy our planet and harm one another and all creatures big and small. Those changes I want to see happen faster. Faster. Faster.

And then hope calls and says, “Hold on” and I let go of holding on to my belief just thinking about the changes I want to see happen is enough.

It ain’t.

For change to happen, I gotta be its agent of possibility. I gotta let go of hope and change my ways to make way for all the change that’s gotta come.

So yeah. Once upon a time, I wished upon a star and hoped change would happen faster so that I could grow up and change the world.

Funny thing, it was never the world that needed to change, it was, and still is, always me.