I was in Starbucks when I received a text from my husband to check the news.  Needless to say, seeing the headline, “2 Explosions at Boston Marathon Finish Line” (or something to that effect), was the end of my homework productivity.

There is a lot of speculation happening right now.  We want answers.  We want someone to blame.  We want a reason, a motivation, so that our minds can somehow make sense of it all.

The truth is, even if we knew who planted the bombs (IEDs, like our soldiers face in Iraq) and why, we still would not be able to make sense of it.

The easy answer is that whomever did this, planned this, implemented this – that that person or group is Evil.  I have a hard time with the concept of evil.  My belief structure and personal theology really don’t allow for the idea of evil.  My belief structure allows for the concept of unwise or unskillful action.  Each time we do something negative, it is easier to do it the next time.  Thus we form neural pathways that reinforce that behavior, which make it easier and easier to do negative things, and the negative things can become more negative as we go.  Someone that others would view as Evil, I would say has probably been damaged in some way (haven’t we all?) and has formed the neural pathways of negative behavior, anti-social or violent behavior.  For some reason, unknown to me, that behavior has been reinforced in that person.  [The one amendment I’ll make to this is that I do think it’s possible for a rare someone to be born socio-pathic.  I don’t know how that fits in to my belief structure, but I think it’s possible.]

So, without the concept of Evil – with the belief that every person is a beloved child of the Divine who is loved and beautiful and Good, though they might have forgotten it – how can we (I) make sense of this?

Talking about “learning lessons” is always sticky.  Let me use myself as an example:  I have learned and grown a huge amount because of having CF, being as sick as I was, and getting my double-lung transplant.  I have learned on an intellectual level (I could probably pass a basic nursing test); I have learned on an emotional and spiritual level.   I think there are many many lessons that people can learn by being physically ill, especially through chronic illness.  That said, that does not mean that I would EVER wish physical illness on anyone.

My belief is that our souls (yes, I’m a Buddhist who believes in the soul, ever-changing as it might be – go figure) are here to learn.  My belief is that the crap that happens in our lives is designed specifically and intentionally to help us learn.  With every experience – good or bad – our souls are learning.  If we don’t “get the answer” the first time the lesson comes along, the same lesson will come back another time and another time, in different forms, until we do “get it.”   [I’ve heard this is a Hindu concept, but it’s one that I’ve held since long before I knew anything about Hinduism.]  I have no idea what lessons can be learned from the horrible tragedy of the explosions at the Finish Line.   I am sure, however, that there are many lessons – on the personal level, and on the societal level.

We, as a society, are learning how to respond to mass violence – terrorism – in our city.   We, personally, are learning how our emotions react.  Do we immediately jump to conclusions?  Do we hug our families a little longer?  Do we judge more harshly those that look different from us?   Do we smile more freely or open our homes to strangers?   For those that were present, that perhaps are still in the hospital – or those that lost loved ones completely yesterday – do you live in fear?  Do you stop running or stop supporting your family members who run?  Of course you must grieve, but over the long term (lessons sometimes take a long time) do you learn to live with one leg – or no legs?  Do you make an effort to open yourself to joy, even while holding the pain?

The sun is shining.  Spring is coming.  We can hold the violence from yesterday without  becoming violent in our hearts, words or actions.

So let it be.



Last Sunday, Feb 10, 2013, I lead my first worship service as an almost-ordained interfaith minister.  It was (not-surprisingly?) a very different experience than leading a worship service as a lay leader in my UU church.    I would like to share with you here a taste of the service.  (Other than the final song, I have left out the music and meditations.)

With love…   (more…)

Reading the latest news about the Sikh temple shooting in Wisconsin (NY Times article here) pushes the boundary for me of remembering the inherent worth and dignity of all people.  For that matter, so do some of the political ads that have been blasting from the tv (until I mute the volume) at every commercial break of the Olympics.  (But haven’t some of the other ads during the Olympics been great?!)  When we disagree with someone so strongly, how do we recognize their worth? (more…)


Why does my heart ache when we connect?  The joy of the contact is sullied by the knowledge it can’t stay this way, we must depart again.

But why?  You are in my heart and mind — you ARE my heart and mind.  You are in my soul and with me always.

So why is goodbye-for-now so difficult?

I want to block out the world

Be in a place of retreat from everything save you.

Paradise – wherever we might be.

No rules, restrictions, duties, time schedules.

Just perpetual heaven

in your arms

in your presence…




 I watch for you

I yearn for you

Even as I feel you in my heart

Even as I know our time together will be so brief

I ache for you

My hunger is never sated

My thirst is never quenched



Will You?

Will you hold me in my sadness

in my stillness

cold as ice

Will you comfort me when times get hard

through toil and sacrifice

Will you carry me through choppy waters

deeper than I can stand

If I come to you

Will you hold my hand?


If I surrender to you

Can I trust that you will be there

Strong and true

Every breath my heart is sated

If I need you

Will you need me too


My heart is yours

You have the key

I embody you

You embody me

Sitting in this crowded room

Couples chatting,

people waiting impatiently,

others working,

some reading

You are here

but how many can feel you?

You’re in the sun streaming through the windows –

how many are noticing you?

You’re in the smile of the man telling a story –

how many recognize you?

You are my secret

I want to tell everyone

But they couldn’t comprehend

And so I watch

and smile.


Do you know how it feels to have the sun kiss your skin on a winter’s day?

Have you danced and laughed in the misty rain?

Have you relished the laugh of a small child, pure and true?

Have you held the hand of a friend as they grieved?

Have you been moved to tears by a beautiful




by music




Have you been alive and seen the world?

Then you have known God.



I feel you radiate from my smile

I imagine anyone who looks at me can see your glow

Is this the same glow that comes with pregnancy –

you, showing your miracle within a woman’s body?

My vision is clear

My mood is uplifted

I naturally send love to all I see

Thank you for filling me

Thank you for lighting my soul

Thank you for gifting me with your presence

Thank you for allowing me to share you with the world

even if they don’t know from whence the joy comes

I’ve only touched briefly here on what you all know happened – my transplant and recovery, my wonderful new life.  My spirituality has really grown through the whole transplant process and through the work I’m doing in seminary, and it’s showing in my poetry and lyrics.  I’ve been getting encouragement of various sorts to share my writing with people, so I’m slowly doing that.  A lot of the lyrics I want to ‘work up’ into songs properly, and that takes more talent than I can easily come by.  (The melody line comes easily to me, but I struggle to transform that into sheet music and chords, not to mention any instrumental parts.)  I have some friends that can help with that, but that’s not the most satisfying solution, either.

But while I’m processing how to get lyrics into “listenable” format, here are a few that I haven’t shared before, just so I get in the practice of sharing.   I apologize for the formatting; I might have to switch to a different blog theme so the poems work better.

My Heart Breaks Open

My heart breaks open

At the sound of a baby cyring

A homeless man

begging for spare change

My heart breaks open

When a friend’s in trouble

A great-aunt

whose gone to her last sleep

My heart breaks open

When I hear of an accident

on the 6-o’clock news

My heart breaks open

When I hear of abuse

and there’s nothing I can do

That’s when I pray

May all God’s beings

be safe and warm tonight

May everybody

get the care they need to feel alright

May sadness and depression

leave and never return

May all beings

be peaceful once more

If we believe

The stories of the Garden

All beings living

in perfect harmony

If we believe

Religions teach us

It’s better to give

than to receive

If we believe

The world can be a better place

It is still possible

if we all pray

May all God’s beings

be safe and warm tonight

May everybody

get the care they need to feel alright

May sadness and depression

leave and never return

May all beings

be peaceful once more

My heart breaks open

May peace be with us



It’s my heart breaking a thousand times

The feel of His presence holding mine

Thinking it can’t get any worse

But smiling, still, when I see the nurse

It’s holding on holding on when the pain’s so intense

Knowing somehow this all will make sense

No control no control only Let Go

And float and be and live and breathe

Knowing in your darkest depths, you’re not alone

When the pain’s getting worse, He’s steady as stone

My heart keeps beating; I am still here

No matter what happened, He’s in me, I feel

That stir,

that knowledge, so deeply engraved

Carved on my heart from my very first day

Everything taken away from me now

All of my roles, my meaning, my sound

The core of me lays here, still glistening bright

Just waiting to get up and turn on the light

The light from within makes me move when I can’t

It guides me along, it steadies my hand

It comforts or chides me; it knows me best

It’s kept me alive when my body would rest

I tend to the flame now, harder to see

So many good things surrounding me

But I know it is present, I just call out the name

And I feel the warmth from the Eternal Flame


I wrote this in ‘response’ to the homework question, “Reflect on the notion of being able to stay illuminated solely from within in the midst of pain.”   Those who know me know that my notion of God isn’t as clear-cut as the Abrahamic version of the old man in the sky.  But in this case, the male pronoun is what came to me and what worked in the poem – which is how I write.    Those who know me will also know that this brought me right back to that time – 11 months today  – when my body was done, given another chance by medical science and miracle science, and my soul held on and shined and shined and shines. 🙂  I am eternally grateful.

Next Page »