Keep Me in Your Heart

With thanks to my friend Mark.


Friend Speaks My Mind

I may be a Unitarian Universalist Buddhist mystic whose current spiritual home is a Lutheran church, but this Friend definitely speaks my mind. So much fun!

Thank you, Aimée, for sharing this with me.

Mazal Tov!

In all the darkness of our lives, a light: New nephew Michael born to my brother and sister-in-law, much wanted and loved. Welcome, beautiful boy! Photos to come, I’m sure!

Goodbye, Uncle Ted

Update: My dear, beloved Uncle Ted Larson died suddenly in February, a few weeks after the entry below was written. I haven’t had the heart to update this post about his loss because, although we weren’t close, I miss him. He was a good guy in my life, and you don’t get too many of those, really. His memorial service was beautiful, attended by many friends and family who remembered him well, including his impish sense of humor and stubborn personality. He is dearly missed.

1/18.09: While you’re sending loving thoughts to my sister, would you please add my Uncle Ted? He fell badly a while back, which made him require multiple surgeries on several vertebrae.

Ted landed back in ICU yesterday with a collapsed lung. DNR papers were signed. But you never know with my amazing Uncle – he is a fighter.

If you have a moment, please add Ted to your prayer chains and lists and thoughts. And the rest of his family as well, who have been caring for and loving him up during this challenging time.

Love is a verb, an action. Here’s yet another chance to put your ability to Love into practice.

Thank you so very much.

— Serena

Love Request

One of my sisters, the one who lives close and has been helping me physically and emotionally through a rough time, got awful news this morning.

One of her dearest friends lost a daughter and grandson in a terrible car crash last night.

If you read this, would you please take a moment from your busy day to hold everyone grieving this loss in love and light?

Such a small thing can make an enormous difference. Thank you.


Imaginal Goo

Once again, I’ve taken a long break from blogging. In the past, that’s usually meant I’ve been stomped flat by an increase in pain and misery from this mysterious illnesses. And while I have continued that dance, mostly I’ve been on a body/mind/spirit sabbatical. Literally.

I feel like I’m in a cocoon, where I’ve recently learned that the baby butterfly (larvae) literally disintegrates itself into goo before it reconstitutes into the fabulous flying creature it is meant to become. Some texts call the cocoon a “resting” stage.

That’s one way to look at it.

What’s really going on is that miraculous transformation where “imaginal disk” cells, now goo, somehow know how to metamorphasize into legs, wings, antennae, etc. in a process that is truly the stuff of dreams and mystical stories. Eventually what will chew it’s it’s way out of that “resting” cocoon is a transformed being, with colorful wings that will soar free into the sky, pollinating and laying eggs, creating more life and beauty.

I am really, really looking forward to flying. But right now, I’m goo.

It all started in February when I decided I needed to get away. By myself. After considering lots of options, including Las Vegas (the very nice woman from the travel agency’s best deal was at a Hooters Hotel… “It isn’t that bad,” she insisted. “Just last month I sent a bunch of little old ladies there and they had a blast.”), I wisely decided on a hermitage in Wisconsin, The Christine Center. I tried to get into my favorite hermitage in Minnesota, The Dwelling In The Woods, but they didn’t have a two-week opening until July.

At The Christine Center, I made that subtle shift from being in an illness process to being in a healing process. This has been a long time coming.

When I first got sick, I fought it tooth and nail. And then, I suppose you could say I went through every stage of the grieving process until I got to an unsettled kind of acceptance.

During the past five (or whatever) years, I’ve danced that fine line between making the illness my identity, and simply accepting that this is what’s happening to me in the moment. Eckhart Tolle’s book, The Power of Now, saved me from the deepest, darkest dungeons of despair too many times to count.

During this time, I’ve made it my job to explore what it means to be this sick. And to be sick with a mostly invisible illness. Unless I’m in my wheelchair, I usually look pretty good. Only Jay, my spouse, has been witness to the hours, days, sometimes weeks of agony that sometimes lands me in bed moaning and crying with pain that my “pain management methods” can’t control. 

Back to February. At The Christine Center, I worked with a healer who uses Myofascial massage. She is also an amazingly happy and successful practitioner of the law of attraction, intentionality, and manifestation. She spent part of our first healing session coaching me in the language I used when I discussed the experience of this illness.

Of course, I instantly knew what she was talking about. I have been a student – and occasional teacher – of manifestation, beliefs, affirmations, and healing. I am a Reiki Master. I’ve been trained in at least a dozen methodologies of pretty far out energy healing modalities by some wonderful teachers over the past thirty years, starting from when I was 13 years old.

But I put all of that on hold when I got sick. For two reasons: 

  1. I felt a strong inner guidance that I was supposed to fully experience this particular illness and disability for some reason that would become clear in the future. I felt practically “told” to take a break from healing, myself or others until further notice.
  2. I felt worried that I’d done something wrong in my healing practice that caused me to get sick, and that I had better investigate this possibility before I continued.

I instantly started changing the way I spoke about this illness, and I created three simple affirmations that I could sort of believe.

  • “I feel good.”
  • “I am well.”
  • “I have amazing strength and energy”

Almost immediately, I started to get an inner message that it’s time to start fully experiencing the process of healing, as opposed to the process of illness. And I started to feel better.

Since then, dozens of synchronisticly mystical things have happened, including running into some of the best teachers on the planet, sometimes by book, sometimes in person (Martha Beck, Joe Vitale, James Ray, Esther Hicks, to name a few).

I saw Martha Beck in person at a bookstore reading. Went to an amazing two-day seminar co-sponsored by Joe Vitale and Mark Ryan that featured six more incredible presenters. Watched DVDs and read books that are all teach the fine art of transformation.

I’m slowly, but surely, studying all these materials. They are helping me remember that I need to remember what I’m here for. Or at least to find my “North Star” as Martha Beck puts it. 

So, if you haven’t heard from me, or I don’t return calls or emails as quickly as I should, please keep in mind that I’m in a gooish healing and learning (re-learning) process that is taking nearly all my energy. 

Please keep in touch anyway. Thank you for your patience. And I’ll try to keep you posted more regularly. 

Exciting times. Exciting times. 

Seven Years

I have too little and too much to say on this anniversary of my Mother’s passing. I’ve been thinking more lately about the chaos of when she was diagnosed with stage-four lung cancer, nine days before my wedding, four short months before she died.

But to commemorate this anniversary, I will reprint a vignette I wrote last year. I hope to work into a full memoir someday — right now it is just a short scene that happened a few days before she died. It captures, I think, the sweetness of how she lived and how she died.

Four Days Left

Mom cooperates sweetly during her bedtime ritual, even trying to pee when she is uncomfortable and doesn’t really have to go. After she is clean and tucked-in, we gather around the hospital bed Dad set up in the guest bedroom. Mom’s been unable to leave this room for the past week, since a stroke made it hard for her to move on her own. She can no longer speak in whole sentences, sometimes not finding a single word she needs. Even so, she says goodnight as best she can to each of us standing around her bed. We kiss her one by one, turn out the light, then adjourn to the kitchen, exhausted, for tea and quiet conversation about the day, her meds, what she managed to eat.

Mom calls to us a few minutes later. Margaret and Sarah go in to see what she wants. Dad and I enter the room a minute later, and see Mom desperately trying to communicate something to Margaret and Sarah. Mom looks relieved to see me, since I often can guess what she wants to say. I walk around the bed to her right side, her good side, take hold of her right hand in both of mine, and look into her eyes.

“What do you need, Mom?”

“All together.” She says slowly, emphatically, trying to lift her head as if to prove her point. “Here. All together.”

She’s been wanting to pray more lately, especially since the visiting minister from Central Lutheran Church brought her communion last week. I think she was surprised at how healing it was to make peace with a church that had disappointed her so much over the years. And I suspect she found more comfort than she anticipated in her old rituals.

I ask, “Do you want us all to say a prayer with you, Mom?”

“Yes!” She leans back into the pillows, closes her eyes, and breathes a heavy sigh of relief.

“Do you want me to sing?” She doesn’t answer, just smiles with her eyes still closed, exhausted.

I’ve been singing to her a lot lately, especially a version of the 23rd Psalm written by Bobbi McFerrin for his mother. I think Mom likes it because he uses the feminine pronoun to refer to God. I also think she likes the fact that I once recorded it on CD when I sang with a women’s a cappella ensemble years ago – she was so proud. It’s designed to be sung in seven-part harmony. I have simplified it to a single line of melody.

We form a circle holding hands, shoulders, arms, whatever we can reach over the hospital bed, some sitting, some standing. I begin.

The Lord is my shepherd, I have all I need.
She makes me lie down in green meadows,
Beside the still water, She will lead.

Mom nods her head, smiling, between each line, saying, “Yes! Yes! That’s true!”

She sets a table before me in the presence of my foes.
She anoints my head with oil and my cup overflows.

“So true!”

She restores my soul, she writes my wrongs.
She leads me on a path of good things
And fills my heart with song.
Even though I walk through a dark and stormy night.
There is nothing that can shake me
She has said she will not forsake me I’m in her hands.

“Yes. Yes.”

Surely, surely goodness and kindness will follow me
All the days of my life.
And I will dwell in her house forever, forever and ever.
Glory be to the Mother, and Daughter, and to the Holy of Holies.
As it was in the beginning is now and ever shall be
World without end. Amen.

I am in terrible voice, but it doesn’t matter. Mom is beaming.

We kiss her good night once again. Dad, as always, gets the last lingering moment with her, nose to nose, whispering that their love is a star in heaven that will last forever. Satisfied, Mom sighs deeply and turns over on her side. Dad turns out the light.

We all sit quietly in the living room, slightly stunned. Mom’s childlike voice travels down the hall.

“Goodbye,” she says sweetly to the dark. “Goodbye.”

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