Telling the Truth

connecting the dots of my life

Near the end it gets easier

–this letting go of goods
No longer useful
Or likely to help anyone

Signs of plans and promises
To oneself and others
Do I really need these things?

Is it possible to start over?
A thousand questions linger
And if only I had known

What I now know seems
A thimble full of hot air
Not nearly enough to last

When will we get there?
I thought this would be easier
My dear I really don’t know

Saying goodbye to a few things
Each day helps ease the load
Of dying now and then

Momentary heart pain of
The good kind mingles with
Whatever was I thinking of?

Life on the fast track
Moves slowly toward the end
Rushing to greet me with open arms

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 11 Dec 2019
Artwork found at fabianperez.blog.cz

This house of cards

Nothing
Keeps me awake
Nothing

Every cell in my body
Wants to shut down
Pull up the covers
Abdicate responsibility
For this day

Gray clouds and
Lazy drizzle
Mask consequences
Long repressed
Between layers
Of paper-thin sheets
Crammed into closets
Rotting into
Nothingness
Moldy leftovers
Of a thousand
Ill-conceived plans
Now haunting
This house
Of cards

We live in a nation besotted with lethargy. Except, perhaps, when we’re enraged or enthralled. Or speaking with people with whom we already agree. Everything else is too difficult. Too complex.

Complexity is not one of our favorite things. Becoming fully informed seems a dying art. Withholding quick agreement is cause for suspicion. We like to be liked. Now. And we love to be catered to in word, if not in deed.

When did code words or hearsay repeated over and over become tests of truth? Or shows of outrage? Or the level of venom and loathing on Twitter?

Then again, what about lethargic retreats into silence because somewhere along the way, someone convinced me that Silence is the Best (Safest) Policy? How willing am I to let go of my desire for security and survival? It seems the longer I wait, the higher the stakes become.

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 10 December 2019
Photo found at medium.com

Mesmerized

Living within my means
Stretches my patience
To the breaking point
I want to fly high
Visit exotic places
And creatures beneath
Blue-green waters teeming
With bits of plankton
And luxurious seaweed
floating upward on
Wings like doves
Reaching for stars
In that great canopy
Above and beyond
Our understanding
Mesmerized

These days living within my means isn’t chiefly about income. It’s about physical reserves. The kind that run out a bit each day, sometimes scarcely noticeable.

And then there are other days, of which this is one. A day when my spirit goes soaring off to parts unknown. Leaving me virtually breathless in mind and body. Caught up in other times and places.

Hoping your Monday is mesmerizing!
Elouise

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 9 December 2019
Photo of New Zealand Seaweed Garden and Plankton found at dissolve.com

Our current discontent

This morning I woke up wondering how we’ll survive as a nation, no matter who wins the next presidential election. It’s Advent. However, my mind went back to Lent, and a March 2017 post about what I was giving up for Lent.

As I see it, our nation is being tested yet again. We’ve been tested many times. It seems that whatever happened or didn’t happen back then, despite our best intentions, contributes now to our growing state of dis-union.

So how will we survive not just the next election, but the year leading up to it? Political strategies and post-election plans are important. Still, they aren’t magic wands that can solve our national problems.

The most important things are what we carry in our hearts, and what we have chosen to give up.

So I’m drawn back to what I gave up for Lent. The challenge isn’t any easier now than it was then. I’m to give up desires that have haunted me all my life. Not because this will solve personal or national problems, but because this frees me to behave differently this time around. Even though I’m terrified about the consequences.

So here they are, in the form of a prayer litany. Still staring me in the face daily. How willing am I to bring these strange gifts and lay them down before a newborn baby? Not just once, but as many times as necessary.

I let go my desire for security and survival.
I let go my desire for esteem and affection.
I let go my desire for power and control.
I let go my desire to change the situation.

Quoted by Cynthia Bourgeault in Centering Prayer and Inner Awakening, p. 147 (Cowley Publications 2004)

Do I like doing this? No. It does, however, make space for me to take risks. The kind that make my heart pound because I’m not in control of what happens next.

With hope, and thanks for listening,
Elouise

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 7 December 2019
Sunrise at Acadia National Park, Maine, USA; found at pinterest.com

Three-ring circus

The three-ring circus
Drones on without apology
Mesmerizing the faithful
And the not-so-faithful
With thrilling chilling
Unheard-of stunts
And dare-devil moves
Designed to grab attention
And votes of confidence

The world beyond
The Great White Tent
Descends into despair
Tripping over truth
And inconvenient facts
Of now and then
Looking the other way
Refusing to breathe deeply
Hoping for something better
Though it hasn’t been
In style for ages

Meanwhile
The Hope of All the Earth
Looks on wondering
For this I came, lived
And died?

We live in an age that loves to watch deceit and cunning. Not just in The Great White Tent, but in our neighborhoods, churches, schools and businesses. This seems to hold true whether we like or dislike deceit and cunning.

It takes inner strength to live in truth these days. Especially in relationships with people we see or meet every day. Nonetheless, even on our best days we aren’t The Hope of All the Earth. Instead, we’re a company of earthlings loved by The Hope of All the Earth. Right now.

Wishing each of you Advent blessings,
Elouise

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 3 December 2019
Artwork by Linda Mears, found at pixels.com

Vintage roses bloom

A gutter babbles
Outside my window
Steady and earnest

Sound of water’s
Erratic counterpoint
Splashes on tires

Snowflakes
Fat and sluggish
Drift from heaven

There’s a chill
In the air today
Invasive and bracing

Soaking through
Layers of clothes
And long woolen mittens

Music dances
Inside my heart
Vintage roses bloom

Happy Monday to each of you!

Elouise

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 2 December 2019
Vintage Roses wallpaper found at apkpure.com

The last day of November 2019

The last day of November 2019
Greets morning
With peach-colored clouds
Virtually bare deciduous trees
Stalwart conifers flexing their muscles
Almost freezing temperatures
And the weary sigh of voters
Treated nonstop to the latest scoop
Or not depending on their tastes

A waking thought jolts me
Back to this present moment
Ruled by a heart once broken
Now tenderly stitched together
A stunning patchwork of colors
Plus moody longings and
Memory-driven reveries that
Nourish my soul bringing honor
To a heart long overlooked
Now my valiant heroine who
Made it through undeclared wars
And interminable neglects
To say nothing of despisements
Not of my own making

December beckons with promise
Of peace on earth and good will toward all

I want to believe.
Do you?

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 30 November 2019
Artwork by Tarryl Gabel found at artworkarchive.com

Easy (cooked) Kale Salad | Recipe

I haven’t posted a recipe for ages. But this morning I woke up inspired, and now have in my refrigerator a chewy but not tough, green but not raw, tasty yum-yum kale salad–or kale salad starter! All thanks to my 8-quart pressure cooker and Lorna J. Sass.

Lorna Sass transformed the way I use my pressure cooker. Of all her recipe books, I especially like Great Vegetarian Cooking Under Pressure. Along with recipes, she almost always includes tips and techniques, plus easy variations.

So here’s one for all you kale-lovers and wanna be lovers of kale-lovers out there. It’s simple and super good with just about anything. Or…if you decide you don’t like the taste of kale salad (don’t tell me!), you can add it to a bowl of vegetarian (or not) soup.

This recipe is on pp. 84-85 of her vegetarian cookbook. The recipe is for Collard Spaghetti (also yum yum). I used one of her variations.

Ingredients:

  • About 1 pound of pretrimmed kale, washed and drained (This time I used a big bag of precut ruffled-leaf organic kale.)
  • 1 cup water (Don’t vary the water, no matter how much kale you have.)
  • 1 large garlic clove, minced or put through garlic press (optional, and I love it)
  • Pinch of salt (optional; I leave it out)

Instructions:

  • Cut off thick stems. Since the kale I used was pre-torn, I trimmed off thick pieces of stem using my kitchen scissors, then rinsed the kale in water.
  • Bring the water, garlic (if using), and salt (if using) to a boil in a large (8-quart) pressure cooker.
  • Add kale and lock the lid in place. Leave heat on high; bring pressure up to high. At this point, you can turn the heat off, or turn it to low. Cook for 1 or 2 minutes (I used 2 minutes).
  • Reduce pressure with quick-release method (run cold water on edge of the the lid until the pressure indicator drops all the way down).
  • Remove lid (facing away from you), transfer cooked kale into a strainer; let it drain and cool a bit.

Optional (I NEVER omit this): Sprinkle the cooked kale with some (not too much) toasted sesame oil and toss with salad forks. You can also add some tamari soy sauce if you’re OK with salt.

In sum: you now have a side dish, an addition to almost any kind of soup (bean soup, lentil soup), or the beginning of whatever strikes your fancy.

Happy Thanksgiving the day after!

Elouise

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 29 November 2019
Book cover photo found at amazon.com
Vegan kale salad photo found at ambitiouskitchen.com

Graceful living | Photos

Graceful living meets death
With or without prying eyes
Spotlights or drum rolls

Transformed into works of art
Unseen before their time
Each twist and shadow
A hint of life to come

Visible only to travelers
Who pause to witness
The miracle of life renewed
In countless deaths

Breath tripping over wonder
The camera captures moments
Never to be repeated


© Elouise Renich Fraser, 26 November 2019

Photos taken by DAFraser, November 2016, while we were hiking in the hills above Glen Eyrie Conference Center in Colorado 

hoard of robins | Happy Monday!

hoard of robins
juicy holly berries
bright morning feast
scramble for preferred seats
squawks of indignation

As heard and seen on my early morning walk, along with

  • hoards of kindergarten students shrieking in the playground
  • a friendly dog walker with friendly dogs
  • my first sighting of a presidential election campaign bumper sticker
  • wasted acorns languishing on the sides of the road
  • autumn leaves piled up in a large trampoline with no visible way of escape
  • grade school children on a run-and-shriek-it-all-out-of-your-system break
  • and a handful of gorgeous autumn leaves still hanging on

If you watch the video above, you’ll need to supply your own squawks of indignation!

Hoping your Monday is/was happily filled with unexpected beauty.

Elouise

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 25 November 2019
Video of Robins in Portland, Oregon found on YouTube

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