Telling the Truth

connecting the dots of my life

one last slow dance

wispy silver veins
gleam frosty white lavender
cling to each other
floating on mid-summer air
one last slow dance together

©Elouise Renich Fraser, 2 April 2019
Photo taken DAFraser Summer 2016, Glen Eyrie Conference Center, Colorado

A fool’s paradise

We live in a fool’s paradise
Breathing toxic air and
promises of a better
tomorrow arriving daily
at our front doors from
gluttony and avarice —
smiles pasted on faces
covered with guile taking
us down without a whimper

I love silly pranks that do no harm. Sort of. That’s because I’ve rarely been on the other end of a silly prank and felt no harm done. There’s something demeaning about being taken for a fool, or watching someone else be taken for a fool.

On another level, what would it take to make us wise as a nation? Or how about treating ourselves and each other as human beings capable of weighing evidence or even telling the truth about how things are for us right now? Or listening to us without interrupting to tell us about some pie-in-the-sky grand fix for everything?

No, I’m not down on the democratic process. However, we’re already getting into presidential campaign rhetoric and it’s only April 2019. So I’m staking out my position now.

Here it is: I don’t want to waste time listening to reassuring promises, sure-fire fixes or negative rants against ‘the other side.’ Perhaps we could get right to the heart of the matter—listening and responding thoughtfully to the voices of the people. All of us. Even those we call foolish.

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 1 April 2019
Quote found at askideas.com

I immerse myself in Your glory

I immerse myself in Your glory –
The sun and moon, crocus and forsythia
Songs of cardinals, chickadees and wrens
Yet still I feel lost and small
Not even a speck on the giddy horizon
Reflecting the light and smile of Your face

How do flowers and lilies of the field do it –
Springing to life one day and fading the next
While here I sit with years behind me
Feeling rushed and hurried along
One in millions of seniors slowing down

Sometimes the light of day isn’t enough
I want more – more time to live and love
To laugh and cry and say yet again
How much I love You, You, You, and You.

This morning I’m home alone, taking care of my irregular heartbeat and low energy level. Was it the weather front that started coming through during the night? A sudden change in the atmosphere? Whatever it was, my body got the message. Which led to this strange day of rest, and the poem above.

Elouise

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 31 March 2019
Photo taken at Winterthur Garden, Pennsylvania;
found at photobotanic.photoshelter.com 

day dies quietly

day dies quietly
shadows bring the curtain down
my heart relaxes
falling into its soft bed
night gathers up leftovers

The remains of the day? Maybe. I love this time of day with its invitation to take a deep breath and exhale. Stop and rest a while. Which is exactly what I’m going to do. Right now.

Elouise

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 30 March 2019
Photo found at outdoorphotos.com

So much for almost-raw red meat

So much for almost-raw red meat
And smashed sour cream-y potatoes

Or slices of luscious smooth
Spiced pumpkin pie topped with
Mounds of real whipped cream

Followed by unlimited spoons
Of yummy peanut butter straight
From the bottle into my mouth

Or thick slices of hot-off-the-grill
French toast drowning in butter
And swimming in maple syrup

Or those so-called health food bars
Slathered with creamy sugary icing
And held together with the goo of
Smashed dates or sticky caramel

And how could I forget fatty strips
Of sweet fried bacon beside boiled white
Grits gleaming with butter from real milk
Topped with generous shakes of salt
and maybe a few turns of the pepper mill

Written immediately after finishing my super-healthy breakfast smoothie. No, I don’t crave all those things. I haven’t eaten most of them for decades. However, I do enjoy feeling deprived from time to time!

Cheers!
Elouise

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 28 March 2019
Photo found at Today.com

Behind the window shade

Behind the window shade
Dawn gleams deep blue
In dim morning light

The moon’s half face glows
At the sight of Jupiter
Hanging off to the right
Just left of the dark spruce
Looming tall beneath the sky

Suddenly a black crow
Streaks through subfreezing air
Landing in the top branches
Of a giant Eastern Pine
Silhouetted against the eastern sky
Sturdy branches raised to
Catch morning’s first sunlight

Closer to home a single dove sits
Atop the power cable next door
Quietly waiting with feathers plumped
Against ice-cold temperature
Hungry for the sun’s early rays

As seen from my bathroom window this morning at 6:10. A gorgeous sight and reminder of why I love the early morning sky. In addition to calming and mesmerizing me, it invites me to focus on true North. Not on noise and commotion already waiting in the wings.

©Elouise Renich Fraser, 27 March 2019
Diagram found at EarthSky.org

Exiting the Room

My heart doesn’t lie
The signals are clear
This situation is damaging
If not deadly
Yet I don’t get up
Walk out the door
Follow my heart

Childhood PTSD is a harsh taskmaster
One lesson bleeds into another
Something else reaches out its tentacles
Trying to keep or put me in my place
My heart remembers the terror
It can’t tolerate another second
Of helpless hopeless angst about
What ‘they’ might think or do
When I stand up and exit the premises

It’s not about you or them
It’s about me
It’s about taking my heart seriously
Standing up and walking out the door
Finding a quiet place somewhere else
Acknowledging my terrified heartbeat
Showing it and myself I’m not afraid
Though I don’t understand all the connections
Between this present terror
And the terrors of girlhood

Living with my heart these last few weeks was like enduring an unpredictable roller coaster ride. Lovely moments of normalcy punctuated with the anxiety of a heart out of control. I saw it happening on my heart monitor and felt it in my chest.

My biggest challenge isn’t what to do when this happens at home. It’s what to do when I’m in a public gathering and my heart suddenly goes haywire.

From childhood I’ve known the terror of feeling trapped. No exit. Often in church. Not just at home.

As an adult woman, I’ve also experienced feeling trapped in punishing work and worship situations. I could, and occasionally did get up and leave the room. Though not until I was falling apart.

So what’s needed today? I need to exit the room. Take my heart to a safe place. I don’t need to explain or apologize. It doesn’t even matter that I don’t understand what’s going on. It’s time to follow my heart, and see what happens next.

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 26 March 2019
Photo found at tripadvisor.com

Spring madness?

Hope and despair
Layer themselves
Between beats of my heart

‘Retirement is like that’
I could but won’t say –
Determined to make
Peace with what is
Beyond and within
My control

If not This
Why not That?
My mind spins
Out of orbit as
Early Spring lures
Me beyond myself

Retirement was about more than leaving my job at the seminary. It was about my health and well-being. I desperately needed to make a clean break.

For several years I was fine. Not being there was more than good for me.

Now it isn’t so good. Don’t get me wrong. I have no desire to relive seminary politics, long-term planning or endless reports.

Nonetheless, I sometimes yearn to ‘be there.’ From 1983 until I retired in 2011, our seminary dished up a lively, sometimes contentious community of international and national students, mixed races and classes, and mixed church communities. I owe students and colleagues a huge debt of gratitude for helping grow me up into the woman I am today.

So why this yearning now? I love the church I attend. It can’t, however, give me the kind of community I experienced at the seminary, and still need.

Here’s the deal: I want to hang out at the seminary with anyone who shows up. Why? So I can practice being a stranger and welcoming strangers or near-strangers into my life. Even for a few fleeting minutes.

Maybe it’s nothing but Spring madness. Still, I like the idea and I’m already plotting ways to try this out.

Happy Monday!
Elouise

©Elouise Renich Fraser, 25 March 2019
Early Spring Photo found at Gardenia.net

Music, Butterflies and My Heart

Rising and falling
Drifting on beats of my heart
Music transports me
Flirts with moments of past lives
Not captured in retrospect

I’m reminded of butterflies. Ephemeral, delicate, not prone to being examined up close and personal, here today and gone tomorrow.

This week my heart felt like a butterfly. Sometimes happily drifting along. Other times on guard and likely to disappear into the sunset if I ignored it.

I’m still coming to terms with chronic heart challenges. Plus the reality that no matter what I do, I’m in my end game.

This week I began reading Carol A. Miele’s book, Metatastic Madness: How I Coped with a Stage 4 Cancer Diagnosis. Ironically, Miele, a nurse, worked for years with women with this diagnosis. Now she finds herself on the other side of the picture, at Stage 4 without having had a prior breast cancer diagnosis.

During the years she lives with Stage 4 breast cancer, Miele experiences five phases:

  • Phase One: Shock and Awe
  • Phase Two: Betrayal and Despair
  • Phase Three: Loneliness and Loathing
  • Phase Four: Complying and Compensating
  • Phase Five: Adapting and Advocating

I don’t have Miele’s disease. I have mine. Nonetheless, her discussion of Phase One brought me up short, beginning with this:

If you can’t get past the fear or anger in the earliest phase, you may not be able to manage your illness or its accompanying issues very effectively. (p. 13)

In her description of Phase One, Miele describes people and other support systems she set up so she wouldn’t get isolated and stuck in her emotions or in the demanding realities of life with Stage Four breast cancer.

Happily, I’ve done some things she describes. Yet there’s more to do to before I’m ready for whatever comes next. I don’t want to be stuck in Phase One.

Thanks for listening.
Elouise

©Elouise Renich Fraser, 23 March 2019
Image found on YouTube

Land of the Brave?

My erratic heartbeats
Find calm in the sound of
Music drifting through
Air spun with gossamer webs
Transporting me through
What I experience daily
Of this life threatening to
Undo us from the inside out
Unraveling threads of truth
And justice for each and all

Waking with a start
My heart searches for
Courage and bravery to
Speak even one word against
Forces paying to play the
Game of hide and seek –
Cowards banging on the
Heart of our so-called union
And commitment to justice
For every human being

What does bravery look like
During national upheaval and
Underground warfare against
Humanity if not the constant
Repetition of what we see
Through the windows of hearts
Made brave the hard way beginning
The instant we were born into
This world of deceitful revenge
And false prophets of nirvana

Mary Tyler Moore’s well-known statement comes to mind:

“You can’t be brave if you’ve had only wonderful things happen to you.”

Perhaps this is true of each of us, no matter the circumstances of our early lives. At the same time, bravery now isn’t necessarily the same as bravery then. As a child and teenager I was brave and uncomplaining in order to stay out of trouble. Especially when someone was watching, measuring me by my father’s Rules for Good Girls.

Today, bravery is called for even when no one seems to be looking. It isn’t about staying out of trouble. It’s about being honest, no matter the consequences.

Easier said than done. For me, posting what I write is the bottom line. If I’m willing to write about it, am I willing to post it? Without turning it into harmless childhood mush? My childhood still shapes me. It doesn’t, however, control me. I  still have a lot to learn about telling the truth as I see it. Especially in today’s atmosphere.

Thanks for listening!

Elouise

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 20 March 2019
Cat image found at bookstr.com

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