Sunday, November 21, 2010

First Comment to "Stuff Happens"

by Dubby Riley

This morning I was inspired by Margaret Fuller's "The Great Lawsuit." For some reason, my elevated thoughts lead me to a website called Church of the Churchless and the writings of Brian Hines.

Here is a synopsis of my remarks posted under the current essay by Brian which he entitled, "Stuff Happens:"

A thought provoking  essay written by Margaret Fuller in 1843 is amazingly relevant in our modern era. I thought someone at the Church of the Churchless may consider it for a review.
Our times are perilous. Whether we're globally warmed, whether we're in or near the time of peak oil, whether we're doomed or not by Tea Partiers or runaway government, whether extinction of so many species matters, whether the fact that some ridiculous percentage such as one or two controls some crazy quantity of all wealth like 50% to 70% matters, whether the US is the saviour or the terrorist of world culture, whether we face a daunting depression or a continued recession which is not likely to go away soon. Whether or not all that stuff and more which is debatable, almost no one could argue that the times are NOT perilous.
One fact which seems very reasonable is that the female paradigm, as in Earth Goddess, Gaia, the nourishing instinct, may offer a different perspective for solutions to a troubled world. This world which has these problems primarily because of the male dominated leadership and culture, both religious and political, seems presently in the grip of the same male approach which got us in the mess in the first place.
Some people and groups seem to be undergoing a "speeding up" of consciousness which encourages the integration of the female perspective. Not as some "gay" approach or whatever negative term may be applied to it, but as a the second of two sacred channel as in yin and yang or the two snakes of the cadeuses (also the symbol for Kundalini).
Over 150 years ago, Margaret Fuller, using the enlightened voice of the DIAL and Emerson and others who woke to the third way of approaching mind (in her own words, one way is by thinking, a second is by action and a third is neither thought or action. The third way is using quietness and turning your attention to "within,")  was explaining that without the perspective of daughters of the world, we won't ever be fully guided by the divine.

Women's rights and position have changed dramatically since that time, but still a type of slavery exists, in my opinion, for women. If you read her essay, her main tenets are still relevant. I understand, precisely, the importance of integrating a reformed view of the woman's place in life, both in marriage and just as importantly, in cultural leadership. We may have to free ourselves from the dogma of a male centric God (Judaism, Islam and Chrisitanity have always been in one war or another), before the full power of the "Sacred Feminine," will be realized.
I'm very happy to find Church of the Churchless and Brian. I don't know how loyal I'll be as my attention is quickly diffused when other "stuff happens." But I hope I will return and read more.
btw, if by some miracle anyone ever wants to reply my email is and my name is Winston Dubby Riley on Facebook.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Back to the Future...again.

Chez Lucas

from Jo Floyd Lucas

Our American culture is complex and sometimes contradictory. We like to imagine that we are one family, but we certainly can be dysfunctional at times. We talk about the ‘melting pot,’ the ‘salad bowl,’ and other metaphors for diverse people coming together, but we’ve proven time and again how very difficult that can be to really accomplish.

Except in times of trial. When the going gets tough in America, America gets going. We learn to work together as a team, no matter how hard it may be.

It’s natural at this time of year to think of the Pilgrims. Despite how we have wrongly romanticized this group, one thing is certain…these intrepid souls staked everything on a very risky venture to settle in a wilderness far from anything familiar to them. They learned early on that cooperation with each other was imperative for their very survival.

Likewise, the pioneers, a competitive, tenacious group of individuals, learned to travel in communal groups and ‘circle the wagons’ as an effective way to protect the larger group.

Through the years, my mother has recounted stories of ‘The Great Depression’ to us. Stories of her family of fourteen struggling together to survive…her older brother leaving school to work on a river boat, children eating mustard sandwiches, everyone pooling their resources to make ends meet.

Later, during World War II, when most of the men had enlisted and were overseas, times were just as hard, if not harder. A system of rationing by the government was in place, which meant justifying your need for everything from milk to nylon to gasoline. Mom recounts to us how all the daughters in the family (seven—and one with her baby girl) eventually moved back home to be with their parents, and stayed until their men returned. Many worked in armories, aviation plants, and the like for long hours every day for very little pay. Difficult times, indeed.

But with the gift of a long life comes a larger perspective. With all the worry, with all the financial hardship, with all the difficulties of day-to-day living, Mom insists that she often considers that time period to hold the most precious and fun memories of her life.

With that lovely perspective, my family has launched itself right back to that era. After seeing our hard working son and his equally hard working wife struggle in this period of “economic downturn” to surmount medical bills, establish a new business, and care for their two beautiful children, my husband and I began to think about combining households. After much discussion and careful consideration, we offered the invitation to move in. After a period of much discussion and equally careful consideration, they accepted.

The move is taking place this weekend. My husband and I look forward to this grand adventure, this ‘circling the wagons’ for our own little group of pioneers. When I’ve mentioned our plan to friends and family, I’ve been surprised to find that not one has criticized it. On the contrary, I’ve heard several people express envy at the plan, and others who expressed their own secret desire to do the same! I think we will hear of many more families combining resources and residences in the near future. Just as our freedom loving individualistic ancestors experienced, I know we will have days when we’ll chafe at the close quarters, but I also know that this move will benefit all of us. Most importantly, I anticipate with sweet desire the many happy memories that will override any irritations.

We are living in tough times. Despite the best efforts of many people at all levels of government, many of us are struggling to stay afloat. Maybe this era is just another reminder of how connected we all really are. Maybe it serves to illustrate how important it is to work together to progress through the tough times. Whatever it is, it is definitely a blast from the past! As a friend of mine is fond of saying, “Onward and upward!”

And for those who have been our guests for visits through the years, rest assured that Chez Lucas will still make room for you!

Stand up and dance with me on this one:

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Clearing out the cobwebs

by Dubby Riley

Jo asked me to post the following "note" from my Facebook page here. Perhaps to inform the conversation, in case anyone reads who isn't familiar with my Facebook page, I recently befriended a stranger, who appeared to be homeless, who was walking down the street. I saw him on my way to work and watched him from my car as I sat at a stop light. The urge to stare was overwhelming, so I pulled ahead of him without him taking notice and maneuvered into a parking lot just ahead of him, so I could watch him closer as he would walk by my car. I acted as if I were looking for a map or something in my glove box.

"My gosh," I thought. "This image is too important to let it fade too quickly from memory." So I got out of my car and chased after him.

"Hello," I yelled as he walked further and further from me.

"Excuse me sir!," I persisted while I ran behind him. "Sir, yes you. Hello. Sir. Hey!!"

He finally realized it was he I was accosting and he stopped with a square look. Stood his ground proudly and waited for me to catch him. Very matter of factly, his look meant, "Yes. What do you want?"

"How are you I asked. Going to be cold tonight. Do you have arrangements?"

"Yes, I'm staying at a shelter."

"Good." I fumbled. "Well, I'm a painter. I'd like to paint you. Can I buy you a warm meal?"

"Sure." He was delighted. His smile told me that. His name is Ron. He's back on the road. All the way from California and exploring the country. I didn't pry too much but gathered he is surviving on his wits.  So after I left him, I drove to the gallery and started preparing for what is called FIRST FRIDAY ART WALK. This is the story of how the morning went after that.

I call the short essay, 


In an interview on public radio on Friday morning, I listened to the words and poetry of John Trudell. I've read more about him now but at the time, his voice was completely new to me in every way. The tone, the amplitude, the authority of the content. He came like a rushing wind into my domain.

I had already been humbled once that morning by a young man passing through. I realize now that the blanket wrapped as layers around his neck is a hammock. I like to think of that now because I realize he carries his home and bed with him. Home is where he hangs his hammock! He wouldn't call himself homeless. I don't call him homeless. I call him a man.

So as I brushed the cobwebs from the corners of the gallery and rearranged the art on walls and windows, as a servant to the crowd which would come later and the artists to whom I would represent, John Trudell perched and taught my open mind the difference between human beings and being human.

"Human is temporary," he said. "Being is permanent."

This has been my contemplative opus for about ten years. Not quite as simplified. Not quite as eloquent, but right there guiding me for quite some time.

But what are we to do? So we're endowed with creativity and intelligence. Our true self is this spark of BEING, which we recognize and take lessons from. Unlike different species which don't suffer the burden of duality,  we humans do see it and are aware of our SPIRIT.

We're to let it lead us! We're to refuse the temptation of love of money which is a curse and toxic. We're to stop the killing and the brutality and the ignorance. How do we do that? However we can, where ever we can, with whomever we can.

Join me. We've got much work to do!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Finding Harmony in Discord

From Jo Floyd Lucas

"Three Rules of Work: Out of clutter find simplicity; From discord find harmony; In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity." ~ Albert Einstein

Whew. I’m on a train to Boston, beginning the last leg of another trip that will (God willing) have me home in St. Louis by the end of the week. Other than a trip to two back to Kansas City to check on Momsy issues, I intend to stay there for a few weeks!

Don’t get me wrong. I’m thrilled to have traveled as much as I have recently. Trains, planes, and automobiles have taken me on jaunts to Lake of the Ozarks, Las Vegas, Kansas City, Table Rock Lake, Springfield, and Portland. Somewhere in that time period I hosted friends from New York and attended a major fund raiser in St. Louis…all within the last six weeks!

Goodness, I’m tired, but how lucky am I? I’ve climbed the cliffs of the venerable Red Rock Canyon in the West, and have seen Autumn in all her glory in the East. I’ve stayed in luxury hotels, two beautiful lake houses, condos, and apartments. I’ve eaten in Five Star restaurants and drank fine wines. I’ve gone to calming spas, exciting sporting events, ambled around small towns, visited interesting art galleries, and attended beautiful fine arts performances. As wonderful as those experiences were, they are only symbolic of the true memories I’ll carry with me from these trips.

The real memories come from the people with whom I’ve shared these activities.

First and foremost are my out-of-town children, Spencer and Andrea, who have moved to opposite ends of the country to pursue their dreams. There is nothing more powerfully satisfying than witnessing your children live with passion while doing what they were meant to do. It was incredible to watch Spencer coach his young high school team to victory. Even better than the congratulatory pats on the back, it was most gratifying to see him lay a hand on the shoulder of a player who had made a mistake, look him in the eye, and nod his head in encouragement. He never lost his temper or yelled at his players. He was a gentleman through and through, and a role model for each of the youngsters on the field. Veteran coaches met us after the game to shake our hands and tell us how happy they were to have Spencer ‘on board.’ Wow. Is this really my son, the fearless (reckless), charming kid who was responsible for so many trips to the ER decades ago? Oh, Yeah.

I was reminded of those trips to the ER when Spencer took his father and I to Red Rock Canyon for an ‘easy/moderate’ 3 mile hike that, of course, ended up with us going off trail (“Spencer! Those signs clearly state, ‘DO NOT go off trail’ “) and risking life and limb on precarious rock formations. But I was also reminded of the qualities which make him such a great coach. His gentle encouragement to me (“Mom, you’re doing great.”) over and over again, his hand reaching out to me at just the right time to guide me when I needed it, and his great good humor (“Mom! Did you just say what I think you said?”) were precisely why I was able to stand on the summit of Red Rock Canyon and look down into the valley that holds the city of Las Vegas. Both literally and figuratively, it took my breath away. Thanks again, Son!

Andrea, who performed with Portland Ballet in a world premiere of “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow,” was her usual stunning self, bringing a spark of beauty, elegance, and humor to her role in the ballet. Oh, yes, that young woman was meant to dance through life! If I can brag about anything, it’s that I gave her the right name when she was born. “Andrea Joy” means ‘womanly joy’ and that is about as perfect a description of her that can be made. I’ve described many times what good care she takes of me when I visit her, and it was difficult to leave this morning knowing that I wouldn’t be in her cozy apartment for peppermint cocoa this evening!

Then there are my friends. My fabulous, funny, precious, tenaciously loving friends.

I think of my Nertz Girls, who do hand stands in the spa pool of Spa Shiki, give each other home pedicures, wax treatments, and read Tarot cards in between shopping excursions. We have raised our children together, and have been with each other at card parties, holiday parties, bonfire parties, birthday parties, and celebrations for weddings, graduations, and births of grandchildren. We have also been together to comfort each other during misfortune, divorce, illness, and even death. They have offered unending support to me and been ever present in all my joys and sorrows for the last three decades. I am so lucky to be in this circle of sister/friends.

I think, too, of my ballet friends, from New York, St. Louis and Portland, with whom we attended fundraisers, dinners, the Saint Louis Symphony performance, a birthday celebration, and ballet performances in Portland. Let me dispel a myth right now by telling you that ‘ballet people’ are ANYTHING but stuffy! Intelligent, artistic, funny, great story tellers (of course), these people bring parties with them wherever they go! Whether sitting at my kitchen table, or at an after party, or in a restaurant, or at the theater, I can always count on a wonderful time of sharing, learning, laughing…and usually, getting into a little bit of trouble…with this incredible group of friends.

My last friendship gathering was with my ‘Gypsy’ friends, the women from Smiling Heart. Well, most don’t contribute to the blog on a regular basis (though I wish they would), but we do gather together virtually (via Internet) almost every evening to chat and joke and tease and teach each other. We spent a few magically perfect days together, where we laughed, drank, danced, and delved deeper into our relationships with each other. I say it was magically perfect because everything went so smoothly that I suspected we had some kind of divine ordination for this gathering. Five women with their lives rooted in the little hamlet of Ruskin Heights in Kansas City, Missouri, have blossomed and branched out into every geographical area of the country. In addition to Missouri, we now call California, Oklahoma, and Washington D.C. home. In Missouri, I’ve moved east to St. Louis, while our hostess with the mostest, Vicki, moved south to the small town of Morrisville. We each have very different life experiences, and hold differing views on everything from music to religion to politics, but we are SO good at finding common ground!

I usually love to tell the funny stories about my friends, and there are plenty to tell about these women. I think I can safely say that each one of us laughed more during those three days than we had laughed in the last three months. From Vicki’s description of things she learned from the ‘young girls’ at her former salon (top secret stuff), Linda’s wry and witty observations (Helllloooo), Reya’s photoshoot session, Nancy’s unexpected shout out the door, to our evening dance parties, we had a hoot and a half.

But I also want to tell another story. How I watched a woman do shamanic dancing, which looked to me like a beautiful form of praise. How I shared tears with another over my brother’s death years ago as learned more about this grace-filled woman with whom he had shared a meaningful relationship. I ate unbelievably delicious chicken salad, cheese blintzes, and imported cheeses provided by one of the women, but she also provided me with an even more delicious glimpse into the beauty of her soul. I guided the group through the Inner Smile meditation one evening and witnessed the cleansing of grief that another woman experienced, and felt deeply honored to see the depth of love she felt. The five of us shared more in those three days than many friends share in a lifetime.

The final night of our gathering, I experienced a vivid dream that will stay with me for the rest of my days. All of the five women were there in the Lake House, the music was rocking, and we were dancing. As we danced unrestrained, a group of angels descended among us and joined in the dance. Joyful, laughing angels were everywhere, and happiness and harmony were palpable. I can assure you, they must have been watching folks dance for eons…they could boogie with the best! As my dream ended, the angels froze into a tableau of Botticelli angels, faces flushed, voluminous wings draped to the ground, dressed in robes of light blues and soft golds. But rather than the serene faces painted by the masters of the renaissance, the smiles of these celestial beings were wide and openly joyous. They had obviously been having a great time! I’m convinced now of the divine ordination of our meeting.

Here’s the thing. The ancient cliff dwellings in Red Rock, the flaming autumn trees of New England, and the warm earth and strong winds of Table Rock Lake are completely different environments, yet from each I feel the connection to Earth and all Her glory. From them, I hear the harmony of Nature.

The family given to me by birth, the family I’ve forged through intent, and the family of our common ancestors, could not be more diverse, and yet I am part of each of them. In communion with them, I am in harmony with God.

These last few weeks have demonstrated to me the beautiful harmonies that exist when individual voices come together. We don’t need to sing with one voice. We don’t even have to sing the same words. We may need to work together a bit, and we may need to be patient, but goodness knows, if we contribute our voice in the spirit of togetherness, harmony will follow. And when that happens, you just have to dance.