Spirit of Music

I loved her even before I saw her, heard her, held her in my arms. Sure, it was because I met one like her, an older, more imposing, different one, just similar enough to help me name what I was looking for.

Yet I had to wait. Money was one problem; time was another. I didn’t have the right amount of either. But she waited, too, and I saved. When at last money and time came together, I called her, sight unseen, sound unheard.

When that one special, rightly chosen ukulele came into my open hands, my open heart responded. She is Brio, meaning spirit, enthusiasm, animation, dynamism (I like that!), verve. And with that Spirit, we create beautiful music together.

Love is the Lifeforce
Demanding seasons align
Waiting turns to bliss

Today Toni tends the pub at
presenting the task of composing a romantic haibun. There are 2 things I consciously hesitate to do here… 1) I try not to write much Japanese poetry like haiku or haibun, because I feel mine always fall short. 2) Romance? Uh, no. But I could not in good conscience totally blow off the prompt, especially not after reading the other poets’ beautiful contributions! And so, with trembling fingers I offer up the closest thing to romance I can muster. I hope it’s not too cheesy. 😮

And have a listen to Brio,
’cause the music flows freely around here!

Never … Until Then

“Well, I never!”
I heard that as a kid
And vowed I’d never say it!
But sure enough, I did.

“Never say never,”
Another favorite line.
My mother doesn’t know it,
But that one’s also mine.

Of course, “You’ll spoil your dinner!”
Was Nana’s claim to fame.
And if you ask my son,
He’ll say he’s heard the same.

“Don’t bite the hand that feeds you!”
I haven’t said the phrase.
But well I know the warning
And keep myself at bay.

These childhood expressions
I never hear today
Are in my mind and fiber
To guide me on my way.

The simplest of sayings
That we remember most,
Because of those who said them,
We always keep them close.

I wasn’t going to use today’s NaPoWriMo prompt on childhood phrases, manners of speech, etc. But when I started writing, it worked, and turned out to be a touching piece for


Instrument: Brio – Red Cedar Concert Ukulele

1. On earth and sea and in the sky,
We live and move and breathe.
Yet taking from them as we do,
We separate the three.
The Tree of Life and all its limbs
Are rooted in the Deep
Creative Mind where all abides,
Including you and me.

2. The body, mind and spirit,
Your holistic sacred three,
Yet even as we care for them,
We look at specialties.
The body of the physical,
The mind’s activity,
The precious soul that’s yours alone
And makes your life complete.

3. The Father, Son, and Holy Ghost,
The Christian Trinity,
Yet who they are and what they do,
Not everyone agrees.
If we would look inside and trust,
Then we might plainly see
The greatness of the boundless Love
That brings it all to be.

O keep in mind the oneness link
Connecting every part.

We specialize and criticize,
Just knowing one small piece.
We label, compartmentalize,
And work to find relief.
But there’s a kink in what we think
And every box we mark.
We fast forget the oneness link
Connecting every part.

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One Spirit

This Life Path

The cherry tree stood tall and proud
And scattered blossoms far and wide
Until a whirling, swirling storm
Upset the tree upon its side.

The cherry tree was hard and old.
Its life was long and strength was true.
But this was just a chapter’s end;
The tree would have another use.

A spruce fell in that hurricane;
Its softer heart was taken fast.
But turning yet another page,
The spruce continued on its path.

The spruce and cherry met one day,
Both dried and sanded, cut and shaped.
The spruce was top, the cherry back:
An instrument they came to make!

So little do we know and see
Where we are meant to go…
But deep inside there shines a Spark,
The All there Is, that knows!

No one can choose a path for you
Or hand down what is right.
For like the trees you ebb and flow
With God as guiding Light.

Within you always, Pure and True,
If you will only knock
And open up your weary mind:
Its Center is the Rock.

The Fruitful Life, A Fable

Once upon a time, there was a ladder. It was so steep and so high that no one dared to climb it. It was steeper than a pitched roof. It was steeper than the top of a lighthouse or a pyramid. And it was so high that no one could see the top. Not even the tall giraffe who looked up and up and up with its long neck.

It wouldn’t have mattered, except that at the top of the ladder was something the animals needed. They needed fruit! And no one could help them get it.

The fruit was not falling down, but the animals were very hungry! Sometimes the birds and squirrels would shake the trees in their play, but the birds weren’t feeling playful. And the squirrels weren’t feeling kind. So, the fruit stayed on the trees.

The giraffe asked the birds, “Will you please help us?”

The birds just cawed, twittered and said no.

The lion roared at the squirrels, “Help us now!”

But the squirrels just tittered and laughed, “We will not help you!” They said, “We want to see if you can get your own fruit!”

Even the monkeys, who were usually very kind and generous, chattered and chattered in the trees as they swung from branch to branch. But they would not drop any fruit down to the other animals.

Then suddenly, there came a tiny sound. At first, no one heard it. And no one saw who was making it. The lion finally heard and saw the tiny mouse. He said, “Go away little mouse. You cannot help us here.”

The giraffe heard the mouse very faintly, for he was very tall. But he said, “Go away little mouse. You cannot help us here.”

But the mouse did not listen. mice never do, you know.

Instead, he ignored the other animals and focused on the fruit. Soon he began to climb the thin rungs of the ladder, and when he did, he discovered a wonderful thing! The ladder was made of rope!

Now, if there’s one thing mice love to do, it’s to chew things! So, the little mouse began to chew through the rope rungs.

“Stop! Stop!” cried the animals. “Do not destroy the ladder! How will we climb it again?”

But the mouse did not listen. Mice never do, you know.

He chewed and chewed and as he did, the wrung’s of the ladder fell down, down, down! As the rungs fell away one by one, the mouse clung to the sides of the ladder. Held steady by tree limbs at the top and boulders at the bottom, the side ropes did not budge.

The little mouse climbed and climbed, and chewed and chewed, leaving broken rope rungs behind him.

Finally, he reached the top of the ladder. All the rungs were gone, but the side ropes still held firm.

“Release the ropes!” the mouse called to the animals below.

“No!” they cried, “How will we ever climb up in the trees again?”

“I know!” the mouse shouted. “Trust me! Please, release the ropes!”

So, reluctantly, the animals shoved the boulders aside, and the ropes sprang free. Now the mouse was really excited!

The little mouse pulled and pulled on the ropes until they were all the way up high in the tree beside him. Then, he threw them over the branches. As he did, fruit began to rain down on the animals below!

“Hooray!” cheered the animals. “Thank you, Mouse!”

The little mouse smiled. “I only did what came naturally!”

Now, when the animals needed fruit, they could just pull the ropes, and fruit would be provided for them.

Because where there is a will, there is a way. Don’t believe me? Ask that little mouse, who heard his inner voice when it gave him the idea. He followed the guidance when his spirit told him the steps to take. And he saw it through until the goal was accomplished. He did what he was sent to do. It was all natural and part of a higher plan.

Wherever we are, God is there with us. And wherever we are, there’s a reason why. It is God’s reason, and His nature, our inner nature, will guide us through all things… If we just listen!

Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
and do not rely on your own insight.
In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.
–Proverbs 3:5-6 (NRSV)

You will know them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thorns, or figs from thistles? In the same way, every good tree bears good fruit, but the bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit.
–Matthew 7:16-18 (NRSV)

The Balloon – A Parable

Once, a little girl found a balloon. She wanted to keep it, but it was full of air and wanted to float here and there, leaving her behind. After chasing it for a while, she realized that if she wanted to hold onto it, she would have to attach it to herself somehow. So, she tied one end of a string around the end of the balloon, and the other end to her wrist.

From then on, she did everything with that balloon. She ate with it. She went to school with it. She played with it. She slept with it. And once she even came very close to popping it.

But it was her balloon. She’d claimed it, and so it stayed with her through all her activities.

But soon the balloon began to deflate. It had been in the house, in the car, in the cold, in the heat, in restaurants, at sporting events, piano lessons, gymnastics… She’d carried it around all this time. It had become such a part of the little girl, that she hardly knew it was there anymore.

She noticed when it started to deflate, not because the balloon was smaller, but because it got in the way. It used to carry itself through doorways, just by floating like such balloons do. But now she had to pull it through doors and make sure it didn’t get stuck. Sometimes it did get stuck, and she had to stop, go back, and untangle it from the door, and sometimes from other people.

The balloon was getting to be really annoying. But how could she let it go? It was her friend, her companion, her playmate, her partner in all things. What would she do when it was gone?

One day the balloon got caught in a revolving door. That had never happened before, and it would never happen again. The string became hopelessly tangled in the doorway, and finally someone had to cut the string from her wrist.

The little girl wasn’t hurt. But the balloon she had loved for so long, that had become such a part of her life and who she thought she was, could not be saved. There was no air left in the balloon by this time anyway, but the loss was still a painful one.

Immediately, the little girl wanted another balloon. But then she realized she felt free without a string and the weight of a balloon following her around wherever she went!

Freedom was hers, at last! And yet it always had been; she just had a different idea of what freedom meant.

Freedom was not in the balloon that floated without purpose or aim. Freedom was within her, and she could choose to share it, make new friends, and still keep the Spirit that made her embrace the balloon in the first place. She was free with the balloon, until she expanded and discovered new freedom. Then, it was time for the balloon to go. It was no less loved. But it had served its time with her and done her good.

That little girl, like so many, will always remember the balloon she lost. But she will think of its gifts and smile, because it showed her what she already had: a free Spirit that, if she let it, could carry her life to heights beyond her imagination.

God is at the Yard Sale

God is at the yard sale.

In the piles of junk, God waits. In the people so excited to find that special thing, those canning jars, fishing tackle, car parts, musical instruments, God stirs.

God breathes in those who know, “All right, it’s time. Time for this, that, this and that to go. It’s no use to me anymore. It’s junk but maybe someone else can use it.”

God is in the relief they feel when someone buys up their old stuff. God is in the coins and bills exchanged. God is in the joy of having money to save or spend, and having a clean basement, closet or garage.

God is in the people who go home ecstatic, the kids with their new old stuffed animals, The mothers with their purses and skirts, crock pots and someone else’s nana’s china. The bachelors with their motorcycle helmets and tool boxes. The fathers with their swing sets, slides, play houses, breathing a sigh of relief, “Thank God it’s in good condition!” Realizing they got a bargain and they’re grateful for it, even though they tell you only women are bargain hunters.

God is at the yard sale. Within the stereotypes, within the piles of junk, inside the bargain hunters, and right there guiding the people who decide what to sell. God is there. At the yard sale and beyond, before, and after.

So the next time you visit a yard sale, and you will, you know, remember: God is in the people passing on their things. God is in the things themselves, that like their former owners, are getting a clean slate today. And God is in you, yes, even at a yard sale.

Be the Pumpkin, A Personal Story

I remember, sometimes people called me Pumpkin when I was little. Little and cute, it seemed to me, because no one does that now. But what I remember most is being a pumpkin, actually being one for a few moments one year at Halloween.

Mom made the costumes for all of us. I was probably in first or second grade, and I don’t remember if all my older brothers and sisters were also pumpkins, or just some of them. I do know there were at least four of us who dressed up that year. And so there we were, in our homemade costumes, winning a prize at some school dance or another for the older kids. The whole family could go, so I got another chance to wear the costume, after trick-or-treating and the school Halloween parade. “Third time’s the charm,” as they say.

But it took a long time to get to that point. First, Mom had to make the costumes. To this day, over 20 years later, I wonder what possessed her to make them all! But we were to be pumpkins, and hers were the hands that made it so.

Mom always was crafty. Yeah, take that any way you like, because she was and is. She could do anything with some felt, a big ole’ trash bag, and a sewing machine. Oh, and the tape. Don’t forget the double-sided tape! Because that, my friends, was important.

So, the costume. What was it like? Well, if memory serves, I had a green stem with green leaves on top of my red hair. Sounds more like a Christmas tree, but it worked. That was all felt. And it was glued together, so it pretty much formed a hat.

Then, there was the trash bag. With holes for arms and legs, it went on like a jumper. But being plastic, we didn’t want it to rip. So it took some doing and at least one other person to get me into the bag.

I don’t know if the bag was already orange, or if painting was another of Mom’s talents put to use that year. But I know the result was me, with the pumpkin head and orange body. And I was big, let me tell you. Big and round. That impressed me so much, how such a skinny kid could be made so pumpkin-like by filling the bag up with, paper, was it? I sort of recall making a rustling sound as I walked, so I guess it was.

And the tape? Well, that kept the pumpkin-bag shoulders on my shoulders. It stuck to my shirt or dress or whatever I wore under the costume. Like I said, the tape was really important. And I felt important carrying a roll of tape around. That was the coolest thing!

Now would probably be a good time to explain why this pumpkin thing meant so much to me. Halloween, if not before that, has been my favorite holiday ever since. And it wasn’t just because of the candy. It’s the pumpkins! I love pumpkins! It goes back to “It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown!” Thanks to Charles Schultz for this enduring character. So I was honored to dress as my favorite Fall fixture.

I didn’t care who liked it, though clearly, people did. I didn’t care who noticed. I didn’t care who helped me into the costume. I just had fun being who and what I was. And every year at Halloween I vow I’ll be a pumpkin. But I’ve never pulled it off again. Although I admit, I came pretty close the year I was pregnant!

Now I realize I don’t have to be little and cute, or big and round for that matter. I just have to have fun being who and what I am. Not just at Halloween, but all year long.