Monday, May 29, 2006

My Names


"I call up my names: Woman who has been born in the arms of a woman and welcomed home. I shout truth teller, silence breaker, life embracer, death no longer fearing, woman reunited with her child self. I sing woman who is daughter, sister, lover, and mother to herself. I hum woman planter, gatherer, healer. I drum woman warrior, siren, woman who stands firmly on her feet, woman who reaches inward to her center and outward to stars. I am woman who is child no longer, woman who is making herself sane, whole."

Written by, Andrea R. Canaan

Saturday, May 27, 2006

Speak Up



Here is Wolfgang. He is the living embodiment for me of paying attention to whom you end up next to~ on the subway, at the meeting, in line for groceries, at the restaurant. There is a metaphysical concept that declares: the one you end up next to or run into unexpectedly where ever you go, is some one who has something of importance to tell you. Or you for them. There is a needful opportunity for exchange that was set up by the Universe for each individual's betterment. A piece of your puzzle waiting to be divulged. The answer to the question you asked yourself that very morning. If only you would notice who you are next to and dare to start a conversation.

Wolfgang is the husband of one of my interpreter's classmates in Germany. He and his wife, Karin, took the 9 hour bus tour with us to see every sheep in Nordfreisland during the class reunion. At the end of the tour, we stopped at a fabulous restaurant/hotel in Husum for the obligatory afternoon cake and beverage. Wolfgang sat next to me. As was my standard practice, I whipped out the Pope (aka: the Beverage Meister) to have his picture taken with my pot of tea. Lo and behold, Wolfgang's favorite hobby in his retirement is the study of medieval history. Upon spying Innocent the 3rd, he launched into a half-hour long, broken-English dissertation on the full history of my beloved traveling companion. Evidently, Innocent was quite the influential man in his day. Wolfgang also talked about Egypt as it was just prior to the dawn of Christianity. We let everyone else in the class reunion take the guided tour of the hotel. Our conversation was too engrossing. We stayed behind to finish it.

What I found amazing was Wolfgang's knowledge of 2 things I was currently engrossed in. One: the Pope. Two: a hardcover book I dragged around Germany with me, The Jesus Papers, which delves extensively into just-pre-Christian Egypt. How did Wolfgang know? He didn't. But the all-knowing Universe did, and sat us together. Because Wolfgang spoke up and dared to cross the language barrier, he gave me one of the most memorable moments and pictures of my journey.

Moral of the story: Be aware. Speak up. Take the time.

Your very life could be altered for the better.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

The Pope Is Annoyed


Our dear Pope Innocent the 3rd is annoyed. Since returning triumphant from the Fatherland, he has been relegated to his hanging plastic box on the door of a paint cabinet. He is immobile, stifled and is threatening to break out his pitchfork-studded cranky pants. If one looks at his plastic box from a certain angle, it appears that the middle finger of his left hand is slightly more raised than the other digits. I believe, under his pointy pontifical hat, the tops of his ears are about to burst into flames. This will not do.

It seems dear Innocent was so captivated by the constant attention he received while abroad, he is suffering from "center-stage withdrawl". This is not a Pope who will suffer the view from the chorus line. For him, it's all about the spotlight.

After much pious consideration on my part, and valued opinions from the rest of his flock, it was decided that he should be cloned. This would allow his Holy See-ness to once again ride shot-gun in my purse~ ready at a moments notice for all ring-kissing occasions and center stage adventures.

I decided to cover my pious posterior by investigating what category of sin one would find cloning. I first googled "Venial" sin. It appears they are the forgivable ones. However, no mention of cloning in the long list of applicable affronts. Somehow, I thought there was a category called " Cardinal" sins. It sounds rather friendly. Sadly, I was mistaken. I was left with no alternative but to peek behind the black velvet curtain labeled "Mortal" sin. Yikes! I held my breath and almost turned blue as I scrolled down the exhaustive list of "no Heaven for you, Bubb" sins. Amazingly, not a single mention of cloning!

I had high hopes that the Pope and me were in the clear. Without further ado or worries of going to Hell in a rusted bucket, I quickly placed the top-secret order with the subterranian cloning lab in Eastern Iceland. We now anxiously await the arrival of our stand-in Pope, aka Dolly the 3rd.

On a regretful note, despite his forthcoming freedom, I'm afraid the Pope may choose to keep on his cranky pants once I remind him that "Drunkeness" was listed behind the black velvet curtain. And that his Papal Pilsener Portrait will likely get him a seat on the crowded bus to hell.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

To Be A Pilgrim



I'm currently reading The Jesus Papers by Michael Baigent. In chapter 11, the author discusses the idea of the sacred site. He muses, "Are such places intrinsically sacred, or do we make them so? Perhaps both. Sacred sites demand participation from the visitor, an entering into a relationship with them, an experience. And there in lies the difference between a pilgrim and a tourist".

After my trip to Germany, I've decided I do not wish to be a mere tourist in my own life anymore. I wish to be a pilgrim.

I wish to participate more, experience more, relate more. I wish to acknowledge the sacredness of my everyday life. I choose to see the sacred in more than the obvious and monumental. I choose to bend my kness to the earth and see clearly the lavendar speckled trillium that blooms for mere moments each spring. I choose to listen with my whole self to the rhythm and rumble of my cat's purr, the 13 "good mornings" on my way into work ,the heart beat beneath my left ear.

Where I choose to participate, experience and relate with greater intensity, awareness, and love, there will be the sacred sites of my personal world.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Ishtar Gate Photos



The Gate: chapter 1

My friend and me have a saying~ "Profound change happens when you go away". I am just beginning to grasp the outer fringes of the profound changes that are happening since my travels to Germany. One theme of change worthy of exploration and understanding is The Gate.

I was drawn to and passed through many gates in Germany. Some large, some small. All significant. All with personal meaning I have yet to figure out.

Unlike a wall, a gate is meant to allow passage from one side to another. All gateways are significant and symbolic to every being that passes through. They are signals from the Divine that we are literally and figuratively moving from one way of being to another. We are leaving an apsect of ourselves behind and taking up another way of existing in the world. We hope it is all for the positive. We hope it represents a movement toward greater fulfillment of our potentials. Passing through a gateway certainly means we are asked to take on greater responsibility for ourselves and the world.

For these reasons, it would seem prudent to pause, even for the slightest moment, before charging through any gate we encounter. Pause to be sure we are ready for added responsibility. Pause to be sure we understand there is no going back to our excuses of old, our lethargy and indifference to significant people and events. Pause to consider that the more we know, the more we are expected to serve the world in its quest for peace and balance.

There are gates to the heart, gates to the mind, gates to the Divine. It is always our free will choice to pass or not through any of them. Each literal gate represents a figurative one. And each is different and specific to each soul that passes through.

In Berlin, at the Pergamon Museum, I passed through a monumental gate. The Gate of Ishtar. The German Oriental Society unearthed this massive gate, in what was ancient Babylon, during an 18 year continuous excavation from 1899 to 1917. This was one of 8 gates of the inner city of Babylon, built during the reign of Nebuchadnezzar the 2nd in 575 BC. This was the city with the infamous hanging gardens and the Tower of Babel. The reconstruction is 47 feet high. It is made of blue glazed bricks with reliefs of tile dragons and bulls. There was a Processional Way leading up to the Ishtar Gate made of blue glazed bricks, with reliefs of lions and daisies.

The Goddess Ishtar was the Babylonian High-Mother-Goddess known as "The Lightbringer". Her cult was the most important one of ancient Babylon. Her sacred animal was the lion. Other animals she represented were snakes, winged lions and scorpions. Her sign was the 8-pointed star, her stone was lapis, her number was 15.

There is a lot to contemplate here. Lapis, lions, stars, goddesses. And it is only one of the many gates of my journey. Oh my. I suddenly feel the urge to lock my doors and gorge on marzipan.

Sunday, May 14, 2006

The Duchess of Flensburg

The Pope returned home to much fan-fare from the prominent members of his flock. There were many stories to be told,laughs to be had, and token gifts to be handed out.

Among his ardent followers is none other than HRH The Duchess of Flensburg. The Duchess is a direct descendent of the Royal Court of Flensburg, Germany. For reasons that remain secret and suspect to this very day, the Family Flens was exiled to America. ( We suspect it had to do with the unproven notion that older women in the Family Flens had an unusual pension for wanting to marry young boys...but that is a matter we will leave for the German tabloids to sort out.) The Duchess, being among the Pope's favorites due to his love of riches and royalty, received the largest cache from the Fatherland. Among her treasures were goblets and crests of her homeland, as well as samples of her favorite medicine, Flensburger Pilsener. And due to the current Pope's recent leniency regarding the use of the 'love glove', our Duchess received her very own Felnsburger Pilsener condom. For a special occasion, preferably with a Duke of proper age. ( To get your own Duke of Love glove, www.flens.de).

The Pope had a restful first week back. I, on the other hand, did not. Work was hectic, my sluggish immune system ordered up another cold and my cats have yet to finish scolding me for unwarranted abandonment.

Sunday, May 07, 2006

My Heart Is Full

It's 9 o'clock in the morning in Akron, NY and I'm already eating chocolate covered marzipan. I justify this indulgence by telling myself it is really 3 o'clock in the afternoon in Germany. Having arrived home only yesterday, my mind and body still think it's almost tea and sweets time. I'm hoping to delude myself in this manner for many days to come, as this is a fabulous way to start the day.

After 2 weeks in Germany, it was proven to me that good, loving people live everywhere.

On Thursday, May 4th, my interpreter, the Pope and me were leaving North Germany for Hamburg by train. We received a call from Onkle Thomas and Tante Marlis of Flensburg that they wished to travel down to the train station to wave goodbye to us. A 50 minute drive just to wave goodbye from the train platform. How adorable.

We met at the station with time to spare before the train departed. They handed us gift wrapped chocolate and we sat and talked for awhile. Then to my great delight, Onkel Thomas opened a case he brought and took out his red accordian. He strapped it on and started playing. Everyone around us on the platform was amazed. I burst into tears.

3 songs and much applause later, our train arrived. We hugged, said many thank yous, and climbed onboard. When we had our seats, Onkel Thomas played one more song standing in front of the train window. I couldn't stop crying. What a magnificent gesture.

Germany is beautiful. I was priviledged to see a deeper level of its beauty through the people I just happen to be related to. I saw the reality of how people live by being welcomed into so many homes. Although they could stand to buy larger bathtowels and use fabric softener more liberally, the energy of love is palpable. My heart is full.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Auf Weidersehen, Nordfreisland

Yesterday proved to be lovely. After a needed rest the evening before, my interpreter, the Pope and me were out and about in the little city of Husum. We bought more goodies despite swearing an oath we were done weighing down our suitcases. I believe there is a hernia in my future.

We visited 3 churches, 2 of which were beautiful and full of art from carved wood. One had the apostles in standing relief on its north wall. To my great delight, Mary Magdeline was the first apostle in line. Certainly this artist knew a spiritual secret. Since Mary M. is a new hero of mine, I took a lovely photo of her likeness to live with my Buddha at home.

The next surprise was stumbling upon a modern art gallery, with cafe, disguised as an old German building. It was white-washed with a thatched roof, smack in the middle of a tiny village. We snuck inside and were amazed to find an entire gallery of modern art upstairs above the cafe. The artist is 70 year old Günter Skrodzki. He has just completed a visual illustration of the entire bible, all in individual prints from handcarved wood cuts. 450 total. It took him 5 years. He has yet to contact any galleries in America to exhibit his vast work. I suggested contacting our beloved Albright-Knox Art Gallery in Buffalo, NY. Günter's website is: www.guenter-skrodzki.de.

We had tea and torte with Silke in the afternoon and Abend Bröt with Önkel Franz and Tante Dita in the evening. I took the Pope up to the top of the dike (Önkel Franz' house is right next to the dike at the North Sea) to meet the grazing lambs and feel the constant breeze. There is also a bird sanctuary there and we saw a swan on her nest. The Pope asked for divine intervention and I managed to get his picture on the dike with sheep in the background. We said a tearful goodbye to Ö. Franz and T. Dita and headed back home for our final nightcap with our host and cousin, Johannes.

Today we say goodbye to our car and navigational assistant, Helga. We will take the train to Hamburg to stay with Tante Inge and Önkel Jörn. Tomorrow we will tour the vast Hamburg harbor as it celebrates it's 817th anniversary. The Queen Mary is expected to appear. Then Saturday morning we will say farewell to Germany.

I can't wait to come back.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Miss Popularity in Nordfreisland

It is the 5th day in Nordfreisland for the Pope, my interpreter and me. This is northern Germany where my interpreter was born. It is the polar opposite from Berlin. Here we have vast, open green fields with thousands of sheep grazing. (Joy of joys, it' lamb season!) Little hamlets of pointed-roof brick houses. Narrow lanes that pass for 2-way streets. The ceaseless wind off the North Sea. Fish, fish and more fish.( Smoked eel and herring salad are surprisingly good.) Bicycles with baskets in front and back. Modern windmill farms everywhere. And an endless supply of phenomenal bread.

It appears I am related to everyone in this area to one degree or another. And they have all taken it upon themselves to invite the 3 of us to meals. (Breakfast continues to be the King of meals.)

Our first full day up here was at the home of Önkel Franz and Tante Dita. Breakfast lasted for 3 full hours. Önkel Franz is 90 and speaks not a word of English, but we shed some tears upon seeing each other. I did my best to follow conversations throughout our 12 hours together, but after 3 hours, my head was spinning. Tante Dita speaks the northern language of Platt Duetsch (low German) and Önkel Franz speaks Hoch Duetsch (high German). She would speak to him in low, and he would answer in high. My interpreter was doing double duty. The Pope grew terribly fond of both of them.

We visited Önkel Thomas and Tante Marlis in the Baltic Sea city of Flensberg, Germany on Saturday. Had a huge breakfast on Sunday with Tante Adele and family. Fed the belted Galloway cattle with Cousin Holge on Sunday as well, and later spent the evening with he and his lovely wife ,Anita. Monday was a 9 hour bus tour, with meals, around all of Nordfreisland with my interpreter and her highschool class reunion. (I believe I have now seen every sheep in existence here.) As soon as we were off the bus, it was over to Tante Ilse und Önkel Otto's for Abend Brot( the evening meal) where I had my first likable taste of sauerkraut. Then back 'home' to have a nightcap with cousin Johannes and his son, Tobias. This morning it was breakfast at Silke's house, who is an adopted member of Johannes' family. I believe tha makes her related to me somehow. Then into the nearby city Of Husum for lunch with my interpreter's friend, Erica, and shopping.

I am now in a state of collapse. It has been a social marathon, being Miss Popularity. I have drank more black tea, and eaten more bread, cheese, salmon and cake than ever in my life. But my congeniality banner is a bit tattered and my cranky pants were about to be hoisted up over my ankles, so tonight we are canceling plans to have a calm meal at a lovely restaurant where English will be the primary language spoken.

Guten Appetit!