Thursday, October 31, 2019

Resilience and Hope


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Earlier this evening, All Hallows Eve, my friends Brent, Sharon, and Cori and I attended BareBones' 26th Annual Halloween Outdoor Puppet Extravaganza at Hidden Falls Regional Park, on the Mississippi River in Saint Paul. It was my first time attending this popular Twin Cities cultural event. And, yes, it was definitely worth braving the chilly autumn night air to see it.

This year's extravaganza was entitled "And the Fires Will Burn," and I very much appreciate how Rah Diavola, co-director of BareBones, talks about what this means.

Resilience and Hope. When asked about this year’s theme, that is my answer.

As the seasons change and the veil thins, we take time to reflect on everything that is, all that has passed and that which is yet to come. The cycles of life and death, grief and loss, struggle and success carry on. We put our gardens to bed and bundle in our cocoons to weather the long, dark and cold nights that lay ahead. We take time to go inward, to heal, to transform. We struggle to break free from all that holds us back as we search for light. We hold onto hope for spring’s renewal.

We chose the dandelion as our thru line because of it’s simplicity. Within that simplicity, there is potency. Dandelions are a symbol of resistance, resilience and hope. They grow through the cracks and spread their seeds blown with wishes upon the wind and water. They are seen as weeds to be poisoned and destroyed. Yet they are brilliant medicinal healers and readily available food for all. Dandelions continue to flourish and provide nourishment in spite of it all.

Thru all of our struggles, our heartbreak, confusion, grief, and loss we must carry on. Find hope in the seeds scattered on the wind; in the river that rushes on; the webs that continue to weave; and in the fires that still burn.



Above and below: These figures immediately got my attention due to their resemblance to Cernunnos, antlered god of the ancient Celts.





Above and below: The Memorial Tree, where I lit a candle
for my father Gordon Bayly, who died earlier this year. The victims of violence, including Philando Castile, where especially remembered by the placing of their photographs on the tree and by the following invocation.



At this hour of Memorial ~ veils thin ~ We recall with grief all who have perished through the cruelty of oppression – victims of demonic hate. They lie in nameless graves, far off lonely fields, many have been scattered by the winds to the four corners, yet they shall not be forgotten for we take them into our hearts and give them a place besides our own cherished memories of loved ones. May their memories be an enduring blessing for all. In the rising of the sun and in its going down, we remember. In the blowing of the wind and in the chill of winter, we remember. In the opening of buds and the rebirth of spring, we remember them. We remember them. In the rustling of leaves and the beauty of autumn, we remember them. When we are weary and in need of strength, we remember them. So long as we live, they too shall live, for they are now a part of us as we remember them. . . .



See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
Samhain: A Time of Magick and Mystery
At Hallowtide, Pagan Thoughts on Restoring Our World and Our Souls
The Pagan Roots of All Saints Day
Halloween Thoughts
An All Hallows Eve Reflection
A Hallowtide Reflection
“Call Upon Those You Love”
All You Holy Men and Women
Our Sacred Journey Continues: An All Saints and Souls Day Reflection
An All Souls Day Reflection
“A Dark Timelessness and Stillness Surrounds Her Wild Abandonment”
Gabriel Fauré's “ChristoPagan” Requiem
Advent: A “ChristoPagan” Perspective
Magician Among the Spirits

Related Off-site Link:
Samhain: Honoring Ancestors of Craft and Tradition – Coby Michael Ward (Patheos, October 15, 2018).

Images: Michael J. Bayly (October 31, 2019).


Wednesday, October 30, 2019

Autumn Psalm


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I glimpsed the images of autumn that comprise this evening's post when recently down by the Mississippi River, close to the Franklin Avenue Bridge, and when walking through the nearby Seward neighborhood of south Minneapolis. This neighborhood has been my home now for about a month, having moved here from that part of south Minneapolis close to Chicago Ave. and Minnehaha Creek.

My photos are accompanied by Edward Hays' “Autumn Psalm of Fearlessness,” from his book Prayers for a Planetary Pilgrim. And, yes, Edward's psalm has taken on new and special significance since I started working as a palliative care chaplain just over a year ago.


I am surrounded by a peaceful ebbing,
as creation bows to the mystery of life;
all that grows and lives must give up life,
yet it does not really die.
As plants surrender their life,
bending, brown and wrinkled,
and yellow leaves of trees
float to my lawn like parachute troops,
they do so in a sea of serenity.

I hear no fearful cries from creation,
no screams of terror,
as death daily devours
once-green and growing life.
Peaceful and calm is autumn's swan song,
for she understands
that hidden in winter's death-grip
is spring's openhanded,
full-brimmed breath of life.

It is not a death rattle that sounds
over fields and backyard fences;
rather I hear a lullaby
softly swaying upon the autumn wind.
Sleep in peace, all that lives;
slumber secure, all that is dying,
for in every fall there is the rise
whose sister's name is spring.

– Edward Hays
From Prayers for a Planetary Pilgrim
Forest of Peace Books, 2005
p. 120















See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
Autumn's “Wordless Message”
A Time of Transformation
Autumnal (and Rather Pagan) Thoughts on the Making of “All Things New”
The Prayer Tree . . . Aflame
Autumn . . . Within and Beyond (2018)
Autumn . . . Within and Beyond (2016)
Photo of the Day – September 22, 2016
O Sacred Season of Autumn
“Thou Hast Thy Music Too”
Autumn Hues
The Beauty of Autumn in Minnesota
Somewhere In Between

Images: Michael J. Bayly (October 19, 2019).


Wednesday, October 23, 2019

This Is the Time

Today I celebrate 54 years of life on this beautiful planet and of connection to some truly inspiring individuals and communities.

And I have to say that for all of this I am grateful beyond measure.

As has been the tradition at The Wild Reed, I mark the occasion of my birthday by sharing a song or prayer or reflection that I find particularly meaningful.

On my 44th birthday, for instance, I shared Stephan Gately's performance of “No Matter What,” and when I turned 45 I shared “Where the Truth Lies” by the band Exchange.

In 2012, when I turned 47, I shared a prayer for balance at a very trying time, not only for me, but for many of us here in Minnesota.

Five years ago, on the first day of my fiftieth year, I shared a “guidepost on the journey,” and then one year later on the day of my 50th birthday, I shared Buffy Sainte-Marie's rousing “It's My Way.”

In 2017, when I turned 52, I shared a beautiful poem by John O'Donohue; while last year on my 53rd birthday, I shared vocalist Carl Anderson's “Love Is,” a beautiful and powerful meditation on the mystery of love (something I seem to be constantly pondering and wrestling with!)

This year I'm happy to share “This Is the Time,” a beautiful song by Senegalese singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Daby Touré. It's from his 2012 album Lang(u)age.

Daby Touré's music has been described as a “soothing balm for the soul,” and, as World Beat International notes, even though Toure's “roots extend back to Mali, his family has spread to Senegal and Mauritania where Daby was raised soaking up the sounds of a vibrant, cultural hub.” Then, “like so many West African musicians before him, Daby fled the instability of the region to pursue his career in Paris.” It's not surprising, then, that Lang(u)age is an “intimate musical rendition of personal memories and multiple identities.”

The album version of “This Is the Time,” features French rapper Oxmo Puccino. However, in the 2015 live rendition below, Daby performs the song solo. (For Daby's full 30-minute performance and interview in the studio of Seattle's KEXP Radio, click here.)

After the video, I'll talk a little about why I chose to share Daby's “This Is the Time” on my birthday this year.




In my life when I try
In my life

There's a sign it is so
In my life

Read the sign and I know
It is so

In your life that you see
It is so

It's so easy for a man to lose control
In everyone he knows
And again we face a lonely naked soul
Time to let it go
Don't blame me now

This is the time time time time
For us for us for us

This is so
Higher love
It is so
This is so
Higher love
It is so
Comin' in
Do you know higher love?
This is mine
This is ours
Don't let go

This is the time time time time
For us for us for us


I've been through a lot this past year: my dear Dad died, I started working full time as a palliative care chaplain, I ended a four-year relationship, and I moved house . . . twice.

Lots of endings, you could say, but also lots of beginnings. . . . and a very real sense that, as Daby Touré sings, this is the time.

I feel it deep within me. . . . Feel that it is not only a time of new beginnings but also of new understandings, new possibilities, a new level of awareness and action.

And I'm not just talking about within my personal life. I'm sure everyone reading this knows that the whole of humanity is currently being challenged by things like the climate crisis and the rise of authoritarianism. Such things can be paralyzing for some, but I see them as challenging us to evolve our way of being in the world.

Daby puts it in the following way when talking about “This Is the Time”:

It's a time for all of us in the world, for human beings, to understand that we all are the same, and we all come from the same place, and we are all going to the same place. And it is time for us to understand that . . . we have to live together.


I understand this “same place” as the place of awareness and embodiment of the “higher love” that Daby sings about.

Is it any wonder, then, that I'm so drawn to the presidential campaign of spiritual author Marianne Williamson. (I'm pictured at right wearing my “Marianne 2020” cap when out walking last weekend in the woods!) . . . I mean, Marianne  and her campaign are all about recognizing the need to embody this higher love in and through our lives, and thus our politics, so as to to go beyond the symptoms and address and transform the underlying problems that are causing so much harm in our lives and throughout the United States.

As Marianne recently said on The Conversation:

We need to do some radical truth-telling here. It can't just be a policy fix here and a policy fix there. It can't just be talking about the symptoms. We have to present to the American people a far more holistic, integrated vision of a real fundamental turning – a turning of the heart.


And elsewhere:

The hope for this country lies in the embrace of a politics that does not flow like bile from the power of an amoral economic system, but from the power of deep humanitarian principles at the core of our democracy. This speaks not just to changes in Washington but to changes in our hearts as well.

These are spiritually revolutionary times.

Rehearsal is over.

The time of change is now.


Such an insightful call to action brings to mind Greg Korn's recent YouTube comment: “Marianne Williamson has a rare ability to articulate the ethics of the Left in an approachable, graceful, confident, and wildly intelligent way. I truly believe that she's the most intellectually and philosophically sophisticated candidate I've seen in my lifetime.”



Marianne Williamson invites all of us to use politics as an instrument of love. Indeed, for decades, through her books and her activism, she has urged humanity to return to – and act out of – its deepest value and highest aspiration: love.

Her campaign theme song, appropriately enough, is Stevie Wonder's "Higher Ground." But I think it could just as easily be Daby Touré's "This Is the Time"!

May it indeed be the time for all of us . . .

The time that sees each of us open ourselves to the love deep within us and all around us.

The time when in both our personal lives and our lives as members of society, we embody love and, in doing so, actively and consciously cast out fear and hate.

The time when we let go of all that constricts, oppresses, and consumes

The time when we welcome and trust the bold and the new and the extravagantly generous.

The time when we risk being vulnerable and trust that we are worthy of love.

The time when we read the signs around us and together act accordingly.

The time when it is so.


This is so
Higher love
It is so
This is so
Higher love
It is so
Comin' in
Do you know higher love?
This is mine
This is ours

This is the time time time time
For us for us for us




For more of Daby Touré at The Wild Reed, see the previous post:
Daby Touré

For more of Marianne Williamson, see:
The Relevance and Vitality of Marianne Williamson’s 2020 Presidential Campaign
Caitlin Johnstone: “Status Quo Politicians Are Infinitely ‘Weirder’ Than Marianne Williamson”
Presidential Candidate Marianne Williamson: “We’re Living at a Critical Moment in Our Democracy”
Friar André Maria: Quote of the Day – June 28, 2019
Marianne Williamson Plans on Sharing Some “Big Truths” on Tonight's Debate Stage
“A Lefty With Soul”: Why Presidential Candidate Marianne Williamson Deserves Some Serious Attention
Marianne Williamson: Quote of the Day – April 24, 2019
Why Marianne Williamson Is a Serious and Credible Presidential Candidate
Talkin’ ’Bout An Evolution: Marianne Williamson’s Presidential Bid
Marianne Williamson: Quote of the Day – November 5, 2018
In the Garden of Spirituality – Marianne Williamson

See also:
With Love Inside
On This "Echoing-Day" of My Birth
Turning 50
A Guidepost on the Journey
In the Eye of the Storm, a Tree of Living Flame
Journeying Into the Truth . . . Valiantly, of Course
No Matter What


Monday, October 21, 2019

Arthur Kleinman on the “Soul of Care”


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This week is Spiritual Care Week, which means that all around the world organizations and institutions are recognizing the spiritual care providers and the spiritual care that's given through professional chaplaincy and pastoral counseling within their communities.

Started in 1983 as “Pastoral Care Week,” this global celebration of spiritual care takes place every year in the last week of October. This year marks this special week's 34th anniversary.

As a palliative care chaplain in a hospital setting, my work is all about spiritual care. And it just so happens that my birthday occurs within Spiritual Care Week! How appropriate is that?

In celebrating Spiritual Care Week here at The Wild Reed I share an excerpt from The Soul of Care by Arthur Kleinman, a wonderful and powerful book that I'm currently reading. I find Kleinman's understanding of care to be one that very much resonates with my experiences as both a professional chaplain and as a human being who seeks to be a living embodiment of Divine Presence in the world.

____________________________


Care is a human development process. Often in our society, boys are raised to be careless, girls to be careful. It takes a long time for adolescent and young men to learn to care about others and then become caring, and at last give care. While the social pressure and cultural expectations of women to be carers is much greater, it doesn't mean care is natural or easier for them. Women develop as carers too, Care is centered in relationships. Caregiving and receiving is a gift-sharing process in which we give and receive attention, affirmation, practical assistance, emotional support, moral solidarity, and abiding meaning that is complicated and incomplete. Care is action, practice, performance. Often it is reaction. A constant reaction to the needs of others and ourselves under difficult conditions and in different contexts. Care is accompanying someone through their experiences of alarm and injury. It is assisting, protecting, thinking ahead to prevent further difficulty.

Care is also about the vital presence – the liveliness and fullness of being – of both the caregiver and the care recipient. Acts of caring call that presence out from within us. Care does not end with death but involves actively caring for memories. I learned that caregiving entails moments of terror and panic, of self-doubt and hopelessness – but also moments of deep human connection, of honesty and revelation, of purpose and gratification.

I also learned how far the domain of caregiving extends beyond the boundaries of medicine. Caregiving is perhaps the most ubiquitous activity of human beings, and it can be the most demanding, at times discouraging, one. It is also the existential activity through which we most fully realize our humanity. In the humblest moments of caring – mopping a sweaty brow, changing a soiled sheet, reassuring an agitated person, kissing the cheek of a loved one at the end of life – we may embody the finest versions of ourselves. It can offer redemption to the caregiver and the person to whom he is giving care. Care can offer wisdom for the art of living.

Caregiving is hard, sometimes tedious, unglamorous work, but it resonates with emotional, moral, and even religious significance. Understanding the meanings that arise from the practical work of care may help us to meet the challenges of sustaining it, and of enduring its many trials, and also may strengthen us to face the other tests that life brings. Those challenges are increasing. I believe we are living through a dangerous time when high-quality care is seriously threatened among families, in the health professions, in our hospitals and aged care homes, and in our society at large. Amid the hardness, hate, violence, and cynicism that fuel politics today, an anti-caring ethos prevails, and undermined by funding that scarcely touches the need, care can be wrongly portrayed as softness and sentimentality. It is neither. Care is the human glue that holds together families, communities, and societies. Care offers an alternative story of how we live and who we are. But it is being silenced and diminished in value, in the United States and around the world, sacrificed on the altar of economy and efficiency, demanding more and more of families and health care professionals with fewer and fewer resources, and threatening to displace meaning in health care. The moral language of human experience, of people's suffering and healing – the bedrock of our common experience – is being stifled, and at worst will be lost.

We must be prepared to ask uncomfortable questions of ourselves, to challenge the assumptions of our institutions and the premises of the "health care debate." It is time to act. This volume is my testament about caregiving and why it matters most.

– Arthur Kleinman
Excerpted from the prologue of his book, The Soul of Care:
The Moral Education of a Husband and a Doctor

pp. 3-5


See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
World Hospice and Palliative Care Day
Chaplaincy: A Ministry of Welcome
Interfaith Chaplaincy: Meeting People Where They're At
Spirituality and the Healthcare Setting

Image: A sculpture on the grounds of Emmaus Nursing Home in Port Macquarie, Australia, where my father Gordan Bayly lived the last two months of his life earlier this year. (Photo: Michael J. Bayly)


Sunday, October 20, 2019

Return to Guruk (August 19–29, 2019)


It's been almost two months now since I returned from my August visit to Australia, and I'm still working on documenting that important time in the land of my birth here at The Wild Reed.

I say "important" because as most reading this would know, this particular visit was precipitated by word of my father Gordon Bayly's sudden decline in health and his subsequent death on August 5, a day I never actually experienced as it was the day I "lost" as I traveled across the International Date Line to Australia from the U.S.

In this post I share images and commentary on my time spent in Guruk (my name for the coastal town of Port Macquarie) with my mother, Margaret Bayly, from August 19-29. This 10-day period immediately followed a 5-day visit to my hometown of Gunnedah that Mum, my youngest nephew Brendan, and I undertook from August 14-18.

Once back in Guruk, Brendan returned to his home and studies in Melbourne, while Mum and I settled into a quiet routine, one that involved me accompanying and supporting her as she did all those practical but poignant things required after the death of a spouse – things like transferring the title of the car to Mum's name, taking Dad's name of various bank accounts, and collecting his ashes from the funeral home. At night after dinner, Mum and I would watch documentaries (via YouTube on the TV) of various singers and actors we admired – Jane Fonda, Shirley Bassey, Nat King Cole, Petula Clark, Karen Carpenter, Kenneth Williams and Yootha Joyce.

During the day we'd often have lunch with friends whom Mum and Dad had first gotten to know when they moved to Port Macquarie from Gunnedah in 2002. All are wonderful people, and a great support to Mum.






I'd also spend time alone by the ocean, usually at dusk, an experience I always find both grounding and healing.






Above and below: Cowarra Dam – Tuesday, August 27, 2019.

The area around Port Macquarie (Aboriginal: Guruk) and the Hastings River (Aboriginal: Doongang) has been home to the Birpai Aboriginal peoples for tens of thousands of years. Traditional Birpai life changed forever with the mapping and naming of the area by Surveyor-General John Oxley in 1818. Three years later in 1821, Port Macquarie was founded as a penal settlement for convicts sentenced for secondary crimes committed in New South Wales. The region was opened to free settlers nine years later.





Above and below: Grants Head, the headland at the northern end of Grants Beach, located just south of the coastal town of Bonny Hills.

I climbed this headland on the morning of Wednesday, August 28. I climbed it last just this past April when I was in Australia visiting my ailing Dad.












Above, right, and below: On Thursday, August 29, Mum and I took a day-trip south along the coast to the town of Laurieton.

I should say that the restaurant sign (below) was totally misleading. When Mum and I were seated inside we were told that the $12 lunch was a vegetarian dish while the local black snapper was the Fish of the Day, and priced at something like $25! 🤣 . . . Although neither of us went for that, we still had a pleasant lunch.







NEXT: Journey to Northern Rivers Country


See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
Dad
Remembering and Celebrating Dad
Family Time in Guruk
Across the Mountains . . . from Guruk to Gunnedah
An Unexpected Visitor
Family Time in Gunnedah

Images: Michael Bayly and Margaret Bayly.