Posted by: jruthkelly | March 15, 2014

Obliteration into Love

“There are love stories,
and there is obliteration into love.

You have been walking the ocean’s edge,
holding up your robes to keep them dry.

You must dive naked under and deeper under,

j. ruth kelly, all rights reserved

j. ruth kelly, all rights reserved

a thousand times deeper. Love flows down.

The ground submits to the sky and suffers what comes.
Tell me, is the earth worse for giving in like that?

Do not put blankets over the drum.
Open completely.

Let your spirit listen
to the green dome’s passionate murmur.

Let the cords of your robe be untied.
Shiver in this new love beyond all above and below.
The sun rises, but which way does the night go?

I have no more words. Let the soul speak
with the silent articulation of a face.”

Rumi, The Big Red Book

Posted by: jruthkelly | March 13, 2014

What the Ice Storm Brings…

Four packed tightly under covers…eight feet gifting each other with warmth, one pair seeking another less warm, giving kind remedy; sharing space tangled up in an attic bedroom with no power but two candles and giggles and then sweet sleep in a hushed daylight filled with ice. Soft snores after a breakfast too big except for nothing else to do in a town coated in winter’s grasp.

j. ruth kelly, 2014, all rights reserved

j. ruth kelly, 2014, all rights reserved

Then firelight and stove top sustenance, candles lit all over a house bathed mostly in shadow and cold but oh so warm. Games and face time, firewood and laughter, gathered ice for coolers salvaging what we can. Tallulah River stone soup for feet unaccompanied, gathering hot river gems up in cloth to carry up to bed, settling in for a night of no heat.

And.

A renewed, stark, startling awareness of what conveniences pilfer,
their insipid gain robbing us of something only an ice storm can bring…
connection more profoundly felt, reliance more sweetly known.

j. ruth kelly, 2014, all rights reserved

j. ruth kelly, 2014, all rights reserved


Face time…
firelight…
turning to the earth for protection…
ingenuity…
appreciation for life’s turns less convenient
reminding us of treasure sometimes lost
in what we understand as wealth.

Maybe the earth conspires to remind us how vulnerable we are, both in our advancements and without them. And without our bonds of love, our shared space and renewed survival ability, we would wilt under a perpetually shining sun.

j. ruth kelly, all rights reserved, 2014

j. ruth kelly, all rights reserved, 2014

Either way, there’s nothing like the pleasure of finding your kids will make, not complaint, but fun in the face of one more dance with winter’s whimsy.

Posted by: jruthkelly | February 25, 2014

What Do You Love?

Most of us can compile a long list of what/who we love, going on and on including how much we love the feeling of scratching an itch…

but the one love most needful, is also most elusive…

I LOVE this expression and the wisdom rolling from this beautiful person.

Posted by: jruthkelly | February 22, 2014

Behind The Headlines…

Behind the headlines, we live our lives; we flesh out the stories no one hears about. Behind the headlines and media streams, screams and body-shaking laughter shape the lines we call the daily grind, routines, dances and chores. And on a plane heading for the continental equivalent of “another country” by comparison to the deep south, I sat in the same row with three beautiful young men, a window seat providing views of everything from the loblolly pines of my stomping grounds to the Grand Canyon, Death Valley and finally, L.A. These fellows were, from what their conversation amongst each other revealed, heading to Cali for a musical debut, maybe their own. One looked familiar, his voice reminiscent of a rap song I couldn’t quite place. My cultural lens suggested hip hop haunts, at least. They had presence, however low-key but not easily missed. In any case, they were the story behind my headline “Ruth’s Plane Trip to Cali” but they had no idea, minding their own business, alternately napping, checking out Youtube videos and discussing plans while I dottilized and pondered the work and fun awaiting me. We were cordial, considerate and appropriately distant as some travelers can be on long flights. Besides the passing smiles, considerate shared space and taking turns to get to the loo, nothing eventful or significant occurred.

But then the plane landed and the long line trailed down the center, people disembarking as quickly as they could. The three guys disappeared and I stood, somewhat hunched, in no hurry to trample my way past people. It seemed the typical “every man for himself” and I didn’t want to participate. I waited for a lull. And finally this pause as a young man, my former row-mate, comes back up the center, moving against the flow. He’s maybe 3 rows up from me as I’m inching my way closer to moving into the flow of bodies exiting and our eyes lock. I smile, wondering what’s he doing back here, looking around to see if he’s left something behind, seeing nothing but assuming he did. I inch forward and look up to see if there’s anything I can do to get myself moving and assist if he’s left something and in those short increments of time he’s moved up to an arm’s length closer, stopping exiting passengers and looks at me: “Do you need help?” I’m puzzled. He’s not grabbing any lost gear. He’s standing there, blocking the flow and making it possible for me to get out of my row easily. I do so and respond “I’m good but thank you.” He won’t relent, opens the overhead, sees the lone carry on (mine) and asks “Is that yours? Can I get that for you?” I’ve been accused of not knowing when I’m being flirted with but the truth is, I typically do know and by the time I’ve fought my initial shyness it’s over. (Youngest of 4 daughters typically expects to be unseen except for the red hair. Old imprints die hard.) I can say this was no flirtation or con or, or even the effort of a man to get his gear and be helpful to assuage the reality of blocking traffic. He wasn’t looking me up and down, a strictly eye-contact encounter. Nothing unusual except an enormously unusual concern. He didn’t get anything for himself, hadn’t left anything. I don’t know what initially prompted him to work his way back up the row, against the flow of people exiting but he wound up right there, looking at me and insisting on helping, like a kid brother who realizes he’s left his sis behind. In spite of my previous “I’m good!” he reached up, noting my nod when asking if the bag was mine, grabbed the carry on and hefted it down, pausing a split second to find the handle, pulling it out for me and then turning around to exit the plane in front of me. Nothing solicitous. No interactions with others. I was dumbfounded and thankful, expressing my appreciation as I grabbed the handle, moving forward. “Sure, no problem.” he said, disappearing again ahead of me. I melted into the long line, appreciating the time to let it sink in as I smiled to myself: “Gee whiz…welcome to L.A., Ruth.”

j. ruth kelly, 2014, all rights reserved

j. ruth kelly, 2014, all rights reserved

I passed him in the tunnel and paused “Thanks again. I really appreciate it.” He didn’t miss a beat, standing with his friend, looking up briefly from a cell phone: “You’re welcome. Have a great time in L.A.!” I don’t believe in karma. Not mostly. Not usually. So many people do loads of beautiful and generous things out of a desire to make the world a happier place and get precious little in return for it (except the not insignificant reward of knowing they have made a quiet difference). Karma? Ha. But I had been helpful on a connecting flight, it was knee-jerk, a seemingly small endeavor, no big deal. It certainly wasn’t in proportion to what came at me, up that aisle, a generous regard against the tide of exiting passengers but I thought about karma as I left that plane and I wondered why it sometimes appears to exist and other times, not so much. It didn’t matter. It doesn’t matter.

I know people are kind. This is no newsflash and it’s seldom in the headlines. I get it. But this? It was more than the typical consideration, hitting home, reinforcing something somewhat frayed by life’s less gracious rides. We have any number of headline events to contend with, blurring what’s happening in aisles and homes, towns and countrysides all over the world, all at once. The 2013 headlines for me were such a surreal mix of tragedy, betrayal, renewal and grace I may well have looked wary as I boarded that plane ‘though I was excited and glad to be there. All those headlines make an impact, if we’re not careful, on our ideas of what is “out there” in the big world and in our futures. The truth is, when we make it past the headlines and manage to nurture some level of faith in love, we discover the beauty of what it means to be human in the mean streets and tunnels taking us to places where we can discover a deeper richness of living.

Behind the headlines, we’re thriving, growing a history that defies the worst of our mistakes, flying love in the face of every contradiction of value…as we dare to risk yet another round of adventure.

Posted by: jruthkelly | February 20, 2014

An Occasional Banquet

“Everyone decides what love is for them. Some of us stop at practicality. Others prefer a little bit of romance. And some of us will only stop when the most soulful love connection walks through the door. Of course, the practical ones have a much better chance of lasting. But the soulful ones have a chance to touch God. Their odds of lasting are lower, but they don’t much care. They know the chance they take. They prefer an occasional banquet with God to 3 meals a day with a stranger. Pick your path.” — An excerpt from Jeff Brown’s download course “The Sacred Feminine Rising”

Photo by J. Ruth Kelly, All Rights Reserved 2014

Photo by J. Ruth Kelly, All Rights Reserved 2014

Posted by: jruthkelly | January 27, 2014

Between Myth and Reality

“Where the myth fails, human love begins. Then we love a human being, not our dream, but a human being with flaws.” Anaïs Nin

Somewhere between the myth and reality, we shape our ideals of what we want out of life and love, family, friends, lover. Career. And then those images collide with the grit of daily life, the smells and feltness, the bits and pieces of all we can’t predict, flaws, quirks, unforeseen strengths and mystery. And predictability, non-mystery weaves a plain strand or two of sometimes boredom into a tapestry more rich than anything we could have idealized. The task of sinking roots deeply into a love affair with the real, with the presence of dirt and sweat, clutter and challenge shapes a commitment to being in life, being in love with what is and with what we can shape of ourselves in love without compromising the most vital layers of our uniqueness.

I’ve been happily drowning in the real, sometimes treading water as the holidays and work, family and wellness focus swirl a bit of chaos all around me – yet somehow forming a tangible shape and pattern, evidence of an intended life. The most precious, stellar, memorable points of time along the path etch their significance through the preparations, in the chores and the whispers, the spontaneous and relentless hugs, the laughter, the raised voices and moments of conflict, frustration and struggle. These are the treasures: the real, the dance with delight and disappointment. Without the adventure of flaws, of living beyond our dreams, outside the mythical gates and airy fairy hopes, without these we become flat, laid out on some whiteboard, waiting for “fulfillment.”

But we cherish our myths and dreams. They shape for us a cauldron, brewing elixirs of possibility, made especially from that seminal strain of individuality and mixed with the valid distinctions of what we all long for, and especially what our souls require. Somewhere between the myth and reality, in the lands of making-real, we shape our appetites to love each other because of, in spite of and in full light of our sometimes frail humanity. And we carve out our capacity for joy, for gratitude and for love-sense by how artfully we accept what is and what is not.

Here’s to the beauty of this life…

j. ruth kelly, all rights reserved, 2014

j. ruth kelly, all rights reserved, 2014

 

 

Posted by: jruthkelly | January 26, 2014

To the Outermost Bound…

“These immense spaces of creation cannot be spanned by our finite powers; these great cycles of time cannot be lived even by the life of a race. And yet, small as is our whole system compared with the infinitude of creation, brief as is our life compared with cycles of time, we are so tethered to all by the beautiful dependencies of law, that not only the sparrow’s fall is felt to the outermost bound, but the vibrations set in motion by the words that we utter reach through all space and the tremor is felt through all time.” Maria Mitchell

j. ruth kelly, all rights reserved, 2014

j. ruth kelly, all rights reserved, 2014

 

Posted by: jruthkelly | December 23, 2013

Wonder Sense

“Is the exploration of the natural world just a pleasant way to pass the golden hours of childhood or is there something deeper?

I am sure there is something much deeper, something lasting and significant. Those who dwell, as scientists or laymen, among the beauties and mysteries of the earth are never alone or weary of life. Whatever the vexation or concerns of their personal lives, their thoughts can find paths that lead to inner contentment and to renewed excitement in living. Those who contemplate the beauty of the earth find reserves of strength that will endure as long as life lasts. There is symbolic as well as actual beauty in the migration of the birds, the ebb and flow of the tides, the folded bud ready for the spring. There is something infinitely healing in the repeated refrains of nature — the assurance that dawn comes after night, and spring after the winter.” (Rachel Carson, from The Sense of Wonder)

I reflect on 2013 with surprise, amazement and gratitude. The landscape behind me unfolds many growthful moments sustaining but not without the visitation of potent losses and some ridiculous scuffles with bullies in grown-up pose. Yet, an underpinning of daily love-wealth and a sense of wonder grows in the midst of it all, somehow not diminished by all that could potentially block the light of such a beautiful sun shining down on our fleeting lives. The blossoming of new ventures and friendships, the growth of my children and their ability to nurture the creative within, feltness of soul and the wisdom of authenticity, these realities settle all the questions posed by events impossible to control. The punctuation of some fractured bonds and tides of change suggesting something I should have done differently or might have foreseen if only I hadn’t trusted, loved, kept my heart open…had a pulse, passion, and vision…these moments whisper at me too. “If only” takes me nowhere. So I try not to go there. The alternative is to close off, shut down, refuse risk, assume it’s all caused by some fatal internal flaw. Those “laws of attraction” can pose some ugly possibilities and ignores how ironic it is when the narcissists presumably thrive while the givers receive loss and those who never had a chance take the blame. I’ve concluded popular beliefs are not validated by their popularity any more than when most preferred the flat earth theory. While it’s critical we stay aware of the wicked unconscious within, doing what we can to transform, or corral or oust the more destructive layers of self, I find myself nauseated by the assurances of so many platitudes and easy answers. There are times I want to barricade myself against the world, humanity’s confusion left to boil itself out.

But the sky.

But the hugs and sounds of three birthing the soul of the world in their own unique ways.

j. ruth kelly, 2013

j. ruth kelly, 2013

But love.

But the call of birds.

But the feel of softness against skin.

Rain on face.

Sun pouring vibrations vibrant.

So much wonder.

Here’s to letting go, leaping into the unknown and trusting love…

Posted by: jruthkelly | November 15, 2013

Bruised & Pulsing

“There are certain people who come into your life, and leave a mark…
Their place in your heart is tender; a bruise of longing, a pulse of unfinished business.
Just hearing their names pushes and pulls at you in a hundred ways,
and when you try to define those hundred ways,
describe them even to yourself, words are useless.”
- Sara Zarr, Sweethearts

j. ruth kelly, all rights reserved, 2013

j. ruth kelly, all rights reserved, 2013

Posted by: jruthkelly | November 7, 2013

Purple Jesus Under the Trees

A couple weekends ago, we trekked to the woods of Hillsborough, NC for our annual family gathering at my aunt’s lovely home in the woods. While there, we managed to rub elbows with family from Virginia, Georgia, Illinois and Texas – to name a few. The hug count squeezed itself into the dozens. Doses of Purple Jesus and chocolate chip cookies added a flare of whimsy in the afternoon. Purple Jesus is a bit of redemptive alcoholic juice, 100 proof sanctification for the courageous, awaiting brave imbibers in a white bucket with a lid on it. It sits there begging dogmatic reverence find a new vibe, a sort of salvation from anything stuffy or pretentious. Besides the warning signs, the tiny little paper cups are a dead give away: you don’t want much of this heady stuff unless you’re up for a long nap in one of the hammocks or a loud show of your less-than-reserved self. Or one followed by the other. I have about 4 big sips of Purple Jesus every year as a rule. I laugh at the irony, a bucket of 100 proof liberal for a few diverse backgrounds creates that inevitable doorway into common ground. We’re human after all.

It turned out to be one of the best times for me, in spite of my qualms. I often face these gatherings with a contradictory mixture of reticence and pleased anticipation since it’s a lot to ask of my energy in general these days. And our group of folks consists of a mix of significantly conflicting political and spiritual backgrounds. It includes my parents and sisters, the characters from a past life story within my ongoing dynamic life reality, one far-removed from the territories we had claimed together. I much prefer my religion of love, trees and earth but the divide created by such profound change is often best bridged by a river, with a few sips of colorful salvation to make it all go down. It can feel surreal out there under leaves and sky. But we manage to reach past those differences and find the love in the company of trees long lost to ancient resonance, swaying in breezes oblivious to the mind’s pitfalls, sinking roots into radical grace. We take our cues from their silent testimonies, unaware and sedated by their hypnotic ministrations.

And we often walk away wishing for more opportunity to see each other beyond the woods and songs of an afternoon.

In retrospect, I find myself wishing an annual gathering for all the nations of the world, a greet and hug fest of Purple Jesus and chocolate chip cookies for the body, mind and spirit, where we set aside our differences and remember our appetites for affection and common ground, where we listen to music, pull out our guitars and sit by a fire as the river winds her way through the magick trees. We need our place of remembering where we meet, what we share beyond all the differences we pose as obstruction to unity. We need to remember how we’re all reduced to beautifully being human in the arms of earth mother, the flow of elixirs stripping pretense and pretend under the seeing sky so blue.

j. ruth kelly, 2013, all rights reserved

j. ruth kelly, 2013, all rights reserved

j. ruth kelly, 2013

j. ruth kelly, 2013

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