Friday, September 30, 2011

Happy Angel Day

The wings of angels are often found on the backs of the least likely people. ~Eric Honeycutt

Day 17
I went to mass yesterday and found out that it was the Feast Day of the Archangels. I've always known there were different "classes" of angels but I was a little confused about which angels did what so I went in search of Divine Knowledge. I googled it. I already knew that angels were messengers of God but it seems the Archangels, of whom we only know Michael, Gabriel and Raphael by name, are in charge of delivering the big important messages while countless thousands of other nameless, lesser angels are in charge of the post-it note variety of messages. It was interesting reading about these messenger angels, I bet they've built up some powerful thigh muscles running up and down Jacob's Ladder with reports to my Co-Writer about me. I've always had a question about Jacob's Ladder. When Jacob awakes from his dream about the ladder to heaven on which he see angels ascending and descending, he says, "Surely the Lord is in this place and I didn't know it. This is none other than the house of God and this must be the gate to heaven." I would have asked, "If angels can fly, why do they have to take the stairs?"

Anyway…I was more interested in my favorite sect of angels, the Guardian Angels.

I had actually forgotten I had one. But then one night a couple of weeks ago when I was going through my withdrawals and I had already gone through the whole litany of saints and all my dear departed family members in my quest for redemption and salvation from night sweats and recrimination, I remembered that once upon a time I had a Guardian Angel. In desperation I tried to recall that sweet little prayer I recited every night of my childhood.
Angel of God,
my guardian dear,
To whom God's love
commits me here,
Ever this day,
be at my side,
To light and guard,
Rule and guide.
As I recall, the image of a benevolent being fretting, clucking her tongue and watching over me did give me some solace that night and I was finally able to drift off to sleep. By the light of day I might have classified angels right up there with all other ephemeral winged creatures like fairies and unicorns but on those lonely, scared nights I'll cling to any belief that makes me feel not so alone.

I googled Guardian angels and was a little surprised to see that the Catholic Church is pretty literal in its belief in them. I don't know why I was surprised, I've always been aware of the church's belief but what had happened to mine? I guess I thought I outgrew my need for a Guardian Angel. In my mind's eye I can still see the little plastic holy water font that hung to the side of my bedroom doorway. It was plastic and molded in the shape of an angel hovering over a little boy and girl with their school books under their arms crossing a street. I do pretty good crossing streets these days (unless I'm stumbling drunk) so what did I need an angel for? And if she was supposed to rule and guide me, where the heck has she been? Why didn't she keep me away from the booze all those years? (Why doesn't she keep me out of this bag of mini-Heath bars, right now) Oh yeah. There's that thing called free will that my Co-writer gave us.

The more I googled and read the more I started to wonder. Why was it as I discarded my childhood beliefs of Santa Claus, the Tooth Fairy and the Easter Bunny, I simultaneously shed all of my beliefs in anything magical? Ever since I can remember, I had been told that God had given me one angel all for my very own. This angel would be with me always. She would protect me from evil. She would know my every thought. She would love me. And she would never leave me. Even in my loneliest moments of despair, she would stay by my side. Cool! I had my own invisible super hero. What happened? When did did the stories stop? Why did my parents and teachers and priests quit reminding me of her? It was like they bundled her up with my Barbies and Easy Bake Oven and said, "You're too old for these things. You don't need them anymore."

But the other night, I got a little tap on my shoulder and my angel whispered in my ear, "I'm still here."

This morning as I was walking along the river, I caught a glimpse of my angel up ahead of me, she was urging me to catch up. I heard her say,

"Come on. I can't wait to show you everything you've been missing,"

So today I'm just out there doing my best to catch up to my angel and give her a few days off from worrying about me. She deserves it. The feast day for Guardian Angels is coming up on October 2. I think she deserves a feast day of her very own for putting up with me.

P.S. While I was researching angels on the internet yesterday I found another site about Angels, Guide Angels . It's kind of weird but fascinating. On this website you can put in your birthdate and it will give you info on two of your "Guide Angels". One of my Guide Angels' name is Vehuaiah and if I meditate on his name the site claims it will bring about "Time Travel: Awaken remorse in your heart for prior misdeeds. Accept the frank spiritual truth that problems in your life are the result of past actions. Uproot the negative seeds that you have already planted and in doing so transform your past, reshape the present, and create a future full of joy and fulfillment." Sounds good to me. My other Guide Angel's name is Lelahel and under his influence I will gain fame from my talents and actions. "Oh Lelahel, from your lips to my Co-Writer's ear." On a wing and a prayer!

P.P.S. Before you have me labeled for the looney bin with my ramble about invisible, winged super heros let me tell you about another weird coincidence. I went to mass again this morning and it was the Feast of St. Jerome. The priest said that St. Jerome translated the Hebrew Scripture into the Latin Vulgate. I had never heard of the Latin Vulgate until yesterday. Each of my Guide Angels has their own little resume and right there at the top is a passage from the Latin Vulgate that best describes them. So there.


Tuesday, September 27, 2011

A Heaping Helping of Hope

When the world says, "Give up,"

Hope whispers, "Try it one more time."

~Author Unknown

Day 14
Before I get started, I need to extend some apologies. If you follow my blog you might have noticed that the last two posts have been removed. The first one was the excerpt about the Bridge from the book, The Language of Letting Go by Melody Beatty. I alluded to the fact that I didn't have the "rights" or permission to publish that but I went ahead and did it. That was wrong, especially for someone who would someday like to be a published author herself. I do recommend that you get the book, it has a lot of good food for thought.
In my next blog I posted a response I received to a post I submitted on a message board. That, too, broke copyright laws but even worse it broke the confidentiality of the person that posted that response. I use those message boards as my "meetings" as do many others and as such I need to treat the discussions there as I would if I attended a face-to-face meeting. It is the same respect I would want paid to me and even though we may not use our real names on the boards, our reputations are still our own, no matter what we call ourselves. I am very sorry for my indiscretion and I also want to thank the person that pointed it out to me so I won't make the same mistake again.


Yesterday morning I found myself walking the banks of the Pecos River when I literally stumbled over a square of sidewalk on which the following words were spray painted, "There Is No Hope." I wondered about the person who took the time to spray paint those words. Where are they? How are they today? Are they still feeling the same way? I hoped they are not. I can remember too clearly feeling that way. I remember a time when a desperate mantra repeated itself in a continuous chorus in my head. "I Hate My Life, I Hate My Life, I Hate Myself." Even as I type those words I want to deny them. That wasn't me. Even back then, when I heard those words circling my brain like vultures looking for fresh kill, I denied them. "This isn't me," I cried. I wasn't dead yet. There was still hope. Wasn't there?
Before I took that walk yesterday and found those forlorn words scrawled on the sidewalk, I had dropped the cap'n off at work and, as has become my custom when I find myself in a new town, I went in search of a church. I found St. Edwards and, as luck or fate would have it, the morning mass was just about to begin. And as has also become custom, it seemed as if the priest were speaking directly to me. The gospel was about the Jews returning to Zion and finding it destroyed. It filled them with despair and they were hopeless that they would be able to rebuild but God reassured them that old men and women would once again sit in its streets and children would play in them. During the homily, the priest compared it to a little boy staring at a jar full of used, empty candy wrappers. The jar is so crammed full of the rubble of wrappers that the boy can't see that there in the middle at the bottom is still some candy. He just has to dig for it.

It reminded me of my relapse last week. It reminded me of every relapse. It reminded me of when I first started on this journey. It is so easy to look at the rubble we've left behind, the havoc we've wreaked and say, "Why bother to try again? I've destroyed everything I started. There is nothing left. There is no hope" That's when you have a choice to make. You can cling to that one thread of hope that is left and hang on with all of your might or you can let go. You can clear all the booze out of your system like all those rumpled candy wrappers in the jar until you can finally get a glimpse of the hope that is gasping for breath in your brain or you can continue to pour in the alcohol until you've drowned every last bit of hope you have. It's up to you.

But a word of warning. Hope is not that easy to get rid of. Just when you think you've destroyed every last bit of it, you'll feel some floating back up to the surface and if you've used the highest grade, purest hope to lay the foundation for your future life you might find that with all the tears and sweat you've shed while rebuilding your life again and again that fragile hope has hardened into a belief. A belief in yourself. And with every rebuild, every restoration and renovation that belief has refortified itself and grown stronger. If so, you might as well build on it because it's not going anywhere.

So today I'm just out there just doing my best to scoop out the rubble, correcting my mistakes along the way and painting a great big line through the all the "no's". "There is no Hope!"

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Button, Button

"Do not wait for your ship to come in - swim out to it"

Day 9

The aspens leaves are starting to carpet my morning walks with gold and as I made it to the top of a small rise this morning I felt a familiar pressure. Yes, I went before I left the cabin and no, as usual, I didn’t bring the necessary clean up supplies nor a tidy little zip bag to carry them back home in. I thought about trying to ignore it but it was just the beginning of my trek so I ducked off down a little trail that I’d used before. I can boast for the facilities,  private with a fresh piney scent. As I took the position, I remembered that the last time I was in this approximate spot I had spotted something glinting among the pine needles. I’d reached over and picked it up. It was a metal button. And that made me remember another time, another place, another button…

Seven years ago, just about this time of year, two hurricanes had swept through the Abacos, Bahamas and while their winds wreaked havoc on the terrain of the low lying islands, their waves stirred a maelstrom in her waters, churning up centuries of deep sea detritus, sand and shell and treasure. Yes, treasure. You see separating these tiny islands from the mighty Atlantic ocean is a 50 mile long protective reef and upon this reef many a ship met her doom and spilled her, you guessed it, treasure. As a matter of fact, many of the people of these islands earned their livelihood through the practice of “wracking” and stories are told of the minister of the church in Hope Town who one Sunday morning instructed his congregation to bow their heads in prayer. Nothing unusual in that, except that the minister had spotted a shipwreck on the reef and while his faithful followers were deep in prayer, he shed his robes and hurried out to plunder all the goodies from the ship before anyone else could get there. Since then there has been a law that all churches built in Hope Town must be built so that the minister faces away from the ocean as he spreads the good news.

Anyway... The cap’n and I began combing the beaches of Elbow Cay, Kaliks (local beer) in one hand and digging tools in the other, with great fervor. Almost every day we struck gold. Not literally, well just that once but I’m not sure who could claim ownership and I don’t really want to do battle with the Bahamian Government so forget I typed anything about it. We found various coins from the 1800’s and 1900’s, shards of china and pottery, and several lonely single sandals. We also found a few old metal buttons. One of them, once we cleaned a couple of centuries of embedded sand and crustacean from it, bore the shape of a Tudor rose surrounded by 13 stars. Hope Town was settled in the 1700’s by a widow by the name of Wyannie Malone and several other North Carolina loyalists who had relocated to the Bahamas after the side they were backing lost the war. I imagine this button, with the Tudor rose representing England, and the thirteen stars representing the Colonies, or what we now affectionately call the United States, once adorned a shirt or blouse of one of those first island occupants who left everything they knew behind to start a new life. And 250 years later, it washed up to be found on a beach by me. A small relic of what must have been a very brave soul.

Skip forward a few years and here I am, also braving a new world and sometimes longing for the old one. What will I leave behind? I have recently found out that I will be having a granddaughter in January, the first girl. I’ve already finished knitting one blanket and am working on a little wrap sweater and matching cap with pink roses. The capn’s son called the other night to let us know that they, too, are expecting a new little one in April. Another blanket. In my mind, I can envision my coming grandchildren someday wrapping their own grandchildren in these same blankets, now faded and soft with years of love. But the most precious, the most lasting legacy I want to give to these children, is the memory, many memories of a sober grandma. Memories brighter than gold. For me, that would be riches beyond imagination.

So today I’m out there just doing my best to shine my buttons and leave something behind other than the faint smell of ammonia among the piney forest.

P.S. Oh, that other button I found in the forest? I discovered its origin when I stood up to fasten my own shorts. I guess I really was bustin’ to go. And that gold in the Bahamas? Well, it was just a 10 karat ID bracelet belonging to someone with the initial S. K. But let me tell you, I just about wet myself when I saw those gold links shining through the crevices of that limestone shale.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Home Bound

Peace - that was the other name for home. ~Kathleen Norris

Day 8
Out of bed by 5:00 am, that's usually my target time to greet the day so I can get an hour or so of alone quiet time but I didn't sleep well last night so I'm a little groggy. I'm at that mind racing stage of withdrawal where my Co-Writer keeps me up late with new ideas for blogs and answers to the universe. I kind of miss this period when it fades away. Anything you want to know? I can ask him tonight and we'll probably come up with an answer. My sleep and beauty routines were disrupted in my latest little experiment and that pisses me off. At this stage in my life I can't afford to skimp on those since I totally ignored them for 30 years. Damn! I was 2 weeks into a lash serum regimen that I'm going to have to start over. I think it was working. The lashes that kept right on falling out looked a little thicker and longer.

But anyway. The stars are still twinkling in the sky, a fire is crackling in the woodstove and I've got a hot cup of tea at my elbow. Once again, my world is upright on its axis. I told you I learned a lot of lessons in those two weeks SOB and one of them is that this little cabin on the mountain is my home. It is wear my soul sings and laughs and can be at rest. I know a physical place isn't supposed to make a difference if you're at peace in your soul but I think there are places where it is easier for us to find that peace. This is my place and there were tears of gratitude when I unlatched the gate last week. I'll still wander, in fact I'm leaving in a couple of days to accompany the cap'n to a new workplace, (It's a workplace so it will be a safe place.)but I will always find my way back here. And when I head to Mexico this winter, which I have decided will never be a permanent home for me, I will have the means in place to get back here. There will be no more talk for me of moving to Mexico permanently or of selling this place. I will do what I have to keep it. It is my soul's home after all. Too many years I let life happen to me, alcohol made me powerless to stand up and claim my stake. But this year of fighting for my sobriety strengthened some other fighting bones, too.

My soul has found another home, though. It has found a home in sobriety. Sobriety for me forever hereafter will be defined as total abstinence because Kary May + alcohol never, ever = sober. I know some of you are still looking for that homeplace and I pray you find it whether it be in moderation or permanent abstinence. But for me, sobriety is where my soul sings and laughs and can be at rest.

So today I'm just out there doing my best to strengthen my home ties and exercising my fighting bones.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

SOB (South of the Border) Status Report

Day 60

Usually when I disappear from the blog, it is bad news, especially when I'm down here in MX.  I've just been too busy to write since I touched ground and I haven't had a drop. Kinda... I didn't drink on the whole trip down here which is a new way to travel for me but our friends who picked us up at the airport had a bottle of wine chilling. I let her pour me a glass and I took a sip.  And then the argument began with myself, I'll talk more about that when I have more time, but anyway I held on to the glass of wine in the dark of the car and didn't have any more.  I finally snuck it to the cap'n.  Met up with the gang for the Friday night happy hour and didn't drink and nobody seemed to notice or care.  This afternoon I invited a couple of our favorite couples over for a pool party and some spiked peach-mint tea.  The pitcher is mixed in the frig right along a non-spiked version for little old me.  Things are going good, I almost forget I'm not drinking. Almost. But traditionally I would be nursing a big old hangover right now.  No doubt about it, it is better this way.

So today I'm out there just doing my best to keep it virginal, the drinks that is, it's way too late for anything else.  Manana, maybe!