Shielding My Eyes

grief

 

Another horrific act of violence in America today and it was apparently captured on video.

This happens all too often. And we are presented with an option to view the day’s most senseless act on our computer and television screens.

No, thanks.

I choose not to see it.

I have read the story. I grieve and pray for the victims and their families. I lament that we live in a society where such murder has become so very commonplace.

Out of respect for the victims and their families and as a conscious choice to determine which images I allow into my mind, my psyche and my soul – I will not watch it.

May we all find a path to love, light and peace as we continue our journey through this wondrous life.

Once in a Blue Moon

Blue Moon of 2015

Blue Moon of 2015

Once in a Blue Moon.

How many times have we heard the phrase?

I just stepped outside and glimpsed the rising Blue Moon.

Ascending amid the trees in the Eastern sky.

Not blue, but golden, reflecting sunlight in the lower atmosphere.

The rare second full moon of the month.

We haven’t seen one since August 2012.

The next one arrives in January 2018.

On average, Blue Moons occur every 2.7 years.

That’s rare enough for me.

Once in a Blue Moon.

Once in a day.

Once in a night.

Once in a lifetime.

Once upon a time.

 

Everytime…

Holy, Holy, Holy.

Awakening to a Long Lost Friend

 

My final photo with Bill

My final photo with Bill

I awakened to a bittersweet surprise this morning.

Facebook features a reminder of memories you share with friends from your page.

Fumbling for my phone upon waking from a deep sleep, I saw the message, “You have memories with Bill Gandy today.”

Bill is my brother-in-law, who was diagnosed with metastatic cancer on his 53rd birthday – December 15, 2010.

I woke up this morning to a photo from the final day we spent together as I visited him in North Carolina four years ago.

He was staying in New Bern, North Carolina at the home of Lisa Ontiveros, a friend he knew since high school, and had started a romantic relationship with in the months before his diagnosis.

Bill was a Crew Chief for American Airlines at San Antonio International Airport for many years. After the diagnosis, Lisa brought him to North Carolina to be his caregiver through chemotherapy and other treatments to battle the cancer.

On the last day I saw him in late-July 2011, we went for a ride to the beach, had pizza for lunch and sat by the pool before I had to fly home.

His last words to me at the airport were, “I love you, man. You know that.”

I love him too.

Three weeks later, on August 16, 2011, he left us.

It was almost exactly eight months after he learned of the cancer.

Bill was a wonderful friend who became a devoted, treasured member of our family.

For more than three years after his death, I never had a dream about him.

Night after night, I would hope to dream about Bill, as I have dreamt about my father, my sister, my brother and other family and friends who have transitioned into the non-physical realm.

I found it odd that I would dream about so many departed souls, yet never Bill.

I wondered if perhaps he learned something negative about me on the other side and chose not to visit me in the dreamscape.

Then, a couple of months ago, he finally appeared in one of my dreams.

 

Bill, as he appeared in my dream

Bill, as he appeared in my dream

He was young, vibrant, smiling and funny as always.

When I awoke, I could feel that I had just been in his presence.

It’s amazing how a dream can make you feel near to someone who has passed on. I don’t discount that we’re actually spending time with the spirits of loved ones in our dreams.

For all of its flaws, Facebook does have a few virtues.

In this case, it sent me an unexpected gift: waking up to the memory and the smiling face of Bill on my phone.

Bill Gandy 1957-2011

Bill Gandy 1957-2011

 

In the Moon’s Shadow

Henry In The Shadow of The Moon

Twenty-four years ago today, at high noon, I watched day turn to night on the soil of the ancient Aztec village of Ixtlán de las Garzas, Mexico.

For nearly seven minutes I was bathed in the dark, fleeting shadow of the Moon.

The Sun disappeared. The stars sparkled in eerie twilight at midday as the temperature fell several degrees.

It was an experience so cosmically profound that its mystical echo reverberates through my psyche all these years later.

Within minutes, the Sun emerged from behind the Moon and daytime returned as usual.

For human beings to be in the shadow of the Moon is a very rare event. You must either find a way into the path of a total solar eclipse or have been one of the few Apollo astronauts who circled around the dark side of the Moon in the late Sixties and early Seventies.

While viewing a lunar eclipse (the Moon moving into the Earth’s shadow) or a partial solar eclipse (the Sun not fully obscured by the shadow of the Moon) is relatively common, a total solar eclipse is one of the rarest celestial events to be witnessed from this planet.

This transcendent moment was especially meaningful because I shared it with one of my dearest friends, Henry Iglesias.

Henry and his family were originally from Mexico, so we were watching this eclipse from his native soil.

Henry was my guide into his ancestral homeland and into the shadow of the Moon.

Those moments in the Moon’s shadow with Henry were among the most magical moments of my life.

In 2007, much too young, Henry left this Earthly existence.

Every July 11th, I think of Henry and I think of those fleeting, wondrous moments in the shadow of the Moon.

This poem is my remembrance of our time in the Moon’s shadow…

 

With Henry, In The Shadow of The Moon

Another time

Another century

Another life.

But the time

And the century

And the life

Were mine.

And his.

Planets were aligning

Celestial spheres inexorably drawn.

Eleventh of July, 1991.

When the heavens offer a gift

You must be present to receive.

He led me into Mexico

The land of his birth

The land would birth me

To transcendence

To bliss

To awe.

I knew he was my friend

I know he was my shaman

Guiding me to the light

And the shadow

Where few have truly been:

Astronauts orbiting the lunar dark side

And fortunate few on the planet

Or dreamers like us

Who seek the shadow.

We arrived on hallowed ground

On ancient Aztec soil

Eyes cast skyward

The shadow rushing toward us

We felt it coming

The animals, birds, insects, trees felt it coming.

All became still

Temperature dropped

Time fell away

And then, oh, so suddenly

It… all… merged…

Sun, Moon, Shadow, Earth

Moon, Earth, Shadow, Sun

Earth, Sun, Shadow, Moon

Sun, Moon, Shadow

Moon, Shadow

Shadow

Shadow

Shadow

Here.

Now.

Day turned to night.

I.

I. See.

I. See. Stars.

I. See. Stars. At. Noon.

Henry, look at the stars!

And the Sun eclipsed by the Moon

Oh!

My!

God!

Rapt.

Bathed in the splendor

Of the cosmic dance of spheres

In holy, holy, holy communion.

Eternal

My friend, my shaman

Thank you for guiding me there

Years fly by.

You find true love

You write and sing

About the Smile of God

And Brothers of The Sky

And then, oh, so suddenly

Your body eclipsed by a brain tumor

Henry, look at the stars!

They shine with you among them.

The shadow lingers

Your spirit lives.

Another time

Another century

Another life.

If I go back

To seek the shadow

Will you meet me there?

Heading to the 1991 Mexico Eclipse with Henry

Traveling With Henry

1991 Mexico Eclipse

Eclipse Animation from July 11, 1991

Above: Animation of the Eclipse path on July 11, 1991

Chris & The Total Eclipse 1991

In Contemplation of Tonight’s Full Moon

Full Moon

 

Sometimes the New Year or the Mid Year or the Full Moon whispers to you that your time is now. And like the year and the Moon, your days are full, but waning.

Perhaps now is the time to become more of the person you came here to be.

I wrote these words last night, as we moved into the midpoint of the year, in contemplation of the Full Moon and how it can symbolize not only the progression of our year, but of our lives.

Birth.

Growth.

Fullness.

Waning.

Death.

(Followed by Rebirth)

The fullness of the year, the fullness of the Moon and the fullness of your life is right now.

Happy Mid Year!

Happy Mid Year

 

We celebrate the New Year by ringing it in, making toasts and singing Auld Lang Syne. Our resolutions vow that this year will be different. We will be different. We aspire to be better versions of ourselves.

It feels good. And for awhile we believe we can live up to our ambitious New Year’s resolutions.

But old habits die hard. Within days or even hours, our resolutions fall away, along with our hopes of becoming the best versions of ourselves.

Which brings us to now – July 1st – the year’s midpoint.

It is no longer a new year, but a middle-aged year. At 182 days done and 183 days left, we are perched upon the year’s midpoint.

And this year, through a gift from the cosmos, we have a celestial, metaphorical representation of the calendar’s midpoint in the form of the Full Moon, which shines in tonight’s sky.

Full Moon

(In my hometown of San Antonio, the Moon becomes full at precisely 9:20pm on July 1st.)

The phases of the Moon parallel the progression of this year as we reach midpoint from New Moon to New Moon just as we reach the halfway mark of the year.

This year was born new, slowly waxing to fullness, as was the Moon.

The year and the Moon are full at precisely the same time.

After tonight, the Moon and the year will wane, retreating from fullness into inevitable shadow, death and rebirth.

So it is with our lives and the lives of all whom we love and will ever know.

The circular cycle of birth, growth, fullness and disintegration mirrors every aspect of our lives, our years and the heavenly bodies in the sky.

The New Year’s resolutions we made seem so long ago. We assume we cannot get them back.

Or can we?

Why isn’t the midpoint of the year – like the fullness of the Moon – just as appropriate of a time to reflect, take personal inventory and begin again?

I believe it is.

While you can certainly choose a New Year or a midpoint or a Full Moon as the auspicious moment to make changes in your life, you can also choose any day, any moment, any moon to grow, to evolve, to do the right things.

Sometimes the New Year or the mid year or the Full Moon whispers to you that your time is now. And like the year and the Moon, your days are full, but waning.

Perhaps now is the time to choose to become more of the person you came here to be.

Ring it in.

Raise a toast.

Sing Auld Lang Syne.

Even in July.

Happy Mid Year!

 

May You Live In Interesting Times

May You Live In Interesting Times

Bob Dylan sang, “The times they are a changin’.”

That was in the early Sixties. Those of us old enough to remember that era recall tumultuous change, clash of cultures and a rift between the generations.

Recent events in America are rivaling the changes witnessed in the 1960s.

On Friday June 26th, the Supreme Court made Marriage Equality legal in all 50 states.

The next morning, female civil rights activist Bree Newsome evaded security guards, climbed the 30-foot steel flag pole at the South Carolina Statehouse and removed the Confederate flag, which has become a more profound symbol of controversy in the aftermath of the Charleston church murders.

I woke up this morning and looked at the image of the LGBT rainbow flag being waved on the steps of the Supreme Court along with the photo of Bree Newsome removing the Confederate flag in South Carolina and a memorable phrase occurred to me…

“May you live in interesting times.”

Curious of the phrase’s author, I googled it. According to Wikipedia, it has been regarded by many as an ancient Chinese curse, although no actual historical Chinese origin has ever been found.

In 1966, Senator Robert F. Kennedy used the line in address to the people of Cape Town, South Africa on the “Day of Affirmation.” It has since been used in novels, films and television series.

I am surprised that some regard these six words as a curse. It seems more like a blessing to live in interesting times than in mundane or stagnant times.

If indeed the phrase dates back to ancient China, perhaps it is both a blessing and a curse.

In the Chinese language, many linguists point out that the word “crisis” is created by the use of two characters – one representing danger, the other representing opportunity.

Interesting times.

Curse.

Blessing.

Crisis.

Opportunity.

Take your pick.

And enjoy the ride.

We truly live in interesting times.

 

 

 

Love More, Fear Less

Love More, Fear Less

 

Love More.

Fear Less.

Laugh Often.

Breathe Consciously.

Forgive Everyone. 

 

(that is all)

 

Fifty Father’s Days Without My Father

My Father, Frank

 

My father died in February of 1965. He was 42 years old and I was four. I was his youngest of five children.

I never knew him when I was an adult and I barely knew him past the age of three, as he served in Vietnam during the last year of his life.

Vietnam was my father’s second war, having flown B-17 bombers over Europe in World War II.  He would later tell my mother and older siblings how the war haunted him and how he grieved for the prodigious loss of life that he witnessed and participated in.

Because I was so young when he died, I only have a handful of actual memories of my father.

I have the one item he wrote directly to me. It is 22 words inscribed in pencil on the back of a photograph he had kept in his wallet.  It is one of five photos of his children that my father carried with him on his journey to and through Vietnam.

The photo is of his youngest son as he knew me in the last year of his life.

 

My Father's Message to Me

 

On the back he wrote,

“Kip,” You and your sisters and brother have been on the other side of the world – I love you son. Dad.”

More than 50 years later, I am touched that our father would carry photos of his children with him in a far away war.

How could he have known his son would treasure the message half a century later?

His words, “on the other side of the world,” have both the literal meaning he intended and a cosmic meaning now that he is indeed somewhere on the other side of this existence.

My brother and a sister have since joined him there.

As will I one day.

Until then, I carry the photo and those words with me, as he once did.

Prayers For Charleston, Prayers for America

Prayers For Charleston

Prayers For Charleston

I cannot begin to fathom the sickness and hatred that drives a human being to kill other innocent human beings, much less for the absurd “difference” of skin color or ethnicity.

We live in a world of so many beautiful blessings. How and why can this happen?  I don’t have the answers.

What I do know is that there are two powerful forces in the world: Love and Fear.

Love is the truth.

Fear is the illusion.

And once again we have a choice.

To choose Love and spread Love.

Or to choose Fear and spread Fear.

I vividly remember the night Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated.  I was seven years old.  I sat in front of the television late into the night of April 4, 1968 and watched the replays of his speech from the night before, where he said he’d been to the mountaintop and seen the beauty of all God’s children living in peace, while adding that he might not make it there with us.

I’m stunned that in the 21st Century such unevolved fear, hatred and ignorance still exists.

All I know to do is to continue to choose Love over Fear.

And to continue to shine a light on the darkness of hatred, racism and ignorance.

God Bless those who were killed in Charleston last night.  And may comfort and peace ease the horror and pain of their families and friends.