October 12, 2010

   I fell in the parking lot, scraped my knee, bruised the palm on my hand.  I didn’t break anything, didn’t even bleed much, but I had hit hard and it really stung.  When I got inside, I put some Band-Aids on and started digging for some ibuprophen – I knew it was going to be hurting.  While I was hunting for my pill box in my purse, I came across it – my old spirit stone.  I had forgotten I even had it.

   My spirit stone is a small, round, tan stone with a wolfhead carved on one side.  (My spirit animal is coyote, so I pretend the wolf is a coyote.  My boundaries are fuzzy anyway.)  I pulled the stone out and laid it against my bruised palm – it was nice and cool and soothed the burning and stinging some.  It was then I noticed the strange writing on the uncarved side of the stone.  “Now what kind of rune is that?” I wondered.  Then I turned the stone 90 degrees and read “OK”.  I vaguely remember writing “OK” on the rock with a permanent marker, a long time ago.  I had given myself the gift of “OK” – my homemade mantra came back to me:  “I am OK, I will be OK, things change, but everything will be OK, someday.”

   What a nice gift I’d given myself – free of charge – and how nice to re-discover it again, when I really needed it. 



Dryad’s Canticle

September 21, 2010

The dryad sings her song in the breeze,

Pure, sweet, Nature’s canticle,

Praising the sun and the moon,

Thankful for the stars she wears in her hair,

And the deep sweet water she sips from the earth.

She raises her branches to the heavens,

Her trunk planted firmly in the ground,

Her roots growing dense and tangled below.

Strong, sturdy, well-balanced,

She is home to birds and bees and butterflies,

Squirrels and insects and creeping things.

The dryad and her tree offer food for many,

And shade for all.

She wears a cloak of stillness,

Watching busy lives come and go.

She blesses each of the little leaves,

That join together to make this mighty tree.

The dryad cherishes the soil that gives her life,

Growing each day one day at a time,

Taller, wider, ring by ring.

She sings a soft song of silence,

Of giving and taking for the good of all,

Of things that were and are and may yet be,

Verses heard only by angels above and earthworms below

And those who take time to sit under a tree and listen.

By Kerry Vincent  (c) 2010

Poetry: Duct Tape of the Soul

September 14, 2010

Poetry: Duct Tape of the Soul

Good poems are like a full roll of duct tape –
Sturdy, strong, hardworking, flexible, resistant to tearing.
Good poems, like duct tape,
Take two or more different thoughts
And stick them together good and tight,
So that the ideas touch and meet and face each other,
A durable, long-lasting union, hard to pull apart.
Good poems, like duct tape,
Should be unrolled slowly, carefully,
Not twisted or twirled or dropped.
Goods poems, like duct tape,
Can save the world!
…Well, almost…
But I’m not too worried about Armageddon –
I’ve got my pens, my journals, and good poems,
— The sticky duct tape of my soul —
To put me back together again if I fall apart.

By Kerry Vincent © 2010

Practical Sins

August 27, 2010

     I forgive myself for practical sins,

For rushing through things, not really listening,

Hurrying and scurrying through my busy day,

Missing the important moments:

 The holy sunlight on those purple petunias,

 The taste of grace in my cup of black tea,

A baby’s toothless smile.

     I forgive myself for practical sins,

For taking today for granted,

For forgetting that tomorrow is never guaranteed,

For trying to do it all alone, without asking for help,

When it would help someone else to let them help me.

     I forgive myself for practical sins,

For using store-bought and pre-packaged,

When I know I could fix better, fresher, homemade myself.

The cost of convenience is high,

Makes me forget to use my own talents and skills.

     I forgive myself for practical sins,

For being full of shouldas, wouldas, and couldas.

I will do what I can, when I can,

And try not to worry so much about it when I can’t.

This world already has the complete collector’s set

Of shames and pains and regrets –

No need for me to add mine to the heap.

     I forgive myself for practical sins,

Mostly, I will try, each day, to forgive myself for

being human.

I am my own worst enemy most of the time,

But I could be my own best friend.

I will try to find the elusive blessed balance.

     Please let me be a lifelong student of practical kindness,

To myself, and to others,

Beginning with the Introductory Course:

“Forgiveness of Me”,

The pre-requisite for “Forgiving Others”,

“Listening Skills”, “Advanced Caring”, and

“Joy, and Peace through Wholeness and Love”.


by Kerry Vincent (c) 2010

St. Louis Effort for AIDS Picnic in Forest Park

July 13, 2010

You really did make a difference, you know. St. Louis Effort for AIDS has come so far in 25 years. From its beginning, just a few people meeting together in an apartment, to being a major HIV-AIDS service organization, recognized with official funding and grants, but more importantly, by the lives it touched, and touches still. Dining Out for Life is an annual event, often copied, never equaled.
You would have loved it, Jerry. We had a picnic at the World’s Fair Pavilion in Forest Park to celebrate 25 years of helping hands, 25 years of St. Louis Effort for AIDS. We were all together, listening to Fruit Jam play light jazz, eating a catered lunch, feeling the summer breezes, clients and case workers and executive directors. And you were there, too. They had some Names Quilt Panels laid out. Not the one I made for you, but other people who passed on after complications from HIV-AIDS. Strangers came up and had a look, to see what was going on – so there was educational value, and I know that was always so near and dear to your heart.
It was a nice Sunday afternoon in Forest Park, seeing old friends, getting caught up. Missing other friends, like you, like Dana, Gil, and Jef, and so many dear people I met at the Sharing Center. Those Friday night socials had an impact on me, my daughter, her friends. We were volunteers, but we received more than we gave. You taught us to honor life, no matter what the circumstances, because it is short and dear and we only get one chance. You preached keeping a sense of humor, even though you were infected, lonely, poor – and you practiced what you preached. We laughed so much then. Today’s tears are the price of those good times we shared – they are worth the cost.
Your physical body is gone, but your spirit is still with us, teaching, training, leading, guiding, encouraging, helping still. I hear your voice in the crowd’s conversations. I hear your laughter in the wind. Your love is in my heart, and your hope is in my hands.

Rainy Day Memories

June 14, 2010

My memories are like the rain, sometimes they sneak up on me and when I least expect it, drench me with a downpour.

Other times they are a gentle sprinkle, light and refreshing.

Then comes a storm of memories moving in, rumbling and grumbling and striking with lightening, splitting the sky with a white dagger, thunderclaps overhead, the sky the black bowl of a big base drum, no tinkling triangle or clinking windchimes now.

Some days the memories rain down steady, dreary, constant, on and on, boring and oppressive and without any let up in sight.

Now and then there’s a refreshing rain of good times remembered, followed by sparkling pavement and a fresh scent of renewal.

Every summer there’s a long dry spell, a draught, the grass and leaves curling and turning brown, and people ask each other, “Think it will rain today?” “Not today. Maybe tomorrow.”

Then the skies darken and the clouds gather and the rain soaks the earth, like a sudden memory that will not go away.

And yet, somehow, even that storm passes, and you come in out of the rain, to where it is dry, and bright, and safe, and warm.

By Kerry Ellen © 2010

What We Have Lost…

June 9, 2010

Gone, but not forgotten. Nothing but memories now, but what good memories they are…
I am remembering idyllic hours spent in Paul’s Book Store, in University City, a few years ago, before the big chains and franchises ran most of the independent small bookstores out of business. Before, when books stores had books and cards and calendars – not Blue-Rays, DVDs, CDs, and it was enough, more than enough, if you loved books.
Paul stocked everything worth reading. No romance novels, few best-sellers or blockbusters, but if you wanted a calendar of sumi-e brush painting, Paul’s had it. If you wanted a local poet’s chapbook, Paul’s would probably have it. Or some hard-to-find historic tome – check Paul’s first. Obscure fairy tales – you knew where to look. They had literature for recovery, women’s studies, gay/lesbian-bi-sexual/transgender – when the big chains did not handle those items, for fear they would get picketed or not make a profit.
This was a store for book lovers. Artists. Philosophers. Poets. The avante-garde. Outsiders. College students. Parents who wanted more-than-Disney books for their children to grow up on. It was a safe haven and meeting place for intellectuals.
I bought my first copy of Natalie Goldberg’s Writing Down the Bones at Paul’s Books. For creative writer, Paul’s was an excellent resource, well-stocked with everything for the lover of words!
When the big chains starting putting the small independent bookstores out of business, it affected the small independent publishing houses as well. And the writers were further restricted – there were fewer vehicles to publish work that did not fit into mainstream categories. This was before the Internet was well-known to the general public.
I miss Paul, the store, the books, the cameradie. I don’t know what happened to Paul himself after the store closed. I hope it is a happy ending.

Glass Doors

May 20, 2010

“Playing with glass” has opened so many doors for me – that I never expected – it has encouraged me to try new things, participate in an art show, meet other artists, try selling in my own community – broadened my perspective of who I am and what I can do.

Lately I have been making custom gifts for some very special people.  I found some letters I can fuse on to the glass, so I made a piece for my co-worker, who also fuses glass, with her initials … I made a piece for a very cool young friend turning 9 – with a name you don’t find in the tourist shops (Ev, short for Evangeline) … and initials of a 10-year old girl with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, plus a necklace & earring set to be auctioned off at a fundraiser for her.

Don’t get me wrong – I love making a sale – don’t get me wrong – but those sales enable me to do glass for good causes too – it’s more than just making money, it’s making opportunities to do good in my own community.

Dichroic Fused Glass Pendant

March 15, 2010

by Kerry Ellen

Available from my Etsy shop: http://www.etsy.com/shop/kvwordsmith

On Love, by Kent Nerburn

February 12, 2010

Falling In Love

It is a mystery why we fall in love. It is a mystery how it happens. It is a mystery when it comes. It is a mystery why some love grows and it is a mystery why some love fails. You can analyze this mystery and look for reasons and causes, but you will never do anymore than take the life out of the experience. Just as life itself is more than the sum of the bones and muscles and electrical impulses in the body, love is more than the sum of the interests and attractions and commonalities that two people share. And just as life is a gift that comes and goes in its own time, so too, the coming of love must be taken as an unfathomable gift that cannot be questioned in its ways. Sometimes, hopefully at least once in your life – the gift of love will come to you in full flower, and you will take hold of it and celebrate it in all inexpressible beauty. This is the dream we all share. More often, it will come and take hold of you, celebrate you for a brief moment, then move on. When this happens to young people, they too often try to grasp the love and hold it to them, refusing to see that it is gift that is freely given and a gift that just as freely, moves away. When they fall out of love, or the person they love feels the spirit of love leaving, they try desperately to reclaim the love that is lost rather than accepting the gift for what it was, then moving on. They want answers where there are no answers. They want to know what is wrong in them that makes the other person no longer love them, or they try to get their lover to change, thinking that if some small things were different, love would bloom again. They blame their circumstances and say that if they go far away and start a new life together, their love will grow. They try anything to give meaning to what happened. But there is no meaning beyond the love itself, and until they accept its own mysterious ways, they live in a sea of misery. You need to know this about love, and to accept it. You need to treat what it brings you with kindness. If you find yourself in love with someone who does not love you, be gentle with yourself. There is nothing wrong with you. Love just didn’t choose to rest in the other person’s heart. If you find someone else in love with you and you don’t love her, feel honoured that love came and called at your door, but gently refuse the gift you cannot return. Do not take advantage, do not cause pain. How you deal with love is how you deal with you, and all our hearts feel the same pains and joys, even if our lives and ways are different. If you fall in love with another, and she falls in love with you, and then love chooses to leave, do not try to reclaim it or to assess blame. Let it go. There is a reason and there is a meaning. You will know in time. Remember that you don’t choose love. Love chooses you. All you can really do is accept it for all its mystery when it comes into your life. Feel the way it fills you to overflowing, then reach out and give it away. Give it back to the person who brought it alive in you. Give it to others who deem it poor in spirit. Give it to the world around you in anyway you can. This is where many lovers go wrong. Having been so long without love, they understand love only as a need. They see their hearts as empty places that will be filled by love, and they begin to look at love as something that flows to them rather than from them. The first blush of new love is filled to overflowing, but as their love cools, they revert to seeing their love as a need. They cease to be someone who generates love and instead becomes someone who seeks love. They forget that the secret of love is that it is a gift, and that it can be made to grow only by giving it away.. Remember this, and keep it to your heart. Love has its own time, its own seasons, and its own reasons for coming and going. You cannot bribe it or coerce it, or reason it into staying. You can only embrace it when it arrives and give it away when it comes to you. But if it choose to leave from your heart or from the heart of your lover, there is nothing you can do and there is nothing you should do. Love always has been and always will be a mystery. Be glad that it came to live for a moment in your life. If you keep your heart open, it will come again. Kent Nerburn from the book “Letters To My Son” ——————————————————————————– But… – Jason Quek