What is Pi/Pie?

~Life is not a problem to be solved but a mystery to be lived.”

Long before digital clocks attracted attention to and affection for numbers, like 1:11, the Salasin family from which I come was enthralled by them, and not only the bankers and the accountants among us.

Family homes were often referred to numerically, most notably: 6012, but also 1811 & 747.

And even the ministers & scientists among us, marveled at numerical synchronicities:

~How the home at 6012 Pacific, for example, was exchanged for the home at 6201 Park.

~How the beloved Patriarch died and was born on November 17 in 1991 and 1919.

~How the wedding shower for the Matriarch’s namesake–a date which was exceedingly difficult to pin down among a half-dozen bridesmaids from different parts of the country–landed, unbeknownst to any of us, on the anniversary of the accident that took the Matriarch’s life.

This numerically-steeped DNA may explain why my enthusiasm for numbers is rarely matched:

“69 days separate me from Menopause! On the 296th day of my cycle! With my menses 269 days late!”

“My husband and I were both born on the 8th of the month, and that we delivered our first (& second) son in the 8th month of the year, and each of our birth dates is celebrated as a holy day in celebration of the Mother of God–her Immaculate Conception, her Feast Day & her Assumption.”

Throughout childhood, the number 8 was my favorite, while 3 has been my favorite ever since. (That’s all I’ll say about that. I can tell no one is interested.)

Despite this absorption with dates and numerals and time, I’ve always (and increasingly) been better fed by language. While my early adult years were often spent in the role of treasurer or bookkeeper, I now spend my time almost exclusively with words (just ask my bank account.)

Family finances aside, what is even more alarming is the assault I felt on the eve of my 69th day before Menopause when presented with an algebra problem.

Like a donkey, my brain refused, and so I slid the paper away, until I looked up to see all the other mothers earnestly engaged.

I reminded myself that a decade earlier I had been one of two parents to solve the algebra problem at my older son’s back to school night.

But on this 69th day before Menopause, even with assistance from another parent and then the classroom teacher (how embarrassing!), the mathematical drawer in my brain remained stuck.

There is a magic to numbers and to words that I don’t fully understand and don’t know that I ever will, but I’m being invited to deepen the inquiry.

Which explains the mystery of this piece of writing to me, but probably not to you.

I frequently find myself engaged in mysteries–an inexplicable lifetime practice of doodling the letters of the alphabet for instance.

And since the age of 16, there has been a single word that remains my favorite, a reverence which is often mistook for a mathematical or culinary interest, but which actually springs from the pleasure derived from the simple sensation of the sounds at the front of my mouth.

~

A week has passed since I posted this exploratory piece of writing on Facebook, and now it is the first day of Autumn and Day 303 in my cycle.

I love 3’s, Remember?

And it turns out that the last day of my cycle, should I continue toward Menopause, without a setback, will be November 23, 2017.

Thanksgiving Day.

My last day,

of Motherhood.

You can’t make this stuff up.

(ps. Pumpkin-pecan is my current favorite.)

40 Days, 40 Angels

Burne-Jones, visipix.com

I’m a spiritual junkie so I feel left out when there are holidays that I don’t know how to celebrate. Take Mardi Gras for instance. I’ve never been to New Orleans so I just don’t get it. Then there’s Ash Wednesday. For the three years that I went to parochial school, they put ashes on my forehead, and I liked it, even though I wasn’t Catholic.

But Lent is the holiday observance that I just can’t let pass me by. It’s such a cool club–40 days of abstinence from something you love–with participants all around the world! Thanks to Facebook friends, I’ve been inspired to think outside the Lenten box.  After reading the posts of those who have given up “sobriety” or those who have decided to “add” something rather than giving up, I’ve  decided to create my own twist:

For Lent, I’m giving up “self-reliance”

and I’m adding:

Communing with the Angels!

Due to self-reliance, I’m not very familiar with communing. In fact, I typically commune only when I’m feeling especially good, never when I’m down and out. So I put a challenge to myself: What if I communed with a different angel for each day of Lent:

40 days, 40 angels?

Even better, what if I let those angels come to me–in an even greater display of forgoing my characteristic self-reliance. And so I’d like to honor each of those arriving angels with you here. Each day, I’ll add another, enlarging the circle of love.

~MEET THE ANGELS~

I saw the angel in the marble and carved until I set him free. ~Michelangelo

ANGEL #1

On the first day of Lent, I stepped up to my dresser and was suspended by the tiny oval photo of my mother. Her eyes locked mine, and held my gaze for minutes, until I felt her presence, and realized that she was:

“Bonnie”

My Mother Bonnie

The Angel Bonnie is renown for her gentle nature. Like Kuan Yin, the Goddess of Compassion, Bonnie brings grace and softening to any struggle. Her kindness is legendary as is her place by the sea.

~

ANGEL # 2

Just after midnight, I heard my own voice saying, “Ow, ow…”

“What is it?” my husband asked, disturbed from his own sleep.

“Charlie horse in my foot,” I replied without fully waking.

“Stand on a cold floor. That’s what my grandmother always said.”

And despite my own dreamy state, I realized that my next angel had arrived:

“Grandma Annie”

Anna Wesolowski

The Angel Anna is a companion of Mount Greylock in the Berkshires.  Bringing surprise to each day, Anna shows you that you can even excel in that which you don’t understand.  And if all else fails, she adds laughter and an Oreo cookie.

~

Angel #3

The roads were wet and I was rushing to make it home from work for a meeting. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw an elderly woman with several bags waiting to cross the street. I didn’t want to, but I stopped, and painfully waited as she… ever…so…slowly made her way across the road.

What I hadn’t seen were the three others on the opposite side of the street who had also been patiently waiting to cross in this downpour. Just as they passed in front of my car, the one with the cane stopped to look me in the eye… with a beatific smile of gratitude.

“The Stranger”

Goya y Lucientes, visipix.com

The Stranger’s timing is no doubt a “Godsend,” offering a smile or some other unexpected gift of sweetness just when you didn’t know you needed it. Each of us is this kind of Angel for the other, never knowing when our good nature serves as healing balm at just the right time.

~

Angel #4

Despite my decision to let the angels “come to me,” I began to anticipate the arrival of my next guest.

In the afternoon, I went for a walk down our mountain road to see what the rain had washed away of winter. Soon the chatter of my mind was silenced by the awesome current of the stream. My thoughts turned to Japan as I stood transfixed by the force of the water rushing through the dam, carving away the frozen banks of snow. And then I turned…

50 feet away, a dog stood starring at me…

“The Dog”

Tiepolo, visipix.com

I don’t have a single pet, but over the years other dog “angels” have appeared to me–usually near water. They serve as companions for a short while and then are off again to grace others. Dog angels serve as protectors, keeping us connected to the earth and focusing our attention on the “now.”

~

Angel #5

Who can make any sense of the tragedy striking Japan?  How will those who survive ever relate to earth or sea or fire again with peace? Nothing makes sense at times like this. Until everything does…

“The All That Is…”

(Photo: REUTERS/Jo Yong-Hak)

The “All That Is” Angel presents herself in the face confusion and despair and fear. Suddenly everything makes sense, the kind of sense that transcends the mind and surrenders to all that is.

~

Angel #6

“Mother Mary”

Madonna, detail, Gentile da Fabriano

“When I find myself in times of trouble, Mother Mary comes to me, speaking words of wisdom, Let It Be.  And in my hour of darkness she is standing right in front of me… And when the broken-hearted people living in the world agree, there will be an answer.

~

Angel #7

Apparently Mary isn’t finished with me yet which shouldn’t come as much surprise given our history.

“Madonna”

unknown, visipix.com

“Mother Mary, Madonna, Lady of Mercy, Holy Mary, Our Lady, Blessed Mother, Mother of God…”

~

Angel #8

In light of recent Earth events, this angel is a welcome sight, even if I do question her ways.

“Gaia, Earth Mother”

detail Raphael, visipix.com

“We have such a beautiful Mother. Look around you. Open up your eyes and sing Her Praises,”

Praises, Deva Premal

~

Angel # 9

“Top of the Morning to you, Kel,” that’s what my Gram would be saying today. She’s the one who taught me all the Irish ditties, from Tora Lora Loo to Just a Little Bit of Heaven to Oh Paddy Dear, they’re hanging men and women here for the wearing of the Green…

“Loretta”

Loretta

The Angel Loretta pours you a pot of tea and tells you stories that’ll make you laugh until you cry.  She’ll check to be sure you’re wearing your green before she sends you on your way, Tora Lora Loo, then she’ll climb back into bed with her reading glasses and a delicious pile of books.

~

Angel #10

Each time the anguish of Japan rises up inside of me, I bathe myself in Eliza Gilkyson’s Requiem, and I am softened and soothed into our shared grief.

“Music”

Klimt, visipix.com

The Angel of Music is fluid enough to find us in our most hidden places, smoothing all that is rough inside.

~

Angel #11

*

“Silence”

 
Klimt, detail, visipix.com

…………

~

Angel #12

As the March winds begins to below, I am reminded that each Season is associated with an element. Summer with Fire. Autumn with Water. Winter with Earth. And Spring with Air.

“Air”

Serusier, visipix.com

“I envy the wind, that whispers in your ear, that howls through the winter, and freezes your fingers, that moves through your hair, that cracks your lips, chills you to the bone. I envy the wind,” Lucinda Williams

~

Angel #13


“Space”

Hodler, visipix.com

~

Angel # 14

At an women’s gathering on the Equinox, a friend surrounded this small garden statue with paper cranes she had folded for Japan.

“Kuan Yin”

Kuan Yin photo: Luanne Marie

May the Goddess of Compassion be with all those who suffer.

~

Angel # 15

This may be the most unlikely angel of all…

“The Teenager”

Watts, detail, visipix

Some angels require greater discernment to fully appreciate their gifts. This angel offers tenderness when you least expect it.

~

Angel # 16

The first time I felt my son move inside was at a performance by locals clowns Gould & Stern.  I felt the same quickening inside on the Seine in Paris when a street mime had a entire cafe in stitches.

“The Clown”

Fouquetm, visipix

Perhaps there is no greater angel that one who brings us laughter.

~

Angels # 17-34

The promise of color…

Degas (visipix)

The movement of women welcoming spring…

Giometti/detail (visipix.com)

Feeling the growing sun on my skin…

Being Aware of the Awakening beneath the Earth…

Greuze/detail visipix.com

Remembering to pray…

Macke (visipix.com)

Opening to the path of dreams…

Bonnie Kelly Salasin Bradley, December 25,1942-September 8, 2000

Softening into the spirit of my mother…

Hodler (visipix.com)

Showing up for the work we need to do…

Dore, "Dante & Beatrice" visipix.com

Transcendent time with my partner…

Photo: Robin Salasin Cramer

The gift of an embrace…

photo: Bonnie Salasin

Children…

child sea scene, Keller

ART…

Indulgence…

Fuessli, visipix.com
The ending of winter…
Hodler, detail, visipix.com

Surrendering to self…

Last Minute Laundry, Casey Deane

Remembering…

Moderhsohn, detail, visipix.com

a soft spring snow…

Angels # 35-40: are all yours. Add them & more in the comments below!

Kelly Salasin, the 40 Angels of Lent, 2011

Dusting Dead Relatives

(an All Souls Day post–from 2008)

After spending the past six months in a holding pattern while the Universe dilly-dallied, I’m taking a decidedly religious stab at my husband’s unemployment.

I’m uncertain as to whether this indicates a regression or progression on my spiritual path; Results will tell, or perhaps desperate times are relieved by desperate measures, no matter what the result.

I’ve dusted off my late grandmother’s statue of the Blessed Virgin and unearthed from memory th Hail Mary’s recited at my Catholic high school. And although I can’t remember exactly how to use them, I’ve unpacked the rosary beads passed down by my husband’s Polish grandmother.

I’ve also taken to dusting off all the dead relatives–the photos of them that is. I’ve lined them up on the shelf above the stairway–our place of honor–to beseech them for any assistance they might lend from the other side.

My bedroom “altar” beholds a potluck of devotion: tall strawberry-blonde Mary draped in blue robes towers over my peacefully seated, full-bodied goddess, Kuan Yin (purchased at the Food Co-op.) On the other side is a sculpture of a woman in a bathtub, reminding me of the divine act of self-nurturing.

I’m not above adding a lucky rabbit’s foot although I imagine that is no longer PC; and I’ve re-opened my late mother’s Contact Your Angel guide, encouraging my husband to meditate with the angel of his choice.

We’ve made it this far without bellying up, but yesterday we had to face the reality that a job that pays our bills in the way we’re used to paying them may not be coming. We’ve buckled down and began the daunting task of whittling down a budget that had just begun to get some breathing room.

Things are about to get a lot harder… that is unless Mother Mary and the dead relatives have something to say about it.

Until then,

Hail Mary, full of grace…

(addendum: My husband did get a job–3 months later.  He still has it.)