It’s hard to believe that a year has passed since we almost lost our dear friend George. As I mentioned in my last writing, I don’t know how or why some of us meet death and some of us survive it. When we lose our loved ones- it doesn’t mean we didn’t love them enough, or pray for them enough, or that they didn’t want to live enough. The reason we love, we pray and we tell our loved ones to fight for life however, is so that we can rise above the grief of loss and ride the swell of love that comes at the threat of loosing it. We offer our tears, our words, our art …not just for our sick, or down and out friends but also for ourselves to help transmute the pain. There is no way for me to speak of the journey that George’s family went through and are still on. They, along with George, continue to inspire me more than anyone. With their love, laughter and smiles..I’m simply humbled by how they embraced this latest year as a part of their journey as complete LOVE champions… I am here to share however, that coming together with community for a loved one is one way to help heal your own pain when there is a fear of loosing someone.A communal altar is a lovely way to set up a space that holds the possibility of healing.
Hello everyone,George had a stroke while in Hawaii in the early hours of yesterday morning. He is in critical condition.As most of you know, George has one of the most kind-hearted spirits of anyone out there.George and I share a similar faith. We attend the same church and I know that both he and Liz believe in the power of prayer. Already My Uncle Jake has made offerings, and CC is an interfaith minister and married George and Liz has been praying, and their old neighbor Rebecca.I have seen miracles happen. I know that LOVE is very powerful and it certainly can’t hurt for us to all direct that Love towards the Whitehouse family.Between 3:30 and 4:30 if anyone would like to show up at their house, I’d like to create an altar there. You can add rocks, shells, flowers, anything that feels right. While we don’t take photos of ceremony traditionally, I was thinking we could at least take a photo of the altar to send to them to let them know we are thinking of them.This time of year is hard , so please if you can’t be there at 3:30 or so, you can arrive earlier and START the altar, or even drop by later and add to it in the next coming days. Or if you can’t drive to their house, just keep positive thoughts for them.If anyone wants to make a sign to hold in the photo, that could be sweet as well.I will say a prayer and anyone else is welcome to pray silently or out loud along with me.If you would like to stop by earlier in the day,, we have had ceremony in their back yard where it is kind of flat near their outdoor grill, or there is a spot down from there where their sweat lodge use to be…since offerings have already been made in those areas, I think that would be appropriate for the altar.Thanks so much.Cheri
I just finished reading one of my favorite author’s books The Smell of Rain on Dust, a book about Grief and Praise by Martin Pretchel.
It seems apropos with all the loss that has kicked off this new year. I’m so relieved and ecstatic that we are going into Imbolc with some joyful news about our brother George. It is funny how certain people, we may not even give much thought to them, but when they are taken away from us, they are constantly on our minds and we realize how crucial their existence is to our happiness.
All of us have been touched in our lives by this kind of loss to varying degrees. Many of us can empathize with loosing a pet, or a parent. Some a love, a brother or a best friend. There is no pressure to be any which way. I know that the Imbolc table has gotten heavy at times, but I embrace all of it and whatever shows up. We’re all at varying degrees on our journeys. There is no judgement.
Whatever poem speaks to you now and whatever dish speaks to you now. I’ll leave it at that. Imbolc is always about transforming the pain, the grief, the bad choices, and mistakes into love. All the greater themes are always in play, so come as you are and know you are welcome and so appreciated.
I leave you with this quote from the book that I whole heartedly agree with. The reason I can walk my path with positivity and light is because I make space for all that is lost. And I offer that in quiet moments to the grandfather stones.
Can’t wait to see all your beautiful faces on the 30th!
“If we let ourselves “have” our deepest emotions about the prospect of losing what we love most, our deepest feelings about having lost what we do love, then those deepest feelings of love, no longer have a place to go, must now get to the real work of life: by filling the place she, he, they or the country lost have left empty, with our creations of beautiful music, singing, eloquence, housing, plant growing, beautiful food, clothing, jewelry, acrobatics, dancing, stonework, iron work, woodwork, communal gift giving, weaving, knitting, spinning, braiding, and so on in every kind of good and well done creations for the world to have. Motivated by our grief in this way, our creations only express our emotions, but because our well-made creations from our grief must bring “beauty” to those who hear or wear them, anyone seeing, hearing, or feeling what we have caused to manifest would be inspired and filled with life. This is turning loss into beauty in its most elemental sense.”
And so we came together again for my annual Imbolc dinner and dedicated our thoughts to this lovely family. What better symbol of transformation than the butterfly? All you need is wooden butterflies and markers that draw on wood. I also like this idea for a new baby…one could make a mobile with the butterflies.
Fortunately for me, I was able to hand deliver the butterflies. Unfortuantely, I didnt know that they were staying in a house with 20 foot tall ceilings! This was written upon my return.Hello everyone!The question that has most been on my mind these past two months is how are George and Liz doing? Liz has done such a precise and difficult job of keeping us all updated on the incredible hurdles George has had to metaphorically jump over. He’s has been through a ring of fire so profound, so life threatening that he will never be the same again. Oh yes, I believe he will heal completely, but after having a fist on heaven’s door about to knock and then choosing to return to life and family, I know that each footstep will be even more profound for George than it already was.From the moment I first heard of George’s stroke, I immediately attached to the possibility of full recovery. Even so, there was a moment in which without even haven spoken to Liz, or heard recent updates, energetically from thousands of miles away, I felt we might lose him. Those weeks leading into Christmas and the New Year were clouded. Fortunately for me, I have a place to go to speak to God. And so I pleaded on behalf of George’s life. We need people like George (and Liz), for they are true beacons of love. George and I have always had a spiritual connection because we share the same church, and I call him brother. And so after meditating all night, as one does in the Native American Church, on George’s recovery, the tears started streaming down my cheeks as I was allowed to be in the presence of the spiritual beings that watch over him. They are a mighty bunch and Uncle Bill who had the depths of both George and I’s hearts came to me and assured me that he has been holding vigil for George from the other side. He has long moved on into Spirit and yet his mundane love was so strong for George, he came back for him. I gave him my grief which he replaced with hope.For whatever reasons our lives have connected, I have only ever been inspired by George. I think I was a fairy the Halloween night he first met Liz, and promptly fell in love with her.I have literally walked over coals made from his fire, prayed with him after he lost his father who was an amazing man who I remember fondly from the time he taught my children magic tricks. I have eaten many turkeys cooked by this wonderful couple and am always intrigued with how George knows when to remove the coals from his earth pit and un-bury the turkey…you don’t really have a timer on that one. I was there to pray with them when the twins position in utero was compromised and we had a sweat for them. I was also able to witness the twins receiving their spiritual names from Margaret Behan, one of the 13 indigenous Grandmothers who helps run an international peace council. But truly what bonds me to George even more than the love our children have for one another, the love I have for his wife as one of my close friends, is sharing my grief with him over our loss of Uncle Bill. If road men (men that run ceremony in Native American Church ,originally called Robe Men in honor of their ability to wear particular robes,but then adopted as Road Men, since they travel so much) were being compared to rock stars or musicians, Uncle Bill was Mick Jagger. He had deep issues with alcohol addiction and was in no means perfect, but he loved unconditionally and moved me in my expanse of caring for others like no one else has. I have always had a deep connection to the Earth, but he was the one that came along and lifted this veil for me, that there is no shame in expressing myself. George also had a deep closeness with him. And so along with my brother-in-law James , we all drove down to Oklahoma together to say our goodbyes to Bill when he was dying. I met George through James as they worked together for a few years.My sister’s entire family is also very close with the Whitehouse clan.The tenderness and devotion that I saw between George and Bill was a memory I will never forget. That it is okay to touch and caress a dying person. It is okay to cry with them. I feel like we all have so much fear and keep our emotions so bottled up, including myself, that it completely opened my eyes. There is as much strength in allowing ourselves to be vulnerable as there is strength in sometimes not being vulnerable.When Bill was dying Jake Singer showed up seemingly out of nowhere to help us fix up the family plot for Bill’s 4 day wake. I feel like it was divine intervention that sent Jake to step into Bill’s boots so to speak and be our spiritual mentor. If it wasn’t for George opening up his doors for Jake, none of us that live in the vicinity would likely have his presence around. But again, through George’s (and Liz!) generosity, Jake was able to land and ground himself and has been helping and healing many people in this community ever since. While Bill was holding vigil from heaven, Jake has been making prayers on Earth and even went to visit George during his brain surgery in the hospital. All of our tears, and prayers, ALL of them have helped. But Jake certainly has a way with prayer that is miraculous. I have seen the way he is with his patients as a medicine man, and been witness to much healing through his connection to God and plants.I have yet another connection with them in that my mentor and best friend outside of my age bracket, CC Loveheart, married George and Liz,,,and through that introduction realized that CC’s husband and Liz’s dad were buddies in college!Speaking of Liz, it has always been with open arms that we embraced her as George’s equal and perfect match. Two thumbs, two arms up rather AND a WHOOT WHOOT! Their magnetizing yin/yang, their wonderful sense of humor, their bravery is what has made this epic battle of his bearable in my mind. Knowing that he has Liz by his side. I have told Liz that out of all my friends if I was ever stuck on a deserted island and I could only choose one other woman to be there with me, that I would choose her. I may have a couple of friends that I have more history and therefore more emotional attachment to, but Liz would get me off that island and back into our families arms!She demands of people their best selves, because she always is giving 110%. She has an incredible mind and I find it so rare to know a person that has such a balance of wit and being grounded in heart and spirit. We both share immense practicality and strong will with a penchant to have FUN.Imagine my delight to love these two people so much and then to get to become their children’s teacher! Orson and Theodora have all the best qualities of George and Liz. I know I would have to fight other willing and capable hands, but it would be within a heartbeat that I would raise these two as my own if ever needed.Which brings me to the fact that it won’t be. The preamble and introduction of who I am in relation to this family, or rather who they are to me, is so that you all can understand what I am about to say going forward.Please don’t do this by the way!!! I have been recently moved by an Elizabeth Gilbert speech on following our curiosity. Choosing where we go and what we do by what engages us. Because the question of George’s well being was such on the forefront of my mind, I bought a ticket to go see them this weekend, without even speaking to Liz about it first. Granted I had my brother’s house to stay at 20 minutes away and if I was blocked at the door I would have had a bed to turn to….But I just had to see George and Liz with my own eyes.So for all of you who care for this family as much as I do, I am sharing with you now, in order that you don’t have to go and visit yet. I know Liz and George both have relationships in which face to face is simply a must, family and very close friends. But now I know that Liz is more than capable of calling on these friends herself and knowing best the timing of things. As Liz mentioned, George will be released at the beginning of next month to come home and begin physical therapy with Liz. She will be completely focused on his recovery.On first sight, it was simply shocking to see George. This once nimble, and incredibly fit climber of rafters, sailor of the Sunfish, incredible craftsman is about half the size of his former self. After two months of being on a feeding tube he has lost much body mass. But after getting over that initial shock, you see it. GEORGE WHITEHOUSE< the fighter. The miracle man. The man who spiritual men fall in love with. The father. The husband, the friend.Yes, he has a long way to go, yes, he has to relearn how to walk, how to speak, how to eat. But he is there and there is no doubt that his will and love for his family will bring him back even further. I was right. Liz is a champion. She is his greatest advocate and of course they have the entire staff, maybe minus one social worker, in love with them. Willing to be their best selves as I mentioned Liz’s influences has on people. George is already making jokes with them. When they enter the room, he remembers their names and says hello to them. It takes him a while to get the words out still but he is speaking. He is cognizant and aware. On the other side of my pleading tears, were only tears of gratitude. I’m so deeply grateful to all who have held this family in your hearts. SO deeply grateful for George’s family who gave him to us in the first place. Grateful to his guardians that willingly fight for this man knowing he is the kind of man that was born remembering how to love others. But I am most grateful to Liz Whitehouse. She is absolutely AMAZING with George, as much as he was with Bill. Her devotion and patience with him, her smiles, her coaching. Her love. I didn’t know I had it in me to have even more respect for this strong woman than I already do, but she is not only managing to take care of George but insure that the twins are happy and taken care of. She is actually ready and willing to embark on this new journey as a family.Crazily enough, she already has a built-in support system, perhaps stronger than she would have here. We would all be rallying to help her, but we simply don’t have the sunshine, the swimming pool, the garden, and the horses that all make up the environment in which George will be doing his healing. Her uncle’s house is simply heaven on earth. I got to meet this wonderful woman that has basically adopted Liz and the twins into her family. She happens to be married to Liz’s aunt’s best friend’s son! Was reconnected with Liz And Liz knows her from her college days at Brown! AND we also discovered I went to high school with her in Dallas! Leslie and Jim have two children who love the twins. She looked my sister and I in the eye and said, “Dont worry, I have their backs.” And I believe her.This whole experience has made me a better person. George’s brush with death, their resilience, the power of love..all of these things have made me stop taking so much for granted. Of course, I still will at times, but less so.It has taught me that kind people make a difference in each other’s lives as apparent in the way, there is so much support for this family back home. It has taught me, to not be afraid of illness. It is almost as if they have been given a second chance..I can’t quite bring myself to call it a “ gift”, but yes in some ways, this has been an awakening for them as a family….Liz’s heart has grown even more. George is moving and inspiring all the lives he touches, even still.Thank you!A year later, I think about the great musicians we have lost, the threat of our democracy and our right to protest , the tragic state of our water, and then I think about George and what he has been through this past year. I think about his smile and heart felt and contagious laugh. I think about how he managed to land such a powerful and wild heart of his wife’s, I think about the joy in the hearts of his children and I rememebr that while I will never give up fighting for the things I belive in, that I will count my blessings. I will take pleasure in the small things. I will mediate on the light and give thanks for all that I have. Merry Christmas and may Peace be in your heart.