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Wednesday, December 14, 2005

The Essence of Christmas

From my e-newsletter:

Out of the Chrysalis
- Where caterpillars find their wings

Maria Stepek Doherty

It has been six months since I last wrote to you. It has been a eventful time filled with opportunities for growth and the practical application of love in testing situations.
Next year I believe I will have assimilated and processed enough of the lessons of this year to convey them to all of you in a meaningful way. I hope you are sitting comfortably because there will be much to tell.

As I write here in my warm, safe, comfortable office snug within my home, it is Christmas morning. We were up at 7a.m. to open our presents which had been piled under the Christmas tree, a smaller one than in previous years, but perfectly shaped and beautiful, dressed in her sparkling red and gold decorations. Our fifteen year old son was delighted with his gifts, which included the new PS2 portable, totally unanticipated by him. The big bear hug he wrapped his now comparatively, diminutive mother in was the best present I could have received. Last year, unprompted by anything other than his own sweet spirit, he sold almost all of his computer games and consoles to raise funds for the victims of the Tsunami. He is the greatest gift in our lives; he is the beating of our hearts and the peace in our souls. He is our Christmas and every Festival of Light celebrated throughout the world.

Unlike so many people in this world, we have a secure roof over our heads, a reliable source of heat, food in our kitchen and a wider family which although a little bloodied after this year of change, remain lovingly unbent. Like the willow, we have learned to sway gently in the winds of life; better to bend gracefully than snap. Nature has many lessons to teach us if we will only look and learn.

Today I will give thanks for all that I have in my life, the tears as well as the laughter.

I will give thanks for the lost loves who returned to my life this year and the lesson that once we give our hearts, it is given forever, if love is true and not a hollow illusion. The way we express that love may change with the passing of the years and the shifting dynamics of human relationships, but the love never dies.

I will give thanks for the life of my friend of over thirty years who slipped quietly out of this mortal guise and into the beauty of her pure spirit earlier this year. It hurt to lose her physical presence but I sense the pure joy in her freedom and transformation. Then the hurt diminishes and the pain softens.

I am grateful for the gift I was given in being fully present to another old friend as he walked the last steps of this journey with his much loved brother. I am in awe of the fighting spirit of this man, the incredible battle his doctors put up for him, their grief when they lost him. They make me proud to share the same humanity.

I am grateful for the prayers and healing which poured in from around the world when I asked for spiritual energetic support for both of my friends. Each one of these wonderful people gave their time and their love to a complete stranger, then we are only strangers when we make that choice to remain so.

I am grateful for the glossy coated little black dog, our own Gremlin eared Jessie, who was never more than a few feet from me, for the fifteen years of her life with us. We rescued her, half-starved, cruelly cowed and beaten, when she was around a year old. She was my constant companion in the three years I have now worked from home. She passed yesterday and I miss her presence so much.

I am grateful for each client who blessed my practice this year. I received far more from them in so many ways than I could ever have given them. I learned from their courage and I grew with their growing.

I am grateful for my schizophrenic brother. He teaches me to stretch my patience, my compassion and my love. He also teaches me how to set boundaries which allow for my own self-care. Above all, I am grateful for his choosing me to be his conservator, the one he trusts to make the decisions about his life when he is not able to do so himself. It is a sacred trust and a very precious gift.

There is so much to be grateful for in all the light and darkness of this life. It is the shadows which give our lives their richness and depth. They are our challenges and our opportunities for growth. It is better to embrace them and allow the lessons of the pain to flow through our lives, than to resist and remain trapped in them.

I am grateful for every breath, for every tear, for every smile.

I am grateful for the incredible gift of life and I am grateful for each one of you who reads this

Take time to be deliberately aware of all you have to be grateful for in your lives, especially in those moments when external circumstances weigh heavily on you. It is in those time of sadness and shadow that we can be so much more awake to the beauty of the light in our lives. You have only to make the choice to see it that way and your heart will overflow with love and gratitude for all that has been, all that is and all that is yet to come.

My Christmas

Christmas is not a universal feast, but the underlying spirit is common to all of us, regardless of religious belief.
It is the celebration of light in the darkness, the warmth of hope spreading in the cold winter of life.
Christmas is about gratitude and appreciation of all we have been given and are still to receive.

This is my idea of Christmas.

Christmas is the distilled essence of love.
It is a time of angel's wings on earthly bodies, a time when the soothing touch of a nurse lets a dying man know he is not alone.

Christmas is the distilled essence of all that is good on this earth.
It is a time for softly spoken words of love that reach into the hardest heart, for it is only in giving our love unconditionally that we release the heart song in others.

Christmas is the distilled essence of a quiet joy.
It rings out crystal clear in the singing of the soul. It is the music of heaven played out on earth in each carefully composed note of giving.

Christmas is the distilled essence of the innocence of childhood.
It is their laughter, their astonished delight, their belief in magic,wrapped up in the overwhelming warmth of the love we feel for them that sets free the child in us.

Christmas is the distilled essence of peace.
It is the profoundest stillness of the soul when it quietens the rampant chatter of the mind and hears the single heart beat of the universe.
We are never alone.
In that stillness, we are one heart, one mind, one soul.

Hold the distilled essence of Christmas in your daily lives all year around.

Reach out in love to those around you.

I will always believe in magic.
Open your mind and let magic believe in you.

Christmas is here and now and every day of your lives.

Live it !

In Love and Light,

Maria Stepek Doherty
Chrysalis Transformations
where caterpillars find their wings

Should what I write reach out to you in a significant way, then I ask you to pass this on to someone you feel could also benefit from it. Thank you for joining me today as we journey through our transformations to becoming all that we may be.
Should any of the issues which were raised in today's letter, bring up anything that you feel
the need to talk about, please e mail me and I will do whatever I can to help. I welcome your questions, comments, input.
Please feel free to use this article in your publication as long as it is credited to me and any alteration is first approved by me.
Maria Doherty is Founder of Chrysalis Transformations.
Should you no longer wish to subscribe ,please send an e-mail to:
with the subject line "remove" and you will be removed from the list immediately.
I will be sorry to see you go.
If this ezine was forwarded to you by a friend, I would love to have you join us,
subscribe by sending a blank e-mail to with "subscribe" in the title line

Saturday, December 10, 2005


A thousand sparks of memory,
Ignited by your voice,
Flash fire through my mind.

Consigned to the past,
I thought you ashes,
Scattered in time.

Your words burn me,
Delusion melting to reveal,
A heart hardwired to mine.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005


Will you not watch one hour with me
In this dread garden of Gethsemane?
Oh, Lord, you have forsaken me,
Abba, father, set me free.

I wander twisted paths of madness
Lost in a shadowed shadow world,
As though in a mirror dark I see
The crucifixion of my mind.

The serpent coils within my brain,
An ancient darkness writhing here,
As fangs plunge deep into my soul,
The venom of insanity.

Here are demons dwelling darkly;
I fear the coming of the Night.
Hell spawned voices of delusion
Nail me to this living cross.

I ask their name, they answer Legion
Devils from the pits of hell.
I burn, I burn; put out my fire,
Put out this night, this life, this now.

"Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani",
Words from sacred woundings rise.
I hang upon this cross abandoned,
Eternal void of endless pain.

Friday, December 02, 2005


I breathe out upon this paper,
The beating of my heart,
Out into the wondering world,
A butterfly breath.

It shakes the forests of the Amazon,
Thunders on the mountain peak,
Stirs the distant oceanic deep,
One sacred breath, one heart beat.

I breathe out upon this paper,
In Black words etching
The whiteness of the universe,
Butterfly breath, breathing worlds.

Thursday, December 01, 2005


It is busy in the hospital cafeteria. The Christmas decorations are up and the brightly lit tree brightens the cool modernity of the room, giving it some welcoming warmth. As usual it is filled with a mixture of patients, their visitors and the staff. It is good to see the patients out of their beds sitting with family and friends in a more stimulating environment than the wards. Even the ones who look deathly ill seem to be more relaxed here. I know that I am.

This is my refuge, my still quiet centre of sanity, when I visit my brother. From the moment the obnoxious stench of concentrated cigarette smoke greets me at the entrance to Ward 17, emanating in foul stale wafts from the smoking room, I am counting the moments until I am here. The image is like a beacon drawing me away from this sea of human misery to safer, gentler shores.

There is something so intensely and instantly depressing about that death bringing stench and yet it seems a fitting signal that we are entering a circle of hell, even Dante did not prepare us for. I walk down the corridor which sometimes smells of urine in spite of the cleaners' best efforts. Not all of the patients are continent. None are sane by any legal definition. I keep my thought shield vision of the clinically clean cafeteria to the forefront of my mind.

I smile at all of the patients who pass, regardless of whether they show any sign of even knowing I am there. Some shuffle past in their drug induced near coma states. Some stare at me aggressively and I rehearse avoidance tactics. There are some here that I have come to know bear careful watching. Ah, yes, we all come to know one another so well over the long years I have been visiting here. Sometimes it seems as though we are all serving our time together, patients and families. For this is certainly our own little prison. Think hot soup and tea, Maria. Hold fast to the protective vision of that other place.

I may exchange a few words with the nurses at the desk where they tend to congregate with one another rather than with the patients. I may have a longer conversation with the family members of the other lifers. We share a common burden and grief. It helps sometimes just to know that there are others who understand the longing for the cafeteria.

When I have procrastinated as long as I feel able to, I look through the glass windows into the day room where the shadow people come and go. Some of the shadows are more substantial, lively and talkative than others; the strident noise of their hyperactive minds assaults me and I have an urgent need to retreat. Some have disappeared altogether from this reality and inhabit other worlds. Once they were like you but now they are the projections of their own interior darkness and I cling to the normality of the cafeteria as my talisman against being overwhelmed by their chaos.

Today he is standing in a corner of the room. He is jerking his head from side to side like a marionette whose strings are being pulled by a drunken puppeteer. His arms are held out rigidly from his sides and he is flicking his fingers. He mutters dark incantations so softly yet so clearly we can all hear them. His beard is unkempt, greying and when I kiss him, it feels like a wire scouring brush. His dark curls have long gone leaving a lank thinning mess of long hair tied tightly back in a short ponytail. Sometimes he wears one of his many caps but not today. He is unbearably thin and his eyes are telling me that he has seen me, but is not yet ready to acknowledge my presence. I must wait until he has completed whatever ritual his voices are instructing him in today.

Then he is still for a moment and those sad, mad eyes pierce me. I am impaled on the memory of a four-year-old boy’s huge brown eyes sparkling with the mischief of childish innocence. It is better not to remember who he was, to stay in the present moment of who he now is. It is safer and less painful to simply be with what is. It is the difference between the abyss and the rack. Neither would be my choice but I can survive the rack; I doubt if I could ever find my way out of the abyss, better to suffer than to be forever lost.

He stretches out his arms and twists his head again. This is his crucifixion. He tells me about how his body is being continually broken on the cross and that his work is to heal it over and over again. He is redeeming the world, taking on its sins, and setting us free. It is hard to be the reincarnation of Jesus Christ. It is not so easy to be his sister and I long for the white walls of the cafeteria.

He tells me of the healing work he has done all through the night. He points to the little woman in the wheelchair who can now walk. He talks of the power that flowed through him into the young man admitted yesterday whose arm was broken in three places. An x-ray will show no breaks now. He asks after my son who has been unwell and tells me that worse is to come. We are the family of the Christ and we too are all eternally broken on the cross. At this moment, I am inclined towards believing him. I am one of the disciples who could not “watch one hour with him” in this Garden of Gethsemane. I want to escape to that calmer, saner place.

My head hurts. This is not one of my better days. Today my shield is thin and I cannot bear much more. I want to scream at him to stop his incessant shaking. I want to tell him that his pelvis has never been broken in three places. I need him to know that I don’t see what he sees and hear what he hears. I am ready to explode with the longing to deny him three times before the crowing of the cock or just the end of visiting hours. I also know that this would enrage him. I am not ready to be snarled at. I am not ready to walk away. I am not ready for any of this.

He stops as though he has read my thoughts. He looks sternly at me. Then he breaks into a great face-illuminating grin. He is that four-year-old boy again and I want to take him in my arms and spin him round and round. He laughs at me.

“Come on Maria, I’m hungry. Let’s go to the cafeteria.”

I wrap my arm around his waist and we walk away from the psychiatric unit, up the hill in the cool liberating air. We stop to look at the beauty of the sunset and I tell him he should paint it. I only have words but he has art. I know he won’t but it is good for both of us to think that he might.

We walk down the long sloping corridor of the general hospital to my sanctuary. We sit at our table, he with his soup and me with my tea. We reminisce about some of the funnier moments of our childhood. Sometimes he borrows from other people’s childhoods, including mine, but that is so much better than being crucified. I do not contradict him. He weaves his own history just as he creates his own present and future from the rich material of his psychotic mind. We laugh together and if I am really lucky, we will get through the rest of our visit without any more twitching or visits from the voices.

Normality. That is what this place means to me. Here we sit surrounded by people visiting their sick loved ones. Some of the patients are allowed down from the wards. Some are in dressing gowns. Some are in wheel chairs. Some are still attached to drips and are accompanied by a nurse. It is all normality. That is what we are seeking here within these cafeteria walls.

In the far corner a large Christmas tree flickers with soft white lights. I smile at the sight of it. It grounds me in happier times. I will take him back to his ward in a moment, but for now I can pretend that we are simply a brother and a sister who love one another. We are out on the town in a quiet little café, sharing and catching up with our lives.

Here in our special place, schizophrenia is just the subject which I wrote my final year thesis on. It does not exist outside of that yellowing paper. It cannot enter my sanctuary.

Saturday, November 05, 2005

A poem for parted lovers

I need a love poem
To say what I cannot,
One that speaks heart to heart,
Without judgement holding us apart.

I need a love poem
To ask forgiveness for our past,
To seek permission for our future,
One that dares to ask for trust.

I need a love poem
To spin our world back to its orbit,
To seal the black hole of loneliness
That is your absence from my life.

I need a love poem
That reaches into you as once I reached,
A deep inside touching, beyond the body.
Where two may merge as one.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Flu Fantasy

I am meandering gently,
lingering in the clouds
of cold driven haziness,
following the slowly slithering patterns
of my bug ridden brain.

I fly on a magic carpet of dreams,
gliding on thermal currents as
I roll and tumble into a new dimension.

Cavorting laughingly,
I skip the light fantastic,
climb mountains of imagination,
swing from fantasy to fantasy,
fly in oceans of jitterbugging seals,
float with Beluga whales,
then toast my feet in hot Caribbean seas.

I leap with the dolphins,
babble like a brook in full flow,
as I amble through this strange dream world.

Hiking, trudging, trekking
in the Himalayan foothills of my mind.
Schlepping along,
dragging my body behind my thoughts,
staggering like a crazy drunk,
spirit lifted as I list to starboard,
tracking the wild waves
as I dive down into the eternal blue deep.

Touching bottom
I stumble and crawl crustacean like
Across the twirling, spinning sands,
a sea bereft beached diver.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Almost exactly a year ago, I was involved in a car crash. By some miracle, no one was hurt but it was a near run thing. Looking at how badly damaged both cars were, certainly makes me think that a greater power was on hand that day. It also made me consider all the unspoken words that need to find their way out into the world, the actions my heart longs to take but my human frailty holds me back from. Courage comes to us in strange ways, mine came on a Tuesday morning in the form of a little red car bearing down on me, the shocked face of the driver, as we both realised he was going to hit me, and the prayer I sent up in that moment: "Give me one more day".
Someone was listening, so here I am and this is what I wrote a few days later.

One More Day

I am the richest person in the world because I awoke this morning to one more day of this precious gift of life. All around the world, life is stolen from so many through accidents, illness, crime and war. This one more moment is all we ever have and oh what a wonderful gift that is.

The first words on my lips were "I am so grateful, grateful, grateful" and they echoed through my mind for hours afterwards, illuminating every word, every action, every point of decision.

I woke beside my beloved husband of 17 years. I allowed the feeling of love to flow through me, remembering how it was before we met, the void of loneliness he filled with peaceful joy, utterly and completely transforming my world.

I looked in on our 13 year old son sleeping through his change of season cold, and rejoiced because he is healing surrounded by a love that so many never experience. He is a glorious gift of the Light, brought into this world through us, his parents, and the world is better for his presence. Nothing we have done or will do can ever be as magnificent as the creation of this child. You will see a small glimmer of the beauty of his spirit when you read one of his poems later.

I step into our kitchen and look at the two large fridge freezers, the many cupboards, and I know that behind their doors is more than enough to feed us well for weeks. We have never known hunger.

I am grateful to the winds of chance that brought my father here to the safety of Scotland, alive and whole in mind and body. He survived the invasion of Poland, the cattle truck hell of the journey to Siberia, the frozen starving slave labour winters, the long trek across Russian to Persia, six months in hospital with malaria, typhoid, cholera and malnutrition, the death of his mother and father, the terror of the German submarines as he served on convoy escort in the most dangerous wartime seas. So many innocents died and my father made it through. Without that epic journey through pain, loss and fear, I would not be here today.

I am so grateful that the German bombs spared my schoolgirlmother during the the mass bombing of the Clydeside. The family two doors up from them were all lost when their home became a smoldering hole in the ground.

I can hardly speak when I consider how grateful I am for having both mother and father with me today, at the ages of77 and 83 respectively. I am so grateful for the role model of a good relationship that they gave me through all the triumphs and challenges of their 56 years together. In my work as a therapist, so many of my clients had childhoods of unspeakable misery; mine was one of love and deep security. It took me too long to realise just how fortunate I am.

I have the use of all my limbs and my mind is intact and healthy. One of the lessons I have taken from my accident is the need for diligent self-care. It is so foolish to throw a life away.

I have people like all of you in my life. You have no idea how much I treasure your responses to my work, knowing that from time to time, I strike a chord and something shifts. So thank you for the gift you give me in reading what I write.

I see and appreciate beauty because it is a projection of the beauty in me and I can truly understand and accept that now, when for many years I could not. Please look into the mirror of your soul and see the incandescent beauty that is there. See it and begin to live it.

It is the turning point of the year. The trees have offered their many coloured hues as a sacrifice to the coming of the Spring, enriching the earth and my soul in the cycle of death and rebirth.

Winter is here with its dramatic dark skies; the first snows have fallen on Sugarloaf, Maine, where my family love to fly down the mountains and we are filled with with delicious anticipation.

I am grateful for the gift of language. We share our hearts, our minds and souls through our words. Make your words worthy of this gift today.

There is peace in my soul, love in my heart and fire in my mind.

I am the richest person in the whole world because life is indeed a precious gift and I see that so clearly, my heart overflows with the love it brings.


Some Inspiration for Today

As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them. --John Fitzgerald Kennedy

God gave you a gift of 86,400 seconds today. Have you used one to say "thank you?" ~William A. Ward

Grace isn't a little prayer you chant before receiving a meal. It's a way to live. ~Jackie Windspear

We can only be said to be alive in those moments when our hearts are conscious of our treasures. ~Thornton Wilder

My 13 year old son wrote this two summers ago, when were on holiday in France. We were discussing war and the impact it has on those who wage it and those who are innocently caught up in it. It made me even more proud of him, if that is possible!

The Horrors of War

Death stalks the broken walls and blasted fields,
I draw my sword, my axe, I wield.
Swords swing and bows sing,
Young knights fall in a burning hell.
Castles crumble as trebuchets rumble
Yet Kings still lead us to the horrors of war.

Hope left the young man's eyes.
He leaps from his trench and there he dies.
Yet men still fight for what they think is right
But I am darkly, deeply steeped
In the horrors of war.

Is there no better way?

Jan Michael Doherty

Monday, October 31, 2005

What if....?

from : The Nobel Lecture, December 11, 1989 - HH The Dalai Lama

"Responsibility does not only lie with the leaders of our countries or with those who have been appointed or elected to do a particular job. It lies with each of us individually. Peace, for example, starts within each one ofus. When we have inner peace, we can be at peace with those around us.

When our community is in a state of peace, it can share that peace with neighbouring communities, and so on. When we feel love and kindness towards others, it not only makes others feel loved and cared for, but it helps us also to develop inner happiness and peace. There are ways in which we can consciously work to develop feelings of love and kindness. For some of us, the most effective way to do so is through religious practice. For others it may be non-religious practices. What is important is that we each make a sincere effort to take our responsibility for each other and for the natural environment we live in seriously

The content of this article is now available as a voice recording whenyou click on the link below.

What if ......……

This is a question which has been playing over and over in my mind for quite some time. I try to make sense of a world where there is so much pain and so many acts of horrific cruelty, and I ask myself what role love has to play in this? What difference can one woman or one man make in the devastation that surrounds us, and I find myself constantly drawn back to the idea of how life might be if we lived each day with loving intent.

As I drove back from my son‘s school this morning, all I could think about was the power that love has to heal , to transform, to create miracles. So how would it be if we made simple acts of love, our everyday practice? What if?

How would it be if we each dropped a tiny pebble of love into the ocean of life every day? What might be healed and transformed? What miracles might occur? Where and to whom would all these little ripples spread; whose lives would they wash over; what pain and misery and sorrow would they cleanse? What if all those tiny ripples of love, somehow connected and amplified? What if their collective energy was transformed into a mighty wave, rising higher than the earth, creating a cosmic tsunami, which swept away the sins of the world, and left it whole again. What if?

What if this morning on my school run, I had snarled instead of smiled? What if I had bellowed out protests against careless driving with my angry fist on the horn, instead of forgiving and allowing a story of understanding to fill myhead? What if I had told myself that those drivers were “out to get me”, a symbol of the sickness of our society? InsteadI made a choice; I chose to extend compassion to them; I chose to sympathise with the pressure that they felt, pushing them to make mistakes, to take chances, to risk theprecious gift of life; I told myself another story in whichI pitied them and where there is pity, there is love and the capacity for anger and resentment vanishes. I sent them aprayer instead of a curse.

What if, there had been one driver on the road this morning, filled with silent rage and despair, kicked around by life, until battered and broken, they had reached a place ofdarkness. Perhaps they were ready to die and perhaps they were ready to take the lives of others. Could one smiling face make a difference? Could the space I created for them to allow them onto the main road, when all the others drove past, make a tiny crack in the wall they had built around themselves? Could one simple loving act from a stranger shift their intent? What if all they were looking for was a sign, a sign that there is love and it practices what it preaches. What if?

Then there was the man who drove so aggressively, overtaking a long queue of backed up traffic, who then tried to push back into the line of patient waiting drivers hundreds of yards up the road. What if I had refused to let him in? What if I had looked at him with the anger and contempt I saw in other drivers’ eyes as they moved closer together to keep him out? What if he had been a father on his way to his dying child, frightened and alone in hospital? What if hehad been going to lose his job if he was late one more time? What if?

What if we chose to take a moment to smile at the hostile, yawning girl at the supermarket check out, to sympathise about the long day she has had, to make her laugh with a small humorous comment? What if you were the only person who would speak to her that day who actually seemed to care. What if she is a single mum, who made the choice to keep her child, and for whom life is now a constant mind deadening struggle? What if that touch of love meant that her little one was hugged and held close that night instead of frightened by a worn out snarl or worse? What if?

What if you told the customer service agent, what a great job he is doing, what a pleasure it is to speak to someonewho clearly knows their business and cares about his customers? What if you told him that you understand that the problem is not his fault and that you appreciate whatever he can do to help you? What if you spoke to his supervisor and complimented her on what excellent training she had obviously given this young man? What if these were the only positive words these two people had heard all week? What if they had been listening to abuse all day because they had been powerless to help? What if?

What if, we decided to look into the hearts of people instead of trying to read their minds? What if we gave them the benefit of the doubt? What if we stopped painting them as awkward or difficult or bad or even evil? What if we actually tried to understand why they act in the way they do? What if we sat down and listened to them? What if wetreated them as we long to be treated? What if?

I could have written about war , about what happens when we forget to love, when we no longer see one another as individuals, but as monstrous projections of fear. I was tempted to write about the roots of terrorism and the dark pit of anger and despair it springs from; how all such acts create a hideously fertile breeding ground for yet more darkness to pour into the world. Instead, today I lightly touched on the positive difference one small, conscious act of kindness might make in your world.

What if you chose to be more loving today?

What if you walk out your door and commit an act of random kindness?

What if you were just a little more understanding, a little more compassionate, a tiny bit more patient?
What if you made a choice to live in the light of love, always looking for ways of demonstrating that love?

What if each small act of love dropped into the ocean of life, created that immense tidal wave?

What difference might that make to our troubled world?

What if we truly loved and all our actions came from that love?

What if?

What if.........

My inspirations for today

You will find as you look back upon your life that themoments when you have really lived, are the moments when youhave done things in a spirit of love. ~ Henry Drummond

To fear love is to fear life, and those who fear life arealready three parts dead.
~ Bertrand Russell

Spread love everywhere you go: first of all in your own home. Give love to your children, to a wife or husband, to a next-door neighbor.
~ Mother Teresa

"Bitterness imprisons life; love releases it. Bitterness paralyzes life; love empowers it. Bitterness sours life; love sweetens it. Bitterness sickens life; love heals it.Bitterness blinds life; love anoints its eyes."
~ HarryEmerson Fosdick

"Love cures people, the ones who receive love and the ones who give it, too."
~ Karl A Menninger

Sunday, October 30, 2005

Creative Writers Network: Whispers of the Heart -Maria Stepek Doherty
Out of the Chrysalis - The Hungry Heart

"A life filled with love must have some thorns; but a life empty of love will have no roses."- Unknown

"If we discovered that we had only five minutes left to say all that we wanted to say, every telephone booth would be occupied by people calling other people to stammer that they loved them." - Elizabeth Kubler-Ross

It is strange, but no longer unexpected, how something as simple as a walk in my garden can lead to a whole new train of thought. My routine was a little different this morning as my son is unwell, an early morning client was a no-show and I allowed myself to let work displace my usual after the school run exploration. Then as I sat at my desk lost in researching a new client’s condition, the music of the birds seemed to enter my body. I could feel each note rippling through me and in that moment, the softness of the morning garden called to me. That song created a hunger in my heart for the peace and beauty of nature; my curiosity was ignited by the thought of what I would discover today.

I breathed in the beauty of the big showy crimson peonies, the stunning architectural shapes of the yew trees which follow the little stream, the soft pink froths of apple blossoms, the pure white clematis scrambling to the sky, an intoxication of the soul. Then I glanced down to see what was growing in my little alpine bed which mirrors the main house border but in miniature.

My rampant strawberry plants have spilled down from their containers into this bed andin the exuberance of their leaves and the lush berry promiseof their white flowers, I almost missed a little gem. Peeping out from underneath was the tiniest deep purple alpine primula.

I bent down and plucked a few leaves from the strawberry plant to give this shy gift a chance to see the sun and to be admired by the world. As I looked at it, a thought came to me. How many flowers grow unnoticed, denied the sun, radiant in a beauty that no one ever sees, no one ever appreciates, and no one ever loves.

Then I knew that I was no longer thinking about flowers; I was thinking about all the children of this world, the little ones and the ones with greying hair, for we are all still children deep inside. A wave of painpassed through me at the thought that in this world of ours, there were people who went to bed at night without anyone having loved them, cherished them, hugged or held them. It made me so sad to think of all the unnourished lives being dragged out throughout the world, because we do not need only food to live, we need to be loved. We need to have someone look at us and know that they love us, that we are so very important in their lives, that we are accepted just the way we are.

We talk of people living hollow lives and that is what happens when there is not enough love to fill them, when that hunger for belonging, for being important in someone’s life, is not filled. I was a very hungry little girl, the second oldest of a tribe of ten children. My mind knew that my parents loved me but my heart struggled to feel it.

When you are a little five year old who still wants to sit on mummy’s lap but there are already three other smaller ones with priority, then you quickly learn that there is no room for you. When you come home from school jumping up and down with excitement about what you learned that day, you want to be heard, to be acknowledged, to be praised; when there are too many voices shouting out loudly, you quickly learn to be silent about your own needs. When your father is always too busy working to watch you in your starring roles in school plays and concerts, you quickly become a sensible little girl who understands that food must be put on the table and that the hunger in your heart for something more than a full stomach is a selfish desire to be put away with all the other selfish desires and dreams.

At what point does a child start to believe that they are unlovable, not that they are not loved enough, but that there is something about them which is fundamentally undeserving? I did not love myself and I filled my hollowness with giving others the love and attention that I hungered for myself. For a very long time I could not accept that another human being would love me just for who I am. I burned to give love but did not feel that I feared that I was not worthy of receiving it, all an illusion of course but it was my perception that created my reality, a very lonely one.

When we believe that we are unlovable for whatever reason, we become adept at turning away those who try to break through those self-protective barriers. We hide our hunger and our fear of rejection by allowing no one to come close. Looking back from the perspective of a life time of experience, I understand now but it took a large part of my adult life to truly internalise that to really give love, requires that you love yourself.

When you love yourself, you send out a signal to the world that there is an abundance of love, that there is not only the possibility of being loved but that it is a reality.

When you love yourself you do not only fill your own emptiness, you become an overflowing vessel of love which spills out to feed the world's hungry hearts.

When you love yourself, you find that there is infinite healing of the wounds of the past and when you heal, you spread that healing balm to others.

When you love yourself, you allow others to love you and that is an awesome gift for you and for them.

All of this sprang from the observation of that beautiful little flower, almost invisible, hidden from the world by others more rampant, more insistent on taking their place in the sun. Be observant both of yourself and others. Are you a hidden blossom.? What will it take to claim your place in the world of light? What work needs to be done for you to love yourself enough to shine that love out into our world which needs every blessed beautiful loving soul to be fully the magnificent loving beings they were born to be?

Look around you. Who are the hidden flowers in your life? What can you do to help them find their way out into the light? What can you do to help them to love themselves? Love is always the key that unlocks the shuttered doors of the hungry heart.

So please take a little time to consider this today. Perhaps you might think about one or two little things that could create profound change in your lives and the lives of those around you.
Think about whether those you love actually feel that love rather than intellectually know that it is there.
How often do you say the words “I love you”? How often do you touch, hug, kiss or hold? Is it enough?
Ask them if you are not sure. It is never too late to start filling that hollowness with love. It is never too late to heal.
Think about whether you feel loved. What more is needed in your life to fill your hollow spaces.
Who needs to be spoken with?
What requests need to be made?
How much hugging and kissing and holding will it take to fill you up to the point where you really, really feel the love flowing through you?

How many times a day do you need to be wrapped up in those wonderful releasing words “I love you”.
Don't make the mistake of holding back. Ask for what you need and if it isn't available then look to where it is.
The price of a life without love is far too high.
Don't hide away in the shadows of life for want of a quiet request for more light. You cannot ever overfill the hungry heart. It will not explode if you give it too much.
What is guaranteed is that when you do not give it enough, it shrinks and the world has lost another rich source of joy.
Ask for what you need to fill the hunger of your heart.
There can never be a day when we do not need to be loved.
Please do not hold back in giving that love to those around us. It is unlimited in its supply; it is not rationed or restricted.
There are no rules, no laws which tell us who we should love or how much we should love them, yet we behave as though there are.Love yourself today and allow others to feel loved by you.

Teach the children of the world to love themselves by filling them with your love.

Go on, I dare you. Let me know what doors it opens.

Some Thoughts to Ponder

"Loving can cost a lot but not loving always costs more, and those who fear to love often find that want of love is an emptiness that robs the joy from life."- Merle Shan

"You never lose by loving. You always lose by holding back."- Barbara De Angelis

"The greatest happiness of life it the conviction that we are loved."- Victor Hugo

Friday, October 28, 2005

Whispers of the Heart

In the silence of this room
Intent, I listen to my Heart
Speak as to a wayward child,
Demanding that I hear her now.
Softly murmuring she says,
"I will be heard and you will listen,
Feed my hunger now,
Ignore me at your peril."

In the silence of this room,
I am startled by the sound,
Of a long low growling
Coming from my heart,
A soul deep primitive rumbling
Primeval longing and desire,
To fill the hollow loveless places;
She will not be denied.

In the silence of this room,
She whispers quietly, insistent.
"The dark tight tendrils of past sorrows,
Bind and choke the life from me.
Release the bonds of ancient darkness,
Let Light's sweet energy enter here.
The time has come to let them go,
That my wild power may be set free.

In the silence of this room,
I hear the whispers of my heart.
I hear the snap of bindings breaking;
I feel my heart expand and sigh.
I listen as my heart sings softly,
"Feel the love that overflows,
To feed and fill the hollow spaces
Of this hungry waiting world"
Savage statistics and bloodied lies

We cannot grieve for numbers,
They have no faces.
We cannot mourn statistics,
They have no souls.

The number four brings no tears;
Yet name it as years lived,
And there our pain seeks us,
In the numerical deficit of a life.

We cannot scream for fifteen hundred;
Now show us bodies of the dead,
Wrapped in uniform shrouds of war,
Then our cries will shatter minds.

One hundred thousand does not sear us,
Blacken our hearts in fiery shame;
We label them collateral damage,
A coward's words, negating guilt.

We dare not call them by their names,
Husbands, mothers, children, babies.
We hide behind our shield of numbers,
Savage statistics and bloodied lies.

Thursday, October 27, 2005


A discordant jumble of thoughts twist and turn
wavering on the brink of irredeemable rebellion;
The jut of her jaw foretells her mind's direction.

Where is the generosity of heart she once knew,
encapsulated in this man she called her prince,
Now lost in the spectral haunting of his mind?

It lies buried in the scattered ashes of her world,
No dignified exit here in this bloody conflagration,
The daily practiced discipline of lives disintegrated.

Singing softly she surrenders to the flowing stream.
The fringe of pale fair hair entangles in the weed
As she sinks into the watery grave of love's last dream.

Out of focus eyes
Tremble on the brink
Of final flight.

The lights below
Beckon like wreckers
On a savage shore.

Soul's dark night,
Gapes open mouthed,
Swallowing me down.

Sliding into a chasm
Of sheer sided ebony,
And no climbing back.

A golden gate opens
Swaying in the wind
Of God's final wrath.

And I carry no coin,
For the Ferryman;
My soul will suffice.

Unshriven I fly
To eternal rest
Amongst the damned.
Some words for my mother

Where are the words when you want them?
Words that say how much you are loved,
Words that say how much you are valued,
Words that say what you mean to me.

Where are the words when you want them?
Words that thank you for my life,
Words that tell you the gratitude I feel,
Words that speak what my heart cannot say.

Where are the words when you want them?
Words that describe your soul’s shining beauty,
Words that echo the love that you give,
Words that touch on your gentle patience.

Where are the words that I want to speak?
Wrapped deep in the heart that you moulded,
Glowing from the soul that you helped to form
Unspoken in a love that will never die.
For my father

Life granted us the gift of time,
A sweet and precious Indian Summer,
Time to share these mellow days,
Time to be together.

Life granted us the gift of love,
A sacred bond between us,
One that time can never break,
A gift that is eternal.

Love granted me the gift of life.
It gifted me my father,
Each day more precious than the last,
Each day we are together.

Gifts of time and love and life,
Blessings showered upon us,
Time to live and time to love
A father and his daughter.
Sapphire Moon

A deep, dark sapphire sky,
Glitters with crystal starlight,
Pale moonlight illuminates
The curvature of his spine
Tempting hands to trace
Delicately, sensuously,
Each tingling vertebrae
Until they blaze afire.

Contained passion rises
As obtuse signals clear
Gracious, he responds
And gifts his pleasure.
Lips couple, tongues tango,
Ecstatic moaning builds
To crescendo peaks
Of bellowing climax.

An ancient magic stirs,
Celestial spells are cast.
Trusting he sleeps
Surrendered in her arms.
Her eyes shine, black as jet,
Wildness raging in her blood,
Hidden goddess laughs
Triumphant in her power.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

You are Gone - a Poem for Deborah

You are gone.
A meteor blazing your trail
Across the dark sky of my soul,
Where you journey to
Lies beyond my understanding;
My soul may know the way.

You are free.
Like an eagle’s soaring spirit,
Released from earthly bounds
You leave behind your pain,
Your sorrows and your burdens,
Help me not to take them on.

I am so weary,
Drained by the leach of sadness
Sucking on my bones until they ache
With longing and with grief,
This cavernous sense of loss.
Who is it that I cry for?

It hurts so much.
I feel like a soft toy gouged open,
Stuffing knocked out of me,
Leaving me limp and flat,
An empty body whose soul has fled;
Did it leave with you?

I want to let go.
I want to soar above the earth with you,
To lay my sorrows down and be pure spirit
Yet life calls me powerfully,
Love holds me to this earth.
This is the parting of our ways.

I have a life to live,
A designated path to keep ,
People who are depending on me
To pull rabbits from hats and walk high wire,
While simultaneously being
The still, calm centre of their universe.

It still hurts too much,
Pain graws at my thoughts;
I don’t want to play this game of grief.
Can I stop it now, curl into a foetal ball?
Seek the dark warmth of my mother's womb,
And stop the bleeding of my heart.

I don’t want to grow up.
It is much too hard.
I want to be a child again,
Playing rope, innocent of grief,
Death has not touched me yet.
I want those soft blue skys.
Please let me be a child again.

I feel tainted by this anger,
Raging at the dying of your Light.
You fought so hard to stay alive,
Live out the sweetness of your days,
For one more gentle touch,
For one more night of love.

I wish that I could cry,
Wash away the bitter thoughts,
Excise this corrosive misery;
Feel the touch of joy upon my soul,
Live the happiness you fought for,
The precious gift of life.

And this too shall pass,
As all dark nights creep into dawn,
Golden fingers stretching out
Across the blackened sky ,
Nudging us awake from our bad dreams,
To see the light of day again.

Friday, September 30, 2005

Let me hide

Do not look at me;
I am not worthy.
Let me hide away
In the darkness,
Where I am safe.

This shrunken, shriveled world,
Holds me snug in its embrace
Do not force me to break free.

Here there is no risk,
No dare or challenge,
Here no knocking knees,
No hostile judging eyes
Fixed harsh upon me.

Here in the shadows,
I die little deaths
Of pedestrian paralysis,
Fearing the larger death,
Of living in the Light.

Do not look at me;
I am not worthy.
Let me hide away
In this darkness,
Where I am safe.

Sunday, September 11, 2005

Falling in love with life

October 2004

On my drive back from my son’s school this morning, I was listening to some beautiful classical music from Bach when I was so overwhelmed with a deep and blessed sense of gratitude, that I found myself repeating the words “thank you”, over and over again , out loud to the universe as I drove. I don’t know if I have the words to describe how almost agonisingly sweet that moment was and how close to tears I became just bathing in wave after wave of intense emotion. I am so thankful for this renewed passion for life, for the sensory acuity that has me literally buzzing with energy , for the opening out of my soul, ready to receive the magnificent blessings of life. This is not the quiet still space that I normally inhabit ; this is a deep earth connection , very physical in its nature, shaking me to the core of my being………….. And I love it.

I love this feeling of my whole body fully alive, every nerve cell tingling with anticipation of action, movement , sensory pleasure. I want to make love with life, to feel it closing in on me, touching deep to my soul, awakening a response in all of me, that moves to continuous climaxes of joyful pleasure. I want the universe to make the most passionate love with me, to take me and bring me to the edge of all that is. Then I will step forward and trust that the promised bridge appears or I will simply spread those hidden wings and fly.

A few days later , still on fire with this incredible sensory energy, I wrote this poem:

Falling in love with life
Bubbling up from deep within,
Mystically magnetised by some internal power
Come sweetly, strangely disturbing feelings
So akin to falling in love.
Spiralling down deep,
Deep into the depths of me
Where who I think I am disappears
Into a universe of infinite potential
Can this be love?
I hear wild notes played on unknown instruments
I see the world through tender softly focused lenses
Yet there is a primitive savagery in all my senses
Feelings rise, primeval, unfiltered by the mind.