Wintry Morning Thoughts

November 7, 2018

It’s been a really long time since I’ve posted an entry.  Writing is very personal and intimate, especially when sharing deep thoughts.  A chill runs up and down my spine to imagine someone else reading my innermost thoughts.  Writing is a revelation and often I clutch protectively to what I hold sacred knowing that when it is released–just by pressing a key on my keyboard–I release a breath into the world.  After reading my journal entry below I feel safe after holding on to it for over 24 years.  I have matured spiritually and grown to realize that it is important to share your life lessons with others.  So it is with special blessings that I share an intimate morning in my cabin as I lived in the quietness on a mountainside without tv, running water, and just an electric typewriter and my books to entertain me indoors.  Outside the wintry landscape was winter wonderland that only the Alaskan wilderness could behold.  Enjoy.

February 26 1994 – 11:35 AM

All is calm.  All is white.  All is quiet on the mountainside.  I can even hear my breath and feel it’s warm departure from my body.

I have a compulsion to write the passions of my heart—to write of my path to triumphant victories and the valleys I trudged through along the way,

At age 46 one realizes that life is just now beginning to blossom.  For me it is an emergence from half a life of learning to a time of building—or rebuilding—influencing, teaching.  I view my time in Glennallen, AK as examination time.  Making sense—or better sense of past experiences and directing present and future actions.

So—so what?

I used to think that my physical health was most important.  Then I thought, nay, the spiritual is definitely more important since it keeps one in touch with Who really counts.  Immersed in academic study, I was easily convinced that intellect rules.

Ah, but as long as one is trapped in fleshy garb, one soon realizes that above all, time rules—in this physical realm, anyway.

I grew up learning that the “four sticks” of life consist of the physical, mental, moral, and spiritual realms.  Mastering these four realms is the quest of life.  We choose our own playing fields, and somehow, through some unknown formula (fate?), conscious or unconscious actions, we partake in the chosen game…as though knocking on doors for answers or simply to practice that golf swing, so to speak.

But the four sticks are really to be viewed holistically, each realm receiving distinction and definition from the other three.  Too often, easily influenced by the physical realm, I have permitted behaviors—mine and others—to establish and determine rules for appropriate behavior that resulted in certain lifestyles.  I tend to agree with Toqueville who described Americans as living by “Habits of the Heart.”  I believe I have lived 46 years of my life that way.  Habits of culturally appropriate physical behaviors, even though spiritually, morally, and intellectually I warred internally.  Behaviors in the physical realm are reflections of our belief system governed by the three other realms.  In other words our behaviors reflect our beliefs and values.  The very laws of the land, however, can only guess or come very close to defining “intentions” of one’s actions.

But what else is there?  We do not agree on what is moral or whether or not there is even a spiritual realm at all.  We do not even agree on reality.  Is there hope for peace among earthlings who hold vastly different definitions of the four sticks?

The bottom-line is that we all share earth as home, and our actions and behaviors effect everyone else.  We cannot avoid interaction.  In intercultural circles we call this method of learning, living or doing research as “immersion.”  It constitutes living within a society to study its culture.  The set-back to this method, as you can imagine, is that one also effects that culture by living within it,  I do not mean to suggest that we live on experimental earth.  (I actually cannot be sure.)

To state it more clearly, we have limited space on this earth that we must share.  And while we may share different realities at the same time our actions and behaviors reflecting those respective realities lend a hand in changing our perspective of ourselves and the world.

My task at hand is the define my square footage of space…one that is owned by time, left behind at death, and somehow relate that measured time and space to the real “me.”  That which belongs only to “me” is ever being revealed and refined.  Time has no claim on “me.”  The process, however, is both internal and external, and for completion, I need the help of the “other.”

I need “you” to love/accept me.  You need me to love/accept you.  We must communicate this message successfully to each other.  The most effective way is through direct interaction.  When you receive my message and I receive yours, we share in the ultimate celebration of self-love.  It’s the old “I’m O.K. You’re O.K.” theory.

The whole process really begins with inward journey to clarify one’s needs, options, desires, addictions.  After having discovered the basic human needs of self-love, self-acceptance, and self-esteem, then one is equipped for celebrating the outward journey of experiencing others through the ability of relating honestly, authentically and openly.  The result is truly a celebration of two people communing in the mental/physical realm while being sensitively attuned to the presence and interplay of the moral/spiritual realm.

Anytime one relates to another, there is a risk.  A risk of being rejected, misunderstood, betrayed.

I struggle with my desire to isolate and insulate myself from a world whose values are very different from mine.  Ah, values—a loaded noun.

Let me rephrase it by saying that I once cared too much about what other people thought of my behaviors and actions.  I still care, but I am owning my life like never before.  I have given myself permission to live according to what I determine is right and good for me.  This, however, is not without concern for others.  I need others.  I respect others.  I am, however, more articulate about what my intentions are and why.  Perhaps the clearer I am at this task, the less conflict will develop during an interaction.  Not that conflict can ever be eliminated, but at least I know what my bottom line is.

I do not know exactly where this monologue is taking me….

It seems I am searching for the end (or the beginning) of a rope; or the end of the ball of yarn that is somehow deeply entwined in the center of the ball.  Perhaps if I keep pulling at it I will find the end (or the beginning) but not without tangles.

Some deep internal passions I have experienced that shout for fulfillment include the complete absorption of the colorful, majestic sunrises and sunsets I have recently witnessed.  Can a person drink up the sunset?  On my walk I gazed down a narrow snow trail lined on both sides by tall evergreens lightly dusted with new snow.  At the distant end of the disappearing trail Mt. Drum stood in radiant purples and pinks, adorned with a glowing golden tint for a crown and an array of blues for a throne.  Over its left shoulder the moon was waxing full, rising to brilliance.  I stood for a moment.  Awed by beauty, challenged to remember every detail to “keep” it.  Humbled by un-manmade perfection—a skill and creation beyond humankind.  My heart overflowed with a passion to know its Creator; to look over the Artist’s shoulder onto the palette of colors; to fly over and beyond the mountain, yea, even to the moon to behold an equally majestic earthrise.  The cold arctic wind quickly reminded me at once of both flesh and gravity, and turning, I continued my walk, passion unfulfilled, until reality undressed herself and I became a part of all that I saw…an integral part of it all…that I, too, am part of the majesty of all that is.  That somewhere at the other end of the rainbow there stood an observer with like passion who beheld the majesty of my presence.  After all, I am a child of a king.

Another deep passion I have is to understand the Ahtna people.  I look for ways, using my personal, academic, and professional background to bridge gaps between cultures.  I want to learn their history, and all the great things their people represent.  They have so much to give and contribute to society.  I hope I can be an instrument to make their story known to the world.

Snowed In Cabin Day

Cabin Life 3 – Life’s harshness sculptures strong people.  Humility overcomes strength and births love.  Today my cabin becomes a classroom, and my Spirit Self (SS) challenges me to seek her fully because she is the real me.

Saturdays are for exploring, after filling all my water containers, checking my oil supply, occasionally cleaning out my oil stove, and sanitizing my cabin.  A typewriter ribbon doesn’t last too long, and it is a good excuse for a drive to Anchorage, but today is a full “snowed in cabin day.”

Today the snow is falling steadily.  My typewriter at the table faces the front window overlooking my little porch.  I tie my green curtains to the side and watch the giant snowflakes fall softly, like light cotton candy balls piling up rapidly, inch by inch until the front steps are hidden.  Silence embraces me, her friend, and I search my bookshelves for lively entertainment.

I receive telephone calls only at the office.  My cabin is without telephone and television.  With no wires connected to my cabin, a telephone is impossible.  The hill has bad television reception (according to the previous tenants), and I have my little portable radio that I bought while in college and it catches only three stations.  The clearest reception is a Christian Bible station which intermittently becomes static nonsense.

So books and the electronic typewriter are my true indulgence, and my Spirit Self constantly challenges me to seek and define my higher self to gain knowledge and understanding beyond the physical realm.  I am permitted…no, invited… to step through a veil just by closing my eyes for a clearer vision of a life without regrets, and a promise of a destiny not without struggles but certain completion of my life’s purpose fulfilled.

My cabin time is to chart that road—so says SS.  This morning nothing on my bookshelves jump out at me, so I sit once again at my typewriter, letting SS type at her will.  I am a woman with gifts and graces not meant for storage with mothballs, but to wisely grow and fulfill my purpose.  She further instructs, Study and work to find your higher self, redefining and acknowledging your values and rediscovering my attributes.

SS loves sitting on my shoulders whispering in my ears.  She is my higher self and we have deep discussions, and today we discuss “passion.”  Ah, passion, so carnal, it wreaks havoc with the physical body as it cries out in pain, ecstatic joy, deep sorrow, yearnings and longings.  Those are the cries of mental anguish or pleasure, and the lie is that such emotions are only met and remedied in the physical realm with the aid of medical devices, drugs and counseling.

No, it is the spiritual that looks at the physical “child” (for that is what I am) in the eye and says, “Those are just emotions, feelings that belong to another place and time.  They are not forever.  I am forever, and in me the pain and sorrow fall away.”

Oh, Spirit Self, what of the joy and love?  They are emotions, too.

 Jen, there are emotions, and there are truths.  Love is not an emotion.  Love is, just as your spirit is, just as God is.  Joy is an attribute of love, and therefore, where love is, joy abounds.

The greatest love expressed to us, oh Spirit Self, has been the sacrificial love of Christ.  And there were much sadness and sorrow in what we call love.

Again, Jen, you must discern the physical from the spiritual.  There is physical pain, and Jesus expected it and endured it.  However, it was through the knowledge and promise of the spiritual world—the world of His kingdom that Jesus overcame.  We are spiritual-physical beings, and not physical-spiritual.   When you understand this truth you will master your emotions.

Although I speak with SS a great deal it helps me to put my thoughts on paper in an orderly fashion.  She encourages me to write and oftentimes I feel she is dictating my writing.  It’s like painting a picture—you never know the result until it’s done.  And while the artist is at work she becomes one with the paint and the canvas and she paints the picture that is already there, inside of her, and she mixes colors and brushes and dots and smears paint on paint until out of all the thoughts and blobs a picture emerges, and she exposes the simple, plain truth she has learned.

© Jennifer Lee and, November 2009. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from Jennifer Lee and is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Jennifer Lee and with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Thoreau’s Influence

Cabin Life – 2 – Left unguarded the mind easily yields to brute emotions and today anger visits.  Suddenly another voice joins the conversation.  The great and simple Henry David Thoreau, recalling his own cabin days says, “Give me that poverty that knows true wealth,” and he wins the day!

 Opening the front door this morning Jack Frost greeted me and pinched my nose and ears.  I quickly closed the door and decided it was too cold for a walk and in no mood to play or fight with Mr. Frost today.  Instead, I boiled some eggs for a sandwich and warmed a pot of water for my tea.

My table was close to the pot belly oil stove which had a flat metal top like a griddle which measured about 2 ½ ft. long and 1 ½ ft. wide.  As long as the oil stove was stoking that flat top was hot, which was “always” during the winter, and it helped to keep the cabin warm.  It was an excellent place for my hot water kettle to sit while I typed and drank tea.  Sometimes in the morning while dressing, I would squish my underwear and undershirts on that flat top and it was a real treat to slip on hot clothes.  They kept me warm for a long time.

All morning I’ve been brooding about how I came to live in a cabin.  Wisdom escapes me and I angrily wish vengeance on those who betrayed me.  My Spirit Self abruptly engages me in sporadic conversation.

That pride of yours needs squelching, she said.

Is defending my dignity a proud thing to do?  I responded.

Well, no, it is just the way you do it, I guess.

Anger rarely overcomes me because I don’t like the person I become when possessed by it.  So it is very important that I avoid anger.   However, I am a passionate person.  I play passionately, love passionately, and fight passionately.  This means I strive for perfection—in academics, office tasks, teaching, and sports, and my shortcomings disappoint me easily.  But this also means that if you are my friend, we are friends for life, and yes, you can really count on me.

Competing oppositions have equal strength here.  The depth that I can love is also the depth that I can experience anger.  So I guard my anger closely and work to convert the negative emotion to positive energy.  It is such drive and energy that propel me to take advantage of opportunities that come my way and to keep reaching for the higher plane of life.  It urges me to keep searching, learning, trying new things, meeting new challenges and embracing new adventures—good or bad.  At times that fierce energy generated the concentration I needed to hit that forehand down the line for a winner, or to sprint that extra twenty yards, pushing on towards the goal, outrunning the fullback and finding the extra energy—sometimes in anger—to place the soccer ball in just the right angle and distance away from the goalie, but within a few inches from the post…for a goal.

So perhaps it is not anger, really, but a passion for validity and justice.  Sitting here in my cabin a passion to “suck all the marrow out of life,” as Henry David Thoreau did at Walden Pond, overcomes me.  My instinct tells me I won’t find that challenge living the “high” life, but rather living with simplicity.  I find myself totally in sync with Thoreau’s cry to “Simplify, simplify!”  (Ah, Thoreau has saved me from my anger!)

Pure, wholesome beauty resides in simplicity.  Today beauty resides in absolute silence.  I suppose silence has different meanings for people.  To a soldier at the war front it could mean either peace or rest before the battle.  For a mother a long silence is reason enough to check on the kids.  And a long silence between lovers could mean the relationship is under strain, or that the relationship is so comfortable that constant talk is not required.  For me, silence in my cabin on this hillside brings rest to my spirit, renewed strength and the reminder that simple is beautiful.

Ah, simplicity abounds when I undress and climb into my sleeping bag, pulling the zipper way up to my chin to keep warm.  When I awake in the morning I gloat in the simple task of pouring water into the pot to heat, then stepping into my little bucket to soap down and rinse clean.  It sounds absurd, but there many simple joys of life waiting to suddenly and joyfully expose themselves to you.

Two bunches of tulips I bought at Carr’s in Palmer brighten my cabin.  One bunch is deep red and the other is red and yellow.  I love flowers, and especially love to receive flowers for no special reasons, but “just because.”  When Jesus referred to the lily of the fields He noted that they didn’t toil or spin all day yet even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed as the lilies growing freely in the fields.  I leave my typewriter to warm my tea and inspect the tulips closer, their rich colors, firm but delicate texture, strong stems sucking in their life line from the water-filled vase.

 The tulips remind me that the richness of life lies in the natural simplicity of all existence.  The Creator is a perfectionist and everything was created good and perfect.  Even the decaying process returns all life to dust to support new growth.   Nothing wasted.  All exists for His glory.

Perched in a clear vase on a white tablecloth the tulips are majestic.  The color white, as a backdrop projects clearer the richness of the objects.  Perhaps this also best explains simplicity.  Oftentimes we are too attracted to the objects that we are unaware of the background, or the things that really count as simple truths of life.  A single tulip simply arrayed reveals more truth and beauty than a complicated queen on a complex throne adorned with a precious jeweled crown.

            “Give me that poverty that knows true wealth.”   Henry David Thoreau

 © Jennifer Lee and, October 2009. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from Jennifer Lee and is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Jennifer Lee and with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.