Sunday, April 9, 2017

Venn Diagram

I’m exhausted by rights and wrongs. We spend our lives drawing circles around groups of people; them, us; left, right; Democrat, Republican; rich, poor; black, white; gay, straight; Christian, Muslim. It goes on and on and on until we are trapped inside our bubbles of separateness, staring out at each other through gauzy dividers of our own making, pointing fingers, fearful, blaming. I see the bumper stickers everywhere, with different names after each election, but always the same message, “Don’t blame me, I voted for ____.” Fill in the blank. Fill in the blank with who is to blame, because surely we must have someone to blame. Surely I must be right and someone else wrong. Surely it must be the fault of someone outside of my bubble. So I sit self-righteously inside my circle with those who are like me, looking out.

The problem is that life isn’t as simple as that. People don’t, and shouldn’t, fit so neatly into little circles of sameness. Life is more of a venn diagram. Our circles overlap, our interests overlap,  and those places where they meet and blend, create new spaces and new colors. Those are the spaces of our common ground – safety, peace, security, food, shelter, joy, love. It is in the spaces where we overlap where we must meet and dwell. Those are the spaces where we can talk about the future we all want for the children, and for generations to come. Our need to be able to put food on the table. The desire to have a safe, comfortable place to live and rest. The safety and freedom to worship or not worship, as we feel called to.

Life is a venn diagram. Look for and seek out the places where we overlap, and gather there, find yourselves in each other there. Because in the end, despite what the bumper stickers say, blaME ends with ME.

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Election Day 2016

For Election Day 2016. Vote, yes, definitely, but don't leave love outside the voting booth.

Love Outside the Lines
Lynda Allen

While love is often jubilantly colorful,
as far as I know it’s not limited to one color,
not red
or blue.
I will color outside the lines that have been drawn around love
and doodle my way to you.
Lines on paper, check marks in boxes cannot limit my love.
I will love you tomorrow as I did today,
even though I know it’s sometimes challenging
to love outside the lines.
I hope you will offer the same to me.
And don’t forget that when we allow our colors to blend,
we create something new.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016



There are many who are stepping out of social media for the rest of the election season. I understand their frustration, their need to turn away from the negativity. I’m choosing to stay, not because I have a statement to make about a particular candidate, but because I don’t want the shadow to dominate. I’m not staying to debate or change anyone’s vote. I’m staying because I know the light is stronger than the dark, but I also know that you can’t see the light if you hide it “under a bushel.” From my perspective what we are seeing in the United States (and in other countries as well) is a battle of epic proportions between our shadow side and the light within.

I don’t think I’m over dramatizing when I say epic. It is a time when we clearly get to choose, not just in the election cycle, though it is amplified there, between indulging our shadow side like petulant children, or acknowledging it with grace, and choosing clearly to set it aside. For we all have a shadow side, a side that wants its own way, that wants to dabble in what might be harmful for ourselves and others, that thinks it should be able to say whatever it wants no matter the consequences. Yet, we all have a light within as well, a light that can guide us surely and truly, and that can be a blessing for others when it shines into dark places.

That’s what social media has become of late, a dark place. A place where people feel they can indulge that shadow side without risk of consequences, because they don’t have to speak to anyone’s face, and so see or feel their reactions. The boundaries of civil discourse become blurred or non-existent. But from my perspective that is the time to shine all the more brightly, to act all the more civilly, to choose all the more consciously to set aside the shadow. We have an opportunity to choose to stand in the full light of high noon and allow that shadow to be minimal and fall away behind us. Or we can choose to dwell in the darkness of that shadow, and give in to the basest part of ourselves. I prefer high noon.

However, to borrow from social media parlance, I like everyone else, have had many moments lately of WTF? But in this battle between the light within and the shadow we cast, I have found a different definition for WTF. What’s the Fear? Because for me that’s what this is all about, fear. Our shadow is cast by our fears, and we have many. Right now those fears are very loud for many, and they are being expressed with vigor.

The problem is that when we deny our fears and push them down, they simply grow in the darkness waiting for a moment to rear their ugly heads. Which is exactly what they are doing now on a large scale.

Therefore, I think our first step towards any sort of healing and unification is to take an honest look at those fears. WTF, What’s the Fear? Denying that your neighbor has a right to his or her fear, whether it is rational or not, won’t make the fear go away, or bring you closer together. Has telling someone who is afraid of heights that there is no reason to be afraid because they are perfectly safe there on that ferris wheel, ever actually eliminated their fear? That fear is still very real for that person, as they are for us and our neighbors.

I suggest we try something we might not have tried before. Maybe we can simply ask someone what their fear is. Because make no mistake, fear is what is driving this election and the mood in our country, consciously with forethought, and unconsciously. The cause of the fear varies; fear of people who have a different skin color, or a different religion, or a different bank account balance, fear of not having enough or losing what little you already have, fear of losing power and privilege. We don’t have to debate whose fear is more legitimate or whether they are unfounded. We simply have to acknowledge we have them, and attempt to empathize. Through empathy, which has been sadly lacking of late in our public discourse, we can begin to again have civil conversations about what we have in common, and how we can address our concerns and fears. Only then can we find real solutions and live peacefully with our neighbors.

So, WTF, my friend? 

Monday, September 5, 2016

Fuel Rations

I’ve been writing and thinking about what sustains us. Amid my wondering a thought occurred to me, what if each life comes with a fuel ration, a certain amount of fuel to be spent in living? Since then I’ve been pondering how that fuel is spent.

There are those young ones who burn fast and bright, a blaze of light, here then gone. Some would call it a blaze of glory, but I see nothing glorious about it. There are some who spend some of their fuel fighting disease or addiction. 

What I was wondering about most though, was those who live with depression. It seems like depression is a slow leak of that fuel of life. Sometimes it’s subtle and the fuel seeps out unnoticed at first. The only sign, the colorful oil slicks it leaves behind. Thankfully, there are many ways to plug the leak once it is discovered, some work for one person, but not for another. Sometimes it works for a while and then the plug comes loose. Those are hard days.

Hell, every one of us has had days when life feels like a mountain to climb and we’re not sure we have the fuel to take another step. Think of a day you’ve had like that and multiply it by 10, or 20, or so. We all need help on days like that, assistance in taking the next step, or just someone to sit beside us on the trail while we catch our breath. No one should ever feel ashamed or embarrassed to say, “Hey, I could use a shoulder to lean on while I take this next step,” or to ask for a shoulder to cry on, or an ear to bend. It’s difficult enough to ask for help, but imagine asking for help with something that we have created so much stigma around, like depression.

That’s a step we all need to take together on this journey, changing our collective perspective on depression. It’s at best a challenging, at worst a debilitating, fact of life for many. It’s not an imagined problem, or something someone should just get over. Someone can have many glorious, positive aspects of their life, and still suffer with depression, and the suffering is very real. The suffering is real for the person with depression and for those who love them. 

Look around you, there is someone you know whose life is touched by depression. Let’s spend a little of our fuel in understanding and accepting, in making it safe for someone to reach out for help, to recognize that they even need to reach out. Luckily there are ways to treat depression, to make it a little or even a lot easier to live with, but they are still living with it. And we still have to work harder at removing the stigma surrounding it. 

So let’s find ways to be there along the way up the mountain, to help each other take the next step, or to just pause and breathe together on the journey. Let us spend some of the fuel of our life simply walking together without judgement about what we think should be enough to sustain another. You never know how much fuel they already had to spend just to get to that point.

Monday, May 23, 2016

Who Will Speak the Blessing?

I wrote this in honor of my father-in-law, who always spoke the blessing at family gatherings. I was sitting with the approach of our first family gathering at which he would not be there to speak the blessing. I'm sharing it here because I know there are others who have had to face the same moment. This gave me comfort, may it do the same for you and your family. 

Who Will Speak the Blessing? 
Lynda Allen

Heads are bowed,
eyes are closed, 
yet no voice is raised.
Who will speak the blessing?

Without agreeing to,
we left a space in the circle.
One day, we know the circle will close, and we will fill the space,
but for now, who will speak the blessing?

Today, we simply let the silence be;
the echo of our loss,
reverberating in the space left behind.
No one speaks the blessing.

Hands instinctively reach one for the other,
hearts join in a moment of shared grief and grace,
transforming the silence.
Love speaks the blessing.


Tuesday, May 17, 2016

One Heart at a Time ~ Answered Prayer

Answered Prayer
Lynda Allen

I sit beside the river and pray.
There are no words to my prayer,
there is only me in the silence, prayerful,
waiting for the words to form that can express the longing of my soul for reunion.
The longing of my soul for the Beloved,
the one I have felt,
to appear, to take form before me.

A tail thrashes and breaks the surface of the water.
Raindrops form perfect circles as they rejoin their kin in the river.
With its prize firmly grasped in its talons, an osprey shakes off the water like a dog,
following a perfect dive below the surface.
All touch and transform the ever flowing waters.

The Beloved recognized in each raindrop and ripple,
in each dive below the surface,
and in each stirring that reaches out from within.