Tuesday, November 17, 2009


As anyone who lives in or around Fredericksburg, VA knows, there is a lot of road work happening right now. It seems everywhere you go there is a sign saying, left lane closed, or detour, or fines are higher in construction zones! It’s not just on one road either, but seems to be on every route you try. Like everyone else I have found myself becoming frustrated with the delays. Until a recent morning that is. One morning I was walking and saw a new detour sign on Washington Ave. and watched the cars being guided to the new route. That is when the words came to me loud and clear, have patience with the path as you drive it, have patience with the path as you walk it.

Have patience with the path. I smiled to myself as I walked. It was much easier to find that patience when I was taking my morning walk as opposed to when I’m running late getting my daughters to field hockey or gymnastics. I recognized it as an important moment though.

My own journey took an unexpected turn recently, one that I saw no warning signs for. I wish I had seen the detour coming like I do around town, but it came nonetheless. Paths will do that. While I know it is something I will move through, I also needed the reminder to have patience as I walk it. I can’t always see the twists and turns the path will take in advance and truly I know that is not really the goal. The goal is to walk it with grace, with patience, with love, with peace, no matter how many detours there are or how many lanes end. I needed that reminder.

I honestly think that if I could look down at the way from above, I would learn that really there were no road blocks. It was always straight. Optical illusions were created by my limited vision, or the shimmering waves from the heat of the moment. If I had walked with more patience for the path I might have noticed that with each step. The construction on the roads has given me an opportunity to catch my breath and look again. Maybe it isn’t a curve that I have come upon in my life. Maybe it is simply one more step on the path and all I need to see right now is that one step, because that is where the learning is. From my perspective that’s what the things that seem like detours are about, learning and growth. Each seeming obstacle is an opportunity to grow in my human life and in my spiritual life, and the lessons though they may feel challenging or even devastating, are worth learning, worth the patience, worth the effort. The merging I am focused on in my life is the human and Spirit and for that I must have patience with the path as I walk it.

Saturday, August 29, 2009


This is officially a disclaimer. This story may be difficult for some to read. It was difficult for me to write. It began with a simple photograph in a book of train tracks heading toward a building, and suddenly I was on a train on those tracks. It was a story I could only write part of because it was so vivid for me and then had to stop and return to it later. There is actually a shift in the tone of the story between the first writing and the second when I was able to come back to it from a new perspective. I thought it was important to leave it as it was, as I experienced the writing of it.

Before the story though came a poem that I have put on my website. It was a reminder of joy, a reminder that I very much needed after writing the story. I am posting the story now because I saw a documentary at the Rappahannock Independent Film Festival this week about a Polish woman who save the lives of 15 Jewish people during WWII by letting them live for 20 months in a hayloft and in a hole dug under her kitchen floor. After watching the film it just seemed like the right time to share this story.


I can feel the rumble of the train in my body and I can smell that scent that I can’t identify on the air, an acrid smoke that stops my breath with fear and I don’t know why. Hundreds of other eyes crammed close together trying to see and yet knowing that they don’t want to see what approaches. So they try to look behind us to get a last glimpse of a world they can understand, a last breath of air that is clean. But it’s too late, there is nothing clean anymore. All is grey and lost and full of hate. You cannot feel any humans around the train at the station because the souls that would give them true life have left what would have been their bodies far behind in the horror on the ground. If the weight in their hearts can be described, I haven’t the words for it. All that is describable is the screeching of the wheels, iron upon iron, the hissing release of the steam and smoke; and even that sinks slowly to the ground rather than drifting toward a heaven that can’t be felt in this place.

On the train their hope sank too, in each heart but one, for there is always one, one who would dream and see beyond, to where the smoke can’t venture. If not for that one, things might have been different now, they might even be different in some alternate version of what happened here, who knows. Maybe in another universe they broke her spirit, but in this one, thank God, she held fast, body and Spirit joined and whole. Because of her I exist to hold the memory of that place. While that is not a role I would have chosen; to be the keeper of the memory of horror, still someone must live on to speak the truth of it or none would believe it could be true and it could happen again. Even so, it has happened again. Have I failed in my mission since now there must be another and another who hold the horror of another place? I could not have let her down, I could not. I speak the story again and again of this place called Auschwitz. Sometimes I speak it at night to her when she visits me in my dreams. I try to convince her that it was not in vain, but it is me that I’m trying to convince, for the horror lives on. Does the story being told bring it back to life? Or does it help in some small way to prevent a repetition? Her eyes give me no answer but they do dance with joy. She has found peace. Perhaps I should have found mine there too, often I wish I had. But if by my story one less person feels the rumble of a train they can’t stop, then my peace must be found in that for now. One day I will share her joy and tell my story no more, for it will no longer be needed. Clean again all.

She had no tears that day. Her eyes were open and dry though tears flowed all around her. She knew the purpose of this place, within her being she knew. Yet she met their eyes, those who would actually look. Most didn’t look on purpose because few ever looked back, so they hadn’t expected to meet her eyes. It was they who had to look away when their eyes met. They could not withstand the light they found there, the angle of how she held her head. It was not anger or defiance or fear in her demeanor, it was freedom. Freedom despite the crush of humans, despite the scent of fear and death, despite the hard barrels of guns and harsh voices. She was free and they could see that.

They could not understand it though for they were not free themselves. In their way they were as trapped as those they imprisoned. They would not be released soon by death but would be imprisoned in the cells of their memories of what they had done for the rest of their lives. She knew that, she saw that in them. She saw the shells they had become, souls gone in sorrow. And she forgave them. In her freedom came the gift of forgiveness, even before the crime had been committed she forgave them. She forgave them for every life they had extinguished. And so they feared her. She who brought light and forgiveness was the one they feared the most. It was the path they didn’t know how to walk for themselves and there she was showing it to them, showing them compassion.

There was only one that day who could meet her eyes even briefly. His name was Josef. He saw her moving forward, the only one with her eyes looking ahead instead of down. She held his glance and he saw his fate in that instant, he knew he would choose it. He didn’t know how he would find the courage but he knew that it would be there when he needed it. Many days after that day he tried to deny it, he tried to tell himself he imagined it but each time he saw her he knew it afresh.

Normally there would not have been many days between her arrival and her death, but that was how much they feared her. They found reasons to let her live while those around her were called forward and never returned. Never did her eyes waver. So they tried unsuccessfully to break her.

It was not that she had left her body in this place and yet she was somehow distant. She had her feet on the ground and could feel the pain of the Earth in this place. She could feel the collective fear and hatred and ache. But she could feel more strongly the truth within her. The truth of the hearts of all who passed through this place and who were becoming this place. She did not carry their pain for them but somehow allowed it to leave them through her a little. Somehow she helped lighten the collective pain simply by being and knowing her truth.

She loved them all in a way that did not seem possible. Those going to their deaths gladly received her love and carried it with them on their journey. Those who lead them to their deaths couldn’t look at her love let alone receive it. All those except Josef that is. He received her love and she gave it freely each time she saw him. I don’t know if she too knew what he would do when her turn came. Maybe she did but didn’t know the courage would be there like he did. It did not distract her even if she did know. She went about her daily assignments and tasks as if it were a normal day, not the day she might die at the hands of those who hated her without reason. She did not do her work cheerfully but with dignity and grace. That was what her name might have been if one could have chosen it for her at that point, Grace, but it was Maria. She carried her light with her to each task and that was all she did.

Finally they could stand the light no more. They couldn’t look at it or extinguish it and it drove them mad. So one stepped forward to make the choice. It was Josef. He led her that day to the gas chamber and as with all things she walked forward with eyes ahead and light and forgiveness in them. He waited beside her as she, with the others, took off her clothes, the last remnants of their protection and dignity. She turned to look at him and he looked back, full in her eyes.

He did not take his eyes off hers as he bent to lay down his gun at her feet. He did not take his eyes off hers as he removed his own clothes. He did not take his eyes off hers as he took her hand and walked with her into that chamber.

Not one other guard moved. They stood in shock as he walked away. No one thought to pick up his gun and use it, so resigned were they to their fate. They were grateful to be near her at this moment of their deaths. As was he. Together they stood hand in hand as the door closed behind them, a finality to the sound of the lock moving into place.

There were no tears in the group that day, no pleas for mercy, no terror. They were all lost in the two that were at the center of the room. All lifted up by the connection found there, the truth revealed in hearts met that knew they were one, no matter their assigned roles or places of birth.

With Grace they died that day and for a moment or an eternity brought Grace to a place that never thought to see it again. Still it lingers in the sound of the wind in the trees around that place of sorrow, lightening it in some way, allowing it to move and be Free - As she was Free.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Desert Wedding

Desert Wedding
by Lynda Allen

It looked like braiding. She was completely rapt in what she was doing. I watched her, equally rapt. Eventually I realized that her eyes were closed, that she couldn’t see the colors or the pattern, only feel them. And in that thought I knew it was true, knew she could feel the colors she chose, knew the pattern she wove, the strands of herself so familiar to her.

Her fingers moved rapidly without pause as if she had been waiting for this moment and so wanted to lose no time in capturing it. And so she had been waiting, waiting so long for this time of creation, of union. On the high desert, under the stars she deftly wove all the colors of herself into one beautiful design. It was a design she couldn’t see until that particular moment under those particular stars and under those particularly watchful eyes.

For there were many other eyes there watching her weave that night. Many eyes that opened to watch the joining of all that she was, to watch the wedding of all that she is. The light of the stars reflected gently off her skin, the night air caressing and guiding her. The animals of the night had gathered too, in celebration. Caught up in her work she didn’t notice all her observers. Possibly she felt their presence on some level, but the weaving that had begun could not be interrupted.

There was a collective holding of breath. She paused only once, whether at a sound or a knowing that someone neared, no one knows. Then her hands took up again her work. Then her heart took up again her work. Then her soul took up again her work. All the parts joined, she closed her eyes again and the faintest of sighs escaped her lips. It was the sound of bliss, it was the sound of culmination, it was the sound of her heart complete.

She stretched out her fingers, cramped from the weaving and rubbed her eyes clean of the desert’s dust. Then she threw her head back and sang. Where that sound came from or from how long ago, I don’t think even she knew, but the desert sang with her all through the night.

At dawn she raised her face to the new day, feeling its life giving power, absorbing it, allowing its energy to fill her. Then she threw her head back and laughed and the desert laughed with her. This time she knew where the sound came from. It came from joy, joy of the soul.

Her soul laughed as the sun rose. She had become, and the desert celebrated with her.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Defying definitions

Well Ruth, I've finally decided to share the whole poem. It grew out of a lot of things but it all started with that conversation with the Redbud tree. Little did I expect that the most difficult challenge the tree would set for me was to be able to offer that unconditional love, not just to others, but to myself, with all my glorious humanness! That was an interesting learning that is ongoing.

One of the most surprising things that came out of that writing with the tree was that definition of love as simply a connection with someone or something that helps you to connect more completely with the love that you are. That rang so true for me because for a long time I have felt like the word love just wasn't defined correctly, that there was something more to it. I still do feel that way, but the definition that the redbud tree shared is the one that makes the most sense to me. As life would have it though, not long afterward I wrote the following poem as I was looking at the idea of love again and realized how limiting it is to even try to define it in human terms. It was so freeing to write the poem and celebrate not needing to define love or myself! Here's to Freedom!

Shedding Love
Lynda Allen

I define myself, for myself, by myself.
Then defy the definitions.

No desire to be boxed in
To what has been defined before
Creating new what is old
Love rigid and formed
I would inhabit love
Live fully within it
Until it is my very skin
Nothing touched without being touched by love
Then it is shed
And reforms
Gloriously new again
A second skin
Ever renewing, ever falling away
No solidity in love
Only the ever changing joy of wearing it
The light of the moment shifts the color
Of love
Until the next moment
Shadow cast, molting begins
Squirming and writhing
Finally allowing
One skin, one color never enough
To express Love
I begin anew

Monday, April 27, 2009

The Edge of the World

I told a friend yesterday that I enjoy going to the edge of the abyss and looking out, not knowing what’s next. I said that’s how I learned to fly. It’s true. Leaping from that abyss is the way I learned that I could fly. It’s not that there isn’t fear in standing and leaning over the edge, there’s fear enough to go around, but the beauty of what I’ve learned in leaping outweighs the fear. The joy of learning to fly surpasses the terror of falling. The knowing now that I can indeed soar rather than plummet guides me back to that edge over and over.

That is the place of learning, of expression, of living, of being, the edge of what I know and what remains to be seen. When I do leap and see from that new height the picture changes drastically. Sometimes the view from the edge is distorted by the limits of my earth bound vision. What looked like one thing quickly becomes another from the bird’s eye view, seen clearly with eagle eyes. I wouldn’t have known that, had I never leapt.

Fear may still delay my take off from time to time, but I won’t use fear to rob myself of the freedom of flight again.

There’s a song that reminds me of the thrill of that leap. It’s called Mr. Columbus by Grace Potter and the Nocturnals. Check it out sometime and have fun flying!

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

In Memory

I wrote the following poem a couple days after the shootings at Virginia Tech, two years ago this week. I post it here in honor of all who died that day.

Thirty-two Stories
by Lynda Allen

One heart on the surface grown cold.
Thirty-two stories being told.

One heart alone and lost.
Thirty-two stories the cost.

One heart buried beneath rage.
Thirty-two stories fill the page.

One heart who we could not reach.
Thirty-two stories left behind to teach.

One heart alone among us all.
Thirty-two stories a mourning call.

One heart with anger as its cell.
Thirty-two stories of those who fell.

One heart that would not heal
Thirty-two stories read as we kneel.

One heart in the soul’s darkest night.
Thirty-two stories shared and hearts unite.

One heart to learn to forgive.
Thirty-two stories to remind us how to live.

One love unites all souls.
Thirty-three times the bell tolls.

In memory of all who died at Virginia Tech on April 16, 2007

Original Self

In honor of the season I am posting a writing I did a couple years ago about the Original Self. I didn't get it up here last week because as it turned out I was really working at understanding this writing in my own life last week, reconnecting with my original self.

I was raised Catholic. These days I find many teachers in many different traditions. I have to say that one thing that never made sense to me in the Christian tradition was the idea of original sin. So one day I was sitting at the river and this writing came to me about the Original Self. It made much more sense to me!

Jesus did not die for original sin, Jesus died for original self. He did not die to cleanse us of some imagined sin that we are born into, but died for the original self that we are born into and quickly forget. He died for a remembering. He died to show us what the original self looks like. It is risen, and glorious and eternal. It is faith and light and truth. We are not born into darkness but into light. Not into sin but into self. Our divine God self. That was Jesus’ greatest lesson. He taught of our original God self, our inherent connection to the divine. We are made of the same thing that God is made of, we are divine, we are divinity, just as Jesus was. He hung there on the cross in demonstration of self not in cleansing of sin. Hate and fear could have no power over him in his original form; they could not touch his divine heart. He revealed to us the divine heart. One that is of light and love, one that guides to truth and is eternal. There is no other lesson. The divine lies within each heart. That divinity is who you are, your true original self. That is who you were born to be. That is who can emerge from the human self if you allow it. Then the Divine Heart brings the human heart with it on the journey. They work in unison for joy. Joy is the celebration of the Divine and the Divine within. Let the Divine Heart lead you as it led Jesus, with joy always in his eye and the eternal Divine always in his heart. Live your original self.

Monday, April 6, 2009

The Redbud Tree

I love the Redbud tree in my front yard. As I sat looking at it this morning I wondered if I can love everyone as I love that tree. I don’t put conditions on my love for the tree. It doesn’t have to flower for me to love it; I love it equally in the winter when it’s bare and in the spring when it flowers. There are parts of it that don’t flower anymore at all; it got some sort of disease that killed off part of it. I don’t hate those parts that don’t produce leaves; I don’t love it less for its flaws. I did prune it some so the disease wouldn’t spread and to help it grow.

I love that tree and all it provides. It provides shade and some privacy for my porch in the summer. It provides the beauty of its fuchsia flowers in the spring. It provides a reminder of change in the autumn as the leaves transform and fall. And in winter it reminds me of the stillness.

It provides a place for my children to play, building fairy houses in its limbs or hanging their pots of flower soup from its branches. It provides challenges for me every time I cut the grass and have to duck under it along the way. It reminds me of time and the potential for growth. We planted that tree when it was just a sapling and now it is a glorious, full grown tree.

Yet, if the Redbud stopped doing any or all of these things, would I love it less? No. There is nothing that tree can do to stop me from loving it. Looking at it simply makes me feel the love in my heart, the love that I am. What an amazing gift that tree gives to me. It provides me with a reminder of the love that I am, an opportunity to feel the love that I am.

My goal today then, is to love everyone and everything the way I love that tree. When I look at someone or something today I will remember the love that I am. Maybe that’s what love is, something that reminds you of or reawakens in you the love that you are.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Falling Off the Peace Boat....

Thanks to Ruth and Emily for inspiring me to blog more frequently!!!

I fell off the Peace Boat (similar to the Peace Train!) this week. Really it’s probably more accurate to say that I feel like I was getting dragged behind the Peace Boat for the past two weeks! There were moments I thought I might drown. I would lift my face up out of the water and try to swim to catch up and pull myself back on board but it was as if there was a barrier I couldn’t see, keeping me from climbing back on.

I find it very uncomfortable when I can’t connect with that Peace within myself. It’s something I’ve been working on for a while now, really anchoring in that connection and getting to know what it feels like so I could find it again in times of darkness.

I’m not sure what it was about this particular darkness that made it so difficult. It feels like lots of people were (and still are) moving through some darkness over the past couple weeks. Personally, I’ve had the opportunity (I try to see it as an opportunity) to look at a lot of old patterns and ways of thinking that I don’t really need anymore. In other words, I’ve been looking at a lot of my own junk. Not necessarily a fun process but the outcome of clarity and healing was worth the journey, as it always is.

I’m not exactly kicking back on the deck of the boat yet, but at least I’m back on board and making my way toward the sunlight. It feels awfully good to be back to where I can feel that anchor of Peace within myself. It’s this sense of knowing that no matter how rough the waters get, that anchor is there and I may get tossed about but I will not drift.

Looking around me now I can see that really I didn’t drift this time either. Did I get tossed about? Hell yeah! Lost at sea? Hell no, though there were times I couldn’t see the stars for guidance. Still, the anchor held firmly, even if it was too murky for me to get my bearings for a while. The thing is, working with has Peace paid off, because even though I couldn’t always feel it, most of the time I knew I would return to it. Most of the time.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Vision of Peace

I volunteered at The Peace Alliance Conference in DC this past weekend which was inspirational. Everyone should check out http://www.challengeday.org/ and the incredible work they are doing!

As part of the conference I was able to attend a breakout session about writing with writer and editor Bob Koehler. He used the term sacred voices which struck a chord with me. I feel that is where I write from and had not found those words for it before. I was grateful to find them! We did a writing exercise about Peace. This is the unedited version of what I wrote that day, I call it Vision of Peace...

A culture of peace. What does that look like? Feel like? Smell like? What would it be through my eyes? I know it would be different than through your eyes. I know there are people who cannot yet even imagine a culture of peace, children who would settle for a piece of bread or a peaceful night of sleep. How can I dream a world of peace for them? How can I see first through their eyes and allow them to see through mine?

We can’t share a vision if we don’t remember we are connected. My vision impacts their vision and theirs’ mine. We live far apart and yet there is no distance between us, nothing that can separate us. I hear their stories and feel their pain and want to hold them and listen. But I know I can’t linger there or I will not dream my dream of Peace. Their pain and stories though are part of my dream of Peace.

I dream for them, I hold the vision for them. I hold it as high as I can reach, and then I climb higher still so that vision will reach the light. For if we are connected, then if one can see it, all can see it.

I close my eyes and reach out my hands and my heart and dream the dream of Peace, knowing that it is not just a dream, knowing that I can make it a reality every day by first finding my sacred voice and singing my song of Peace. That voice comes from deep within, that voice speaks truth, that voice knows all the stories and from them creates a new story. I will share it with you and you can share yours with me and soon we will weave them together into a Universal story, a Universal song. Each sacred voice heard equally, each sacred voice filled with love, each sacred voice joined in harmony. Not just visioning Peace, Living Peace.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Feeling Freedom

Ooops, my Freedom is showing! I can feel it in my step and in the sway of my hips as I walk. I see it in the upturned corners of my lips. It shines from me and I see others notice it. They react to it with surprise.

Usually people don’t expose their Freedom in public. It’s something they take out in private to look at and hold, treasuring it secretly and then putting it away again. My Freedom is much louder than that! No bonds will hold it as it soars!

I don’t mind if you look. I don’t mind if it shows as I walk down the street. It’s not an exhibitionist, but it does share itself freely. How else could Freedom share?