Moving From Hope and Faith to Trust


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I’ve discovered for myself that hope and faith are feeble things compared with trust. Hope is a kind of yearning for something that seems beyond our immediate grasp, something that may or may not happen. It carries within itself a sense of uncertainty. Hoping for the best, hoping for a miracle, hoping they will be safe, hoping he will not die.

Within the hopeful thought is the possibility that what one hopes for may not happen. Hope is a telltale sign that someone or something is in peril, that danger awaits. Hope itself seems precarious. With any little wind, setback, relapse, or adverse circumstance, it can be toppled and turned into despair.

But trust is more steady, purposeful, positive. Grounded. It cannot be easily reversed even when obstacles or adverse circumstances assert themselves. It’s like the “Little Engine That Could,” the storybook train that steadily chugs along, even when it’s uphill the whole time. “I think I can, I think I can, I think I can.” Not hoping it can, but trusting in it’s own strength, power, determination, and ability.

We don’t “trust he won’t die.” We trust he will live. And we base that trust on something we feel firm about, something grounded within our very being. Our belief in him, that he has the courage, the love, the wisdom, the goodness to survive his addiction. To surmount whatever obstacles may stand in his way, whatever chains may attempt to hold him down.

Trust is even more keen-edged than faith, I believe. Faith, like hope, may waver. Trust never does. Trust allows us to leave worry and fear behind. It just doesn’t figure in with the mind-set of trust. You can’t trust and worry at the same time, like you can with hope, or even faith. For the fear there, resides is in the very Source we pin our faith on. The knowledge that God’s will may not be our own. And within that gap lies doubt, uncertainty, fear. Or resignation as we give up our will for His greater wisdom.

But trust, the kind I’m talking about now, is an inner conviction, not reliant on something or someone apart from ourselves or the things we trust in. When we trust the dam won’t break, it’s because we know something about the dam, know how well it was made, how strong it is, it’s ability to withstand whatever comes down that river. To merely hope it will hold? To have faith it will hold? Such mindsets seems flimsy in comparison with trust.

I understand that there are some things you can’t trust in, but only hope for. You can’t trust the cancer won’t spread. You can’t trust cancer. But trusting in the body’s ability to generate what’s needed to fight it off? Trust in the chosen therapeutic to do what it was created to do? Even trust in prayer. These trusting mindsets are better than hope or faith, for they leave no room for fear. And fear itself is a cancer.

So much of what we know about how the world works, is how the mind affects everything, physically as well as emotionally. More and more evidence gives credence to the notion that mind, consciousness, not matter, is the bedrock of all that exists. How we think affects everything around us. So we must chose our mindsets carefully. And hope and faith pale in comparison with trust. Even when it comes to God. Or my son.

Franz Wright: Like Touching a Bird’s Exposed Heart


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Reading this poem on Vale of Soul-Making struck me to the core, it is so exquisite.

That mingling of the erotic with child-like wonder.

That last line, so unexpected. So perfect.


This was the first time I knelt
and with my lips, frightened, kissed
the lit inwardly pink petaled lips.

It was like touching a bird’s exposed heart
with your tongue.

Summer dawn flowing into the room parting the
curtains—the lamps dimming—breeze
rendered visible. Lightning,
and then soft applause
from the leaves . . .

Almost children, we lay asleep in love listening to the

We didn’t ask to be born.
— Franz Wright, “Untitled,” Earlier Poems (Alfred A. Knopf, 2007)

Are we not all like a bird’s beating heart waiting to be touched deeply?

We did not ask to be born. Yet here we are, out of nowhere, dropped into this world of wonder. How can we account for that? All we can do, given this gift of grace, is to keep parting all the tender petals before us till the core of who we are is revealed.

Neruda: Drunk With the Great Starry Void


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One of my favorite poets, again, swept me off my feet, expressing the inexpressible with perfect eloquence.


And it was at that age … poetry arrived
in search of me. I don’t know, I don’t know where
it came from, from winter or a river.
I don’t know how or when,
no, they were not voices, they were not
words, nor silence,
but from a street I was summoned
from the branches of night,
abruptly from the others,
among violent fires
or returning alone,
there I was, without a face,
and it touched me.

I didn’t know what to say, my mouth
had no way
with names,
my eyes were blind.
And something started in my soul,
fever or forgotten wings,
and I made my own way,
that fire,
and I wrote the first, faint line,
faint, without substance, pure
pure wisdom
of someone who knows nothing;
and suddenly I saw
the heavens
and open,
palpitating plantations,
shadow perforated,
with arrows, fire, and flowers,
the winding night, the universe.

And I, infinitesimal being,
drunk with the great starry
likeness, image of
felt myself a pure part
of the abyss.
I wheeled with the stars.

My heart broke loose on the wind. Pablo Neruda,
Twenty Love Poems and a Song of Despair, trans. W.S. Merwin (Penguin Classics, 2004)

Illustration by Dorothy Lathrop 1891 – 1980 Stars, 1930, ink on illustration board. Illustration for Sarah Teasdale, Stars Tonight, New York: Macmillan Company, 1930.

A Magical Day at San Simeon Bay


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Dale and I spent a magical day recently at San Simeon Bay along Highway 1, just below Hearst Castle on the California central coast. Quite unexpectedly, we found two sailboats rolling gently in the bay and three elephant seals lulling in the sun. Something we’ve never seen here before. Although elephant seals are found abundantly in this area, it’s unusual to find them on busy beaches. Signs warned us to beware, as these wild creatures can bite should they be disturbed.

One of the boats looked like La Gitana, the 46-foot sailboat that was our home for six years when we sailed around the world. Nostalgia for that magic time hit heavy. I almost felt like I could see our son at the bow with his fishing line thrown into the bay, our daughter riding the boom as she liked to do, and Dale and I sitting on the aft deck with two big green buckets and a wooden plunger, doing laundry.

Further up the beach was a quaint hut made of driftwood that some surfer had built. Like ones we often saw on remote beaches built by yachties when we were sailing.

Along the way as we hiked up the bluff and out to the point, we stopped to visit the largest eucalyptus trees we’ve ever had the pleasure to meet, with their rainbow bark, elephantine trunks and long octopus arms. Magical!

When we reached the point, we could look back at the bay and get a faraway glimpse of Hearst Castle high in the hills, another magical place. On the other side were beautiful views of the coastline.

The last time we came here we headed back after reaching the point, but this time we turned north to a path lined by pine and eucalyptus trees that parallels the coast.

The path grew narrower and darker and spookier as we walked, the trees thicker and more gnarled, blocking out the sun. Sharp branches reached out to grab and tree roots rose up to trip. On one side we could hear the hidden ocean waves whispering warnings to us, while all around the creepy creaks and groans of trees sent cold shivers down our spines. It seemed to go on forever. We could almost imagine ourselves as Hansel and Gretel lost in the stark, dark woods just before reaching the witches gingerbread house. Our path eventually opened up to a sun-filled view of the coastline stretching out as far as we could see, with the very faint outline of the Piedras Blancas Lighthouse in the far misty distance.

On the hike back to the beach we came across a strange trail of dark, oily splats along the path, as if dropped from some huge creature flying by. Dragon shit, we surmised, looking up as if to see the dark shadow of reptile wings wheeling by. A fair and fitting end to our magical day at San Simeon.

A Trip Through Time and Space with Pauline Anna Strom


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Pauline Anna Strom died in December, just months before her music was to be reintroduced to the world.
(Photo credit, Aubrey Trinnaman)

She calls herself a “musical consort to time.” She once wrote: “I endeavor, through music, to delve into all time spaces to tap resources of knowledge and power as ancient as the Universe and as young as unborn worlds.”

After listening to her music, I’m convinced this is true.

I’ve never been a huge fan of ambient or electronic music, but I discovered Strom’s on Sunday while drinking my morning coffee in bed, as I always do, and skimming through the day’s headlines on my cell phone. I came across an article about her in the Washington Post. Her first new music album in 30 years, “Angel Tears in Sunlight,” has just been released to much acclaim. It is also her last album, as she died recently in San Francisco.

She was born blind 74 years ago and became a pioneer in electronic music. Her her first album, “Trans-Millenia Consort,” which I’ve included below, was released in 1982. But alas, she was blind, she was a woman, she was fiercely independent, and she was playing in a man’s field of music.

After the release of her first album, she released her work independently out of pure passion. While not widely recognized, she had a fan base that kept her music alive underground. Appreciation for her music was reignited when a compilation of pieces from her previously self-released albums came out in a new album called “Trans Millenia Music” in 2017, garnering much praise and a new enthusiastic audience.

One of the things I enjoyed most about listening to her music that morning on my phone was being able to feel the sound-vibrations in my finger tips. It added a whole new physical dimension to the experience. Interestingly, while listening to it, my fitness tracker registered it as a “deep sleep” experience. Perhaps because of how finely tuned-in I was to the sound waves flowing through me, as if I was travelling with her through time in my own inner-space. A fine consort she is.

I hope you enjoy the journey.

Will Salmon Swim Upstream Through City Streets?


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Once Upon a Time, A Poem

In an eon, will Trumpism portend another Troy, a Trojan horse whose armies eviscerated a City of light?

Will we be the stuff of legends, our tropes and memes edging pages of ancient texts on crumbling shelves?

Will waves gently lap against the skirts of Liberty and docile doves nestle in her hair?

Will salmon swim upstream through city streets, and coral reefs grow in our gardens?

Will the long roots of forests thrum with our stories etched in rings around their trunks?

Will the mocking bird remember our voices? Or the songbirds our songs?

Will crickets by moonlight rub their feet together filling the night with memories of our violins?

Will tiny children perched in trees suckle strange fruit, while the bent backs of their elders forage below?

Will the skies with bows of beauty still bend round us? Will the stars cast spears of light upon our heads?

Will the Eagle with its soaring eye see us? Will we see it? And remember how

The long, slow, widening arcs of its wings drew round us, once up a time, so long ago.

Deborah J. Brasket, 2021

Illustration by Jessie Wilcox Smith from the fairy tale Water Babies by Charles Kingsley, 1862

Strange Dreams, A Poem


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Strange Dreams

You stood there heating your backside by the fireplace,

I sat in bed telling you how real my dream felt last night,

Perched in a tree with bears prowling below.

I watched while you walked away without responding,

As if I and my dreams and all that lay between was nothing.

Dreams are the strangest things, I said to myself, to no one

at all, and realized, this too was another dream.

Deborah J. Brasket, 2021

Still Open to the Beauty of the World


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Winter Landscape by Carol Collette

“Your cold mornings are filled with the heartache about the fact that although we are not at ease in this world, it is all we have, that it is ours but that it is full of strife, so that all we can call our own is strife; but even that is better than nothing at all, isn’t it?

And as you split the frost-laced wood with numb hands, rejoice that your uncertainty is God’s will and His grace toward you that that is beautiful, and a part of a greater certainty, as your own father always said in his sermons and to you at home.

And as the ax bites into the wood, be comforted in the fact that the ache in your heart and the confusion in your soul means that you are still alive, still human, and still open to the beauty of the world, even though you have done nothing to deserve it.

And when you resent the ache in your heart, remember: You will be dead and buried soon enough.” ― Paul Harding, Tinkers. (Bellevue Literary Press January 1, 2009) Winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction 2010

A Young Poet and Rapper Throw Light on the State of Our Union


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Dos Cabezas by Klee Paul, 1932

“A Return to Joy!” That’s what I was going to blog about today after watching the horror of the January 6th insurrection, and then savoring every minute of the Biden/Harris Inauguration celebrations on January 20. But it’s not that simple, is it? So much work is yet to do to create the lasting joy we need. And back to normal simply isn’t enough.

One the highlights of that day for me and so many others was Amanda Gorman’s recital of her poem “The Hill We Climb,” which went viral. It was a soulful and soaring oration that inspire so many of us with hope for the future, a new generation.

She starts out by asking “where can we find light in this never-ending shade?” and reminding us of “the loss we carry, a sea we must wade.” She reminds us that “quiet” isn’t always “peace” and the norms we accept as what “just is” isn’t always “just-ice.”

And yet she claims the “the dawn is ours,” and despite all we’ve “weathered and witnessed” what we’re left with is “a nation that isn’t broken but simply unfinished.”

She ends her poem on a high clear clarion call:

When day comes we step out of the shade,
aflame and unafraid
The new dawn blooms as we free it
For there is always light,
if only we’re brave enough to see it
If only we’re brave enough to be it

It’s uplifting hopefulness stirred our hearts. It was the “light” we’ve been craving after four years of “darkness.” We needed to know that there are young people like Amanda who will pick up the torch and move our nation forward.

Not long after the inauguration, I watched another video gone viral, this time of the young rapper Marlon Craft reciting his song “State of the Union.” His vision of America was starker, darker, more painful to hear. He too pointed out hard truths.

How “The state of the union is that there isn’t one /If a house divided can’t stand.”

How “fake superiority created by authority” convinces the poorest “he still one caste up, cause at least you not black.”

How “to keep you off track” when “the elite eat on the backs of your labor, you point at your neighbor—instead of up.”

How we talk about “generational wealth, But outside making money for ourselves, We won’t give the next generation no help,” and “It may already be too late to save the f—ing planet.”

He asks: “How many of us really choose our own thoughts and vices?” and “Who knew algorithms would really dictate what we cheer?” and “Can you track your opinion to it’s origin?”

He notes that while “white liberals” may “acknowledge their privilege, “they aint givin’ it up.” And how “You can’t abuse populations, leave ’em destitute and vacant and then ask them to care /About anything but their next move.”

He warns:

Truth is if not for COVID, Trump would’ve won re-election in a landslide
So we evaded armageddon, for good old store brand oppression
But if a leader more savvy, and less sociopathic with true fascist aspirations come along, it’s gon’ be tragic
74 million proved if the right rhetoric is used
We could end up on the wrong side of World War II 2

And to defeat white supremacy, you gotta first want to defeat white supremacy
I don’t think most of us really do

It was always gon’ get worse ‘fore it got better
Racism was never gon’ go quietly to the night

But Marlon, like Amanda, ends on a hopeful note and brings it back to each of us:

I do believe that [racism] along with greed, can make it’s way out of our institutions so that all are free one day
I ain’t say that it will,

It depends what we do, there’s only one person the future starts and ends with
It’s you

We have to clearly delineate the problem before we can fix it, and these two young people, one black and one white, a poet and a rapper, are doing it for their own generation as well as for us.

The torch that many of us carried for so long is being handed off. And as dark as this current moment in history is with more people lost to Covid in ten months than were lost in WWII in 4 years, with our country painfully divided across party lines, with racial and economic inequity putting a strangle hold on so many families, with raging wildfires and hurricanes and a planet in peril, these two artists give me hope for the future.

They are creating the kind of art that makes all the difference: Shining a light in the darkness so we can see our way forward.

A transcript of Amanda’s poem “The Hill We Climb”

The lyrics of Marlon’s “State of the Union”

“The Fierce Urgency of Now”: Dismantling the Big Lie, Bridging the Big Divides


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Hashtags come to life': How online extremists fueled Wednesday's Capitol  Hill insurrection - POLITICO

Like so many Americans, I’ve been struggling these past twelve days to wrap my mind around what happened on January 6: The attempt by the President of the United States to overthrow the government by inciting his followers to assault the Capitol and force Congress to overturn a free and fair election in which President-Elect Biden won by a landslide.

It was such a shocking thing to watch live, in real time, on TV. The horror of it still has not faded as we learn more and more about how it came about and who was there. As we learn what they planned to do to Vice President Pence and Speaker Pelosi. As we wait to see if further threats of insurrection will follow.

While the House immediately impeached Donald Trump for the second time, this time for inciting insurrection, we are waiting to see if the Senate will convict him, ensuring he will never be able to run for public office again.

And we are waiting to see if the majority of Republicans in Congress, who are now calling for unity and healing, will admit that Biden won the election fairly, as all the countless court cases, recounts, and investigations have proven. For there can be no unity or healing if nearly 80 percent of Republicans, as a new poll tells us, believe the Big Lie that the election was stolen from Trump.

But we citizens cannot wait for others to do the right thing. We cannot wait for a new administration to heal our nation. It’s not just the alt-right media that is promulgating the Big Lie. It’s not just government that’s divided. It’s WE, THE PEOPLE. And we must do what we can to dismantle the Big Lie and bridge the Big Divides that are threatening to destroy our country.

I have some ideas about that. But first let’s hear what Martin Luther King, Jr. has to say on his celebratory day.

“Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.”

“Tomorrow is today. We are confronted with the fierce urgency of now. In this unfolding conundrum of life and history, there “is” such a thing as being too late. This is no time for apathy or complacency. This is a time for vigorous and positive action.”

“Those who love peace must learn to organize as effectively as those who love war.”

First, MLK reminds us, we cannot be silent. We have to speak out to our neighbors and family members, our local newspapers and political pundits, our state and national representatives. Wherever we hear the Big Lie about the stolen election being repeated, we must counter it with facts as relentlessly as they promulgate the lie. And we must do so not as adversaries, not with outrage or scorn, but as concerned citizens with facts and reason. Patiently, steadily, calmly. Over and over and over again.

Second, we must not wait. We must see this as the “fierce urgency of now.” We must do so with “vigorous and positive action.” We can’t wait until after the Inauguration, after the Senate trial, after the investigations and hearings to speak out, to dismantle the Big Lie. Those who erroneously believe the election was stolen are taking up arms against America NOW. Each of us individually cannot stop the collective action, but we can individually, one-on-one, each in our own way, by whatever means open to us, help to dispel the Big Lie and bridge the Big Divides wherever we encounter them, and especially in our own families, neighborhoods, and communities.

Third, we can join with others to do so. Bridging the Big Divides between Red and Blue, Black and White, the immigrant and native born, the privileged and disenfranchised, the wealthy and those struggling to pay the rent is long, hard work. Endless, it seems. And endlessly needed. We cannot shirk it, or wait for others to do it for us. But we need not do it alone.

Fortunately, there are lots of organizations working to address these disparities, reaching across the divides, working to find common ground. We can find these groups and support them locally or nationally, with our donations or as volunteers. We can support these causes on our media pages and blogs, as poets and artists, each in our own way, doing what we can.

There’s one cause I would like to take up. I’m not sure where or how, but I will be researching this, and I think it is essential for not only dismantling the Big Lies but bridging the Big Divides. And that is trying to reinstate the Fairness Doctrine of the United States Federal Communications Commission (FCC). It was a policy that required the holders of broadcast licenses to both present controversial issues of public importance and to do so in a manner that was honest, equitable, and balanced. It was introduced in 1949 and abolished in 1987 by President Reagan.

It was after the policy was abolished that all the hate-filled talk-radio shows began to indoctrinate their audiences with all sorts of Big Lies. It’s when unprincipled media organizations like Fox News, and now NewsMax and others became the propaganda arms of political parties. It’s when “alternative” “facts” began to compete with true facts.

We can’t build common ground if we can’t agree upon a common set of facts based on the truth. We can’t debate the issues, we can’t develop persuasive arguments, we can’t change hearts and minds if we are living in alternate realities.

The horror of January 6, 2021, will be with us forever, just as the horror of 9/11, and the horror of this Covid pandemic. And sometimes it seems that so many “horrors” are piling up that we just want to turn away from the chaos, turn off the TV, retreat into some private and soothing oasis. And sometimes, to save our sanity, to refresh our souls, that’s just what we need to do. But not now. Or at least, not for long. Because our Nation needs us to speak out, to do our part in dismantling the Big Lie, bridging the Big Divides, so we can HEAL.

Martin Luther King, Jr, once again, puts it so eloquently, this “fierce urgency of now,” and leaves us with a final aspiration of hope.

“The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.”

“I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word in reality.”