Sunday, March 30, 2008

Resurrection Celebration

Lent 2008 held many blessings and gifts for me. I found a book in my library by one of my favorite authors, Henri Nouwen. This was an early work – 1975 – and very brief. But what wisdom and grace it contains. Reaching Out: The Three Movements of the Spiritual Life recounts the inner journey from loneliness to solitude; the connection with community, from hostility to hospitality; and seeking intimacy with God, from illusion to prayer. And all intersect. I like what Nouwen says about hospitality: creating an open space where the “guest” can be free to be herself. It stresses listening, something I have worked hard on in my personal and professional life. He even describes the parent-child relationship in this manner: children are “guests”, which can be very freeing for a parent, who creates the space for them to realize the person they are meant to be.

The inner journey for me was never more profound than when I had a regular Bio-spiritual focusing partner.
For more on the process of bio-spiritual focusing see Were my experiences of God’s love at that time “illusion” or a taste of prayerful intimacy? I am not sure. But amazingly enough during this Lenten season I got a call from my young focusing partner whom I had not heard from in years. And we decided to resume bio-spiritual focusing on Easter Monday. There are no coincidences, no accidents here. All is gift. Check out Nouwen’s Reaching Out and have a joyous Easter season!

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Poems, a Psalm and a Prayer

A parting gift for the fans of Winter: my Winter 2008 poems, a psalm and a prayer.

Wind Chill

Take a breath.

Feel the icy river
flow up and over
the throat

only to get stuck
just disappear
but where?

Is it so very
warm within
that glacial air
on contact?

Then why the feel of wrapped
in a shivering shawl?

Why the empty echo
deep inside,
the terrifying cry
of all alone,
cold as a
dementor’s kiss.

In winter’s long dark night
does a votive spark
still flicker
in some distant corner
promising Spring?

© E.M. Ramos Jan.2008

Winter’s Window

I wander in the winter woods alone,
secure in the embrace of jolly gray giants.
I look through their leafless litter
to see what I did not behold before:

the elusive hawk
the spires of the conifers
heavenly pieces of light

While on my path
the last fragments of fall
frolic merrily
in the wind.

Ah, winter’s ebb
so icily warm and welcoming.

© E.M. Ramos March 2008

Psalm 147: 12-20

Jerusalem, give glory!
Praise God with song, O Zion!
For the Lord strengthens your gates
guarding your children within.
The Lord fills your land with peace,
giving you golden wheat.

God speaks to the earth,
the word speeds forth.
The Lord sends heavy snow
and scatters frost like ashes.

The Lord hurls chunks of hail.
Who can stand such cold?
God speaks, the ice melts;
God breathes, the streams flow.

God speaks his word to Jacob,
to Israel, his laws and decrees.
God has not done this for others,
no others receive this wisdom.


Prayer of the Season

Shall we praise you, hail-hurling God,
in winter’s splendor,
in the grace of snow
that covers with brightness
and reshapes both your creation and ours?
Or shall we curse the fierce cold that punishes
homeless people and shortens tempers?
Blessed are you
in the earth’s tilt and course.
Blessed are you in the sleep of winter
and in the oncoming Lenten spring.
Now and then and always,
fill these lands with peace.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

A Busy Week in the World of Aging

It's been awhile. I've been so busy with my "part time" retirement job that I haven't written the next chapter of my life as a Gerontologist. But who says I have to go in chronological order? Since I am still working in the field of aging, I will tell you what I did all day last week as Executive Director of the New York Citizens Committee on Aging, a very small advocacy organization that's been around for almost fifty years.

Last Monday a week ago, I arrived at my tiny office in the lobby of a high rise senior housing building at about 8 a.m. I checked the phone messages and e-mail messages and mail messages and found several responses from people who wanted to come to our big meeting the following Friday. Since we were having a Board meeting that evening, I next had to prepare the agenda, including my report on our fundraising and programming activities. As a small organization, we are in a constant struggle to raise funds and a lot of my time is spent researching foundations and writing proposals. Oh yes, the mail had one or two checks for dues - hurray!

At that point the treasurer arrived at the office and I was glad to have the company. She usually stops by on Board meeting days to do the financial reports, so we talked about expenses and income for awhile. After she left I made copies for the meeting - you can see I wear many hats - and worked on our membership lists, which constantly need to be updated.

The big project of the week was a Program Meeting on Friday, which featured the Director of the NYS State Office for Aging. He would update us on the proposed NYS budget and how it would affect seniors; in addition we wanted to learn of progress on NY Connects in NYC, our one-stop-shop system for informing seniors and their families about long term care options in their locality. So I prepared a reminder flyer about the Meeting for my assistant to send out to all our constituents - the dozens of aging service agencies, advocacy organizations, academic institutions and just plain citizens interested in aging issues.

Before the Board meeting I met with our president to brief him on the agenda. At the meeting, we set up sub-committee meetings on Public Policy/Program and Development, which would need preparation and notification to members. The meeting was over at 7:30 p.m. I missed my train and got home at 9 p.m. A long day! Next day I went into the office later, spent a few hours briefing my assistant on the work for the week and was happy to hear we were getting a good response for our Friday meeting. Then I was off to the Manhattan Borowide Inter-agency Council on Aging meeting to hear a presentation by the head of the NYC Department for the Aging about their modernization plans. Luckily I took the subway home since a building collapsed next to the commuter railroad tracks in Harlem and the trains were offline, literally, for hours.

On Thursday, my assistant and I were busy with last minute preparations for Friday's big meeting, which I am happy to report was a success. Eighty people came to hear the state of the state budget as it affects older New Yorkers. It was overall good news in a budget deficit year and showed promise that the new director, a former advocate himself, was moving ahead with innovative ideas. We also had a presentation from one of our younger Board members on Enriched Social Adult Day Care, a program we have long fought for and which was in the governor's budget. However, seeing what has happened this week in New York with our governor, what will happen to the budget is anyone's guess. In New York, it's never a dull moment.