Tag Archives: Haibun

Seeking Paradise (haibun)

(haiku)

Seeking paradise

butterfly flutters

burgeoning blossom

© Cheryl-Lynn 2014/03/16

It’s that time of year when I get the itch. You know it reminds me a bit of the 7 year itch ( but not the deception itch) it  has more to do with getting in touch with self, loving self and others as well.  Just weeks before springtime, you long for romance, being in someone’s arms…those warm sensual budding feelings are simmering, ready to burst. Itching to daydream, love, fall in love, feel loved…soft silky petals  of flora give that feeling as well as their scent … tantalizing and mesmerizing.

I am located in colder climates, so the flowers have not quite started budding, the trees are totally barren and as we look at snow here and there, I reminisce of what Mother Nature has in store for her humble human minions…soon.

 

© Cheryl-Lynn 2014/03/16

 

Counselling or confession? (haibun)

I grew up in a small French Québécois village with approximately 5,000 in population. We had two huge Catholic churches at each part of the town, one United Church and one Anglican Church. There were three French Catholic primary schools, one Protestant primary school, one Catholic collegiate for boys, one convent (primary and high school) all French. I was not permitted to go to the only English school because it was Protestant and in those days the priest threatened to excommunicate us from the Catholic Church.  I suppose that was like waiting for the roof of your house to cave in, in those days.

My sister and I went a French Catholic primary school that housed two English classrooms where we fit Grades one to seven included. The first Friday of the month we had the same Catholic priest who came to our school to hear our confessions. That was basically when we would say, Bless me Father for I have sinned, my last confession was last month and I listened to 2 dirty jokes, swore at my sister, slapped Tommy for tripping me and disobeyed my mom once or twice. I remember seeing the shadow of the priest…he often sighed out of boredom and we usually always had about the same penance…Three Hail Mary’s and an Act of Contrition.

When I went to high school, we were bussed to a bigger town nearby. But that meant I had to find a way to get to confession OR ELSE! Well or else nothing, I just couldn’t go to Communion if I had not been absolved of my sins. Keep in mind that was how we thought then and today I am NOT that person and the Catholic Church has certainly evolved with the times but this is not the purpose of this post…I am getting to my point real soon…confession is the point.

My parents were struggling in their marriage for various reasons. Without getting into details, home life was tense, my feelings towards the situation was concerning me because for one thing, it is a sin to not like your parents and my dad was not an easy person to like. We didn’t have school counsellors in our schools then and quite frankly, I was not too pleased that my mother had told my principal and Grade eight Latin teacher about “our” family situation. I get it now but then, I was so ashamed. As a teen we don’t particularly want anyone knowing about our personal life. We had worked so hard keeping our family troubles private. In the 60’s it was frowned upon if marriages failed (well in a Catholic village in Quebec it was) …it was just, well, not allowed!
I started going to confession at the church. I loved going to that church because it was so beautiful. It had been originally built to be a cathedral, the stained glass, the architecture, the marble, the statues…such beautiful art! I even enjoyed doing the Station of the Cross. The huge paintings of each station were lifelike and it was always a deep spiritual experience at the 13th station, a magnificent life like statue of Mary holding her son.

Jesus Is Taken Down from the Cross

13th Station of the Cross

(haiku)

Heart filled with sadness
kneeling in prayer for our sins
  a solemn moment.

Sometimes I would go to confession before doing the Stations of the Cross, other times it was after. But I always felt good after leaving the confessional. I also saw the same priest for my confessions because only one  priest understood English; he was le Curé, the parish priest. Every month sometimes every other week, I would go confessing my sin of having mixed feelings about my father… {Okay, maybe I threw in saying a few swear words or listening to a few dirty jokes}. He would never judge me or scold me for not respecting my father or the other transgressions.  He would simply nod; I felt his presence, his empathy and his kindness. He would give me a tiny penance of a few Hail Mary’s but always, he would end with the sign of the cross granting his absolution and saying, Je vais prier pour toi. (I will pray for you).

Somehow, I knew he did not mean he was praying for my sins but for our family situation. Little did I know that he was listening to my sister’s confessions; my mother would visit him for spiritual counselling as well and he encouraged her to leave our father. He had been silently, confidentially hearing my stories, my sister’s tales and my mother’s struggle for years.  My mother trying to do the “proper” thing for a good Catholic mother and wife. Confession for me actually became my very first experience with counselling from 1965 to 1968. Curé Chapedelaine made an impact on my life more than he or I realized.

Who would have thought that today, I would be counselling on an anonymous youth line? I knew what it meant to share something private and confidential.  He listened with respect and from a place of compassion; he very discreetly  gave my mom his blessing to separate from our father. I don’t know many Catholic priests in 1967 who would have given such advice.

Confession to me
a long time ago
meant so much more
than just fighting my foe
Satan was not my spur
in any way
I must concur.
Confession for me
was my first experience
disclosing my personal story
forming a first in my counselling history.

© Cheryl-Lynn, 2014/03/14

By George I finally get it! (haibun)

(haiku)

My eyes read the words,
a lotus opened, my heart
touched the light of love.

 © Cheryl-Lynn Roberts 2014/03/04

Have you ever heard the expression that when you teach you learn so much more and better? I used to say that about some of my workshops on personal and social development. When I would feel my self-esteem and self-worth slowly slipping into dark places, I knew it was high time to give a workshop on Self-esteem or Assertiveness skills.  Every time I would offer information, examples on how to enhance our self-esteem, I was reminded of my own personal struggle with this, from time to time.

It doesn’t take much really. It can be one too many criticisms on your work, a feeling you get when a lover has dumped you or the self-defeating attitude of seeking perfection…you have no choice but to feel you will never measure up…who IS perfect unless you are divine.  Well, I take that last comment back because we are all created in the image and likeness of the Divine and I believe we all have “the light” within us.  So scratch that…I digress as usual.

Where was I again? Oh, yes, rehashing former knowledge to absorb it again or better.  I find that when I am talking to callers at my work, when I am offering some guidance and giving examples, I do a quick scan…introspection … and sometimes that phone call is helping me as well. I end the call and write a few notes or take my break and reflect on what I shared. Sometimes I write a story or a poem if I feel I have tripped on an “aha” moment.

Last night I shared a few reflections by contributing to a prompt at The Seeker’s Dungeon on Secrets. I chose to write on personal experience on another blog and  write on my professional experience on this blog.  I felt there was something missing to my first offering. I like to look at all sides of a picture and then I added a second piece which was the secrets those who offend and hurt others by adding a snapshot of someone confessing his sins. I thought that was repenting, feeling guilt was a way to make it sort of alright…it was sort of a start I thought because “guilt” is such a terrible place to be, right?  Then I also could relate on some level with the priest who has to hear all sorts of confessions yet I rarely have to hear vile offences as he does.   Although I may hear of the guilt some are burdened with, their shoulders weighted heavily and I will try to help them find forgiveness and love for themselves.

But this repentance thing really got to me for I received a comment and invitation to read a post on what the true meaning of repentance is. I was absorbed and finally enlightened…and “lightened” such a burden was lifted from my shoulders as I read the beauty of grace and forgiveness. Of course I knew intellectually and remembered reading in bible class and hearing over the years in sermons that Jesus died on the cross for ALL of our sins but that is not what my church taught me. It taught me to earn forgiveness and yes, we were always judged, gauged by how much we did to fit into that “in” group of the blessed and righteous. So much pressure there was in this environment, I adopted a “I’m damned if I do and damned if I don’t” so may as well do my own thing and decided to follow the Golden Rule. That is what I have tried to do most of my life.

But when I read that post on repentance, I felt relieved and comforted because you see, I didn’t understand it then, but I understand it now…

© Cheryl-Lynn, 2014/03/14

Written for: FreeWriteFridays  Here is your FWF prompt: I didn’t understand it then, but I understand it now…

fwf kellie elmore badge

 

Inspired by:

Repentance: There is nothing sorrowful about it.

The Seeker’s Dungeon

Secrets of Despair

Secrets of Despair – 2

Photo Credits: The Dance of Youths. This has always been an image I have adopted and tried to include in my work. When I created Alecoute-Ntouch I had originally wanted to use a logo resembling the Dance of Youths. For me, it represented being in harmony, in touch, être à l’écoute avec soi, with self.  The dove represented so much more than the Holy Spirit…it represented my core…my mother’s name is Colombe (that is French for dove) so you see how Picasso’s art truly spoke to me and breathed life into my work and whole being.

On my way to work (haibun)

March 11th 2014 sunny walk to work, CLR
March 11th 2014 sunny walk to work, CLR

On my way to work today sitting on the bus I decided to put in my ear buds.  I do that sometimes to block out the noise, chit chat and drift off to my singer, my choice today Damien Rice – 9 Crimes. Today I did not turn on the music right away.  I observed the people on the bus.  The girls on either side of me were reading messages on their phones and listening to music. Perhaps they were pretending as I was…who knows?  Then the girl across from me was reading her phone.  The man next to her was scrolling on the face of his phone…perhaps reading an article, the news or a book.

An older woman (older than me, so that would be close to 70ish); The girl across from me stared at her and looked around…I supposed (I’m guessing) she was hoping someone would give her a seat…but she never offered or even shifted in her seat to show any signs she would. I was about to give her my seat but I noticed she was walking with a purpose and I looked at the far end of the bus and there were a few free seats way at the back, so I waited.

The woman continued on her quest towards the back of the bus, walking slowly, cautiously…no one lifted from their seats…she went up the 2 steps to get to the far back. I could tell she had seen a few free seats. And she sat down at the last row. Many do not go that far because of the steps.  She did.

When we get on at the front of the bus there are about 6 seats assigned for older passengers, persons with disabilities, pregnant women and parents with a baby carriage.  Rarely have I seen people giving up that seat to people who should have it. In fact even the parent with a carriage, the bus driver will have to bark out orders for passengers to give their spot that has been designated to this person.  As for the other designated passengers, even the bus driver does not intervene.  I wonder about that sometimes. If I am seated on any of those seats, I always give my spot or offer it but it disappoints me to see that many younger people do not.

Well, the purpose of this post was really to say that I was window shopping…I mean stranger gazing.  In the entire bus and it is a long double bus …you know with an accordion attaching the equivalence of a half a bus.  At the centre is a circle where passengers can stand and turn…wiiiiii with the bus when it does make turns. I only saw one couple at the centre, standing and chatting.  They looked in their early to mid-twenties.  Guy was trying to impress gal with his knowledge of bus schedules as it appeared to be gal’s first time taking this bus to get downtown.  It was interesting observing the body language.  If I were working on a research project in anthropology, I would say they were flirting.  Ah, March love affairs and the approach of Springtime…I sighed a bit thinking about this.  There is something so powerful about this time of year that seems to stir the heart.

Everyone else on the bus was either reading a book, reading or staring at their phones or had their eyes closed.  What did we do when we did not have screens to stare at? And even if we had music to listen to, did we not see, observe, and notice humanity?  Did we not witness human kindness?  I do think we still do but it may be a bit more difficult to see.  Thank goodness there is a kindness blog  I like to follow that allows me to see how wonderful we still are, and I weep happy tears at the kindness of people.

I have to say that my bus trip in the city yesterday was so much different.  I was seated next to young man with long hair; he was placing his guitar next to him and his backpack under his seat. I had suggested he use the front shelf behind the bus driver for his bag so it wouldn’t get all wet.  And we then chatted all the way to the city. He had an amazing life, coming from a small town in Northern Ontario, travelled to Vancouver a lot and would be spending the summer there with his girlfriend.  We talked about Hastings Street and I mentioned I had driven by there once and had not particularly been shocked and he said he lived on the streets by choice for several years.  I was so pleased talking with him. It was like talking to a caller I may have spoken to on our phone lines, who knows but I felt a nice connection and it really boosted my day. A great way to start my shift.

Unlike today but my walk in the glorious March sunshine, I walked slower to allow the air to wrap me with its loving Spring essence and even took a few shots for prosperity.

© Cheryl-Lynn, 2014/03/11

March 11th 2014 Hmmm maybe he could add easter eggs to this decor
March 11th 2014
Hmmm maybe he could add easter eggs to this decor

(Haiku)    

Long drawn out  winters.

forgotten decorations

Will Spring ever come?

Inspired by Strangers People Watching

Wolf Girl (haibun)

My contribution to this great prompt at Free Write Friday. Thank you Kellie.

trust[4]

A short Narrative

Wolf Girl

Erik Boone Art

They called her the Wolf girl at the hospital on the psych ward. No one had been able to approach her …much. She was like a wild animal. If you came too close to her, she would howl; if she was hungry she would stand at your table, looking at your tray with the most appealing eyes, no one could refuse her. The staff was curious about her but all, without exception, fell in love with her especially when she would curl up into a ball in the fetus position on the centre of her bed…thumb in mouth, lights ON. If ever a staff member felt pity for anyone sleeping with those bright neon lights and turned it off in her room, she would sit up, howling, eyes wide-eyed holding on to her blanket for dear life.

Her name was Torey.  Child services brought her in 3 months ago to Emergency for a check up and after examination by doctors as well as the psycho-educator in chief, they assumed she would get her discharge no later than 3 days (which was customary in “those” cases). But she never got that release and Dr. Shelley, the Psycho-Educator in chief would not release her. She had a different reason at each court hearing…this last one was selective mutism, and that this youth was sexually assaulted multiple times for years. Torey was 11 by now but what the hell did  “multiple times for years”even mean?  Dr. Shelley just knew that this child should NOT be placed in foster care without guarantees she would be safe.   The system had failed her in the past when this child had put her trust in adults who should have kept her safe.  Dr. Shelley knew there are NO such guarantees.  She  took it upon herself to make sure she remain the ward of the court and in the children’s psychiatric ward indefinitely.  She had hope that some day soon, she just may make a breakthrough. Torey may decide to talk.

It was December 24th, 3 and a half months since Torey’s admission, and she was in her daily interview with Dr. Shelley. This therapist had a unique approach with youths, those with selective mutism.  Her past 10 years experience working solely with teens who had autism spectrum had given her a new skill…EEP.  Her colleagues, mostly professors at the local university scoffed at her when she said it was actually a skill that had to be learned with working with “exceptional” youths.  EEL stands for Exceptional Empathetic Listening skills.  Dr. Shelley had a knack of drawing out the most difficult and resistant child into trusting her enough to start talking…even if it was one hour a day, that was a miracle in many cases she had worked on.

Torey was different. She was brilliant. She had a way of knowing what adults were thinking and what they needed. This is how they discovered her exceptional talent or sixth sense.

One day, Nurse Grant, who had worked on the pediatric ward on the psychiatric section for 20 years,  walked on the floor with a limp wearing tinted glasses.  Staff all inquired with sympathy what had happened to her over the weekend and she just  brushed them off with a, “Ah just clumsy old me bumped into the glass bus shelter. With the darn sleet and snow mingled, I could not see an inch in front of me and I banged the corner of my left eye and slipped and sprained my ankle. Enough said, no need for pity from anyone, so I got these glasses to avoid your mushy sad looks. Now ya’ll get to work!”  She did have a bit of a bark and everyone went back to work. No one asked her again and most avoided looking at her in the eye…or rather, glasses…except for Torey.  She looked at her suspiciously, sucking her thumb. She circled around her looking up at her and raised her eyebrow.

Then she followed Nurse Grant into the nurse’s lobby and sat right next to her on the couch while she sipped her coffee. Torey looked up and did the most surreal thing…she spoke! “He gave it to you, didn’t he?” she said  in a raspy voice. Nurse Grant almost spilled her coffee and looked at Torey wide eye, in shock.

“What you talkin’ about young lady?!” and Torey did not balk…did not feel intimidated one bit. She just looked up at her this time with compassion, and puppy dog eyes and gave Nurse Grant a hug, whispering in her ear, “I know what them do to you.”

Nurse Grant just savoured this moment because she had a feeling that Torey did, in fact, know.

Later that afternoon, Dr. Shelley was advised about Torey’s first spoken words in private by Dr. Shelley who had to come clean of her own personal circumstances.  Dr. Shelley, called in Torey and asked her, “Well, now, Torey. You certainly gave us a bit of a surprise today and I have to say a very nice surprise. I want to thank you.”  Torey had arrived arms crossed, ready to keep her silence but was cut off guard when Dr. Shelley was thanking her.  She dropped her arms to her side and raised an eyebrow and waited…she was the prize of detectives…she had to know for sure…

Trust no one ever!
Exceptional listening.
Suitable moments.

Dr. Shelley continued, “Torey, Nurse Grant has been in a dratted abusive relationship for years and no one but no one has ever had the courage to confront her and plead with her to get out and to safer environment. Today, Nurse Grant came up to me asking to live in the nurses quarters for the night staff temporarily until she found a new apartment. So I want to thank you for doing something not one counsellor, nurse, doctor or psychologist was able to do until you did.”

Torey stared at her sizing what he had just heard, and took her usual seat in front of Dr. Shelly’s arm chair and said, “Yeah, well, it’s about time she left that f…..g loser. She deserves better.”

That was the first session Torey felt she could trust Dr. Shelley and started disclosing the sexual abuse she was exposed to by her father from the age of 7 to 10 and the abuse in foster car the months following her removal from her home.

Trust has to be earned…Torey was not fool enough to trust just anyone…she knew who could be trusted and she chose to speak to Nurse Grant because she saw peer…a soldier in the fight against abuse  in her…as for Dr. Shelley, well, gosh, Torey, knew she had EEL, she was just waiting for the right moment to feel she could actually trust her.

© Cheryl-Lynn, January 27, 2014