Saturday, June 17, 2017


            They come into my life and then, too early, they are gone.  And I mourn and grieve, cry and moan.  I am angry at my loss, my pain, the void in my life as their sudden absence is a bleeding, infected wound that never quite seems to heal.

            Grief dances its macabre and bittersweet retinue of every emotion, taking fiendish joy in ambushing me when I least expect it, when I am least able to cope with the pain.

            Yet, deep down, I still carry their light and their love, and sense their their soul, still resounding with me, still an integral part of my life.

            Why? What was so special about that person that I am so profoundly affected by their passing? What was it about them that reached me, touched my heart, and brought them so close to me, such an essential part of my life, my own story?  What is the lesson to be learned?

            I just read that plants emit light frequencies in a part of the light spectrum that is invisible to our eyes, yet photography is now able to record those images, those vibrations, and reveal another dimension of the profound beauty and intricacies of these living beings.

            Is it that much of a stretch in thinking that people also emit vibrations and frequencies of light that is invisible to our eyes, yet sensed in a much deeper level by us, on a different, yet intuitive, level.

            “You are special.  You bring something into my life that is beautiful, meaningful for me.”


            The law of attraction teaches us that we attract to ourselves the emotions, the feelings, the vibrations that we need.  And when we open ourselves to those feelings, the presence of what we crave, then we become more complete, and more able to live the life that we deeply desire.  We come closer to fulfilling our true purpose in this life.

            And when a special person leaves us, there is a void, an emptiness, a loss.  Yet there is also the knowing, deep down, of what they have brought to us in our all too brief time together.  That memory serves us well, teaching us what we had needed and desired, to be a better, more complete person.

            In that loss, that death, there are lessons to be learned, lessons on what we have needed and taken in, and grown from.  When the class is over, only then do we fully appreciate the lessons learned, the experience gained, the real benefit of being present for the lesson, the experience.

            At the end of a particular journey, the end of that special time when a special friend has come into my life and walked with me, only then do I first realize what I have experienced, what we had set out to learn, and how I needed to grow.  I look back, and only then see from where I have come, how far I have traveled, and the name of the road I am on.

            These dear ones who have passed on, the ones whose light I have needed along my own journey, have taught me great lessons, and deeply impacted my life.  I find that when they are gone, only then do I start to fully realize the gifts they have given me, the lessons they have taught me, and the special places they have held in my life.  Only then do I fully appreciate them, and find some sense of completeness and understanding of their presence in my life.
            Somehow, their teaching to me is not complete until they are gone. Only then do I learn all the lessons they have been teaching me.

            Only then is the full spectrum of the light they have shared revealed to me.

            Only then can grief lead me to the understanding I have been led to eventually discover.

--Neal Lemery 6/16/2017

Thursday, April 27, 2017

I Choose To Build

            I can choose to do nothing, to embrace the status quo, and not examine my own thinking, my own, old ways of doing things.  Or, I can be the wrecking ball, the sour voice of discontent when new ideas and new ways come my way.

            Or, I can be the builder, using the solid, time tested materials and ways that have worked in the past, and incorporate the new energies, the new ideas, and make things better. 

            My choice. 

“There is no more neutrality in the world. You either have to be part of the solution, or you're going to be part of the problem.”  -- attributed to Eldridge Cleaver.

            My community is going through a lot of change now.  Our downtown traffic pattern is being completely revamped, and the streets and sidewalks are torn up.  The usual routines and paths are disrupted, and our city bird is the construction crane. Construction worker orange and raincoats is the new fashion statement.

            I can curse the detours, the mud, the mess, or I can look through that and see the beginnings of the new town plaza, the spots for new street trees, and the better traffic flow that will come from this. 

            I choose to build, to make stronger, to help others on their own path, so that they can achieve their dreams, and to find their path a little easier.

            And, I can join the voices embracing the new energies, the vitality of a prosperous, active downtown area.  I can be part of that, and be a builder.

            I’ve done my share of whining about what is lacking in my home town. But, I am choosing to be a builder, not a destroyer, a part of the solutions and not part of the problems. 

            To that end, I’ve helped organize and host a monthly open mic downtown on Saturday nights, providing a performance space for writers, musicians, and other artists.  Part of that work is joining others to bring gallery space for artists downtown, and promote the creative arts.

            I’m a master gardener and have helped educate myself and others on sustainable gardening and educating the community about being better stewards of the land.  I’ve nurtured and planted community garden space.

            I’m working on a foundation to help fund improvements to local parks and recreation spaces.

            And, I’ve spoken out in favor of our community library, and worked on the campaign to renew its local funding.  

            I’m not alone.  This community is on the move, and change is on the wind.  New ideas, new projects are everywhere.  Nearly seventy of my neighbors just returned from a ten day trip to China, having new experiences, learning about another part of the world, and coming home with new ideas and a new international perspective. 

            Today is Poem In Your Pocket Day, which encourages us to share an inspirational poem.  Here’s my choice:

The Bridge Builder


An old man going a lone highway,
Came, at the evening cold and gray,
To a chasm vast and deep and wide.
Through which was flowing a sullen tide
The old man crossed in the twilight dim,
The sullen stream had no fear for him;
But he turned when safe on the other side
And built a bridge to span the tide.

“Old man,” said a fellow pilgrim near,
“You are wasting your strength with building here;
Your journey will end with the ending day,
You never again will pass this way;
You’ve crossed the chasm, deep and wide,
Why build this bridge at evening tide?”

The builder lifted his old gray head;
“Good friend, in the path I have come,” he said,
“There followed after me to-day
A youth whose feet must pass this way.
This chasm that has been as naught to me
To that fair-haired youth may a pitfall be;
He, too, must cross in the twilight dim;
Good friend, I am building this bridge for him!”

Anthology of Verse, 1931

            Change is all around me.  I could choose to be the stick in the mud, struggling against the tide, holding fast to the old, the familiar.  Or, I could be part of the change, going with the flow, being one with the river; and embracing the change.

            The old ways can be comforting, certainly familiar. Yet, will they be successful, meaningful as the world, as my community changes?   

“The civilization that is able to survive is the one that is able to adapt to the changing physical, social, political, moral and spiritual environment in which is finds itself.”  (Leon Megginson, 1963. quoted by Thomas Friedman, Thank You For Being Late, 2016, p. 298)

            I can be the bridge builder, the advocate for a better community, or I can be the stick in the mud, and let the tide move against me, leaving me rotting in the muck of the past, as the world passes by.

---Neal Lemery, 4/27/2017

Monday, March 20, 2017

The Young Prisoner's Rage



            It boils out of me, this rage against you, this struggle I have on how to feel about me being the son, and you the father.  The bruised knuckles from hitting the wall, again, with the full force of the rage, aching, yet all I want is to be numb, and not feel the ache in my heart.
            I stuff it down, push it deep, wanting to turn my heart into stone.
            Betrayed.  Abandoned.  Neglected. I just want to be numb, and not feel all that. 
I’m trying to grow up, to be healthy, mature, manly.  But without a father, a healthy, good father, I am empty, hollow. 
            My soul is hungry for connection, yet the absence of my dad, the silence, even worse, the indifference, tells me I am unworthy, I have failed.
            I’m here in prison, doing time, labeled, categorized, marked.  Wanting to be a healthy man, yet I have stumbled, fallen, and became a criminal. 
            I hear my dad’s voice saying, again, of course you’re worthless, you are trash, you are a criminal, and not worthy of my love, or even my name.  You are not my son.  I denounce you.  I reject you, my heir, my seed, my son. You are not of my image, my spawn, my child. 
            Be my dad, I had said, I had begged.  Love me, embrace me, take me by the hand and show me.  Show me how to be the son, the man-child, a good man.
            But, no.  Rejection.  Shame, guilty, abandonment.  I am the throw away son. 
            Of course I am worthless.  I am the criminal, the felon, the prisoner.  Like you expected of me, I have proven how worthless I am.  I guess you were right when you said I was worthless.  You told me I was trash and so here I am, a sack of garbage, the criminal unworthy of you even acknowledging me. 
I am not your son.  I am trash.  You have no son. 
            But, father, did you just try to love me, to guide me, to hold me close, to be the parent, the father I needed?
            I didn’t need much, just for you to love me, to accept me, just to be your son.
            I got lost, but you didn’t come find me, didn’t guide me, didn’t hug me, didn’t parent me.  You threw me away, and I just want to go numb, and slam my fist into the wall, and not feel it.
 You loved the bottle, the pipe, the pill, the denial of my existence much more than what I needed from you. 
            Undeserving, of no value, that’s the message you gave me, again and again, until it sounded like the truth. Repeated, and repeated, so it must be true.
            What else can I do, but rage.  I scream into the night, punch my fist into the wall, look into the mirror and see only a worthless soul, unworthy of love, unable to forgive, to honor myself, to see any good in myself. 
            I rage, so therefore I am worthless, trash.  A tight circle, self-fulfilling prophesy of emptiness, garbage. 
            Is it too much to ask, that I can hear I am valued, that I have purpose, that I am a man, a good man, capable of and deserving of love? 
            Is it too much to ask that I hear you are proud of me?
            You reject me, over and over again.  I get it.  I am nothing in your eyes. I can never be the man I dare to dream of being; I can never be the son worthy of your name, your love. 
            No, I am trash, garbage, a worthless sack of s**t.  My destiny must be to sit in my prison cell and mean nothing to anyone else, is that what you think? Is that what you want?  Is that what you desire your son to be? 
            Slam, goes the fist into the wall, the pain somehow justified, earned, because of who you think I am, how worthless I must really be.  If only I could be loved, to hear you say that word, to hold me tight and let me feel your love for me.
            But, no.  Rejection, shame, abandonment.  Is that what you want for me?  Is that why you brought me into the world, to throw me away? 
            All I want is to be loved, to be seen as a son, as a soul seeking his dream, wanting to have value, to be a beloved child of God.
            Yet, I am rejected, unloved, unworthy, undeserving of the name of son, of being beloved and embraced.
            And when I have a son, how will I treat him, what will I say to him? What will I show him how I have learned to treat a son?
            And, so I rage.
            And , so I rage. 

----Neal Lemery  3/20/2017
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