Follow your bliss. If you do follow your bliss, you put yourself on a kind of track that has been there all the while waiting for you, and the life you ought to be living is the one you are living. When you can see that, you begin to meet people who are in the field of your bliss, and they open the doors to you. I say, follow your bliss and don't be afraid, and doors will open where you didn't know they were going to be. If you follow your bliss, doors will open for you that wouldn't have opened for anyone else.

Joseph Campbell

Sandra Bierman
The Song Unsung

The song that I came to sing remains unsung to this day.

I have spent my days in stringing and in unstringing my instrument.

The time has not come true, the words have not been rightly set; only there is the agony of wishing in my heart.

The blossom has not opened; only the wind is sighing by.

I have not seen his face, nor have I listened to his voice; only I have heard his gentle footsteps from the road before my house.

The livelong day has passed in spreading his seat on the floor; but the lamp has not been lit and I cannot ask him into my house.

I live in the hope of meeting with him; but this meeting is not yet.
by Rabindranath Tagore

The Call

You don't know what you're going to get into when you follow your bliss. James Hillman

Can you remember a time, perhaps, when you were very young, when life was enough? When you were enough? Not because of what you looked like or what you did, but just because everything was just the way it was. I can remember the very first time of such an experience. Although brief, it was an experience instilled in the psyche that came to fruition. It was the summer of ’53, shortly after my ninth birthday, in Mineral Wells, Texas.

Our house sat on the corner block facing a constant southwest breeze in summer. My bedroom, lined with windows, faced the street. At dusk, the night air breeze was both cooler and calming. I remember so many things about those summer nights.

We lived on a “half street,” so there were very few cars that frequented our road. Across the street, a light post beamed a soft glow through the sheers that warmed my soul. There was something about night sounds that was comforting, especially the locusts, crickets, and an occasional bullfrog bellowing from the creek down the road. Snuggled between fresh, line-dried, crisp sheets, I listened to the night sounds, and the night breeze created a cradle that rocked me to sleep.

Although our neighborhood was within walking distance of town, it did not stop Daddy from plowing and planting a large garden, so the garden fragrances drifted in as well. It was my favorite season because two of my favorite vegetables, cherry tomatoes and yellow-meted watermelons were plentiful.
One afternoon, dressed in my sleeveless sundress, I traipsed barefoot out to the garden for a snack. Walking through the garden rows, I watched for horned toads and goat head stickers. Ah, the aroma of the colorful vegetables was heavenly. Finally, I reached the tomato row.

I quickly pulled up the front of my skirt-tail, and filled it with hot cherry tomatoes. I slowly tiptoed out of the garden, avoiding the dangers to my favorite spot, the swing-set beside the house.

Once I finished off my bounty, my small hands dripping with juices and my sundress covered with tomato stains and seeds, I began walking backwards while sitting on my swing seat until my feet could hardly touch the ground. This was my queue to lift my feet, lie back with arms outstretched, and soar toward the expansive blue yonder. When the swing began slowing down, I pushed the ground hard with my right foot. Every time I went through the motions, I moved at a faster speed and a higher level. As I leaned back with my arms outstretched, the thrill of moving toward the enormous blue sky was exhilarating. After a few pushes, my arms would begin to tire, and I would drag my feet on the ground until the swing came to a halt.

Resting on my swing seat, I gazed at the sky almost in a daze. It was then that something happened. There are no words to describe the moment, only to say that I experienced something strange, yet familiar. Suddenly, engulfed by a gust of wind, I realized with my small mind, it was more than just a gust of wind; it was much more . . . a knowing, a knowing of “something.”

When I grew up, I would be a psychiatrist and help Mama.

Now in my sixties, I remember that day vividly as if it were yesterday. Many years later, I would find a "seed" had been planted in my young mind that summer afternoon that would guide me through life. I learned with time, that the seed was my “calling.”

A quote comes to mind of the great Jungian analyst, James Hillman.

"You may remember this something as a signal moment in childhood when an urge out of nowhere, a fascination . . . struck like an annunciation--this is what I must do, this is what I've got to have, this is who I am." James Hillman

The Heart Waits

Whether you tend a garden or not, you are the gardener of your own being, the seed of your destiny. - The Findhorn Community

As a child, it was the “inner knowing” that provided an understanding that I needed to live the life set before me. A year had passed since that eventful day on my swing when another happening showed itself. Again, I was unaware of its meaning, and it would be two more decades before I understood its purpose.

The sun had just dropped over the horizon, and my two little brothers ran out of the house with a canning jar and lid in their little hands. This was one of our favorite times in the summer because the fireflies flittered and lit the dark breathing space. It was a magical time, which we needed in our little lives then. Most evenings, you would find us standing on the front lawn waiting for nightfall. After we had filled our jars, we would sit close to each other and peer into the jars counting to see who had caught the most. Nonetheless, what thrilled us most was removing the lids and releasing the small swarms of lightning bugs into the darkness . . . it was magical.

Before starting our ritual that evening, I had plopped down next to the Crepe Myrtle tree on the Bermuda lawn. Looking up at the full moon rising, I began daydreaming of a different life. As I glanced at our house, I instinctively knew our family was abnormal.

Lost in my thoughts, the sound of car tires driving on the gravel road caught my attention. I turned and to my surprise, the car turned onto our driveway. No one ever came to our house. Two men climbed out of the car smiling and asked if our parents were home. Terrified, my brothers and I ran to the house calling Daddy. He came from the back of the house still in his work clothes. I do not think he ever wore anything other than those old khaki work clothes.

Before Daddy could say a word, the two men were standing outside the screen door and introduced themselves. They asked to come in, so Daddy opened the screen. Daddy looked as shocked as we did. He did not ask them to sit down, which I now know Daddy was lacking in good manners. One of the men said they were visiting our neighborhood and wondered if we would like to attend Vacation Bible School. I had no idea what kind of school he was talking about, but as he explained the activities, he grabbed my attention. So far, the summer had been boring, and I thought this might be fun, making crafts.

Daddy looked down at us and said the decision was up to us. My two little brothers took their cue from me when I shook my head yes and shook theirs as well. One of the men left pamphlets about their church, Calvary Baptist Church. It was only a few blocks from our house, within walking distance.

We peered out the screen door as little recluses until they were gone, and then we ran out into the nightair to catch our bounty.

Once the day arrived, I was reluctant, but I gathered up my little brothers anyhow, and we began our walk to the Church that summer morning. I did not know what Church meant, nor had I heard the word in our home so we were in for a surprise, especially me. As it turned out, it was boring – very much like school. However, my brothers and I stuck it out, since we had nothing better to do that summer.

On the last day, a man entered my Sunday school room. He looked around the room, and asked if there was anyone that wanted to be baptized to raise their hands. Most everyone raised his or her hand, so I raised mine. Ten years old, and I had no idea what baptism meant. Furthermore, I did not understand anything our teacher taught us . . . a God and Jesus. The teacher said if we took Jesus into our heart, He would forgive us of our sins. I, of course, wondered, what is sin. I was totally mystified because I could not comprehend our teacher's stories. However, there was one thing she taught that stuck in my mind, the power of prayer. I learned a little of how to pray by listening and watching with one eye open.

After the last day of class, as my brothers and I walked home, I told them I was going to be baptized. They, too, asked what it meant, so I repeated what the teacher told me. They, too, looked puzzled and shrugged their shoulders. The minute we walked into our house, I announced to Daddy that I was going to be baptized. Daddy did not say a word. He just turned and went about his business. Where was Mama? I do not remember her being there . . . .

The day had arrived, Sunday morning. I put on my nicest sundress and got my brothers dressed. I do not remember our parents sending us off that morning. I only remember traipsing out the front door with my two little brothers following me. Once we got there, we walked up the steps and into the doublewide large front door of the Church for the first time, as before we entered through the back entrance. They followed me down the aisle all the way to the front row and we sat down.

A lot of things happened that morning worth telling, but the most important event came towards the end – my baptism. The pastor called all those up who were to be baptized. There was a long line, so I could no longer see the preacher. The only thing I noticed was that everyone who went up to the platform came back down the stairs “wet.” By now, I was getting nervous and began to question whether I really wanted to go through with this baptism. I was about to make a mad dash through the side door, when a woman motioned to take my turn. I was trembling, but I never let on as the preacher motioned me to join him in what look like a swimming pool. I knew then, it was an event I would have to wing. He motioned me to walk down the steps into the water. Carefully walking down the steps, I had to hold my dress down since it was rising above my head. The pastor took my hand and the other hand he placed on the back of my head. He repeated the same thing he had to the other kids (today, I know it as “a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.” Mark 1:4 (NIV).

Afterwards, I walked out with my sundress dripping with water, where my brothers were waiting for me. They looked at me curiously and asked if I was okay. I nodded my head yes. Then they started pointing fingers at me, making fun of how funny I looked.

That night, while in bed and the house still, I prayed, “God please give me new parents.”

I attended Calvary Baptist Church several times that summer, but when school started, I stopped. I had been praying all summer, and God/Jesus did not answer my prayers. It would be many years before I would learn that God works in mysterious ways, and beyond the understanding of a child.

Little did I know that He would answer my prayers, but in His timing. The lightning bugs captured in quart jars and released coupled with my baptism that Sunday morning were symbolic of freedom. I had been released from the old and now a new creature in Christ. Too much for child's mind to comprehend; especially in my circumstances.

I leave you with two quotes.

"Waiting patiently in expectation is the foundation of the spiritual life." Simone Weil

"There is nothing instant or automatic in spiritual development." Allan Jones

The Hauntings

"When people believed the earth was flat, the idea of a round world scared them silly. Then they found out how the round world works. It's the same with the world of the supernatural. Until we know how it works, we'll continue to carry around this unnecessary burden of fear." - Dr. John Markway

Darkness had fallen while my two little brothers and I were playing in the front yard that summer evening. The inside lights lit the house up like a Christmas tree and the light post on the corner gave the look of daytime. The ice cream truck had stopped earlier, and we were covered with melted ice cream, so we got the water hose and sprayed each other till we were soaked. The street over, we heard the mosquito spray truck, so we hid in the garage until it passed by our house. Giggling . . . always giggling. I now wonder how we could have had so much fun that summer.

I could hear the locusts in the distance, my favorite divine melody. As we say in the South, "I could listen to them until the cows come home." Crickets and grasshopper covered the soil below the post light. The night sounds – the sound of nature - was the one thing that lightened my heart.

The light from our now vacant house kept distracting me. A very important person was now missing. My thoughts drifted to that horrible night the ambulance rushed her to the hospital.
 Daddy was now a shell of a person since the loss of his wife, our mother. His two vices were Camel cigarettes and strong coffee. His addictions began during WWII. We had all undergone a terrible tragedy since that night Mama had been misplaced. However, Daddy suffered the most. Our small minds could not yet understand the loss or the magnitude of events that would naturally follow.

Daddy worked the second shift at Cantex, so that night when we ran into the house yelling and kicking each other, he was stuffing a sandwich in a paper bag. His coffee thermos was sitting on the counter. Daddy turned and looked at us . . . he looked so forlorn when he said, “You kids get ready for bed.”

I looked around the house and every light was on. He knew our first night alone would be terrifying. We looked at each other horrified. Who would take care of us? Daddy was a man of few words, so he had not prepared us for this night. It would be our first night alone in the house. I was the oldest, so I slowly walked toward my bedroom with two little brothers following close behind. As I turned around, Daddy wore a scowl, and I could tell by the movement of his jaws, he was gnawing at the inside of his mouth.

Once in my bedroom, Daddy told us to jump onto my bed. He looked at us sternly and said, “Don’t you kids get out of the bed for any reason.” Morris and I climbed up first and turned around to pull Joe up. Joe was the baby so he crawled in between us. Little Joe was already crying and tears welled up in Morris’s eyes and mine. We pleaded with Daddy, pulling at his work clothes, not to leave us alone, to let us sleep in the car. He was firm with his answer, but said he would sneak away on his breaks to check on us.

As Daddy turned and walked away, we cried after him to take us. We heard the door close. You could have heard a pin drop. We sucked up our tears and scooted close to each other. Back in the fifties, no one locked their doors, but we heard Daddy lock the door, so we scrunched up close with our arms hugging each other tight. Every time we drifted off to sleep, a noise would awaken us.

 One of us had to pee, so we would have to disobey Daddy. That is the very first time I became aware of the closet in my bedroom. During the day, I avoided it whenever possible, and at night, I kept it closed, but not knowing why. I just knew there was something in it, something eerie.

I remembered Daddy telling us the story of the parcel of land he had built our house on. I also thought of the strange happenings while he was building it. Once while he was on a ladder, a hammer flew toward him from out of nowhere. It barely missed him. Then, there was the invasion of the Texas's biggest scorpions. Many strange things happened in the building process.

Lying there reminiscing, I felt an aching in my chest. I missed Mama, and I was homesick for our old home in Pasadena Heights where we were happy. Since we moved into the new home, our once happy life - as I knew it - slowly became a nightmare. When asked questions about Mama's whereabouts, they went unanswered. Instead, Daddy's eyes welled up with tears, and he would quickly turn and walk away.

Morris interrupted my thoughts by asking me to tell him the “cowboy” story. Not knowing the affect it would have on us, I began telling the story. Once in the 1800’s an old saloon and horse stable sat on the very ground beneath us. Ruffians and drunks hung out at the saloon and stable, which resulted in many fights, shootouts, and killings. An old well used by the property owner still remained in our backyard. There was a story about the well, but I have forgotten it. Nevertheless, I remember Daddy trying to cover it without much success.

After we calmed from the stimulation of our minds by the “cowboy story,” we heard a loud in the house. My heart was pounding so hard, I could hardly breathe. Our house had always made loud noises during the still of the day or night, but we gave it no never mind. However now, three little ones in the bed telling the story of what might have happened on our lot, instilled fear in me like I had never known. Suddenly, I was thinking very clearly . . . ghosts.

That was the night of the first haunting. I hear tell to this day that if you happen by the old home place, bizarre happenings still occur. There is much to be said about the spirit realm, so I will leave it to the experts, who have written great books on the subject.

That night, the year of 1958, the spiritual realm became a very real part of my life. However, all things have their place in our lives, don’t they? There is much, much more to this story, but another post will tell more of the story.

I now understand the anguish on Daddy’s face, but to three little ones under the age of eleven, we could not have understood our family life, as we knew it, no longer existed.

For who can wonder that man should feel a vague belief in tales of disembodied spirits wandering through those places which they once dearly affected, when he himself, scarcely less separated from his old world than they, is for ever lingering upon past emotions and bygone times, and hovering, the ghost of his former self, about the places and people that warmed his heart of old?  CHARLES DICKENS, Master Humphrey's Clock

Lost Children

The summer was so problematical for my two brothers and me since Mama’s deletion from our lives. Our mother was MIA, our father severely depressed, and if it had not been for us, he mostly likely would have committed suicide.
When Daddy left for work at night, we got braver with each night. So brave that when he left for work, we leaped out of bed and ran around the house like little wild Indians. I do not remember how we occupied ourselves, but I do remember watching television until it went off the air at midnight with the song Star Spangle Banner playing. I also remember a lot of picking at each other that followed by quarreling and skirmishing. Those memories still lie dormant in the subconscious.

We were now accustomed to our nightly rituals. By staying awake and causing havoc all night, the ghosts did not have a chance with us. Daddy returned from work at 6 o-clock in the mornings, so we jumped into the bed, pulled the covers over our heads, and pretended to be asleep.

Daddy had difficulty sleeping during the day and constantly scolded us for waking him. One day, I had the bright idea of sneaking into his room, go through his pants’ pocket, and take his loose change, and we would walk to Walker’s Grocery Store where we could be some food. As kids, we headed straight for the candy section, which gave us a new burst of energy.

As we were sitting on the curb in our bare feet eating candy bars, I saw a tall building towering over the trees in town. I looked at my brothers and said, “Come on, we’re going to town.” Passerby’s looked at us with gaped mouths . . . three stair-steppers traipsing down the sidewalk barefoot without adult supervision. I pretended not to notice.

Walking down the sidewalk, I looked up, and I could see the Baker Hotel just a block away. At the time, I thought of it as the largest building I had ever seen. I mustered up the courage for us to walk to town. Holding hands, we walked several blocks until we finally reached it. We walked up the steps that led to the front doors. A man dress in a uniform opened the doors for us and was very friendly, so we walked in. We knew right away that it was a castle. Trying to act as if grownup, I saw a door opening where the aroma of food drifted outside. I tugged at my brothers and motioned to follow me. As we walked in, I could not believe my eyes. Since it was morning, there was a spread of every kind of pastry, juices, milk, and coffee. We were so hungry. An elderly man in uniform with a napkin on his arm bent down and asked if we would like breakfast. We nodded our heads, and he led us to a table with white linen tablecloths and silverware. Soon afterwards, a woman served us bacon, eggs, grits, toast, jelly, and milk. I was a bit apprehensive about the food presented to us, wondering why the people were giving us food. My brothers, eyes focused on me, followed my lead, and we began eating. We ate so much that we developed tummy aches.

I watched the entrance closely, and I noticed that when everyone finished eating, they left through the same door, so after we finished, I told my brothers it was time to leave. It did not know it was customary to pay for meals. As we were approaching the door, the woman who served us asked if she should charge our meal to our room. Luckily, there was an elderly couple following behind us, and the man spoke up and told her to put our meals on his account. Consequently, we continued out the door and then ran toward the outside doors.

The door attendant opened the door for us once again; we walked out, and sat on the steps. I looked at my two brothers, and said, “Now, we know where to get food.”

Being the oldest, I knew there was something terribly wrong in our lives – a very important person was missing in our lives. As children, we did not understand the meaning of emotional and physical abandonment. Reflecting, I understand now that Daddy was severely depressed and practically non-functional. We had no relatives in town to watch over us, so we learned to fend for ourselves. It was heart wrenching knowing that Mama was not coming home. My little brothers were continually asking, “When is Mama coming home”? I would change the subject immediately, so they would not cry. I did not know, and Daddy always changed the subject when I brought it up.

After some time, I understood it was up to me to care for my little brothers. Since I was going to be the responsible one, I decided our life would be a life of adventures. During summers, we stayed in town at the Baker Hotel. There, the help had become accustomed to our appearance and took care of us. They would feed us and let us ride the elevators, run up and down the halls. From there, we would walk down the sidewalk to Welcome Mountain, the highest hill in Mineral Wells. There was always something lying around that we could use to slide on. Once we found our slide tins, we climbed it and then we would slide until we reached the foot. It was terrifying, yet thrilling at the same time. Many times, we faced our demise.

Then afterwards, there were the walks along the railroad tracks and listening for the train traveling the railroad tracks. When we saw it coming, it tooted its horn since it crossed a street up ahead. That is when we were heroic by daring each other to cross the tracks just before the train was to pass. Racing to beat the train was the highlight of our day.

Daddy usually was up around two o’clock, so by then we were almost home. The rest of the day, we plopped down wherever and slept until Daddy woke us up and informed us he was going to work. As he was walking out, he said, “I cooked a pot of red beans if you kids get hungry.”

As an eleven year old, I was ill equipped to be a mother, but as months turned into years, I watched the interaction between my friends and their families. I slowly learned a few things. Our house should be clean, the dishes washed, clean clothes hanging on the line, delicious meals served three times a day with snacks, and we were to wear shoes. I inherited the role of mother since I was the oldest and a girl. As a young responsible girl, I grew into a responsible adult and caring for those in need.

~ It is only because of problems that we grow mentally and spiritually. ~ M. Scott Peck