I’m part of a spiritual program that’s helps me abstain from destructive substances because “There Be Dragons” waiting off the edge of that map, and that dragon already ate my entire family, so I’m pretty sure he’s licking his chops waiting patiently to finish off the meal. And yet, even though I’ve been practicing the abstinence part of this program for almost 30 years, the spiritual part is just kicking in. It’s been pretty hard overcoming my parents’ perspective that religion is just the opiate of masses. They looked down with gentle pity at the neighbors’ children trotting off in their salt & pepper pants and plaid skirts to Catholic school; they considered the obsequious position of the house-wife living only for her children, to be pathetic.

The non-verbal scripture they adhered to said that unconditional love was for saps. [epq-quote align=”align-right”]The non-verbal scripture they adhered to said that unconditional love was for saps. [/epq-quote]But really it was all a ruse to keep their impoverished souls a secret — from themselves as much as from us. God forbid we children start expecting to be loved unconditionally.  Instead we traded our tender hearts for the roof over our heads, TVs in our bedrooms, and the possibility of a power greater than mom & dad. Fortunately for me, I was an unthreatening little girl whom the neighbors took in for meals, family events, and sometimes even to church. Sitting at midnight mass, smelling the lemon oiled wood under my rump, the incense rising over my head up toward the beautiful voices coming from the choir, my heart swelled with unknown sensations. Was I going to laugh? Or cry? Or just pass out from the kindness? Once I re-entered my blanched world of Cap’n Crunch and I Dream of Jeanie those feelings numbed back down, yet I had tasted love, and a tiny spark of hope ensued. So even though everyone in my family drove drunk or high, all suffered unspeakable heartache and sought oblivion at the edge, that hope caused me to slam on the breaks. And after three decades of earning love through clean living and good deeds, I have learned the ease of kindness.

I’ll be moving soon to the 10 acres of land I bought in the woods of Vermont because I love trees and seasons, and I love to garden, and I love that I’ll be close enough to a clear lake that (when its warm) I can jump in before breakfast. The wind in the branches are my choir, and the sun and sap my incense. I’ve already been met with kindness that has taken my breath away. So sorry Mr. Dragon, you’ll have to look else where for your next meal.