Let Me Have One More Day

March 12, 2016
Love Poem by Tim Hicks
Let me have just one more day, 
let me have this day and let it not be my last.
Let me have just one more day to feel the sap in the stems, 
to hear the language of birds and the wind,
one more day of light, one more day of turning,
one more day balanced on the precipice, one more day
to bask and revel, one more day of the exquisite pain,
one more day to risk a bit more, just one more day 
to feel the tide’s pull, to be swept and tossed, 
to fear the loss, one more day to empty and be bereft.
Let me have one more day that I might find you and 
find myself in you, to allow the wonder of the dance, 
one more day to reveal and conceal, one more day 
without words to say what I can not tell you, one more day 
to be willing, to allow time’s victory and defeat,
one more day carried on the upwelling, my body 
salt in the tears, some kind of habitation, some kind of crystallization,
some kind of membrane between. 
I don’t mean to be trite but
I love you like water loves gravity, like lungs love oxygen,
like the grasses with the breeze, like the torrents over the rocks.
I’m serious here. My gaze wants to linger longer on you.
I have not had enough of your demands. I have more of laughter to learn….
This poem reminds me to celebrate my great good fortune in having people I love so very dearly in my life. May I cherish each day, knowing that the number of those days is beyond my control. I learned from Rumi to embrace it all, though, and I truly do. Gratitude flows through me from the first playful wags of my dog’s tail as soon as I open my eyes till the last kiss at night. To make this authentic, I must admit that between those two events, I often slip into my ego’s demands and complaints (“I took out the trash last time!”). I try not to linger there though, and usually I don’t.
Please visit my website at www.coupleswisdom.com.
Thanks to Larry Robinson for sending this poem, and blessings to all!

The Joy of Waking Up

November 6, 2015

Dear Visitor,

Reviewing the statistics for this blog, I’ve found that more than 94,000 have visited since I began it. You–visitors from many states and countries–are my community, my fellow travelers on this journey of developing our spiritual lives as deeply as we can, and of trying to make a difference on this planet through our compassion and commitment to service.

On this early November night, I want to share some of the grace that has been showered on me along with a major health challenge. This confrontation with my mortality woke me up. I began to see–really see–the beauty all around me. So much beauty in the human faces in my life–such kindness, compassion, humor, sweetness. That human beauty is everywhere, not just in the faces of those I dearly love, but in the eyes of the grocery store clerk, the bank teller, the neighbor across the street.

Since I became a vegetarian, I find such enchantment in animals. My little dog makes me smile first thing every morning. Waiting patiently for me to open my eyes, his tail starts to wag as soon as my eyes meet his. “Wake up and live! he says, “and let’s play now!”

And then there are the children in my life–the grown ones and the little ones and the medium size ones. I adore them all. Not least or last, my true love smiles at me across the table while we feast on a meal centered on organic vegetables. My past loves linger always in my heart as well, not with longing, but with appreciation.

Outside my door, red and yellow roses bloom still, competing with the deep magenta of the bougainvillea. Rumi says there’s beauty in every rock and flower, and so it is.

I start and end my day with music–songwriting, singing, playing guitar. I am blessed–overwhelmed with grace.

I do not take this grace lightly. The suffering of Syrians and others in war zones, of the often innocent young men sent to fight in these wars, refugees with no homes, prisoners of war, and of conscience, the bereaved and the lonely and the depressed–none of this escapes me. Some form of this suffering comes to all. If you are reading these words by accident right now, please take heart. There are those who care and will help. Call Suicide Prevention, call a rabbi, priest, minister or therapist. Call a friend who cares. “Ask and you shall receive,” say the holy words. But you must ask!

Rumi says:

Lo, I am with you always.

You promised that, and when I realized it was true,

my soul flared up. Remember, and be back with the Friend.

Blessings to you dear visitor!

–Dr. Victoria Lee


Sacred Intimacy: Sexual Joy and Spiritual Growth

May 18, 2010

Dear Reader,

By request, I’m reposting the following thoughts on the journey of spiritual healing through sacred intimacy:
In The Shared Heart, Barry and Joyce Vissell say:
The greatest need that exists in a relationship is the spiritual need…it is when a couple, after many tests and initiations, comes to the deep inner knowing that they cannot realize God separate from each other.
There comes a time along the path of love when we are faced with our own selfishness….As long as our own dreams and goals are more important to us that those of our partner, we prevent ourselves from experiencing divine love. Unconditional love is attained the moment we forget ourselves and truly desire to help another on the journey of life….

===========================================================================================Recently, Recently, I taught another class on Sacred Intimacy for Couples. It was a joy to once again be with a group of couples who are searching for a path to deeper bonding, and for more ways to open their hearts to each other.
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Committed relationship is so challenging. When each dear couple comes into my office struggling to match their experience with their vision, I like to start by letting them know it’s hard for everyone.
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(The names given here are not the actual ones, but the challenges are very real and very widespread.)  It’s hard for Janet and William who are young and healthy and feel highly attracted to each other; they still struggle over problems with money, children and different levels of sexual desire.  It’s hard for Marie and Len who’ve been together for 52 years; Marie has Parkinson’s, and has many limitations because of it. It’s hard for Annie and Joan who were finally allowed to marry, only to have their marriage invalidated. It’s hard for Eric and Lena who have not had intimate contact for years, and who have not yet learned ways to enjoy alternative forms of loving touch regardless that don’t depend on health and fitness.
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It’s hard for me and my partner, with our many demographic and cultural differences. And it’s hard for any couple you know who seems to be so happy, so well-suited, so in love. In any group of couples, all of the happy ones are the ones who have done–and are doing–the work of relationship.
The work of the couple’s journey is parallel to our spiritual journey. Relationship often provides priceless lessons and metaphors for discovering our divine nature and becoming as loving as we can be. Where else can we see our ego-driven limitations so vividly? (“If  you’d just do everything my way, we wouldn’t have all this conflict!”) Where else can we see the results of our childhood wounds so clearly? (For example, we feel chronically controlled or that we must control, we’re afraid to trust, we’ve never seen a loving relationship up close, we’re angry and don’t why, we don’t want to talk about it because that never helped in our original families. And then, there’s body shame, sexual guilt, despair and depression.)
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Far from least, for many of us, the profound pain of having been taught that we are not really lovable affects us for life in every close relationship and every sexual experience.

The good news is that the couple’s journey can be a most fruitful lab for learning and practicing essential truths. Great teachers and poets teach us that:
• Like every human being,each of us is precious and ultimately lovable. So are our partners. A couple can learn to make honey out of their old errors (a lovely idea from the poet Machado.)
• As the poet Rilke said, we must study love like a profession. And when we do, we give priceless gifts to all who come after us.
• Sexuality is a divine gift that can bring great  joy to any loving, adult couple willing to become vulnerable to each other. Difficulties caused by hormones and childbirth and menopause and aging can all be addressed.

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Whoever you are, passion is your birthright!
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I plan to offer a sacred intimacy class as a teleseminar for those who live far away. Please email me at drvlee1234@aol.com to be informed about this.


Marriage As a Spiritual Path

April 19, 2010

In my Sacred Intimacy  for Couples class this week, I’ll be teaching the path first illuminated by Harvillle Hendricks in Getting the Love You Want–a book I highly recommend.

Hendricks teaches that marriage is a spiritual journey meant for the healing of both parties. Inevitably, we are drawn to exactly the right person, the person who can help us to heal our childhood wounds. Our partner senses the very same capacity in us. Hendricks thinks this ability to facilitate our healing is the true basis of attraction and of marital choice.

To be a healer for your partner, you have to change. And it’s not a small change that’s needed–it’s the very change that is the most difficult for you. That change is also the one you most need for your own emotional and spiritual growth.

“Jean Paul” has low self-esteem and low self-confidence. He feels inadequate as a father, husband and provider for his family. His wife, “Marie,” grew up in poverty; her father abandoned his family when Marie was a small child. She needs a partner who will approach the world confidently and who will succeed in his work and in his roles in the family.

It’s Jean Paul she marries, though. He recreates the old injuries, and he has the capacity to heal them through the changes they both need him to make.

On the other hand, Jean Paul needs loving acceptance above all–something which was in very short supply in his childhood. He needs Marie to shower him with affection and understanding, not the constant criticism she often gives him now. Marie needs to learn to love Jean Paul’s essential, beautiful self, regardless of how the world sees him. If Marie becomes willing and able to give this to her husband, he will become better able to be the man she wants.

Successful Couple Therapy Changes a Whole Family

Together in couple counseling these two learned to meet each other’s  needs. Once you see that the change your partner needs will be of huge benefit to you as well, it becomes much easier to commit to the change. Those few truly happy couples you know are those who have accomplished this kind of growth.

Someone has to take the first step. Sometimes this is the one who is more courageous; sometimes it’s the one who is in the most pain. In this couple’s case, I was able to help them establish a clear path for making the needed changes. They learned to do an “apologies and appreciations” exercise several times a week. Marie made sure to acknowledge and verbalize her appreciation for every positive contribution Jean Paul made to her life and to the lives of their children. Jean Paul learned to set small, easily obtainable goals, and then to fully celebrate himself when he accomplished them.

With my help, this couple revived their long dormant sexual connection. When Jean Paul found that he could be an expert giver of pleasure to Marie, he grew in self-esteem. Marie found it easy to voice her honest appreciation for her husband’s rediscovered expertise as a lover. This was one of many arenas in which this loving couple learned to grow and heal.

I don’t mean to make it sound easy. It never is. There were stops and starts along the way. There were times when they felt discouraged and wondered if they were making any progress. I had told them early on to expect these times. Our therapeutic relationship was based on trust, so they were able to rely on my confidence in them when they temporarily lost their own.

This courageous couple learned the tools and did the work that becomes the foundation for a truly fulfilling relationship. I had the great privilege of providing the needed support and guidance. From the beginning, I knew they could do it. I held that vision through all the ups and downs until they were able to make that vision their own. By doing this hard work, they gave priceless gifts to their children as well as to themselves and each other.

It can be this way for you and your partner dear visitor. May you find your way.

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In Spring, Mary Oliver says:

Somewhere
a black bear
has just risen from sleep
and is staring

down the mountain.
All night
in the brisk and shallow restlessness
of early spring.

I think of her,
her four black fists
flicking the gravel,
her tongue

like a red fire
touching the grass
the cold water.
There is only one question:

how to love this world.
I think of her
rising
like a black and leafy ledge

to sharpen her claws against
the silence
of the trees.
Whatever else

my life is
with its poems
and its music
and its cities,


it is also this dazzling darkness
coming
down the mountain,
breathing and tasting;

all day I think of her —
her white teeth,
her wordlessness,
her perfect love.

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Blessings to you and those you love, dear visitor!


Requiem for My Mother

February 23, 2010

Rumi says:

On the day I die, don’t weep.
Don’t say she’s gone.

Death has nothing to do with going away.
The sun sets and the moon sets, but
they’re not gone.

Death is a coming together.
The human seed goes down into the ground
like a bucket, and come up with
some unimagined beauty!

Your mouth closes here,
and immediately opens
with a shout of joy
there
!

Today is the sixth anniversary of my mother’s death. This morning at 5:30 A.M. I lit a candle in her memory.

At 5:30 A.M. on February 23, 2004, she breathed her last. After many plane trips to her home during her last year, on that last trip I had been back less than 12 hours when she passed. I think she waited for me.

I was so very fortunate to be able to hold my mother’s hand as she took her last breaths. Being with your mother when she dies is at once unforgettable, profoundly painful, and a priceless privilege. It doesn’t always work out that way though; I’m sure that being with a loved one in spirit as they pass over can mean as much.

I began this post with words from the 13th century Sufi poet, Jalaludin Rumi, because they give me such comfort. For Mama, though, here are some Biblical words from the Book of Romans that I know often sustained her:

All things work together for good for them that love God.

Mom was fortunate to be able to die at home in her own bed as she had wanted. She was fortunate to have a gentle death. The funeral home, the burial and the large memorial service followed. The family gathered afterward to tell stories such as her nieces and nephews remembering that she was always first up the mountain when she took them on dessert hikes around Tucson.

Like all of us, she was a very imperfect person. Yet she was  loved by her large extended family, and by hundreds members of her church family both nearby and far away in other countries.

She went on more than 25 working trips abroad, trying to improve the lives of people in India, Venezuela, China, South Africa, and many others. She spent much of her life trying to do good as she understood it.

Death dissolves personality limitations and leaves only the love. I am forever grateful that for her this happened before death; for the last weeks of her life, she became all love.

Thank you Mama for thousands of Southern cooked meals, for hundred of holidays made sweeter by your cooking and gifts, for your stuffing, your potato salad and your pecan pie, for your example of getting down on the floor to enjoy a child, and for always making music a part of our lives. Thanks for the protection and consistency you provided.

Most of all, thanks for teaching me that the spiritual part of life is the most important. That lesson sustains me everyday.

Mary Oliver says:

When Death Comes

When death comes
like the hungry bear in autumn;
when death comes and takes all the bright coins from his purse

to buy me, and snaps the purse shut;
when death comes
like the measle-pox;

when death comes
like an iceberg between the shoulder blades,

I want to step through the door full of curiosity, wondering:
what is it going to be like, that cottage of darkness?

And therefore I look upon everything
as a brotherhood and a sisterhood,
and I look upon time as no more than an idea,
and I consider eternity as another possibility,

and I think of each life as a flower, as common
as a field daisy, and as singular,

and each name a comfortable music in the mouth,
tending, as all music does, toward silence,

and each body a lion of courage, and something
precious to the earth.

When it’s over, I want to say:  all my life
I was a bride married to amazement.
I was the bridegroom, taking the world into my arms.

When it’s over, I don’t want to wonder
if I have made of my life something particular, and real.
I don’t want to find myself sighing and frightened,
or full of argument.

I don’t want to end up simply having visited this world.

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I love you Mama, and I miss  you everyday.

Your daughter,
Vicki
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Blessings to you, dear visitor. Please share your own story of the final chapter in the life of someone dear to you by emailing me at drvlee1234@aol.com.