Maitri Libellule
"To you, I am nothing more than a fox like a hundred thousand other foxes. But if you tame me, then we shall need each other. To me, you will be unique in all the world. To you, I shall be unique in all the world."

Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
The Little Prince

My "Angel" Baby Girl ~ Feathers plucked
down her chest and back...

Other side, Angel's gigantic nose hole where
a large blue and gold macaw nearly bit her
clean through. Look at her other side to see
how little it should be. Her beak is also
cracked on that side. She could have died.

"Petey, Petey, Peter Pan" (that's what I call him,
and after only 3 days he says, "Petey Pannnnn...").
His chest and back are almost completely plucked.

I have been rescuing and rehabbing parrots for nigh on twenty years. I had a non-profit shelter for disabled and unwanted parrots and had them shipped to me from as far away as Hawaii. They came paralyzed, limbless and more. A great many came from people who said that they were "mean" and "completely unhandleable." They told me I would never tame them. I did, and they became sweet, loving companions. It took months for some, and people just don't want to take the time. It takes time, patience, and a whole lot of love. These two came three days ago abused, frightened to death, they had been in a glass enclosure, housed together, were plucking and beating one another up, and NO perches to sit on. They now are housed separately and have lots of toys, branches, swings and more, and have a good diet and lots of love. Angel sat on my shoulder for 2 hours yesterday just loving and preening me. She was the one nearly killed by a Blue and Gold macaw (and how they got that close to one another I don't want to think about). It is a miracle that she survived.

They were with the same family for 5 years, belonged to the son, and he moved off and left them with his mother who had no idea what to do with them and was afraid of them. They were put in a dark back room and left there, fed and given water, but little else and no attention. Parrots are very feeling, very intelligent animals. They need lots of things to chew and play with and they need lots of time out of their cage, and to be loved and cherished. Too many people get parrots because they are "cool" or pretty, or exotic, or whatever, and haven't a clue what to do with them, end up not taking care of them correctly, the bird gets frightened, begins to bite, pluck, and the worse it gets the more the owner doesn't want to deal with the poor little soul who then gets passed around from one household to another until the parrots are so terrified and wary they do act like what we think of as "mean," but they have been abused, neglected, have become frightened, and some have given up hope and mourned themselves to death.

Buying a parrot is meant for the bird savvy person who has had many other smaller birds, and worked their way up to a parrot and done a lot of reading and study before they buy one. They also need to commit themselves to keeping the bird and working with them and loving them through all circumstances, barring emergencies and heart-breaking situations (for both the bird and owner) when they cannot be kept.

So yes, in the period of time ahead I imagine I will be bitten a lot, but I sit calmly, always talk to them softly, and slowly, barely above a whisper, "lower my energy," and sit calmly with them. Sometime I just sit a few feet away from them and meditate. They have to get used to your presence. You have to gain their trust. Trust is hard won and easily lost with parrots, and a person who has won the love and trust of a parrot has been honored and blessed beyond measure.

Angel and Petey came to me and he flew right to me and sat on my shoulder and started preening my hair. He was the one of whom she said "Nobody can tame that bird." (And truth be told he has since bitten the hoo-ha out of me on the hands when I feed him and get fresh water. If you are going to tame parrots you need to keep on hand a good supply of hydrogen peroxide, Bactine, Neosporin, bandaids and arnica gel.) Right now my hands are bitten up and turning purple just for trying to feed him. But I did not raise my voice, I did not act harshly, I put him back in his cage, closed the door, said, "No biting Petey," and left. Later I came back and sat outside of his cage and crooned to him softly and he talked to me and seemed much calmer. I have heard of people screaming and slinging a little parrot across the room or worse for having been bitten.

Rule # 1: Don't get a parrot if you are not prepared to be bitten.

You WILL get bitten at some time or other with the best birds, even those who are loving companions. They are wary animals, just a generation away from the wild, not like dogs and cats who have been domesticated for millennia, and they retain their wild characteristics. And their beaks, if you will, are their only line of defense. Also, you become their "mate" and they are very protective of you. They may become very aggressive around other people, or even nip you if they feel imminent danger. In the wild a parrot will nip his mate so she will fly off to safety. It is their natural instinct. You must remain vigilant and keep the situation calm and safe for everyone at all times. It is your obligation to those you love as well as the parrot himself.

I have 4 little pugs that came from a rescue, and they were elderly or infirm when they arrived. My wee little black Babsy is almost blind now, and completely deaf. She is nearly 14. Coco, 13, is deaf, and my little Sampson and Harvey, nearly 11 and 10, were so abused that Sam sticks to me like glue and Harvey is very timid. But the lot of them have come around and we are a family.

At first it was thought that these two little macaws should be separated and go to different homes. It quickly became apparent that while they may have beaten one another up in the same cage, they were very bonded. They were raised together as babies and have lived together for 5 years. They call to one another, they talk to one another, to seperate them would be cruel. Also, he is going to be a real handful and a long term job to "tame" and once I do he is going to depend on me. That is not the time to foist him off on someone else, even the best of homes.

I take animal rescue very seriously, and consider it to be one of the most important parts of my rather unusual ministry. God gives everyone gifts. Every one of us. I have had the gift since I was very young to work with animals, and I do not take this lightly. I follow the work of St. Francis, even though mine is an interfaith ministry that accepts and opens it's arms to everyone of all faiths and beliefs. Part of my "congregation" are animals of all sorts. I don't find this odd or unusual, though many people are going to think a lot of what I do as a minister is unusual. I am blessed with what I call "Direct Communion." I don't wait for God to give me signs, I talk to him all the time. I will be guided in this ministry of mine, and I hope to bring together people of all faiths, their friends, families, and animal companions. I want them all to be loved and cherished, to know that they matter, and to discover their gifts and take them out into the world. I will keep up with my work here, even as I go for the Neosporin and bandaids.

Be kind, be gentle, to everyone, most especially, the beautiful creatures of this world who cannot speak for themselves, but must come to trust us and depend on us. As Saint-Exupéry wrote, we will need one another, and we will be unique to each other in all the world. Only take in those beloved creatures you are willing to share your life with completely. They are not a "thing" to cast off when they get old or difficult (as we may be or become ourselves), they are living, sentient beings with feelings.

Angel and Petey are both sitting on their swings. They've never had such a thing. They are both completely enamored of them and spend a great deal of time on them, even though they have many branches and perches. This life is new to them, and a wonder. And I am in awe of them. Animals have much to teach us. May I always be open to their teachings...

Maitri Libellule

"All of the different religious faiths, despite their philosophical differences, have a similar objective. Every religion emphasizes human improvement, love, respect for others, sharing other people's suffering. On these lines every religion has more or less the same viewpoint and the same goal."

~ His Holiness, The Dalai Lama ~
From The Path To Tranquility, Daily Wisdom

Some of you know, and many of you don't, that I am an ordained minister. If I am to use my full title it is Reverend Mother Maitri Libellule. I was ordained online through the only place that felt legitimate, and my ordination took place in a church. I did not do this for anyone else, I did it for myself, and in doing so, I took my commitment to walk in the world as a solitary being, spreading compassion and loving-kindness all the days of my life, in every way that I could, seriously, and with my whole being. It would be an outreach ministry, practiced online, so as to reach as many people around the globe as I possibly could, having a sacred time to pray and meditate, daily, for all those that needed prayer, asked for prayer, and for all of those whom I hold deeply in my heart.

I was not ordained to impress anyone, to use the title to get attention, or to start a church in a physical building. I rarely leave this cottage, and my work here is very deep. I walk in a simple caftan, barefoot, and live amongst nine rescued animals, hundreds of books, and the material for my fiber art. I spin, weave, knit, crochet, among many other fiber arts, and I paint. Anything I sell, plus the few donations that I receive (I am too small to be non-profit, these are considered goodwill/love donations.), keep me going here. I am deeply grateful and satisfied with this way of living as a simple holy person, ordained but unnoticed, quiet and lovingly caring for these precious animals that are elderly, disabled, or unwanted by others, and to constantly read, study, pray, meditate, and "minister to" those who come to me for quiet listening, support, and prayer. No one would recognize me for anything other than what I am, a woman with a compassionate heart, filled to overflowing with love and kindness waited to be shared, as well as a very human woman who, due to many things that too place during my childhood, and since, have led me to the solitary life that I lead.

On my knees I thank God on the worst days. It is not an easy life. I would have it no other way. Our lives were not meant for all happiness and bliss -- though surely we do experience that and it is glorious -- our lives were meant to be a series of learning experiences, and to come to understand how to step out of our own skin, out of the boundaries of our own lives, to reach, and touch, and love one another. Or so I believe.

I was ordained on January 9, 2009, and struggled for months thereafter with the title. My heart, my mission, my goals, and all that I held inside of me were and are intact, but could I use the title Reverend, although it says that on my legal and sanctioned certificate of ordination, as well as the i.d. badge I carry in my wallet with my full title? I was very perplexed about this and uneasy. A dear friend questioned my purpose and did not like the fact that I was ordained online, feeling that it was not legitimate, but it is in the eyes of the law and the church I was ordained in, and in my heart it rang true, but I myself knew that I was a much simpler and quieter woman than the name Reverend might imply. My faith and dedication are strong, my heart open and willing, my intentions are honorable and true. I do want to "minister" to people, but in a quiet, almost unnoticed way. And as a mother and grandmother, the name Reverend Mother rang most true in describing what it was that I felt in the deepest part of myself, the most sincere and apt description of what I wanted my life and calling to be.

I dropped the use of the title Reverend and was simply called Mother Maitri which many people still call me. But the name of my outreach ministry was confusing for people. In 2005, after my divorce, I changed my name legally to Maitri, which is the Buddhist teaching of loving kindness and compassion. I took the name not because I thought I had achieved it, but as a guiding star to remind me of my purpose all the days of my life. I named my outreach ministry The Maitri Ministry, NOT after myself or my own name, but for the teaching, because my goal was to focus on a ministry that spread compassion and loving kindness the world over. However, too many people thought that I was either naming the ministry after myself and to that end was pompous or at the least, irreverent. People told me you had to have years of study and training and "do it" in a church.

My heart sunk. Perhaps because of my own doubts, coming from outside pressure, and perhaps because of my fear of not being able to live up to all I hoped to accomplish. At the same time my mother was losing her battle to cancer, and as we speak is just about to go on hospice, so the end is very near. Rather than continue on with trying to form a ministry, I withdrew inside myself, drew back from trying to form something that the outside world would not undertand, and concentrated all of my energies to loving and supporting my mother in her endtimes.

Recently, something has happened that sparked something in me that I have not felt in months. My solitary practice will become public in August when I perform the marriage ceremony of my middle child, Rachel, and her long-time partner and love, Jeremy. They are the parents of my precious 5 year old grandson, Lucas. I was surprised and delighted that they asked me, and somewhat stunned, a little nervous, but ready. As it is said, "The Lord works in mysterious ways." Once you perform a wedding ceremony, signing the court and marital documents with your full title and intent, with a heart beaming with love and pride, you open your heart and your arms to the world. I still prefer the formal name Mother Maitri, if I am to use one, but I think Maitri pretty much says it all. It is the teaching as well as the woman that I am. It represents the goal that I have for my life, to spread loving-kindness and compassion through my work, as I walk in the world, a solitary practitioner. My writings are my gospels, if you will, to the world. They are simple, mundane stories of real life, as I walk through my own experience and hope that the message will have meaning for others.

I was raised Catholic, have been a student of Buddhism for over 30 years, have studied many religions and modes of spiritual practice, feel deeply moved and close to the Native American traditions, and pray to the saints, the angels and my spirit guides every single day. I read, study, and practice constantly. And I am a woman, a flawed human being, and in the end, it is my very flaws and struggles that have helped me, the very most, to be empathetic and compassionate to others. I have been baptised by the river of life. I have been ordained on my knees in the garden or carrying a tiny blind and deaf pug back and forth outside to the potty, kissing her all over, and telling her how much I love her. She may not be able to see in the normal sense, but she knows. She waggles her tiny self, her wee little curly tail going 90 miles an hour whenever I am near her. She hears with her heart, and I respond to her with my own. And this is how I minister, if you will, to the people around me, as well as the countless thousands of people who have been reading my writings, or taking my classes, for over 30 years.

In the months ahead, after my mother passes, I will be moving into a larger cottage where I will have more space and the time will be right to formalize my work. (In an informal way...) You will not see me, but you may feel my presence. You may never meet me, but we will know one another through my work. I will hold out my hand to you and our fingertips will emanate a kind of loving energy that can be felt around the globe. Yes, I am a minster, and yes it is very real, and sanctioned in a church, although not in the traditional sense, and I am walking my talk, even if not in the way one might expect. And I have a heart brimming over with love. I walk in kindness.

It was the Dalai Lama who said, "My religion is very simple. My religion is kindness."

This is the closest I can come to explaining what I feel in my deepest heart, and what I practice in daily life. And I think of all the religious leaders and teachers we have known through the ages who have not tried to be more than what they were. "Saint" Francis, whom I love very much, was once just Francis, living simply, loving, and leading a life that many would follow, calling themselves "Franciscans" as they were part of the religious tradition that honored the once simple man. No greater or simpler leader ever walked this earth than Jesus Christ, and his life and teachings would spawn so many different churches and interpretations of his teachings as to almost be impossible to count. The Buddha sat barefoot under the Bodhi tree when he experienced the profound revelation of the enlightenment that would begin the Buddhist tradition that for many centuries has been followed by millions around the world. I am humbled by the Native American Fathers, Mothers, Grandfathers, and Grandmothers of the Indian Nation who taught of the holiness of the earth and many traditions that still hold forth today. I am a weaver who has for nearly 2 decades studied the teaching and writings of the Native American weavers, and Grandmother Spider Woman, who wove the web of the world. How can I not open my heart to all faiths when each has something to offer me? How can I not enrich my own teaching and writing with all that has come before.

For over 30 years now I have taught a very healing journal writing class, working with ministers, therapists, artists, teachers, housewives, musicians, people from every walk of life following every spiritual path imaginable. I helped them get in touch with their inner feelings, to come to terms with them, and even to honor them. Now my work has shifted and my goal is to help people honor the intuitive feelings that they have in their hearts into their lives, the silent guide within us that needs no name. The human heart is the holiest instrument that we, as humans, have.

And so yes, I am Reverend Mother Maitri Libellule, or just Mother Maitri, or perhaps easiest of all, simply Maitri. That one word says it all...

Blessings and love to each and every one of you...

Maitri Libellule
"Signora, between Austria and Italy, there is a section of the Alps called the Semmering. It is an impossibly steep, very high part of the mountains. They built a train track over these Alps to connect Vienna and Venice. They built these tracks even before there was a train in existence that could make the trip. They built it because they knew some day, the train would come."

From the movie, "Under The Tuscan Sun,"
Book by Frances Mayes

Under The Tuscan Sun is a movie so dear to me that I own a copy and on days when I have been swallowed up nearly whole by depression, I have watched it over and over all day. The only other movie I watch like that is Chocolat, with Juliette Binoche and Johnny Depp. But it is Under The Tuscan Sun that has given me so much hope, lifted me up and made me realize that dreams aren't just imaginary things that drift off into the wind, but vehicles, like the train tracks on the Semmering, that are built with the knowledge, with the belief, that someday, the train will come. And I see, off in the distance, my train finally making it's ways up the tracks. I see it's little form moving closer to me, slowly, very slowly, but finally, there is a train that can travel these tracks. I will make it.

There are so many things I have dreamt of. Things I couldn't imagine possible in the life that I have known, and all of a sudden all things seem possible, not all at once, some dreams may take years, but if I've learned anything at all in my life, and we've all heard this at some time or another, "It's not the end that matters, but the journey that matters in the end." I have already taken steps. For the last few years I think that, unknowingly, I have been building those tracks. I had dreams, and I had to believe that they would one day manifest, but my spirits would flag and there were many obstacles in my way. But then I thought of the men who built those tracks.

Can you imagine what might have been in the minds of the men who braved steep, snow-covered, icy slopes to built train tracks through a part of the mountains that was thought impossible by many, a pipe dream by most, and no train, yet, in existence, to even cross those tracks. I have been swimming upstream in my own life for so long, never quitting, ever moving forward, when I couldn't even imagine what they outcome might be, that I was not unlike those men building those tracks. Because of the circumstances of the last years I have seen many dreams fall through, but I continued moving forward with a belief in myself that few could understand. Some thought me crazy, some pitied me, but on I went and on I'll go. I don't know how long it will take for the train to come round the bend and into the station, but I'll be ready, and when I hop on that train no one will be able to stop me!

I think of this quote so often I have used it before in my writings, and will again. It's one of the reasons I watch that movie so often because you see a woman go through terrible trauma, leading to what looks like a ridiculously impossible dream, only to end up finding everything she was looking for.

I've always loved trains. Now I'm preparing to ride one into my new life and my steamer trunk is being packed slowly, in my mind, so that I take only the things that I need, and can begin again. The train is coming round the bend. I've known, somewhere inside of me, all along, that someday the train would come...

Maitri Libellule
"Your life is an occasion. Rise to it."

From Mr. Magorium's Wonder Emporium

Last Thursday I was babysitting my five year old grandson. We watched a delightful movie that he had seen before and wanted to see again, the enchanting movie "Mr. Magorium's Wonder Emporium". With what has been going on in my life lately I was perfectly delighted to sit snuggled with this wee little curly haired towhead boy who is all gangly, with skinny arms and legs, and cuddlier than one can imagine, and all full of magic himself.

Dustin Hoffman was absolutely enchanting as Mr. Magorium. I have always loved Dustin Hoffman, and after watching the movie, I thought, this is so incredibly magical it could be this part of history's Wizard of Oz! And Natalie Portman as the whimsical adorable Mahoney, Mr. Magorium's cohort, who works in the store is so, so, well, there just isn't a word for it without repeating all of the words I've used 6 times over!

At the end of the movie (And I won't be a spoiler and give anything away...) Mr. Magorium gives Mahoney a piece of advice. When I heard it I got tears in my eyes and a shiver down my spine. It was so on target for me in my life right now it nearly startled me out of my seat. He gently looked at her and said, "Your life is an occasion. Rise to it." And I was dumbstruck.

I have done a lot in my life, but I have also been very fear-based about doing the things I most wanted to do, sort of low-balled what I deemed possible for me in my life. All of that is changing and I am being a little more bold and traveling into new areas and returning to work that I have loved and missed but for some reason, something inside was holding me back. Oh sure, I could give you a whole laundry list of "good reasons," but the truth is, life is always going to be life, filled with joys and sorrows, and hard times, and everything in between, and it is going to be busy and there are always going to be a million different reasons why we just can't do what we really want to do in our secret's heart desire. Phooey! Mr. Magorium was telling Mahoney that EVERYTHING is possible and MAGIC exists if only we believe and we shouldn't just slip-slide through life wishing and wanting and hoping and dying sadly disappointed at all that might have been.

When I see my mother in her dying process, I see a woman at peace. At nearly 83 (July 21) she has lived a very full life. She has loved and been loved. She has worked and been a hospice volunteer for 30 years and had many wonderful friends and traveled the world and she said that she has had a very full, blessed life. Her life has been an occasion, and she has risen to it!

It also reminds me of a wonderful passage in one of my dear friends, May Sarton's, books. I searched for the quote this morning, but could not find it. What she essentially wrote was that she was not afraid to die, because she had lived a full life. She had taken risks, she had found success, experienced failure, joy, sorrow, and all that life could hold. She too had traveled the world, having been born in Belgium and grown up in the United States she went to Europe often. She went to Japan when she turned 50, a long-held dream. She said that the people who were afraid to die were those that had not really lived, and were coming to the end with many regrets and lost hopes. That is my rendition of the quote, and it holds, I think, the meaning of what May said. It is certainly what she meant. I will have to find it and put it here some day.

I am a great lover of quotes and save them by the thousands. Two of my favorite writers to quote from are Ralph Waldo Emerson, and Helen Keller.

Emerson wrote:

"People wish to be settled: only as far as they are unsettled is there any hope for them."

And Keller wrote:

"Security is an illusion. Life is either a daring adventure or it is nothing at all."

I think Mr. Magorium would have loved these. Why, he lived 243 years! I'm sure he knew them all in person! I simply know that somehow, in these last few years, and more and more each day, I have taken the albatross around my neck and set him down, wished him well, and walked on. I am dancing down the yellow brick road of my life, and at the end I shall sail away in a hot air balloon!

Live your life fully. Rise to the occasion!