Monday, November 4, 2019
Sunday, September 1, 2019
It is eight in the morning and the world stirs with wakefulness. The sun climbs in the sky. The birds sing. The squirrels chip and chur in tree branches. A dog barks. And I look with dull eyes at the long day ahead, contemplating a single phrase, "My father is dead."
What strange words.
My father is dead.
The man has been leaving for as long as I can remember and yet his death robs the wind from my lungs. My chest throbs and throat tightens. He isn't coming back.
My mom and dad had slipped out of one another's lives before I'd barely begun mine. Two weekends a month my brothers and I stood on a saggy porch, bags packed, eager for our hero to arrive in his old blue Ford to pick us up. We vibrated with hopefulness. Each of us imagined our own version of Dad's bright smile and twinkling baby blues. Our bathing suits already beneath our clothes. Our toes eager to grip and release the salty sand. We could smell the sea. We waited. And waited. Some days he came but often the screen door squeaked on its rusty hinge and Mom leaned out to say, "I don't think he's coming kids."
We planted our feet, clenched our fists and fixed our eyes on the road.
He didn't come.
Years passed with Dad's bright eyes looking elsewhere. In my imaginings Dad was bigger than life, a god of sunshine and sea whose adoration formed a kind of magic that might protect us from the injustices of life. But I was his second child from the fourth wife. One child of nine children from six wives. I grew in the winter of his gaze, loving him with the fierceness of a child. Eventually this love was layered with outrage, softened by compassion and loving acceptance.
But he is no longer here.
The child remains, caught in time, standing on a porch, waiting for twinkling eyes and a warm embrace. Hoping for some kind of sign that she is loved. That she is wanted. That she is seen.
She looks dull-eyed at the day ahead saying, "My father is dead."
I whisper gently to the layers of longing, "I know. I am here. I am here."
And in the sunshine of my gaze, I grieve.
Saturday, November 24, 2018
Thursday, August 2, 2018
For all the seekers out there, I have a gentle and groundbreaking reminder... there is no spiritual journey...
no far shore on which to arrive...
T H I S I S I T.
I know that pisses the mind off.
F**k you Angelina!
Minds are conditioned to be dissatisfied with what IS... our dissatisfaction keeps our attention chasing the next almighty carrot. But are we ever really dissatisfied with the moment or just our ideas about it and all the thoughts that swirl around it. Sometimes it gets so damn twisted its hard to see which way is up.
The spiritual bug bit me when I was a wee little thing and I shudder to think of the years I walked around trying hard to be good enough and feeling utterly miserable and unworthy. I cringe at how many people got the, "Fuck you I'm on a spiritual journey" message. It takes some of us a while to realize that how we show up in this moment and as this moment IS the whole shebang.
Does that mean our shit doesn't stink and our face beams with beatific oblivion?
It's like being a lover in love for the first time, with the teacup steaming nearby, the sing-song bird talk out the window, the clickety-clack of a keyboard under fingers and the tick-tock clock amidst the warmth of a summer breeze. Fully present we are simply a lover in love with this moment... the journey is secondary... 95% of our attention is consumed by the breathtaking, simplicity of here and now and 5% is aware of our left foot on the ground.
This is it... clad in white or stretched out in primal nakedness... this is it.
Wednesday, July 11, 2018
“I’m concerned about a better world. I’m concerned about justice; I’m concerned about brotherhood and sisterhood; I’m concerned about truth. And when one is concerned about that, he can never advocate violence. For through violence you may murder a murderer, but you can’t murder murder. Through violence you may murder a liar, but you can’t establish truth. Through violence you may murder a hater, but you can’t murder hate through violence. Darkness cannot put out darkness; only light can do that.
And I say to you, I have also decided to stick with love, for I know that love is ultimately the only answer to humankind’s problems. And I’m going to talk about it everywhere I go. I know it isn’t popular to talk about it in some circles today. And I’m not talking about emotional bosh when I talk about love; I’m talking about a strong, demanding love. For I have seen too much hate. [...] and I say to myself that hate is too great a burden to bear. I have decided to love. If you are seeking the highest good, I think you can find it through love. And the beautiful thing is that we aren’t moving wrong when we do it, because John was right, God is love. He who hates does not know God, but he who loves has the key that unlocks the door to the meaning of ultimate reality.
And so I say to you today, my friends, that you may be able to speak with the tongues of men and angels; you may have the eloquence of articulate speech; but if you have not love, it means nothing. Yes, you may have the gift of prophecy; you may have the gift of scientific prediction and understand the behavior of molecules; you may break into the storehouse of nature and bring forth many new insights; yes, you may ascend to the heights of academic achievement so that you have all knowledge; and you may boast of your great institutions of learning and the boundless extent of your degrees; but if you have not love, all of these mean absolutely nothing.”
Tuesday, June 12, 2018
Tell me, love, what I need right now so that I might sing, and be alive, as my every cell craves.
Tuesday, May 29, 2018
Monday, May 28, 2018
Sunday, May 27, 2018
Sorrow everywhere. Slaughter everywhere. If babies
are not starving someplace, they are starving
somewhere else. With flies in their nostrils.
But we enjoy our lives because that's what God wants.
Otherwise the mornings before summer dawn would not
be made so fine. The Bengal tiger would not
be fashioned so miraculously well. The poor women
at the fountain are laughing together between
the suffering they have known and the awfulness
in their future, smiling and laughing while somebody
in the village is very sick. There is laughter
every day in the terrible streets of Calcutta,
and the women laugh in the cages of Bombay.
If we deny our happiness, resist our satisfaction,
we lessen the importance of their deprivation.
We must risk delight. We can do without pleasure,
but not delight. Not enjoyment. We must have
the stubbornness to accept our gladness in the ruthless
furnace of this world. To make injustice the only
measure of our attention is to praise the Devil.
If the locomotive of the Lord runs us down,
we should give thanks that the end had magnitude.
We must admit there will be music despite everything.
We stand at the prow again of a small ship
anchored late at night in the tiny port
looking over to the sleeping island: the waterfront
is three shuttered cafés and one naked light burning.
To hear the faint sound of oars in the silence as a rowboat
comes slowly out and then goes back is truly worth
all the years of sorrow that are to come.
Sunday, April 29, 2018
“Basho said: avoid adjectives of scale, you will love the world more and desire it less.”
Saturday, April 21, 2018
Sunday, April 15, 2018
Incurable and unbelieving
in any truth but the truth of grieving,
I saw a tree inside a tree
as if the leaves had livelier ghosts.
I pressed my face as close
to the pane as I could get
to watch that fitful, fluent spirit
that seemed a single being undefined
or countless beings of one mind
haul its strange cohesion
beyond the limits of my vision
over the house heavenwards.
Of course I knew those leaves were birds.
Of course that old tree stood
exactly as it had and would
(but why should it seem fuller now?)
and though a man's mind might endow
even a tree with some excess
of life to which a man seems witness,
that life is not the life of men.
And that is where the joy came in
Saturday, April 14, 2018
If you don't know the kind of person I am
and I don't know the kind of person you are
a pattern that others made may prevail in the world
and following the wrong god home we may miss our star.
For there is many a small betrayal in the mind,
a shrug that lets the fragile sequence break
sending with shouts the horrible errors of childhood
storming out to play through the broken dyke.
And as elephants parade holding each elephant's tail,
but if one wanders the circus won't find the park,
I call it cruel and maybe the root of all cruelty
to know what occurs but not recognize the fact.
And so I appeal to a voice, to something shadowy,
a remote important region in all who talk:
though we could fool each other, we should consider--
lest the parade of our mutual life get lost in the dark.
For it is important that awake people be awake,
or a breaking line may discourage them back to sleep;
the signals we give--yes or no, or maybe--
should be clear: the darkness around us is deep.
Monday, March 26, 2018
Thursday, March 1, 2018
Wednesday, February 21, 2018
Friday, March 31, 2017
At first grief fell like a torrential downpour, wet with tears. Next, it arrived in a series of emotional tsunamis leveling everything in its wake. Eventually it settled into the ebb and flow of feeling. Loss is simply there, like a familiar friend who sometimes draws close enough to hold my hand and walk with me awhile before leaving and lifting the heavy mist of sorrow.
With my sister's passing, all creativity ran dry. My verbosity and delight in words simply stopped. I gave away my paints, put my loom in storage and my notepads gathered dust.
I simply had nothing left to say.
Words, my long time companions, simply proved insufficient to this part of life's journey. They separate totality into this and that, subject and object, here and there, you and me. Words provide a conceptual framework but are incomplete by design. Silence is better suited to the paradoxical simultaneity of life and death, in all it's disguises.
And yet words can also connect. Syllables reaching out from the individuated bias of personal experience toward the warmth of understanding in others.
A verbal thaw has begun. Words melt toward union... toward connection... toward life.
Friday, December 23, 2016
Thursday, December 22, 2016
All words seem an unnecessary distraction,
inadequate to the expansion back of them and woefully deficient.
Loss, grief, confusion, joy, bliss, expansion, contraction, heart ache... all pass through the web of experience ... some linger longer than others.
Such is the dance of the human.
Perhaps if I add a few words here,
the words will break free and give my heart room to breath once more.
Wednesday, September 21, 2016
"Yell into the belly of the Earth", she told me, "she will listen and ease your aching sorrows". I yelled until I was hoarse. I was twenty-one. Burdens fell from careworn shoulders and we were sisters ever more.
The other day a friend entrusted me with a Kabbalistic myth. In the telling, 144 souls were created at the dawn of time. Those 144 souls eventually splintered into the multitudinous fragments of sentient life on planet Earth. Now I look out upon the mosaic of life and believe that my kindred spirits are my clearest reflections of the original soul from which we sprang.
Now she travels the final steps along the sharp, stony terrain of cancer, I walk with her, my heart aching. I see ahead a field, beautiful and inviting, with tall grass, clear skies, shade trees and a small bubbling creek nearby. There are ample places to rest. She is tired. I say, softly, lean on me, we're nearly there.
This grief has settled in and it's not what I expected. It's not the sharp, growling grief of suffering, but a sweet, tender sadness held in generous arms of love. Of course, even in my sister's departure I am held.
I love you Michelle.