Wednesday, May 23, 2012

invitation

During this mornings hike up Green Mountain, my ears were greeted by the exquisite cacophony of insect and bird song, a symphony in the early hours just after daybreak.  I walked the trail alone, save my eager four-legged companion, amidst an array of wildflowers bending gracefully in an early dance with the breeze, and thought "What a strange gift it is to be human".  We who look out through a pin-hole of perception, imagining ourselves separate from the tapestry of life, like some strand hovering above the surface, unwoven in warp or weft.
The irony is apparent the instant our consciousness takes a vertical leap and we exercise our capacity to see, without looking, the mysterious splendor of life witnessing life.
This being human. This self identity so fully rooted in body, mind and emotion, rarely asking the important questions: "How can I be both subject and object?" "How can I be aware of a sensory perception, if that is what I am?"  "If I am an emotion or a series of thoughts, how can I have the perspective to witness them?"  We grasp, cling, claw and avert.  We suffer at the alter of our own limited perspective.
Yet each moment-NOW- is an invitation.  An invitation to drop the pretense at smallness, the tiny fragment, lost and drifting on a violent sea.  An invitation.  All concepts are vanities, all words, soundless offerings.
What would happen if "I" dropped the strings and props, the shields and barricades.  What does it feel like when the full weight of life crashes through a heart and the tiny murmured "ta-thump, ta-thump" breaks under the weight of so much beauty.
The Buddha once said the biggest problem man faces is the belief that there is time.
Looking through the clear morning at a world so radiant the only response is silence, I am reminded that this moment, and this moment, and this moment and this, is the only moment there is.  An invitation.

Monday, May 21, 2012

snake medicine

This is what we found while mowing the yard this weekend.  The boys were not happy to see a snake skin in the backyard and went promptly to the snake altar and had a conversation, restating our boundaries and the desire to have all snakes leave the property immediately, while thanking them for their continued messages and strength.
Bodhi is often found, hands in "namaste" and having a snake chat "with his heart" seated in front of his makeshift alter. I have become the fearless leader, checking the grounds thoroughly whenever the boys are outside, preferring to be the paschal lamb if need be.  Who would have guessed that my beloved mountain was also a den of vipers.  It is a good metaphor, so long as there are no more trips to the hospital.

a recent rainbow at the botanic gardens in Denver








Friday, May 18, 2012

Osmotic reading

I can remember being inundated with college homework at the University of San Francisco (It wasn't SO long ago): writing a paper, studying for three tests, reading passages from five textbooks til 3 AM all the while knowing I had to go to work the next morning for eight hours and make class by afternoon. That was the only time I resorted to sleeping on a textbook.  I thought, "Hell, it couldn't hurt" and I tucked the thick volume from one of my advanced theology courses beneath my pillow with the hope of absorbing at least some of it for the upcoming exam.  You may scoff, but I aced the exam so who knows.  I find myself, for the first time in many years, feeling that same desperation for knowledge.  I checked out this fabulous stack of books from the library today and I want to read every one of them, in addition to the already thick pile on my bedside table.  Yet, I struggle these days with completing a mindless article in Homes and Garden while waiting at a doctors visit.  Tell me stupidity is not in my near future because I can fill universes with what I don't know and it is in a perpetual state of expansion. Perhaps tonight I will try a literary bedfellow and see what happens.
In the meantime, I hope you are enjoying a similar stack of summer reading to while away the hours.

a few of the songs of the moment




Thursday, May 17, 2012

What do you do with un-forgiveness?  When you run, SMACK, into the brick wall of your past and feel the sting of wounds inflicted and endured through unconscious bumbling?  What do you do when love is met with the cold chill of disdain and the dark cloud of blame?  When the world turns upside down and seventy times seven isn't even up for discussion and you are left standing, frozen, in the wake of your own suffering, the ripples having finally returned to their point of origin?
In that dark hour what do you do?
I don't know.  I can tell you what doesn't work:
Begging for forgiveness from a hardened heart (NO GOOD! Though it certainly does exercise the humble muscle),
Crying yourself to sleep (though it does clear the tear ducts),
Calling down the Gods (honestly I don't think this has been effective since the Grecian era and even then it was dubious),
Beating yourself up for the error of humanhood (this one is particularly insidious as it often masquerades as "personal growth", psycho-babble and other sorts of "new age" bullshit),
Looking back and trying to remove the splinter of discord via some sort of mental time travel (this is the "if I knew then what I know now" routine which always proves futile since "then" doesn't exist and "now" is NOW so we might as well just stay put),
Trying to be "better","nicer" or whatever the flavor of the day is (Let's face it "trying to be better" is a giant personal assault and no one ever grows via a full frontal attack).
So here's what I have come up with:  Life is messy. People get hurt sometimes.  We fuck up.  We try again.  We make repairs where we can and hopefully the fissures of self allow more and more light to shine through.  In the end, it doesn't matter... and if all else fails just sing to yourself:
Row, Row, Row your boat,
Gently Down the stream,
Merrily, Merrily, Merrily
Life is but a dream.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

a favorite poem from a howling heart

Love Dogs
Rumi
One night a man was crying,
“Allah, Allah!”
His lips grew sweet with the praising,
until a cynic said,
“So! I have heard you
calling out, but have you ever
gotten any response?”
The man had no answer for that.
He quit praying and fell into a confused sleep.
He dreamed he saw Khidr, the guide of souls,
in a thick, green foliage,
“Why did you stop praising?”
“Because I’ve never heard anything back.”
“This longing you express
is the return message.”
The grief you cry out from
draws you toward union.
Your pure sadness that wants help
is the secret cup.
Listen to the moan of a dog for its master.
That whining is the connection.
There are love dogs no one knows the names of.
Give your life to be one of them.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

buddha





I ran across this snippet today and it gave me pause...so I'm passing the pause along:
"Some years ago when visiting China, I came upon a stupa on a mountaintop near Guilin. It had writing embossed in gold on it, and I asked my Chinese host what it meant.
"It means 'Buddha,' " he said. "Why are there two characters rather than one?" I asked. "One;' he explained, means 'man.' The other means 'no.' And the two together means 'Buddha.'"
I stood there in awe. The character for Buddha already contained the whole teaching of the Buddha, and for those who have eyes to see, the secret of life.
Here are the two dimensions that make up reality, thing-ness and no-thingness, form and the denial of form, which is the recognition that form is not who you are."
~ From: A New Earth, by Eckhart Tolle

Sunday, May 13, 2012

the shee will come

Today, as Bodhi and I drove in the car toward a Mother's Day brunch, he sat twisting in his chair to the right peering out the lower rear corner of the car window. This is his favored mode of transport, as is evident by the smudges and grimy hand prints on all nearby surfaces.  As he looked out the window, he said, "I like to look out the window like this Mom".  I said, "I know you do Bodhi.  What do you see when you look out the window like that?"  He promptly answered, "I see animals everywhere and teepees and native americans.  I see the way it used to be.  Then I see cars, so many they are destroying the Earth. One day, all the people will be gone and the Shee will come, Mom.  The Shee will make their home on the whole Earth and take care of it.  It will be good Mom."  
This boy never ceases to amaze me.

mother's day

After a day of feasting, cleaning, hiking, brothers fighting and yelling with undaunted enthusiasm, 5 games of poker (nearly all won by Bodhi) and a snake bite ritual, we were ready to settle into a nice mother's day supper.  Owen picked P!nk as the music of choice to serenade the meal (not exactly relaxing) and Bodhi said an unusual prayer about a bird who flew too high and pooped, Amen.
 Next the boys "entertained me" by playing with their food and talking about unsavory topics.






We ended the meal by simply getting up and dancing. Bodhi doing the self proclaimed "Grandma shuffle" and Owen repeatedly endangering life and limb with spastic break dance maneuvers,while I flopped around nearby hindered by my tight back and sore shoulders.  All in all a good day.
Happy Mother's Day to you!

snake tribe

After a wonderful chat with my beloved friend-sister-wife-Wind, I decided to have a ritual to help all of us process our emotions around the snake bite incident.  The boys and I each gathered a gift offering for the snake tribe and chose a special spot on the property for an alter.  We then made a circle of cornmeal and invited the spirit medicine of the snake to join us (making sure to clarify that only the spirit was welcome and all physical snakes MUST stay off the property and away from the family and community).  We lit a candle and Bodhi began.  He held a small delicate purple flower in his sweaty palms and a dirty quartz stone.  He crouched, quietly voicing his fears, feelings and emotions to the spirit of the snakes.  When he was finished, he carefully placed his offering, we smudged him with sage and he held the bundle for the rest of our time in the circle.
Bodhi was very thoughtful as we each took turns talking about our feelings, voicing how frightening it was for each of us when he was bitten by the snake and the days that followed as his body recovered.
 When each of us had laid down our offerings and Bodhi had smudged us, we thanked the snake spirits for their strong medicine and made it perfectly clear that we DID NOT WANT IT TO SHOW UP IN OUR LIVES IN THAT WAY EVER AGAIN.  We defined our property and said that like any relationship, we needed them to respect our boundaries as we will respect theirs.  When all was said and done, Bodhi sat a little distance off for sometime with Maya, in quiet contemplation before bounding up eager to play.   We will keep the alter and add to it if we need to, or just come outside and voice our fears or listen to the song of the wind reminding us that we are all related.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

lover remembered

I went for an early morning hike up my mountain: the sun fresh in a new sky, the air crisp and clean from a night of thunder and rain, the hillsides verdant with life and dotted by fragile wildflower rainbows waving in a cool breeze.  Maya darted back and forth in front of me as we hiked hard, up steep elevations, winding to the top. We took the descent at a full run, breathing deep and strong.  That is when I saw them, a herd of twenty or more deer speeding down a ravine and arcing up the hill on which I stood.  I stopped, mid-run, awed by so much grace, agility and freedom.  I quietly followed the trail toward them and they toward me.  I paused again as they came closer into view, regal and wild; fawns and mothers and maybe a male or two, though no antlers were visible yet.  They crested the hill, silhouetted against an early, pale blue sky and everything changed. They stopped and one turned and stared at me as I stared, open hearted and amazed, back.  Suddenly I understood that I was not alone.  I could not be alone.  In fact, the notion of my loneliness and grief was ludicrous.  The breeze blew, intimate, caressing, tender and sweet, exposed and unabashed.  The earth underfoot, held me, would always hold me and catch me when I fell. Life is my lover and there is no limit to my lovers arms; my lovers hands are loyal and eternal.  The deer looked at me as I gazed back, my heart breaking with love- LIFE loving LIFE.  Life loving life.  Without end.  Without beginning. In that moment I realized that my lover couldn't deny me entry at love's threshold.  It is an impossibility.  My lover, Life, is intimate beyond my imaginings, formless expressed form and I am never, never, outside that love.  I could never be.  I am immersed in that love, formed by that love, breathing in that love, alive AS that love. What I have been looking for was so close I simply couldn't see it.
In the still morning air.  In the eyes of a deer.  Caressed by the wind. I remember.