Clearing the Path

Spring is under here, I’m sure.
And no amount of shoveling will make it come faster.
This I know.
But I can clear a path for you.

No amount of meditating will make the sun rise faster.
This I know.
But this breath is a good thing to do while I am waiting.
God has cleared a path for me.

I cannot make spring, or make sunrise,
and some days I can barely make love.
But this I can do.
I can do this work.

God is in the work.
One inch. And then another.
One breath. And then another.
Love.
I am a lousy shoveler,
But I have cleared a narrow path for you.

And also for me.

Inside Job

There are no answers here.

Facebook doesn’t have them. They aren’t in GMail.

They aren’t in the thing you stopped yourself from saying

Nor in the thing you wish you hadn’t said.

Sweet girl, why are you looking here?

The answer isn’t even in the daily practice,

it IS the daily practice.

In the breath. In the stillness. In accepting the chaos.

The answer is in loving your lover when he stomps around,

your sister when she cannot see you,

your child when he withdraws,

and yourself when you know not which way to turn.

In the being with.

Do the work. Just do the work. Bow to love. Bow to kindness.

Listen to the deepest stillest voice.

That is the sound of The Beloved.

Listen to the most Loving Action available in each moment.

Move in that direction.

That is the Deepest Truth.

Riding the Wave

Today, I’m thinking about the wave(s) of love, the balance:

between autonomy and connection,
between stability and freedom,
between effort and surrender.

This Tedtalk by Reuben Margolin inspires today’s musings on love.

A wise woman once said she expected I’d “figure it out” in relationship (whatever IT is). So, I had a sense that deep dive into relationship could offer an opportunity for growth and then I ASKED the universe for this chance to see what it is like to be all the way “off the couch” with a partner and growing constellation of beloveds willing to do the same.  Before that, I studied for my second life: meditation, workshops, books, therapy. I selected a new life for myself with care and clear intention.

So here I am, deep in it. And I was right. I belong here. And there is an ease to noticing that when I am on the right path, the universe comes up to meet me. And also, there is still struggle. Every time we reach a new level of light, shed a few unnecessary layers, what gets exposed is excruciating, beautiful, challenging.

It’s like a wave…

We ride up, exhilarated, hands clasped together, big toothy grins. We reach the peak, look around together at the horizon, amazed by the possibilities.

Deep breath, and then comes the ride down, the natural pulling back into self for integration, passing through the baseline, noticing it is a little higher than it was last time, but still feeling the contrast with the peak.

To the bottom, where each of our egos and wounds and past lives poke up, asking to be witnessed, embraced, taken “With” for the inevitable ascent. That long pause at the bottom, with the view completely obscured, is the real invitation to faith, to awe, to gratitude. I dig in. He digs in. I reach out. He reaches out. In this low light place, we offer each other insights into what we can each feel out, like the blind men and the elephant, we share what we know, begin to form a mosaic view of the wholeness.

Which kicks off the ascent. No rushing that either, it takes its sweet time pulled by the memory we share of what it is like up there, we “pass Go,” collect our sustenance, humble ourselves to the way this game is challenging, but almost impossible without a play partner, appreciate each other’s growing skills and effort.

I don’t want anything else but to be on this journey, in this life.  This isn’t needless drama or some kind of manic cycle. This is soul work. It is right effort, and effort nonetheless. So I bow my sweaty brow, deep and low, to the mystery, invite my body to be supple and steady, to maintain balance in the movement.

Wave

Revelations

I sit swimming in words, swimming INwards
wandering wondering about love
when I check for her words
and find five notes that splay themselves
out for me to touch like waiting lovers.
Will she let me be her editor?
She has
One of learning
Two of Church and Family
Three of Motherhood
Four of Discovery and Revelation
and Five of me.
She thinks this is prose, a post,
journaling a truth to send my way
to maybe send me away.
This handsome disclaimer that she is —
Does she know that she has made me poetry?

Share more

What is the difference between
Making love, poetry, and a prayer?

Your tongue tastes like honesty
In my mouth.

I want to meet you in that spot,
Where God comes through.

This, this is a daily practice.

Here’s a goofy wordplay from 2013

Refinement

Growth happens where I lose it.
Growth happens where I choose it.
Growth happens where I choose love.
Growth happens when I choose love.
I happen when I choose love.
I live when I choose love.
I live when I love.
I live love.
I love.
Love.

Drunk TXT

I’m really HAPPY with you.

I don’t just mean “you please me,” (even though you do),
I mean I’m really happy in my life right now
and I’m with you in my life right now
(And you strike me as a fairly happy person too) so,

Continue reading

Contemplating Independence

When the first one was still a baby, there was a night of unexpected fireworks that frightened him awake; it was just at the start of the first Iraqi war. As I held him and tried to comfort him, I had the full knowing that there was no actual harm or concern to accompany his fear. At that thought, I felt the presence of countless other Mama’s with their children, unknown to me and far far away. This mom could feel the exact same empathy for her baby’s fear of noises too close to home, but could not offer herself nor him the comfort of its harmlessness. And that was at the expense of my and my son’s privilege. Continue reading

Gifts of Inspiration

I’m on vacation. We could be lounging by the pool. We could be piss-drunk. Instead, we are sitting around a table, loudly exchanging ideas about spirit, art, prosperity, self. We are giving each other intuitions, and provocative questions and reading lists. I’m sharing the resource list with you: Continue reading

Mom writes a graduation speech

If I muck around long enough in your data universe, will I eventually find your heart?
What if I just sit there, information swirling by,  and listen. very. quietly.
Will I hear your calling?

I have always loved the way your mind works.
And even more, the end product of all those synapses firing.
The way your agenda gets so completely usurped by a good explanation
that contains a concept you don’t know, which causes you to go look that up,
and discover a whole new world, that means this assignment
is never going to get done on time, but in the meantime,
you’ve given yourself a far more compelling outcome
than what set you off in the first place.

I love the way you’ve convinced me that the technology and media
so many other people blindly assume is a “distraction” from life
actually IS the way your people find each other, engage in community,
create hope and sometimes even thrive.

And I love the connections you make, always dangling your head
over the edge of the current collective wisdom to see what is under there,
or ought to be added next, or what patch of intellectual property is just near enough,
and strong enough, for you to leap the gap and continue on your way.

But the internet literally has no end, and what one can learn and do is essentially infinite,
and when you think about that too hard, it starts to blow your mind.
This existential angst you’ve labelled “suffering” since you were way too little,
your concern over the futility of effort in such a vast place…

Well, it is my hope that you are starting to revise what must clearly be
your essential question, not as a problem to solve or avoid, but as the truth.
What ONE can do is infinite, but what YOU should do is to be discovered
by leaning into and loving this mystery as intimately as you can bear,
and sometimes by putting it down for a god-forsaken-minute
to go outside and see who else wants to play!

On this graduation day, I’m tickled to notice that I have no desire to congratulate you
on your academic accomplishments, or to appreciate that you are “wicked smart,”
any more than I want to gush all over you about how proud I am that you have ears.
THAT you are smart is a gift you were given, and we both know you use it skillfully;
What I am most proud of is that in spite of the fact that you have such a brilliant mind,
you also allow yourself to have a tender heart, and that you have begun to muck around
in that completely illogical universe soon enough to start to notice how that might matter,
if not just as much, maybe just a little more, than what you think about it.

Because what the world needs of you IS your big brain — I’m certain of that —
but FOR WHAT is up to you, and that is not a problem to be solved by said big brain.
How you move towards the truest, most happy, most “useful” version of yourself
comes from the struggle of listening quietly to the sometimes subtle,
sometimes excruciating, and sometimes utterly unknowable thump
of what stirs and calls your big giant heart.

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Solidarity

I am sitting on a couch next to my offspring, whose fingers whir across a keyboard imperceptibly fast, his thoughts coalescing into words for an essay that will form the foundation for his future adult self. But he is not yet an adult. What is this moment?

We are atoms. Electrons “spinning” around nuclei, but not really because electrons are just waves forming a pattern of movement. The idea of the electron, the orbital, mere models in our gross realm attempting to explain something inexplicable on the quantum level. He, me, the couch, the computer, the air between us, all just atoms, quarks. He is not me, but his atoms are no different than mine. How is it that we each are called by different names?

Our atoms configure themselves into molecules, proteins and water. Those form organs, skin, bones. Here we sit, essentially nothing more than bags of water, configured into slightly different shapes that we call different, but we are far more similar to each other than we are to the couch, the machine, the air. We are made of the same stuff.

Rest

The silt in this muddy glass we’ve been stir stir stirring
has finally begun to settle. It simply needed for stillness,
and a regular portion of gravity. Brownian motion aside,
the inescapable pull of earth on its tiny descendants in this vessel
Wins out over the chaos of fluidity, until it becomes apparent–
the difference between the transparency of the cool clean aqueous medium,
and the opaque denseness of that which has finally fallen out
of what looked like a solution.

I have to learn to return this earth, by being as careful as I am brave,
to the dark ground it desires. So I ever so gently decant
the fresh water into my gaped mouth, let it caress my hoarse throat,
quieting all these needless words. Then barefoot,
I will bring the slurry that remains out into the garden
where we will transplant bamboo from my my first life,
and from the first part of my second life.

Once there, in the heat of the rising sun,
I will scoop it out with my fingers, smell the chalky brownness,
then plunge my hands deep into the soil.
I will pull them out clean, leaving that mess in its new home.
Where, instead of obscuring, this distilled product,
purified of noise and regret, will begin its second life,
just as I have mine, nourishing hope, adventure and honesty.

There is a vitality

The first time I heard this letter read aloud was in a Soundstrue podcast by Rick Jarrow that is no longer available. I hear these words, in his voice, echoing in my head regularly when I see a beloved struggling to let themselves out, to be seen. I would love to have a recording of this again in a beautiful voice. Any volunteers?

 

A Letter to Agnes De Mille from Martha Graham
There is a vitality,
a life force,
a quickening
that is translated through you into action,
and because there is only one of you in all time,
this expression is unique.

And If you block it, it will never exist through any other medium and be lost.
The world will not have it. It is not your business to determine
how good it is
nor how valuable it is
nor how it compares with other expressions.

It is your business to keep it yours clearly and directly
to keep the channel open.
You do not even have to believe in yourself or your work.
You have to keep open and aware directly to the urges that motivate YOU.

Keep the channel open…
No artist is pleased…

There is no satisfaction whatever at anytime
There is only a queer, divine dissatisfaction
a blessed unrest that keeps us marching
and makes “us” MORE alive than the others.

Martha Graham
( – a letter to Agnes De Mille-

 

sunset

On Falling in Love

I’m so honored to be in conversation with someone who is discovering the joys of loving another (I assume romantically and for the first time).  She found that a poem I wrote accurately reflected the experience she is having, and I am inspired by the way she is connecting it to a universal experience of feeling the joy of being in connection.  Here is my reflections on that.

On Falling in Love

This joy is not something we construct, merely something we tune into. I believe this feeling of joy we attribute to early romantic love and infatuation is there all the time, yet most of us only manage to access it when we are enamored with a new partner (the “you”), or when we first have children, or when we have something that feels like “winning” happen in our lives. Then, our egos and strategic minds tell us the feeling comes FROM the event or person, and we create a lot of suffering for ourselves chasing/clinging to people and events that we hope will “make us” feel this happiness. The invitation for me is to simply notice in myself this ability to feel joy and love, and grow that, regardless of who is in the room with “me” (and to feel deep gratitude for the triggering person or event for helping me awaken)!

I spend more and more of my life now with individuals who practice tuning into this kind of beauty and love without attributing it to anything but beauty itself, or perhaps something they may call God. The Bhakti Yoga folks sing to multiple gods, the Kundalinis to a universal energy, and the Sufis to an individual Beloved, but they feel like names for the same reality to me. For me, this feeling of connection to Love exists in individuals who are living as authentic to their true selves as possible, and so my journey is to do the same.
Here is a poem from a poet I deeply admire that discusses this phenomenon. Sometimes I read this poem and imagine it is a romantic reflection and the true love is a lover. Other times, it describes how I feel about my children. It is also easy for me to read it as an elegy to finding faith or connection to divinity, in which the true love is the poet’s God. But the most powerful read for me at this point in my life is to understand this true love is finding myself and my calling.
As an aside, the romantic relationship that was forming at the time I wrote that poem did not last. It was with/about someone very powerful, but also who was far too ego-driven and self-protective to feel like a safe partner for me. I am deeply grateful for the experience though, as I learned a lot about my intuition and what I want in my community by being adventurous and willing to take on a little risk and inquiry.

Sexy Teachers

I spent the weekend at a retreat where we allowed ourselves to ask deep, beautiful (and for me, often frightening) questions about the nature of love, intimacy, self-care, sexuality and spirituality. As I “re-enter” the world where these aren’t the most common topics of conversation, I want to remind myself of these questions I’m exploring, and perhaps some of the answers I’m receiving.

What is Sexy?

People who know deep in their core that they are beautiful, and have absolutely no interest in convincing me of that, are a profound embodiment of luscious sexiness. People who have forgotten their own beauty and are hell bent on convincing me that they aren’t beautiful are the embodiment of unsexy.  And the paradox – people who have caught a glimpse of their beauty and are hell bent on convincing me to also see it, are in the ugliest part of the process. I’ve been in all three states, and know that how one gets from one of these states to another is a deeply personal journey. Love helps it along the way. For many of us, sex and love are so intertwined, that we get caught in this trap of it seeming like the only way to connect to feeling sexy is to have sex, but if we aren’t having a connection to our beauty, the opportunity for that becomes extremely scarce. Isn’t life a funny teacher!

How are Security and Self-Consciousness Connected?

I used to use the word “self-conscious” to mean “insecure,” as in “I’m self-conscious about my body,” or “I’m feeling self-conscious about the poem I just performed.” I’m gaining a new relationship to this word. I’m understanding that there are moments in our lives when something is worthy of bare attention – it can be when I’m on the edge of a beautiful new discovery about my truth, or when I’m on the edge of something that is powerful, or even when there is danger of harm near by. In these moments, a sharp and intense consciousness of Self arises to offer me the invitation to become present to my wisdom and to act from that place. This Consciousness of Self guides me – to garner the courage to walk away from negative mind chatter towards something more meaningful, to engage the powerful situation with appropriate and focused respect and care, or to move away from harm.  In this context, what I want is more self confidence, coming FROM the security of deep self consciousness, not to be “less self-conscious” because I’m feeling insecure. Fear is like this too, but I don’t fully understand that yet.

When to Teach?

I am so grateful for the teachers who have left breadcrumbs for me. And I’m deeply appreciating that there are breadcrumbs on every trail, each calling to me to go in useful and non-useful directions. When I choose for myself a painful path, I’m still learning. They are all teachers. My job is to feel myself drawn to the breadcrumbs that are healthy for me.

I love so much to be both the student and the teacher. I love the productivity of shared wisdom and workload. I love the way someone else’s journey can help me make a quantum leap on mine. But I struggle with knowing when to ask for help and when I’ll benefit most from the muscle growth of helping myself. I also struggle with knowing when to offer a hand forward vs. letting those I love find their own answers. The easy answer is to always ask permission before offering help, and I practice that daily. Yet, I notice in myself that I love best those relationships in which we know and love one another and have tacit permission to “cross the boarder” into one another’s hearts. When I’m a mess, I usually want my people to reach in and grab me be the shoulders, look me straight in the eyes, give me a little shake and say “get back into yourself!” Yes, I’ll get back to myself either way, but the process of going it alone often wastes needless time and effort. And I love the moment when I can offer an intuition to someone I love that helps them connect point A and B in their own journey.

 

So what is the toggle point of knowing when to cross the border? For me, sometimes NOT sharing that wisdom (in either direction) can feel like abandonment.  And also, I have stories of feeling invaded by other folks with helper tendencies like mine. I’m feeling like the toggle for me in deciding when to cross the border has to do with intention. Is it to serve my own agenda, or to help my beloved redirect towards their own good? And when someone is coming into my heart space — same question.

 

OTDHeader

a constant, real, and broad invitation for togetherness

I want to be like one of the living goddesses I know,
Standing surely in the puddle of her own light,
For whom ‘coupling’ is an indulgence in self pleasure
Rather than a humanly attempt to create identity.

Or perhaps like an enigmatic and lively wood nymph,
Touching lightly the ground of the dappled forest floor
While dancing a blend of spirit dreams and earthly fecundity,
Making lovers of those who dare to play in her realm.

As such, I shall choose to feel alive in my own human skin,
Practice daily the slow, steady unveiling of my inner light,
Make a constant, real, and broad invitation for togetherness
With the others who also struggle to be on this path.

Wind swept

You know, we all go through rough patches in our lives.
And it is dawning on me, as I sit here, that THIS is not a rough patch.
For the first time in a long time, it feels like I’m not fighting the wind.

This is not to say that those howling emotions have ceased,
but they aren’t coming from being in the wrong place, 
or the wrong time, or from being the wrong me.

It turns out, the second life is just …noisier,
this is how it sounds on the skinny branches
where I’ve always wanted to be.

No, this is not rough, it is an urgent invitation
to remember how to sway, and listen,
and not hold on so hard to past ground.

45 Things

Some people like to make to do lists. I used to be one of them. That list was filled with stuff I should do, or felt compelled to do, sometimes stuff that I enjoy, each list imbued with some kind of vague promise that AFTER the list was “done”, the reward would be some kind of arriving at satisfaction, meaning, or ease.

At some point, I slipped these three things onto my to do list: yoga, meditation, and loving with my whole being. Since then, somehow the to do lists just keep getting shorter and shorter. Some days, this is the whole list:

breathe.

Those are the days most filled with life and wonder.  Those are the days where, when the good moments happen, I actually notice. So today, I’m not making a To Do list. I’m making a Ta Da list – a personal accounting of the most important ways I’ve already learned to feel satisfaction, meaning and ease. Every thing on the list is love.

Today’s Ta Da list:

Mom love (I’m pretty sure she was first)
Dad love (And him immediately after)
Grandma love (I don’t remember, but she was probably next)
Sister love (The most constant thing, there every day of my life)
Brother love (So blessed)
Being part of the continuum love
Blended family love
I love you and would even if we weren’t family love
Romantic love
Mom love (this time, from the other side)
Love even when it gets tricky love
Self love (my biggest obstacle)
God love (my biggest surprise)
Sweet sweet eros love
Loving men love
Loving women love
Oh, forget the labels, loving being loved love
Student love
Teacher love
– Being in community love
– Room of Love love
Loving to learn love
Learning that play is learning love
Art is love Love
And so is dance love
Chaos love (that one’s easy for me)
Stillness love (not as easy)
Gratitude (yup, that’s love)
Self love (I know I already said that)
Love is a verb love
Learning to receive love
Letting go of self love (aaah)
Forgiveness (yup, that’s love too)
Which isn’t the same as not loving myself love
Loving the content love
Loving the process love
Having no fucking clue love
Those tiny flickers of truth love
I have too much to say love
I have nothing to say love
I might have something to say love
Love that feels like cozy shelter love
Love that breaks you open bare love
Unconditional love
Undefended love

BeforeandAfter_403

This IS my Holiday Card (again)

Like LAST YEAR, I didn’t mail cards this year. Let’s pretend like that is some sort of reducing my carbon footprint “value action” instead of just me being too robustly engaged in life to keep up with the little details, OK?
So, here’s my holiday letter. Hope it finds you well and that you appreciate lugging one less piece of paper to the recycling center. I shall now execute the requisite parts of the holiday letter, also known as the well wishing, the bragging, and the plug.

The Well Wishing

Love love love to you and yours. I hope you are healthy and happy and well, and if you aren’t that you have the resources around you to get to that place. If I can be one of those resources, please let me know. If I have been one of the causes of your unhealthy, unhappy, unwellness, I’d like to know about that too.

The Bragging

My people are seriously awesome. I know everyone says that, but mine really are.

The big kid is applying to college, which means I’ve been doing that dance of trying to figure out 1) how to help, 2) how to let him find his own way, and 3) how to apologize when I don’t figure out 1 and 2 in an effective manner. Overall, I’m in awe of his mindfulness and honesty about how absurd the process is. I’ll not do the parent inventory of his other myriad and numerous accomplishments, instead I will share two of the privileges I’ve had this year that knocked me over. First, I’ve been lucky to get glimpses of how he is with his girlfriend – tender, intelligent, leaned in. I see so much of his Dad in his behavior, and note regularly to myself how lucky he is to have such a beautiful man as a role model. Second, even though he’s a thought-driven genius, this year he has cracked open a little doorway into the realization that there are some divine mysteries that are real, even if we can’t define them or graph them. That took me 41 years to learn, and I’m so proud that he has a leg up on me.

The little kid, who is in absolutely no way little anymore, has life by the reigns, like he always has. I’m regularly amazed at how such hipness could bubble up spontaneously from a kid begotten by two brainiacs. Last spring, he was literally Prince Charming, in a performance in the school play that everyone is still talking about. No surprise, this year he will be a prince again, this time Hamlet – but not the boring version, this is the parody version (made rated PG by his teachers) of Hamlet – Thrill Ma Geddon. On other fronts, I feel most grateful this year for the way he has acquiesced to being drug to “mom” things this year, including some stuff no teen should ever be so gracious to join. What cracks me up the most is his self awareness – telling me that he knows someday he’ll like saying he went to these things, but in the moment they really aren’t his first choice. Ha! Here’s a sampling: We meditated with Thich Nhat Hahn at Copley Square (then accidentally wandered into the smoke clouds at HempFest), caught hugs as my HAI friends marched by in the Pride parade, spent the day at 2 different yoga festivals, attended a sacred fire circle, and a wandered through the Path of Life garden in Vermont.  One of his coping mechanisms has been to use Daron’s camera and the way this lets me see how he sees the world is really special.

Both boys have embraced an expansion of our family to include Daron, and I’m humbled by the abundance of healthy relationships and love everywhere I look.

And The Plug

Last year, I preached to you in my letter about The Human Awareness Institute, which continues to be a deeply important source of growth and community for me. This year, I’m going to indulge a little in some self promotion, but not really, it feels more like offering you a gift. Or two, I hope.

2014 will see the official launch of a product called Kangaroo, which I’ve been helping to curate from smart concept and intellectual property to a web experience. Kangaroo (and The McAloon Group) helps professionals with career transition. I naively expected that I could just help with e-publishing and editing; the truth is that the message in the content and the processes Kangaroo teaches are profoundly shifting my attitude toward work. Which leads me to my second plug:

2014 will also see me contributing more artistically. This started with slowly getting the nerve to do more poetry and story telling at some Open Mics in the Boston area and has lead to the self-publication of my first writing collection, The Goddess Rambles.  This has me feeling vulnerable, excited and humble, with a sincere wish that someone finds the words that have come through me to be a source of comfort or enjoyment.

Merry Krishna

Merry Krishna

A Theorem about Love and Transformation

I attended a David White retreat this weekend. I took notes. Yeah, I’m that gal, sitting in the retreat center, surrounded by poets and yogis, treating the entire thing like an academic exercise. Needless to say, I got something out of it, though I’m not sure I fully accepted the invitation of what was to be gotten. It’s good though, so here I share with you some thoughts and words, straight from David White’s mouth through the gauzy haze of my intelligence, so this piece is part plagiarization, part synthesis, part knee-slapping insight. And a lot of love.

A Theorem about Love and Transformation

Let us start by agreeing on this:

You can not truly inhabit a world for which you do not have the language.

And then let us remind ourselves:

“Applying labels is a strategy of the mind,” not the heart, nor the soul. Labels are a feeble attempt to make something unknowable feel real in the moment. “The strategic mind is meant to assign temporary names so that you can be less terrified and move on; it cannot give you happiness, and it is not the part of yourself that helps you belong.”

Next, let us talk about change.

Transition is a time and place we tend to look down upon, but an inherent part of being courageous and stepping into transformation is accepting that change is where the previous identity gets subverted.

Finally, we all know love.

Love is the one and only, the most powerful and potent agent of transformation. We form relationships for the very purpose of growing. Love is always something out on the horizon, calling us to a deeper understanding of the language of itself and ourselves. Understanding love this way helps us see clearly that “the soul is the faculty of belonging to the largest horizon you can find.”

And so, I believe “we name our love always too soon and in that naming, we create limits.”

It is not until we abase ourselves to the Love itself
that it can fully unfold and grow itself and us
into what is meant to be.
Love named too early can only grow to the limits of that overly eager label
which our waning identity offered to understand the impending self and love
before either had fully become.
This paradox can feel excruciating, especially to the mind, who thinks there is something to do.
But I will offer you this gift:
Transformation isn’t something that you do, it is a becoming,
it is a remembering of the language of your soul.
If your mind insists on action, simply take yourself in the direction of that horizon that is calling you.
“Go to the place where the conversation is happening.
Then just crack your heart open a little,
And let it in.”

This poem came out when I should have been listening.

 

All of the organized
and disorganized religions
and poetry
are no more than
beautiful word salads
blended teogether
in imprecise proportions
to feed us the unknowable
combination of nuggets
we each should be craving.

Will you pick through
and take only the bites
you already know?
Or invite your gut
to digest unfamiliar
and potentially dangerous
and even more potentially life-saving
new soul foods?

Or can you be brave
potent and broad enough
to close your eyes
open your heart
and lean your head up,
gape-mouthed like a newly hatched chick
and embrace what is dropped into you?

What is in my hands?

I have just learned from David Whyte about a certain sect of Irish monks who pray, not with their hands together, but with them out and palms up. We have two hands, David reminds us, one for receiving and one for giving.  So the invitation I take from this insight is to wonder a series of important questions about my giving and receiving:

Are my hands presently held in balance?  Is my giving equal to my receiving, or am I favoring one over the other? Am I giving gifts that are of a nature that is in sync with what I have been given? Am I giving what is needed, or simply what I am seeking to receive?

This last question is one that deserves my significant attention.  Sometimes givers (and yes, I include myself in this characterization) aren’t altruistic at all. Needy givers can impose their “gifts” unsolicited onto others in order to allow themselves to feel significant, in effect, to manufacture self-importance. David implored the audience to “make yourself large enough to be able to hold what you have been given.” Trying to understand this will be a significant shift in perspective for me. My practices in expansiveness have been about becoming large enough that my grief is small in comparison to my wonder and appreciation, or so that I can be capable of giving without becoming depleted. It had not occurred to me that the expansion was for greater getting. But in David’s model, the two-handed monk model, this makes perfect sense – larger hands to accept, hold gently, and then pass on greater gifts.

And this beckons an even deeper wondering:

What have I been holding for far too long, that I can set down or pass on, to empty my palms so that they are ready for what is up next for me to receive, share, and give?

 

On Why I Like Pebbles

A beloved with helper tendencies tells me:

“I have an urge to tromp in and sweep every pebble off your path so you don’t stub your toe.” 

This is my appreciative response:

Pebbles

Sometimes pebbles get in your shoe.
Most people think that is a problem. Some people even get angry or sad about that pebble, and start telling themselves stories about how it isn’t fair that they always get the pebble or maybe if they had better shoes they wouldn’t have to cope with so many burdensome pebbles. Some people don’t have much feeling, so they don’t even notice the pebble. Or they notice and just don’t care. That’s the saddest way to feel a pebble in your shoe. To notice and just not care.
And then some people, the “way out there” ones that feel a little less like humans than the rest of us (or maybe a little more?), they notice that the pebble helps them be more aware of their foot. They notice that they’d forgotten to notice that foot all day, and here is this little pebble reminding me that I have a foot. Some people don’t have a foot, they think, and that must be sad, but I do have a foot, and now I’m remembering how great that feels and so in this moment, I am happy. Happy about this foot, happy about this pebble, happy about this moment of awareness.
We went to a mandala dance where people had gathered.  They built houses and a dance floor in the middle of the woods because they noticed that when other people come along, it helps to remind them that they have a heart. Just like the pebble in the shoe, the other people draw our awareness to ourselves in a way that can be experienced as a problem, or a burden, or a blessing, or as care.  And these people were mostly trying to mostly see that as a blessing. So they had a dance to celebrate that dance, and they invited us.  
And they brought pebbles. And flowers, and spices and we put them in bowls around an empty circle on that dance floor. All night long, the dancers paused to sit around that empty circle and make it less empty. The children helped too. We dripped pebbles and other little gifts into patterns that felt like the patterns of the people dancing and the way my heart feels when someone notices me. They call that a mandala dance.
A mandala is a celebration of impermanence. Like the thought about the pebble, like the dance, like a lover, a mandala is a human creation meant to help you notice that you forgot to be aware of God today.  It is a practice in this contemplation:
Some people don’t have a connection to source and that must be sad. But I have found my connection, and now I am remembering how great that feels and so in this moment, I am happy. Happy about this foot, happy about this pebble, happy about this moment of awareness, happy about this love, happy to be here where people can get in my heart as unexpectedly as when a pebble gets in my shoe.
Pebbles are nice. I like pebbles.

The 5th Rhythm is Stillness

 “A dog is not considered a good dog because he is a good barker.

A man is not considered a good man because he is a good talker.”

- Buddha

 

Sometimes the words don’t come,

or the words that do feel like

some impostor’s talc on my tongue.

 

There was a time when I felt

I could understand, if only I could explain

and now the uncertainty, mystery,

inexplicability of it all

leaves me wordless, without a sentence.

 

My sentence has been lifted,

I am no more

(if I shut up long enough to notice)

interminably imprisoned

by my need to be heard.

 

And so, what takes the place

I have saved for those words

which have parted?

Is it listening? Silence? Prayer?

Or is it love?

Yes, it is simply and completely

Love.