Happy Announcement

For many (but not all) of you, this is a duplicate of a personal email you have already gotten.

But it bears repeating:

My second volume of poetry…
Front Cover3
Parable in my Shoe…
is available this Equinox as paperback, ebook, even hardback (soon) in one convenient place—Amazon. 
However, if you are allergic to Amazon, 
you should be able to order it through other channels soon, as well.  
 
If you want to track me down in person, 
I’m trading a limited number of copies for magic beans.
 
Oh boy!
This book picks up roughly where 2015’s Blue Transparent Face left off.  I am pretty happy with it, and I certainly hope it offers something of value to the world. 
 
I’m happy to address any questions left in the comments section.
 
Parable in My Shoe, Ebook ISBN:  978-1-63020-042-8
Parable in My Shoe, Paperback:  978-1-63020-041-1
Parable in My Shoe, Hardback :  978-1-0=63020-048-0

Surfacing

I’ve been absent from the blog in recent weeks, focusing my energies on other worthy causes, like my health, and the publication of my second volume of poetry. My partner in the latter project is a friend navigating cancer; and the intensity and pace of our focus is motivated by his uncertain prognosis.

In our potent countdown to September’s Equinox, I also called, like many others, to drop the taproot deep and support the collective during this evolutionary narrows. Through a will greater than my own, I’m rising at 4:30 and 5:30 a.m. lately for meditative practices.

Today as I sat in the predawn stillness, before the tide of traffic (of cars, of thoughts) began its morning crescendo, I was keenly aware of the uneasy dance among the forces, faculties and other influences in my field. I could feel the persistent pressure at certain junctures in my core; and could see-feel how my right side was so different in substance and structure from the left.

The right side seemed much more transparent, lucid; the left more dense, cloudy, but not without intelligence. Here were Shiva (right side) and Shakti (left side); Impulse (mind force) and Form, each holding court, wielding influence on the central column and on one another, in a living alchemical frontier in the centerless center and every cell.

My mind rested best it could at this meeting of spirit and matter, indivisible and individual, the infinite and finite, the unmanifest and manifest.

I sat with equanimity, witnessing the sensations of the living, burning edge I feel as volatile border, a pressure sizzling with non-verbal emotional content, some reactive co-mingling of longing and defendedness, an achy, acid edge of conflictedness.

After tuning in to the ambience of this “what is” a good while, I turned on a new guided meditation with Jeff Carreira, who was pointing out the apparent line we perceive between the white half and black half of a page. The line, of itself, does not exist; it appears at the frontier where white and black meet, and would disappear if the page were all white or all black.

Here, Jeff was reminding us, is the nature of the self. The experience of self is simply the encounter perceived between spirit and matter, indivisible and individual, the infinite and finite, the unmanifest and manifest.

Not long after, I opened my inbox to meet the morning emails that await me from Richard Rohr, Abraham Hicks, Dictionary.com, etc. Each of these can often echo the themes I’ve been noticing beforehand, in dreams or in meditation, and they are often conversant of one another, joining the greater alchemy.

Today’s word of the day was testudinate (relating to the carapace of a tortoise shell). As I moved on to Richard Rohr, my eyes seemed to light on to the words “tortoise shell” again. This lasted for the second required to smile at the synchronicity, before “tortoise shell” resolved into the words torturous hell.

Tortoise shell is an apt analog for what I feel around my heart and in my back and neck, developed to protect from a wounding, warring world, and an enduring structure now made mostly of memory, echoes of torturous hell.

To complete the picture, the Wazifa (Divine Name) I “drew” this morning was Al Hafiz, Divine Protection. It keeps what is most pure, precious and innocent in us safe from bruising and blemish as our little comets of personhood plummet through the atmospheres of incarnation, the alchemy of evolution.

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I’ve lost count of the number of folks I hear complaining of a stiff neck these days. All I can say to those who can hear it is, “We’re getting worked on, collectively.”  The neck is where we hold a lot of control mechanisms, my will versus Thy Will, and for me it is also the place where there is a strange hinge, adapted early to shunt energy up into the mind and forward-focused faculties, probably before the rest of my energetic and physical structure was really developmentally ready.

I have quite a number of entertaining sensations in my neck these days. It is uncomfortable. I watch my health and body conscious mindIMG_1917 try to make a problem or a failure out of that. Most likely It’s the natural product of evolutionary torsion of an instrument under recalibration.

It’s also a full moon this weekend, which affects these tides in the body as much as on the tides of the earth.  So, I wasn’t surprised to feel down right crotchety in the upper body today; nor was I surprised to hear that Ciana was uncomfortable in her body this morning as we met to hike into the canyon for Qigong.

I led us through some standing meditation positions, which build heat in the stuck places and gather the chi and will. Not as fun as the more fluid dance of other Qigong practices, but ultimately good medicine, followed by some movement to dissipate the tension, for dessert, like a walk to the waterfall and a wade in the stream

On our hike out, we passed the gorgeous, serpentine skeleton of a fallen tree, which we’ve passed I don’t know how many times before. But I SAW it for the first time, was palpably drawn to greet, touch and praise the beauty of the torsion patterns in its twisted trunk.  One of those “Where have you been all my life? Right here.” moments.

Something electric connected in me as I surveyed how its main two lengths resembled two serpents on course to meet, one from above (sky), one from below (sea).

We don’t begrudge slot canyons or old trees the natural forces of violence, deprivation or adaptation that generate their breathtaking forms. But how we protest those forces in our own lives and bodies! What a gift to be able to relax and forgive, to know ourselves as players in a process so much bigger than ourselves.  It isn’t personal. It isn’t punishment.  It feels that way, yes, with intensity proportionate to our resistance.

As I used to say about my father’s protracted death process with ALS,

It isn’t pretty, but it is beautiful.

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Morning meditation

I used to sense all motion danced inside stillness, and then also that stillness lives in motion.

I used to think it was one or the other; now it is clear Either/Or dwells in And.

Dense bodies in slow dance with gravity are free falling, velocitous, through vast, infinite nowhere,

buoyed by their infinitesimal center of intimate Hereness

inherited from indivisible IS-ness.

There is no cure; because there is no problem.

There is only collisions of husks and concepts,

in a pinball-arcade-ecstatic-dance-hall of Cosmos,

The Big Bang Belly Laugh echoing through all time, all space, no time, no space.  

A cat walks across a piano keyboard and these meanings cascade from my mind.

God is still very amused.

ML 8/20/21

Take Hold

bill and michou circa 1997

Yesterday was my father’s birthday, in this 10th year of his post-incarnation. I began working on a post in honor of this, but life found all kinds of detours for me. So I lived the day’s steeple chase, meeting each next experience, each as sacred as the amount of presence I offered it, all the while taking notes for the sermon I could never finish and would never quite reach the church to deliver.

Lately I’ve had an upsurge in a metabolic mischief that has haunted my 56 years to some degree or another, in one expression then another, visiting this time as depletion, muscle weakness, UV sensitivity, weight loss, etc. Failure to thrive.

With that in mind, I offer a reminiscence today in honor of both my father’s life and my own.

It was a gift to witness my father’s last breath. I had risen from the cot next to his bed some time before and was in the vigil of witness. As I noticed his breathing change, and I wondered if I should leave his bedside to summon his wife from her bedroom, she wandered into the room and took the seat on the other side of his bed. We held space and watched his face. Shortly before his last breath, he opened his eyes, looking into the distance before him with a grunt of surprise. He then relaxed back, eyes closed. Soon there came no new breath.

It was around 4 a.m. Anon, we roused from the bedside and commenced the practicalities required. Call the hospice nurse, call his sister, etc. I pulled my vehicle from the driveway to make room for the mortician’s. Hours later, around 10, with all the immediacies met, I went for a walk around the lakes to sound, ground and breathe. As I returned and approached the condo, I asked into the still potent and teeming ethers something to the effect of, “Okay, what do I need to know now, moving forward?” I was speaking to a Greater Audience, but also to my father.

I had nearly forgotten the question by the time my feet had carried me, through space and spaciness, to my car, which I’d thought to move back into the driveway. As I turned on the ignition, the last few lines from “Either Side of the World,” from the most recent Crowded House album, were playing. I owned the CD and played it often in my car, so I thought little of this, until the song ended and a DJ came on. It was the radio!  Crowded House, especially recent material, never saw any airplay!

Crowded House/Neil Finn is the artist whose catalog Grace predominantly mined for my “morning song” guidance through the years. So, I instantly knew to replay those final lines in my head:

Luxury and Leisure

Never meant pleasure

We like it different.

Passion and Commitment.

All my life and even after his, my father was cheering for his seedling to take hold! This had been a theme and concern of his for me. He had periodically wondered about what had injured my will. I know not to what extent he could see or own his part in that.  All is long forgiven.

There are any number of interpretations for that lyric. I can only point to the impressions that communicated then and continue to echo and evolve.

Don’t wait for perfect conditions to support you. No matter what, embrace this messy life; create your own conditions; choose gratitude; choose happiness. Stand and share steadfastly from the center of that willingness.

Take hold.

Years before, my father and I were standing at a bus stop, gazing at the Rocky Mountain foothills. Appropo to I no longer remember what, I spoke into the comfortable silence, “We are doing this for the ancestors.”  I felt my statement land in him and nothing more was said (aloud). It seems that it made an impression, that it had the affect of shifting how he saw and respected me, perhaps, and of re-contextualizing things in his life and mine, the karmas playing themselves out.

Three years after his death, Neil Finn’s next solo album came out. On it was the song “Better Than TV.” As I played it in my car for the first time, the song had a sort of aura around it as I listened to the lyrics:

When you have the mind for understanding pain,

somehow to realize no trouble is in vain.

There’s a reason for and how it came to pass,

if there is a chance,

if there is a chance,

that you wanted to dance,

that you wanted to sing,

Don’t Die Wondering….

Again there are many more significances in the lyric than I can unpack here. Suffice it to say,  I felt like I was being directly addressed. The cheering was still echoing.

So, in the midst of intensifying physical and psychic challenges, both personal and global, I could hardly be surprised this week as so many gifts and clues have pointed to finding essential silence and stillness amid all the noise and movement (external and internal), to grab hold and claim my right to life, to thriving, in spite of all conditions and conditioning to the contrary.

The mission is clear and simple, if not always easy. Find the deep nourishment of who you truly are: the silence, stillness, wisdom and intelligence that suffuses all the densities, distortions and noise of this world, this incarnation. That is the source of strength.    And as an act of Love, Praise, of Devotion and Defiance,

TAKE HOLD.

Great,Great,8/8/Lion’sGate

Yesterday, as we woman-handled the screen tent into position in the shifting breezes, I was more concerned with the very local impact of the wind; by evening, however, the shift in wind had rolled a thick smoke haze over us. Distant and then not so distant hills were fading from view. The eerie light and other changes shifted the awareness to the source of the smoke and more community themes, like health tolls of smoke inhalation and evacuation possibilities. To my knowledge, the fires are still distant, a state away at least. Yet, breathing the smoke means the out of sight is no longer out of mind; the impact expands to a greater collective.

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Today is an auspicious day astrologically. You can look it up on line; people have a lot to say about it. This year’s Lion’s Gate is empowered by falling on a new moon. One theme I glean is a shift from self/individual evolution to more collective evolutionary focus. IMG-1880

I was still digesting this when I went to the community kitchen for lunch. All seemed normal until my eyes were drawn to a sight that awakens deep old instincts, raises the hackles before the forebrain can even say spider. What looked like a very pregnant black widow lay in the soap dish. I grabbed a fork to nudge her. Quite dead. I respectfully turned her over to to confirm or refute “black widow.”  NO red hour glass. Instead a beguiling belly of smoky quartz tiger-eye. Enchanting.

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As I gaze at the magnified image, it looks like Pan is seated there in her womb, waiting to be birthed. And somewhat recursively, in his third eye is another creature’s face.

In Native American animal spirit medicine, Spider symbolizes the weaver of creation. (She is also a totem of the writer.)  The spider’s body is a figure eight, the symbol of infinity. The cycles and spirals of creation never end; and in our evolutionary moment, we are being called to reweave our world, one in which every dew drop in Indra’s Web is known to be connected, kin, equal, holographic: each containing the reflection of the whole.

Sometimes a spider will spend a day weaving a web, and the next day, for whatever reason, take the whole thing down. Hard for the human mind to understand.  As I wondered why today’s “false widow” (as Ciana called her) had ended up in the soap dish. I thought, perhaps she was looking to tank up on not just water, but some silky soap, to spin a self-cleaning web, so the whole process is friendlier to the messes we make in our ongoing human experiment.

That would be nice, wouldn’t it?

Or would that just be Boring?

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Less mulling, more Mullein.

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Yesterday morning I noticed that the two mullein plants gleaming in the morning sun outside my window seemed to have shot up over night and were rising so tall, lush and regal, that I thought to snap a picture. I  paused to think about it. Mistake; my mind thought the camera wouldn’t capture the moment’s subtle, had-to-be there rapture, and I let the moment pass.

Today, after an unexpectedly arduous effort erecting my new Easy-Up (HA!) screen tent, I stood up from a crouch, felt my low back groping for integrity and my brain drain of blood. Time to sit down; as I did, in my chair in the shade of the A-Frame, I noticed that those mullein plants had added a few flowers to their bloom stalks, and that both seed heads had begun to bow to the north. How curious; they weren’t like that yesterday, were they? Then I noticed one stalk was almost mimicking the s-curve in the human spine. 

For a moment, since I have a number of spinal issues (some particularly acute and distracting these days), I felt as if I was being mocked.  More likely it was some more subtle, beneficial message I was too pooped to decode. It then occurred to me that they might be hanging their heads in respect for the small tree that was sacrificed in today’s endeavor.

I took a deep breath and joined the wake, relaxing into appreciation mode, for not only the little pine, but for the pining mulleins, each such a vibrant dance of sacred geometry.  I again wished I had taken the photo yesterday, to compare postures.  Then I got up to get the camera.

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Needless-to-say, my camp is sprawling: The day space is the trailer; the van is the bedroom, and now there is screen porch in between. It reminds me of rustic old homes that have add-ons from each generation.

Erecting the tent took two of us. Ciana came to help, and it was still rather a spastic endeavor. 

Once we had it standing on its own, she snapped some shots to encourage any blog post that might emerge from our achievement, but she preferred not to be in any photos. So no photo of her either.

But I and two mulleins bow to her in thanks.

 

Boom-Boom Boon

It would appear the monsoons are receding. Perhaps it is just a few days’ low tide. But desert dwellers know it must end eventually. This time we were blessed with daily rain for so long, we got habituated enough to almost take it for granted. That is indeed a blessing, and the warming and drying trend serves to draw us up to heel to gratitude.

The thunderheads still pile up over the mountains as they have been, insinuating throughout the afternoon, teasing, but promising nothing and delivering less. Like the pole-dancer whose every move, whose very existence, keeps them hoping.  Sometimes a blue-bellied cloud floats slowly over, hovering, bestowing shade that draws a sigh of relief from my center to my fair and freckled skin.  But the thunder is less frequent, more distant.

The skies and sunsets are still certifiably New Mexico enchanting, but the deluge and drama has abated. So, indulge me as I reminisce about the last storm, a few nights back, which, as habituated as I’d become, was hard to ignore. Ripping thunder would boom from just over there, in the forested blackness, without even a flash of light to warn us. The shock wave would elicit an involuntary jump, and a belly laugh to bring the faculties back into step with each other and remind us we were still alive and sentient.

We would peer out to make sure no trees were alight. We’ve actually had enough rain that the nearby strikes did not ignite whatever it was they struck.  They did however, give the internet boosters a concussion. Wifi  signal has been utterly goofy since.  Not a bad thing; another thing habituated to and demanding appreciation.

And, as if to call us to pay attention, the sky before sunset seemed to collage together all the disparate tricks, like that “throw everything you got left at ’em” fanfare at the end of a fireworks show.  On this dry and mostly clear evening, I’m glad I ran back for the phone and snapped a couple of shots of praise and remembrance.

Can you almost taste it?

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Gravity is Gaia’s Kiss…

Here at camp, I have been enjoying listening to Brad coaching kids in various activities offered here. He actually runs trainings through The Wilderness Institute, leading team building all over and nature survival courses that sound impressive. Here though, he’s most often teaching kids archery, tomahawk-throwing or rock- or tree-climbing. And he is just so good, coaxing these city kids into their bodies, into archery posture, and, by then end of the hour, even landing their arrows somewhere on the target (if not the center).

Long after I’d have let a complaining kid half-way up the climbing wall off the hook and back to ground, Brad can somehow psychologically cajole them to reach the top. While I wouldn’t want to see any truly terrified kid traumatized, the impact of actually mastering inertia and reaching a goal like that, with their own will and bodies, is of invaluable impact, on little and big kids alike! So, a bow of admiration to teacher and student.

Today, though, was my turn to teach. We posted a sign that I would lead a qigong practice in the creekside canyon meadow, if folks were willing to drag their happy camper asses out of bed and meet me at 7:45 this morning for the walk down. (They would thank me on the hike out in the heightening sun.)

Several folks expressed interest, but it was just Ciana and me descending the trail this morning. And that was just fine. Injuries had kept Ciana out of the canyon for too long, so I was happy to offer incentive and company on this return. A quiet celebration.

First we went to visit a couple of majestic cottonwood trees, who shade a magic glenn beyond the meadow. A favorite spot of hers, where I too have been drawn for a nap or two on the thick pine needle mattress below them.

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Psychedelic. Far out and far up!

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We returned to the meadow for qigong. I kicked off my shoes, and before we started, Ciana snapped a ballet of the only archery my body knows, until I have my own lesson with Brad.

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Early morning is the best time for qigong, while the atmosphere is dripping with dewy chi.

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The mosquitoes were a bit ravenous, but as practice progressed they seemed less distracting.

After practice we visited the waterfall, which, despite some less monsoony days up top, was still flowing. We took baptism there and sat talking a while before hauling our happy bodies and souls slow and steady up the hill.

This afternoon the monsoon returned and it has rained steadily for a couple of ours, sky heavy on the brow and still grumbling, while my grumbles tumble away.

I’ll be leading practice in the canyon again next week, should you be in the neighborhood. Set your alarm, wear good shoes, bring your skeeter repellent, and leave your worries at the top. See you then.

One picture, 600 poems

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Some glimpses glow, and, if the body or the mind are not moving too fast, they stop you.

Yesterday, as I ducked passed a tree that shades the A-frame, the new morning sun caught and bejeweled the drool of one of its amputated arms. I confess I’d scarcely registered that stump before, and suddenly it was a-shimmer with magic.

Even though biology was urging me toward the bath-house, I stopped, grabbed the phone, opened my heart, and snapped a shot, in hopes that it might capture even a fraction of the moment’s beauty and mischief. I bowed and hastened on.

When I found the shot later, I was delighted.

A face can launch 1000 ships.

A pictures paints 1000 words.

This photo seems a fount of poetry. And no words are needed.

Looking at this image flints a thousand sparks of poetry in my heart, a delight I can taste, sending out 600 individual wordless poems like fireflies pouring into the air, making it hard, even silly, to capture a single one, Images and words shower into the air, ricochetting into each other, obliterating distinct images into bubbles of awe and quietly redemptive joy.

I might make a practice for the next fortnight of laying my fresh morning eyes upon the picture (or the tree itself) and interpreting the first impression onto the page, simply as an activity of communing, drinking deeply, of praise.

Maybe it’s just me. But if you find the photo above at all affecting, I’d love to know. Just a couplet, a haiku, the simple essence evoked and placed in the comments as a tithe. 

Part II

On today’s wandering, more quiet magic:

I came upon the traces of a neglected contemplative trail, made lovingly someone a good while back, and likely travelled by quite a few. The trail, lined by stones and branches, is clear for a turn or two, then fades for some paces before resuming, sometimes missing one side or the other, until disappearing altogether where two creeks converge. Along the way are crudely lettered planks affixed to trees: “Lightning Tree,” There is no way to peace; peace is the way,” “Those who mind don’t matter; those who matter don’t mind,” etc. I snapped shot or two.

It enchants the little wood with wholesome innocence, a friendliness that reaches forward and backward in time, and hang in the air like the scent of orange blossoms.

I sat where it led me, meditated on a bit of stone where the two creeks converge, and anchored the peace there anew.

There was an old tall ponderosa before me, whose trunk and branches seemed to hint at the story of my own spine, wounds and posture. I acknowledged the poignant synchronicity, bowed to the mirror, but I did not snap a picture. The moment supported accepting what is, but instead of solidifying it further, it asked to be let go. In a few paces, a different place, time and angle, the resemblance disappeared and we had moved on, free.