Smaragdesert

Unseasonably warm

for St. Patrick’s Day….

The winter-bare branches wore green;

not full summer sleeves,

but more than a blush.

Smaragdine: yesterday’s word of the day…

a foreign word if ever there was one,

sounding like some cheek-curtling dessert

of the Vikings,

 rather than one that might–anon–

rename these purple, high-desert hills.

Hmmm…I imagine a coffee table book,

Smog to Smaragdine:

The Fashion Evolution of Global Warming.

 

This is not a poem…

just a bleary morning’s musing,

a means to pour the pollen-silt onto a page,

and clear my senses for the unrestrained Spring Revue

of birdsong and brightening sun:

Warming’s happy chorus of

What Is.

 

M.L.  3/ 18/17

 

morning reverie

       I woke into the Bliss of still body and silence. I brought a dream to the surface to remember; but I lay in long, dozing while my various faculties coalesced in the here and now, and I let go of its thread… let it sink back behind a curtain of open prayer silently intoned, earnestly dispatched in the Morse code of my heart… and repopulated my waking story.

       I knew that as I stirred the uncertainties and malaise seeded in the body would swirl into awareness, but for now the pond was clear and still, and I felt the prayers were automatic in the intimate cathedral of that silence. Now that I’m up and stirring outside my womb of a room, I hear the wind swirling and whipping, and I hear the warble of a robin augering through it into the still space of this house, silent but for me, the refrigerator, and the high electric hum of these walls.

       This silence, the teeming silence of New Mexico, its sometimes-deafening implosiveness, seems important for me. Somehow, over the years, I have been gifted with—or brokered for myself from beyond personal and conscious conjuring—homes of remove and silence. It must be important. But if my mind makes it important, something to be valued or needed, it feels vulnerable to attack, confiscation, subject to the deprivations that follow on unworthiness and greed (all fear).

       I am in perfection here, yet with fear always a shade away. What a set-up! I can only live with an open hand…on a precarious perch over a precipice of unknown future. This perch would seem to be the maidenhead of a good ship of the Greater Self, steered by Karma and exigencies to which I am only occasionally privy.

       I ask into the silence, again and again, what is mine to do? … Sensing (right or wrong) that I am still responsible for adjusting the sails of my conscious attention and intention, and plagued by the sailors’ lore of shipwreck, by the belief that I can do it wrong and that catastrophe, while in a boat on these capricious seas, is a matter of when, not if.

       But here I am, doing and praying into a sea of love, humility and merit, offering up the ego’s anchors, forgiving their weight and their tendency to catch on things and startle awake the lightly sleeping belief in “Dragons.”

Jai Jambo!

My last post touched on magic, and a moment when events cohered into a beautiful sort of Celtic knot of synchronicity.

Only a couple of days later, I look back upon another day’s events, which flaunt mystery but so far flout the same crystalline clarity of message. Still, they present a poignant aura of magic amid the mystery.

On Friday, a friend reported to me that she had been lunching Thursday at a beloved Santa Fe eatery, Jambo, only minutes before a confused little old lady had driven into the storefront of the restaurant, demolishing the table where they had been seated and injuring a number of people. They were just driving off when a friend of her husband, who had been seated at the next table, texted to tell them what had happened.

We read similar news accounts often enough, normally with an accustomed (or protective) remove. Knowing that my friend had been right there made for a more chilling read, and yet, also uplifting, given the manager’s words:

No one was sitting at the tables by the window when the crash occurred, Swaleh Obo said. “It’s crazy. God is great. … “It could have been a couple dead.” (Santa Fe New Mexican)

I later remembered that I, myself, had driven through that parking lot that day– not once, but twice. Historically, I go for weeks or months without doing so at all. It was just before 4pm when I recall passing the restaurant and noting that a well-coiffed fellow in a silk blue suit was standing facing an unmanned camera on a tripod in the parking lot outside the place. I wondered in passing what special event was getting attention there. My eyes were not attracted by any conspicuous wreckage, which may have been obscured by cars. No emergency vehicles lingered to raise alarm.

And then my attention was drawn to a rather eccentrically dressed woman (in a mink coat and warm-ups) walking along the sidewalk toward other shops, and my previous wonderings were abandoned. My interest in her is curious in itself, as I rarely linger on such human oddities as I drive. I now remember her holding my attention inordinately long.

I learned this morning that another, unrelated friend had actually been inside Jambo during the incident. He escaped with only a scrape or two. Others, I gather, had broken bones. He is still processing the experience.   And, in a far subtler way, I am too.

It was eerie the I had been drawn to that location twice that day, ostensibly on other business, and that two of my friends had been on site.   No other “logical connection” can be drawn, however.

By the following day, Telocote Café, another long-lived Santa Fe eatery, had put the word out that they were donating 15% of this weekend’s proceeds toward the swift reconstruction of Jambo! My sense of Santa Fe as a community of heartful souls was heightened by these reports. As if an invisible player was more palpably strumming living threads that weave through Santa Fe, and among its diverse populace, linking us all below our normal radar.

If there were anything I could eat at Telocote, I’d have driven into town today and patronized the place — for the first time. I later heard that Jambo Café’s food truck was parked outside their wounded store front and serving today. If I’d known, I might have scraped together my pennies for a mid-day Afro-Cuban indulgence: a spot of fish or goat stew.

I presume opportunity is still there. If you are in the neighborhood, do stop by. Everything on the menu is always delectable. But something tells me that right now the extra helping of good will—the fresh seasonings of poignancy and pathos –will add special savor. Bon appetite.

Forget counting calories. Count your blessings!

Be the Magic you wish to see in the world.

           About 9 a.m., I set off on my weekly drive to the big city. A ways on, Intuition nudged me to divert from my customary route and to take the King’s Highway west. The winds were wicked strong; the air billowed toward heaven in yellow clouds, and tumbleweeds rolled toward me more plentiful than oncoming traffic.

            Midway along this narrow corridor through the pastureland, flashing lights appeared in the distance. I, and the car ahead, slowed, as the approaching scene grew and gave birth to details.

            The sight was stirring: a magnificent dappled white horse galloped a slaloming course along the road in our direction, wind whipping his–her?– mane wild and urging him from behind. A vision of freedom!

… For some moments, I had to squint to subdue the delectable notion that I was seeing a Unicorn.

            As we rolled to stop, the beautiful creature slowed to a trot and crossed the road in front of us before stopping, and a cinnamon-chestnut Shetland pony appeared, swinging toward us as fast as he (she?) could trot until alongside his regal companion. Clearly together, they made an odd and touching twosome. My sense was that the smaller was the chaperone of the larger.

            A ranch vehicle leading a retinue of squad cars approached from the other direction, slowed its creeping pace and stopped along the opposite shoulder.  The horses cautiously investigated the grasses on our side of the road, while we simply watched, admiring, and wondering who would make the next move.

            As a small, stocky fellow in a trucker’s cap emerged from the Suburban, slowly, and walked along his side of the road, I thought to get out of my car and offer help. But even though, deep down, a part of each of us humans was rooting for the Wild One—within and before us– none of us wanted to spook the creature.   The man ventured across the road, a respectful distance from the “White Beauty” and gently put a bridle–which he had held hidden behind his back– on the little pony.

            He then lead the pony back across the road and down a driveway to our left, looking back now and then and calling, coaxing, to the winsome white prize before turning forward again. He was counting on social instincts to eventually compel the creature to follow. And, tentatively at first, s/he did. Familiarity—food and friends—won over wild abandon.

…And off this great tamed unicorn trotted toward home.

            Yet, I felt an aura around my heart as we began to roll forward again, reluctant to leave, even as space grew between cars and hearts united by the event.

We are all starved for Wildness and Magic.

            After a long, full day in the city, I sped home on the interstate, racing plummeting blood sugar. It had been a good day, with other grateful miracles, many more than I counted, I’m sure; but I had forgotten the morning’s first and had mentioned it to no one.

            The next morning, still bleary from yesterday’s exertions, I opened a message sent by a friend about 9:30 the previous morning, after I’d left home. No words, just the emoji of a Unicorn. I caught my breath, felt my glowing heart smile.

Wow.

            As I recorded these twinkling events in my journal, I was reminded of a recent reading I’d given a friend, which had prominently featured a Shetland pony and a majestic horse. The pony was coming to terms with his dharma, releasing the compulsion to try to be an Arabian, and accepting his equal value, his equally essential purpose. In this vision, he was a stable, trusty mount for learning children. He had to apprehend the importance of this, and how the aptitudes and attributes of his current form were uniquely and perfectly suited for it.

            …And I remembered yesterday’s lovely pony, diminutive and, one might presume, lesser to his companion more mighty in speed and refined of line. Yet, he flanked his friend protectively, stood by him; and it was his departure that lured the “greater” one home.

            I was also reminded of a scene from the upcoming episode of Victoria (PBS), in which the young and beautiful queen is confiding in her devoted governess and attendant.   “You still see me, don’t you, Lehzen?” To which her companion tenderly and earnestly replies “I live to serve you, Majesty.”

            And it struck me that in knowing ourselves, accepting the form we’re in, the gifts we’re given, and what we’re best made for, this is how we serve The Majesty. Comparison is a form of covetousness, which is included among the deadly sins (envy). It is a ploy of the egoic mind to keep us adrift on the sea of separation, rather than home in the ocean of wholeness and belonging.

            We are each unique, and in any given life, we cannot all be the Queen on the Chessboard. But each of us has a square to fill in that game, a role to play. Happiness comes from accepting, exploring and expressing each role to the fullest, even if it doesn’t have a name yet.

…Give it yours.

 

Well, thank Yoda for Yoga; that’s what I say.

        For those who weren’t aware, I was rear-ended in Albuquerque yesterday. It went as well as it could have. The young fellow who bumped me from behind took responsibility, no one was hurt, my car did not strike the one ahead of me, and I’d been on my way to the chiropractor anyway; he was able to promptly unwind any stress in this nervous system.

        The other driver, aptly named Adam, was 24 and an accident virgin. Since he has been driving for 10 years or so and drives all day delivering beef jerky for a living,  I reassured him he’s probably still ahead of the odds as a driver. “You’ve done well!”  And if I could have given him a report card for the way he comported himself yesterday, his insurance company would waive any hike to his premiums. It was a relative pleasure to relate to this young fellow, as we sat in the airless police substation and compared notes on our accident reports. “What did you put for number 6?”

        He had those lately-vogue gasket holes in his earlobes, where the lobe is stretched around a ring coronally, rather than with the ring penetrating and hanging perpendicular to the lobe. I told him I felt like we’d met before, but I did not say that perhaps it was in Africa, where that sort of piercing has been common for centuries.

        Just before I was struck, I’d been thinking to myself, “I have a bit of time; maybe I should wash the car.” Wham.

       Or not.

The adjuster for Adam’s insurance company called this morning, as a crew was power washing the house for new stucco. I chuckled as the water scoured the window with the sound, if not the full surround sensation, of a car wash.

         I was already in pain this afternoon when I took the car to two different collision repair places  to get time and money estimates for the insurance company.  The estimates were about $800 different; the second, bigger, slicker establishment offered the higher one, along with the counsel that the cost was creeping up near the value of my car, and that it might be a Total.  Under the impression that my car was worth more than that still, I was dubious. I called the adjustor and filled her in. After having seen the pictures of my van’s back end, she was inclined to agree with the second guy’s speculation.

        Even so, I decided to go wth the first estimate, from a smaller shop, in business since 1979, seeming to have less to prove and less overhead to make!  She told me to call them and let them know to expect her official “assignment.” I tried calling them three times, from three different spots in Santa Fe after that and the call would not connect from any of them. This gave me pause.  Universe testing my resolve?… or trying to tell me something….?           I emailed the adjustor to tell her of this…and the delay it might cause.

        This gives me a chance to let go of it all and make peace with the prospect of a “total,” of potentially losing the van.  I still don’t feel my choice of shops was unsound, but all the mischief does make me want to consult an impartial oracle!

I was really drooping after that, but I had another appointment, and I was late, later after trying to find parking in the Guadalupe shopping district, and numb after my appointment was less than rewarding.

        I still had to teach a yoga class, though. So I drove over to Santa Fe Community Yoga. If you haven’t been, consider a visit, at least to  the premises. There is a labyrinth outside. I got still on a bench, lying on it at first with my head and shoulders spilling off the end, simply breathing the body into that open hearted shape, letting all the busy contents of the head tumble into the earth, and the roots of my will reach from my kidneys out my heels. I began to slip back into my body, hand into glove. Then I sat up, still, except for the miraculous tide of sanity and nourishment that the breath perpetually offers us. It didn’t take long to re-own my center and my life,  and release all the soggy streamers of heavy thoughts that seem to clutter the ethers more than ever lately and through which we must navigate our vessels of light. By the end of  most days in the city, I feel like I’ve been wrapped in muddy, mucky, muggley paper-mache.  Then I must call in the twin angels of breath and surrender to come help liberate the space trapped inside the pinata- shell this worldly webbing would harden into.

        Five minutes later, I was ready to go in to the studio and lead a class.  After the class, I was thanking the students as much as they were thanking me. So lucky. Where two or more are gathered….

        Now that I had worked the dents and kinks out of my flesh vehicle, my automotive vehicle and all associated with it, did not look so bad.

     Stay tuned….

 

img_0907

FLU-cation

      This week, I’ve been on “flu-cation” (flu-vacation) and content in my quiet, feverish little cave, appreciating how simple life gets when you are sick and how miraculously the body rises to the occasion, as you surf the swell of symptoms. If you go under, you are a mind in a diving bell, watching the tsunami from the inside.

     I found it almost comforting, resting in a process where my survival is beyond my conscious control, and the outcome is not of great concern. I’m just here, amid a swirl of mostly familiar sensations, with an attitude not of “Poor Me” but of “Wow. Cool.”

     My only duty was to rest…make soup, pee, sleep, repeat. Ah, Simplicity, and the good fortune of the shelter in which to do my simple job.  Occasionally I would talk to myself, like an amused M.C., charged with keeping the troupes rallied. It’s fun to talk to yourself when you sound like somebody else; and this week, I’ve sounded like Leonard Cohen.  Hallelujah.  …Hineni, hineni…You want it Darker?

      This afternoon I ventured outside the bubble. I took the four minute drive to Agora (the local grocery and shopping center). Agora means “gathering place.” But, just by turning outward, I had tuned into the collective before I got there. The radio was on in the car when I started it.  I caught just a minute or two of headlines from Democracy Now…about some new protests in solidarity against Trump (Dance Anyway), about legislative bills being floated several places in the country to suppress protests by suing protestors to pay for their right to police protection, and about the new administration’s edict that all Environmental Protection Agency employees must sign gag orders and have their funding and projects vetted, and Obama’s recent pro-environment actions reversed, etc.

It’s chilling. And one wants to speak out for what one believes to be true, for what one knows to be our fragile, too-long-taken-for-granted democracy and rights and against such a swift and flagrant slide toward Orwell’s dystopia.

One wonders how to make a difference.

I could feel how the right wing and pro-life folks have felt for the past eight years. Desperate (and impotent).

And I could feel how those despondent from the election feel. Impotent (and desperate).

I asked What can I do?
One habit is to go within, remember what is real behind the pageant of changing conditions.
Another habit is to write.
But, while I’m playing the human game, is this enough?

It feels like our democracy is being eviscerated. It is hard to stand by and watch.

It is hard to feel like there is no way to change another’s mind …
nor to change one’s own mind enough to dull the doom.

It is hard to believe in a world that must go through this, chugging like a train ineluctably into nightmare, gaining momentum as it seems to jettison all that is sane and humane.
It is hard to believe one is on that train and can’t wake up.

It is hard not to be able to reach the one in the conductor’s seat—whether you believe that is someone else, some aspect of your self, or both.

How swiftly one’s peace is upstaged by the Punch and Judy show.

But peace, for now, is still here. And, for now, I can tend it here, can stoke the flame where it still burns, can join my flame with others’: Not necessarily to burn down the haunted house we stand in, but to live in Light.

Beyond that, I have no answer, except to rest: make soup, love, pee, love, sleep, love, repeat. And don’t forget to laugh.

 

Only the closed mind is certain, sir. –Dean Spanley

In our little writing play-shop today, the final prompt to explore was the statement:

When something is lost, we must find it in ourselves.

Although the prompt was inspired by the recent election, it holds true more generally, not to mentioned in a million ways more personally.  The responses were varied and poignant.  When I read mine, someone said it should be a blog post.  I said, “why not?” and I post the unpolished musing here:

    I see I have lost my certainty. So many people seem to have it (certainty), and yet their conclusions to me seem ill-considered, making me afraid to be certain and consequentially blind, arrogant and limited. Like a good unaffiliated Buddhist,* I jettisoned all my beliefs, only to find that humans do not function, do not survive, without belief in something. So, knowing I cannot be sure that anything I think I know is true, I make the most conscious choices I can in choosing what I believe, with the willingness to be wrong and to change my belief. 

In losing certainty, have I gained wisdom? I have, certainly, gained humility.

In watching a world so uncertain, I have gained responsibility. And my responsibility is to forgive, to love and to know what can’t be proven to the certain.

 

*Here shorthand for “Klezmer-loving, Tree-hugging Zen Sufi Taoist in Christ”

 

 

Water Music

Comforted, engulfed this morning by the surround sound of drenching winter rain. From under the eave, I bathe in motherly mist, in the positive glow of negative ions, and I celebrate the eskimo spectacular of water missiles–100 gradations of wet and of frozen.    Some streaks stay water from Heaven to Earth; others are granted a softer landing, blooming like popcorn into snow.

It is a complete symphony, not just the rat-a-tat percussion section of water javelins; not all drops sized to play the same octave. Some sigh of sibilance; others hold the silence of deep sky.  All sing of jubilation, and dozens of robins twirl and trill along.

And then the roar lifts, like an airplane releasing the runway, road noise falling silent. Roof is transformed from resonance chamber to reservoir, as all races of rain settle back into their origin, settle into one tone and evolve, through silent snow… brittle, brilliant ice…and then, again, into liquid laughter, giggling through gutters to ground.

 

 

Still life of Uncertainty, Holy Emigres all

img_0874
They Stand on the Counter
Empty vessels of poetry
The Vase family and their foundling spoon rest
Clustered into a still-life of exquisite fragility,
of uncertainty
and of Beauty that quadruples in their congregation
Beauty that reaches into me
like the eyes of refugees.
From their delicacy
and the fullness of their emptiness,
            they whisper to what is never homeless,
                              to my own hidden glory,
                                             these Refugees–
                                                          no, these Holy emigres–
                                                                                     from Lola’s Kitchen.

 

George Michael–a Lover and a Fighter

The BRIT Awards 2012 - Show

       On this boxing day, I have learned that George Michael has left us.  Another one gone who might have had more to offer yet, but who made the world a better place by being in it, certainly in his philanthropy, but also through his canny music craft and an intelligence of heart. The man had a way with a pop hook, for sure, but it was his lyrics, as he matured, that intrigued me.

I grew up steeped in pop pablum, but I was dismissive of empty pop by the time he emerged as the implausibly handsome half of Wham! And certainly there was a gloss and glib to their songs. But even those early hits had something irresistible (or at least forgivable) to them: The shameless abandon (and pun) of “Wake me up before you Go-Go,” the articulate contrition of “Careless Whisper,” etc….

And when he outgrew the gravy train, he bit the hand that fed him. Though he lost the battle with his record company, maybe he kept his integrity. I doubt he regrets it now. Ain’t no walls in Heaven to hang gold records on.

I own precious little pop music from the 80’s, but I have ended up with George Michael’s Best of, and solid handful of those songs still stop and hold my attention, even stir my heart, my admiration, and my gratitude that his soul had the craft to communicate them.

Never really got George Michael? That’s okay. But if you haven’t recently, you might try giving songs like “Father Figure,” “Praying for Time,” “Freedom 90” (and others) another listen. It is not empty pop.

So, I’m feelin’ the swell in my heart this evening, the twinge of grief that is a celebration, that bathes us in remembrance and gives a good soul his send off.

Blessed Be.

Just for fun. There is a video on Youtube of James Corden’s original inspiration for his now mega-popular carpool karaoke. It’s an extended Comic Relief Sketch (a British cameo fest that has pay off toward the end), which early on features Gearge Michael clearly not holding himself sacred.  If it doesn’t play here, google it.