Blue-bird of Haplessness

On this gloomy October day, in which the inner weather was nearly as oppressive as the outer weather, I was called to fast, to abandon all pretense of thriving in the status quo, to be still, to allow the accumulated clouds to pass in their time not mine, and to listen. Big shifts, far too subtle and deep for words (or even conventional thought) were asserting themselves from the deep, from the vibrational level of being, and kicking loose all manner of dust and distortion in the denser strata of my field.

There was no escape; no chasing remedy. There was only letting it be, feeling what must be felt, blessing it with presence if not with praise.

In the course of the day, as my own body and psyche squirmed in vague indignant objection to the slow moving front of malaise, I could hear a bird scrabbling at the chimney top and then, from time to time, fluttering inside the stove pipe. Apparently, I hadn’t been the only one seeking poorly-suited shelter.
After hearing him struggle inside the pipe several times, I decided in a cold moment to try out the wood-stove for the first time this year, to discourage his pursuits. I opened the stove and there was my blue bird of happiness, alive among the ashes, perched on a log; He flew out and into the sun-room, and I managed to usher him out the door. 
By the time I got back to the living room, I could hear birds up the chimney again.  Noting that I needed to get some kind of screen cap up there, I typed an email about it to my friend who owns the house, and then I set about to do a test run on the stove, to discourage further nesting impulses.

Again, I opened the stove and there was the same bird (if not his companion) dozing on the same log, either sleeping off oxygen deprivation or a slight concussion from hitting the gla
ss door once before just exiting the house. I had to do a bit more chasing the second time, but out the deck door s/he eventually went.

So …I lit a fire.

Isn’t it good?

And then I found an email reply from my friend, who had consulted her oracle upon reading my first report. And no surprise in the wisdom offered up:

She will be renewed, as will you.

Old ways must pass.

A new dynamic must come into being.”

This had been my intuition about the day, through all objections of my body and psyche. And I’d given over control. But I hadn’t really thought about the significance of the bird, except to notice how his beautiful blue color seemed to pierce the dim batting around my heart and, for a fleeting moment, touch it like velvet.

I had just quipped to another friend: Divine Beauty isn’t always pretty.

But of course, that’s in the eye of the beholder.    

 UnknownThere really is no such thing as an ugly duckling, only a swan on a detour.

No matter how I felt, I had just been shown a bird flying out of ashes.

All I had to do was open the door!

And in case I didn’t get it,  it happened again.  

Just like us, perhaps song-birds like to return to their dark place a few times before they choose to live somewhere else.

Chocolate Eclipse II

I wrote the following as I monitored the recent Full Blood Harvest Moon Eclipse, but then the piece itself got buried as I waited for a picture. So, I post this as the moon wanes and disappears for its habitual monthly rebirth, this time one requiring no costume change. I watched an allegedly not quite so “super” blood moon of this kind back in 1996, about which a short account can be found in my book, Blue Tranparent Face.  This becomes the bookend to that piece, extenuating any mediocrity here.Image

Full Blood Harvest Super Moon

Big Light…peering cagey around the stage curtains, hiding its wound behind the hills. 

Soft amber sphere seeming crisper and rounder for its strange bruise, the bite dissolving its left cheek, finally justifying that surprised expression—the silent gasp—that searches for our gaze each night. You’d look that way too if your big brother punched you. 

…We don’t know the shadows we cast sometimes. But that’s the way it works here in the world of “solidity;” we all cast shadows. Nowhere can we stand in the sight and Light of God, and not throw a shadow on someone or something. Not by malice, but by existence, by the mass of our 21 grams of will.   

So don’t apologize. The earth doesn’t. 

Neither does the moon, when it dances across the sun, frightens the bejeezus out of primitive populations and spawns a hundred myths.

But today the moon plays small fry, bully’s foil on the playground, face compressed in a head-lock.  “Ooooww,” a thousand upward-gazing witnesses project, in a hundred different languages, from the pool of collective memory.  “Stop.  You’re hurting me!”

Quietly, stoically, a new sphinx, his nose recedes.

And the squat crescent becomes a Cyclops…soon relinquishing sight, then face, altogether—and with it all pathos.

See how, as the dark gains ground and seems to win, and the hole in which our hero is buried seems to fill in, somehow the ember glows more luminously, an undying memory of what lives in our hearts in our darkest forgetting.

Until our little friend, who has been shrinking all this while, goes dark, well nearly: asymptotically. Life seems to blush and breath faintly on.

And as we hold vigil, the evening does not stop: hear the dogs bark; the breeze swells as the first leaves this season to turn the color of an eclipsed moon rattle on their branches. They might let go tonight, and but in their rustling gyrations, they keep our sleeping prince above awake, just enough. 

Cars hiss along upon the highway, oblivious, as if it is just another night. And it is.  For Sun, Moon and Earth, the players in our celestial drama, it is business as usual, except perhaps for Mother Earth feeling the tide swelling higher than usual along the waist of her ever-pregnant belly.

And the moon, does it feel a chill there in the shade? The sun, does it hurl a few extra beams her way to compensate?

We’ve seen this before. We know how it ends. The nice news-lady told us.  But as we look up at the tawny drooping eyelid, a frog’s eye nearly erased, at our singed moon, something primal in us wonders. Something far newer in us wants to fast forward to the happy ending. The adult in us want to go take care of some chores. The child in us, the child of the universe, the child of innocence, the champion of the underdog, feels obliged to keep vigil.

I looked up from typing that sentence and the moon had disappeared. I had blinked, left our champion alone, and he had been taken away. So I typed that sentence, looked up and he was back.  Ah! Clouds have entered the game.  As in any true epic of a hero, we meet unexpected travellers at every turn.  So Earth has called in the flying monkeys, for dramatic effect.

Today’s Course in Miracles lesson, aptly enough, was  “I will not use the body’s eyes today.” If I did, I’d believe the moon gone and the Light vanquishable. But in my mind and heart, I still see the undying light, and I salute it as I go from the front porch to the back deck, where I will sleep a while, and wake to meet the light on the other side.

Poetry, plurality and paradox

I hadn’t posted anything to the blog in a while. So, as I took stock of the past days’ whirlwind, and the wispiest conceit, born of real experience and captured as a word sketch in my journal, caught my eye and imagination, I decided it might pass muster for the Verse page of this blog. 

Sometimes in the moment, the poet is moved, but too much devoted to inhabiting the present to grab a pen, or put on the wordsmith’s tunnel vision goggles.  The mystic must open her heart and let the moment and the petals of the pretty conceit flow in. But she must be willing to let go, to let them float on out of the mind if they must. If Grace smiles and a few words and images cling to the banks there, they can be collected later, and reassembled.  

Then it becomes a process of channelling and translation, from wordless impressions–sensations, fragrances, ideas, ephemeral eddies of irony– into language that reflects the images or carries their bouquet.

One might trim, consolidate, clarify or polish, but generally for a conceit this slight, one doesn’t apply much editorial pressure.  And so it was, I emailed the poem to a handful of folks, posted it to the verse page of this blog, and moved on, massaging any giddy residues of it out of mind and heart with a morning yoga practice.

The first friend to acknowledge it, did so with a correction. 

M, zoon not zoa — the latter is plural  😐 ” he had typed, referring to the line: “A missile, a spermatozoa.”

“Grumph,” I thought. But as an editor who focuses on helping fellow travelers express right brain material into left brain language with the least impairment of the subtle transmission possible, I knew that I must receive the correction with Grace, as Grace.  So, I labored little in amending the line, relaxing the pincers of perfectionism and giving it its own life.

It all evoked two memories. The first of how my dear friend Steve used to object to my tendency to correct his written verbiage, choosing to emphasize the words over the heart expressing through them. Having been raised to over-value language, perhaps, I thought my friend thin skinned…at the time.  

And then there was the incident, well over a decade ago now, when I sent my mother a section of an editing project I’d been working on, so that she could see what I was up to, could glimpse the subject matter that interested me (and which was more available to me in the part of the country I chose to live).

As a mother who had given editorial input as she typed my papers throughout high school and college (and as a librarian habituated to shining the light of literacy in the murky waters of socio-economic strata where survival still trumped such concerns),  she sent the excerpt back to me in her next letter, wriggling with red worms of correction.  My heart grimaced; my mind objected; but I understood that she meant well. This was how she could help; this was what she valued.  She had chosen to value grammatical standards over the far less quantifiable realms of the heart and spirit.  

In this project I had shared with her, a catalog for a school for nutrition and healing, I had delicately straddled these worlds. Seeking to make it literate and clear without constraining or stultifying the intent and content of the material, which was aimed at folks less concerned with rigors of historical linguistic standards.  Language is ever evolving, and while we must appreciate the value of the standards in maintaining clarity and credibility, rigidity kills.

The experience, of course, provoked my own personal issues around not feeling seen or understood. But it also promoted a very immediate compassion for both “sides” of the argument, and redoubled my dedication to weaving a strong, flexible communication between them in my own skill and service as an editor.

Each such collision is an opportunity to listen and learn. And for that I give thanks.  Heart and mind are not separate, but when they appear to be, we often use words as a zipper, instead of tapping juice where it is most alive in that living synapse between them.

You may still find the poem that prompted this blog post on the verse page: Meta, with Metta.