Gate, Gate, Paragate

So many trails before me today. One curl of trail called particularly, and when I spied a gate beyond it on the far ridge, my feet began to move almost of their own accord, so I made it my destination.

Some would say I have sat on the fence all my life.

That looked like a problem until I realized I am a Gatekeeper.

Where else is there to sit?

Arriving at the gate, I climbed its rungs, not to venture beyond it (along the road I found there); just because it asked to be climbed. And there I sat…on a gate upon a mesa, by a road I could not name.

I sat in the fragrant company of a cedar abristle with a rugged and earthy fecundity almost unsettling to me. I am still a neophyte at embodiment it seems; not flower but pollinator, and for a more rarified seed. Something in my instrument fears its filters will be clogged by such thick, sticky and unabashed prolificacy.

I sit on this gate, content to survey a landscape, a townscape, offering more questions than answers. But from this distance, on this gate, I know all I need to.

Lizard and moth pass through and under the gate, oblivious to its function. But I am content to stop here, to climb it, not go beyond it, to sit on this gate, by this road without a name.

I ask a passing cyclist, “What road is this?” A pause while she considers and passes behind me, so I must swivel my head 220 degrees to catch her answer over my other shoulder.

“Buckman. …?” she says with a question in her tone.

“Okay.” I say, because it really doesn’t matter.   She rides on some yards, but I feel her turn back, and I look to greet her approach.

“That’s not right,” she says, because to some folks truth still matters. “Buckman is over there,” pointing with full length of arm. “This one is something like ‘Rio….Vista?’” Again, an upturned sentence, leaving room for error.

“Does it let out onto 599?” I inquire further, as if it matters. She hedges her bets, not certain, but reassures me there is probably a way to get there from here.

“No worries,” say I, “Just curious. I can look it up,” with little intention to do so, only to put her at ease.

   And off she rides, having done her best, in case it mattered. And leaving me pleased that she was riding a road she could not name. Some roads are named for their destination; some for the experience they offer (Rio Vista, for instance). And this was a road of decent pavement, graceful curves and scant traffic; just a road connecting other roads, for a ride without a particular destination. What mattered on this road was not the name, but the experience.

I mused that the road I’m on does not tell me its name, but it feels like a good road. And even as gatekeeper, I cannot tell you what is on your road beyond this gate; but I know it is good.

The city before me, the litter at my feet, it all looks good from here. Because nothing is bad when you sit on the fence….if you are a gatekeeper.

Advertisements

Happy Mother’s Day…

O, DU BON

“I’ve never seen a sky so blue!”

exclaimed my New York Jewish film professor, visiting from the city.

We were in Sedona.

We weren’t there for the vortexes,

though I cannot now be sure they were not without influence,

as he became increasingly and comically bewitched by the preternatural preponderance of phallic protuberances looming everywhere he looked,

magnified, frozen-magma monuments to the Freudian,

on which a buried boyhood could clamber up

from beneath the layered and cracking patina of adulthood,

as a spring bursts forth to fill that big sky.

Now, twenty years on,

after months of coping and chaffing under life’s constraints,

I have wandered in sandals through late spring snow to be cradled and cleansed in the breath of sighing pines.

I lay my head back on cold granite

and I hear his words fly up to meet that same sky

of ageless, medicinal blue;

benevolent screen for all my projected hopes;

blotter for the hemorrhage of collected demons;

and singing a silent song of release to this ischemic heart.

*   *   *

Here, I AM.

*   *   *

Here,

where my mother never went, or wanted to,

I am more myself,

and better able to know, honor and absolve

the courage and contortions of her soul…

the camouflaged triumph of her life.

M.L., MayDay, 2017

Alta Mater

Alta Mater

The day is perfect!                                                                                                                                         

The canyon is wall to wall applause:

Every pine needle is laughing

     Whole bows bouncing,

         Whole trees dancing;

Their mirth billowing upward in clouds of yellow confetti.

Celebration needs no justification,

But today is witness to a graduation.

The breeze is becoming a wind.

Hear it oscillating one to the other in an adolescence

   unpredictable, but fluid;

more graceful than the voice of a boy

   calling himself to manhood

   through a larynx climbing backward,

   in wrong-footed shoes

down a deepening throat.

Occasionally a pinecone breaks free,

Bouncing from branch to bow

   amid this audience of lanky misfits

    down to the thick-woven floor

And blending in,

Disappearing,

Like the jettisoned mortar-board ,

   Having made its last, high-hurtling statement,

Disappears among shiny shoes and robes.

They’ve gone quiet now.

Are my thoughts too loud?

Am I interrupting a speech?

Shhhh…

I will let this conceit fall to my lap,

Just another name in the program celebrating

1000 names for the One Self.

Graduation is perpetual here.

What is there to say, really,

that isn’t said daily

in the ever flipping coins and blinking quarks of life and death,

And in the wind born again and again

   and milling between the

     Is and isn’t,

     the standing and falling,

       the logs now hollow and still clad in green.

It is always graduation day, here;

Though here are no teachers or students;

Only contagion:

   The contagion of becoming.

And the silence breathing,

   sounding the notes behind every voice,

As the mountainside sings my Alma Mater.

(No Pomp; All Circumstance.)

ML
May 13, 2017
Bear Canyon, Randall Davey Audubon Center,
Santa Fe, NM

A Week’s Winter of Discontent

          This particular depression is seasonal, in that it follows a cycle, a schedule both predictable and mysterious. Each year, whether I anticipate it or not, it descends, wraps me in a cocoon of fog, walks me through a bog of stupidity. Once I recognize it, I can accept and ride it, but I cannot escape it, until the veil lifts.

           It comes twice a year, once in January, once in May, in the days surrounding the death anniversaries of my two parents, forever coloring my birthday and Mother’s day, which always fall in the same weeks. As years pass, it changes flavor, but, so far, not power nor punctuality. It descends and oppresses, the way I imagine the pollution storms do in China. Visibility and expectations plummet. Life goes on, but in a head wind; everything is, for a time, different.

           Depression is a Winter, of sorts. It doesn’t kill, it eclipses, occludes, infiltrates what is alive with a Botox of death, crowding and smothering soul and sentience with discontent… disconnection. It is an invasive weed, come– like our new president– to trample refinement and subtlety it doesn’t recognize, because that is what it knows how to do.

            It’s sin but not sinister. It is the ignorance of that which does not know Grace. It can be made of life, even made by Grace, but packed too tightly and chaotically in the space, so that it knows only rankling, distortion and the darkness cast by its own density.

            But who or what is it that is actually depressed? It isn’t that which is always Alive here. And it isn’t the deadness here that thuds in contrast. It is that sensitive, self-aware, living membrane in between, which objects, chafes, frets and flails, and like anyone in quicksand, digs itself in deeper.

            This Depression is not something to resist, to do anything about. It is something to be still with, until the eyes adjust to the Dim and you illuminate it from within by the simple, rarified light of your being. The room may be airless, and maybe you can’t stay there; but your visits make a difference: Compassion, acceptance, witness are a contagion. Perhaps you do not feel better, but you do feel, and you don’t flinch; and that is a start. You include the one that occludes; and that makes you bigger.

            Some depression can be understood, and dispelled. Some, like this one, does not ask to be understood. It is fumes emanating from the leaky mines of history, asking only to be acknowledged, accepted, like a stain, which itself is blameless; like the sins of the fathers; like the child of a rape.

            Forgive it what it doesn’t know it does, and, anon, it will tell you what you do not know. What it tells you may not be true, but it is a story that has risen for redemption.

            I resist depression because it forgets me who I am. But I have learned compassion: At least I have known who I am (or at least enjoyed the illusion). Depression itself never has. This is why we fear it and why it pursues us. It is the Undead pursuing the Not dead.      We survive by knowing the difference.

No Matter What…

No matter what you are
I will always be with you
Doesn’t matter what you do girl, oh girl, with you…

     Last night I discovered a mistake in my check register, which, given my super snug budget, sent up a spasm of panic, as arithmetic told me that if all transactions cleared before I could fix it, I’d be overdrawn. It’s always remarkable to witness how one’s state can change so dramatically in an instant, whether the stimulation is real or imagined. From one second to the next the body and psyche go from contented ease to gripped, adrenalized anxiety and fixation.

     After doing all I could to rectify the situation, I retired to my sleeping quarters (currently my van), and yielded to the wise and wakeful witness within, which suggested that I meditate. As I sat and watched, with partial remove, the snit and snarl still ensnaring my body-mind; I came to accept that I could not unravel it. So meditation gave way to prayer.

     Although I could quite reasonably tell myself that, in the greater scheme of things, this didn’t matter; and that if the worst thing I was imagining and resisting actually happened, I’d survive and I wasn’t worthless; I had neither the skill nor power to calm the seized aspects of myself. I could only witness as this creature body and deep psyche was tangled in perfection programming and in the vague, amalgam “memory” of being called worthless after some error resulting from lack of foresight. This contempt of human fallibility, in the voice of my father, is deeply rooted; and, now triggered, it ran unstoppably along its own dedicated psychic wiring, separate from all concurrent reason and spiritual knowing, and lighting up the emotional and physical circuits.

What we learn earliest dies hardest, it seems.

     Seeing that both the Christ Mind and personal mind were on line and broadcasting, but that the fret was broadcasting more loudly, through more primal circuits, I simply prayed for healing; to be shown how to meet this, even if it could not be resolved. I acknowledged my willingness to surrender; and I intended the best outcome, independent from any notions that the worst conceivable outcome was necessary punishment.

     I lay down for sleep, which came swiftly. I woke in the wee hours, not consciously considering last night’s vexations, and I dozed fitfully until light. Shortly after I had cajoled myself out of the warm sleeping bag and into the day, I noticed a 1970 Badfinger song playing in my head. This was not a song I knew well. I wasn’t even sure of the song’s title. Recognizing this to be one of my “morning songs,” (messages from Grace using deep musical archives), I listened. That is, I took notice and Googled the full lyrics.

     Quite a revelation. I had supposed Badfinger songs to be catchy but relatively empty pop (even in spite of the band’s association with the Beatles). But the song, “No Matter What,” is one of those scriptures camouflaged as a pop-song by lyrical devices like gender specific pronouns (he/she) or personal address, like “you,” “babe,” or, in this case, “girl.”

     If you adjust your goggles, such songs are everywhere: Songs of Divine Love–what else is there, really?— hidden in plain sight. This one is an illumination on Separation Consciousness, or the Unconditional Love beyond it.

    So, the revelation was two-fold. One awoke me to the substance of a Badfinger song. The other reminded me, once again, how held we are, how responsive the Deep (or Divine) Psyche is, and how prayers are as powerful as we are open; how Spirit (or whatever you call the power and intelligence beyond our little selves), is always here for us, with us, IN us.

      Spirit may not fix a bank account, but it can lovingly show us where to focus instead.

     We need only be willing, open to being surprised, open to its messages (more with gentle expectancy than precise expectation). They will come uniquely to each of us, but they are awash with a knowing we will recognize.

     These gifts we receive from the Intimate Infinite are investments: Each one makes us fretful little humans more faithful, more willing and able to “knock down that old brick wall” and TRUST.

     Trust gives us access to a far greater resource, often (and quite mysteriously) fixing the bank account in the process.

…Knock down the old brick wall, and be a part of it all
Nothing to say, nothing to see, nothing to do
If you would give me all, as I would give it to you
Nothing would be, nothing would be, nothing would be

No matter where you go
There will always be a place
Can’t you see in my face girl, oh girl won’t you

Knock down the old brick wall, and be a part of it all
Nothing to say, nothing to see, nothing to do
If you would give me all, as I would give it to you
Nothing would be, nothing would be, nothing would be

No matter what you are
I will always be with you
Doesn’t matter what you do girl, oh girl with you

Oh girl, you girl, want you
Oh girl, you girl, want you

(1970, Badfinger)