As I meditate…

A dry autumn leaf floats and tumbles free along the wood boards

…until the breeze carries it to perch vertically against the strap of my empty sandal

like a gymnast pivots at the bar. 

It balances there, bisected, teetering, until the breeze dies

 and it drops to the floor of the shoe,

resting lightly on my sole,

less lightly on my soul.

How like Life…

We float along a while, free as a leaf on the winds of our fate,

thinking this must be our path, our trajectory, our purpose—

to float free, to travel this direction, at just this velocity.

…Until we meet an obstacle, and a mind might decide,

“Ah, my road thus far has lead me here, to my true purpose, to balance here, skillfully.”

…Until the wind dies, and the leaf falls.

If one’s triumph was balance, falling looks like failure.

And the mind might say, “What a poor lot, poor leaf, with no mission, no agency; dependent on the whims of the air to move it through the world.”

…Until the next breeze sweeps the leaf along the tunnel between straps and sole,

toward the open toe, and the promise of freedom.

And the mind might conclude, “Ah! I see, of course. The goal was to move forward all along. The strap was an obstacle. The leaf could only proceed by falling.”

…And now it waits, rocking on the idling engine of the wind,

filling the space of an empty sandal with a blush of color,

simply being itself, fully,

…and the object of a meditation.

… Thus does it move the world through the butterfly wings of one mind’s thoughts… about autumn

…and a thousand other mysteries.


Mission of Mercies, Part I

Om Suklam Baradharam Vishnum
Shashi Varanam Chatur Bhujam
Prasanna Vadanam Dhyaye
Sarva Vighnopa Shantaye

It’s a Sanskrit prayer to Ganesh, “conqueror of obstacles” in the Hindu tradition. I chant it almost involuntarily most mornings, or at the start of any venture. I did so as I set forth Tuesday afternoon for Colorado.  In the back of my van, I carried eight paintings along-side my bed, held in place by my laptop case, my cooler and some ceremonial clothes. I had packed light, but I carried in my heart willingness, and in my tired body hopes for a soak in a hot spring or two along the way.

I’d been “hired” by friends to deliver the paintings to family near Colorado Springs. I drove the familiar road north past Ojo Caliente, and through Carson National Forest, where I recently spent a blessedly quiet weekend at Tres Piedras.  This trip has not been so tranquil, but it is a successful mission so far.

Old friends have sung the praises of the improvements to what is now called Sand Dunes Recreation Center. (I’ve known it over the years as Hooper Pool and Sand Dunes Swimming Pool.) So, that was to be my first stop.  I drove into Colorado’s San Luis Valley as the sun was setting, and I watched the light Sand Dunes themselves loom in deepening shadow against dark hills, as the sun’s liquid flame evaporated from the shoulders and then heads of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains. The high peaks are bald; no snow yet this year. On the drive north I have seen not a single glacier on the Fourteeners.

I was pleased to find that I’d arrived at this hot-spring complex on “family night.” In the past, that would have been less welcome news; I wanted a peaceful soak. But now, with their new “21 and older” wing, called “The Greenhouse,” I benefitted from discounted admission without having to actually share pools with squealing children.

At first I was chagrinned to hear loud music as I walked the blue-lit corridor between wings, but as I slid back the door, I was greeted by a tastefully lit expanse of space, with tables and chairs and hot pools of varying temperature interspersed among hundreds of tropical plants.  The music volume was more reasonable here, and, even though there is a wet bar at the entrance, so were the people, scattered around in pools, sipping wine and chatting.

I still prefer no music and no alcohol, and also no clothes; but this would do just fine tonight. So said my road-weary flesh, as I sank into the 103 degree pool.  The music was geared for my generation: 70’s and 80’s folk-pop, creeping into more recent years and edgier instrumentation as the evening progressed. But the volume was companionable and helped divert my attention from the conversation of the potato farmer, his wife and his friend in the pool with me, gave me something familiar to float my mind on.  At one point my eye caught movement in the distance before me; a fist-size frog had jumped from a sunken bed and splat-landed on the walkway opposite, near where I’d set my bags. I rather hoped I’d find he’d stowed away in them later.  But when I left two hours later, my things were frog-free.

At 9pm I drove north and east into the hills above Crestone, to a parking area at the foot of the Temple Footpath of the Haidakhandi Ashram. My headlights illuminated a cheerful sign that I painted years ago, marking the trail. I turned off lights and engine, crawled in the back and slept until it seemed a reasonable hour to grind my engine up the steep drive, shower and prepare for morning Aarati (sung prayers) in the Temple.

It was Wednesday morning: Ganesh Day. So, there was an extra Aarati to him: Jai Ganesha, Jai Ganesha, Jai Ganesha Deva. Mata Teri Parvati Pita Mahadeva. 

On Ganesha Day, the Divine Mother wears Green, for new beginnings and growth, perhaps.

Ganesh is often called “remover” of obstacles, but, given that meeting and overcoming obstacles promotes growth, Ganesha would be the one to place necessary challenges in our path, as well. Thus is the mettle tested and the spiritual ardor forged.

Don’t I know it…pant, pant.

That said, I surrendered, and the day went smoothly.  I was given assignments for more sign making, one of my favorite tasks at the Ashram. Though years pass, and I don’t get there near as often as I’d like lately, many of the signs you see when you visit are still mine.

I got to spread out on the lawn and paint a couple of larger ones, in the good company of my able assistant, Karma Kitty.

After Aarati the first morning, Jonathan and I were alone for the daily fire ceremony.

The following day, there were four of us, and I got to make the ceremonial offerings for the first time. What a gift. Most participants offer Samagri, a simple mixture of grains, seeds, fruit and ghee that feels great in the hands, as it represents nourishment, and our gratitude for the material and spiritual nourishment that perpetually sustains us.

Visiting the Ashram this time was a young Czech woman, who was on her way to study with Master Mingtong Gu, near Santa Fe. Since I help facilitate community practices of his Wisdom Healing QiGong, and both Lenka and I have been yoga instructors and massage therapists, we had plenty in common. That evening, Lenka graciously offered some skillful massage work to my back and hip, which were less content about sign-making session on the lawn than the rest of me!

After the next mornings’ rituals, I was off north again to deliver those paintings.  I took a route I hadn’t been on for over a decade. Hwy 50 winds alongside the Arkansas river through the mountains from Salida on through Canon City. It is a beautiful drive! Then 115 takes you on around the mountains that make the imposing backdrop for Colorado Springs and, as it passes Fort Carson military installations and rows of associated residences (impressively bedecked with solar panels), eases you into the city.  My destination was well up on the lap of the mountain, among pines and scrub oak.

After a short visit, and an introduction to a new breed of dog– the Hungarian Visla– I launched forth to try to skirt as much as I could of Denver’s notorious traffic along the foothills toward Indian Hills, where dear friends awaited me, including Shirley’s fetching Ganesh, pictured at the top of this post. He hangs outside their cabin, blessing the garden and passersby.

After inspection of their brand-new bathroom, and catch-up time over a dinner made especially satisfying because I didn’t have to make it, I retired to my van. It got chilly in the night, probably close to 35 F. And the sun didn’t come out until about 2pm. So I was glad that Shirley and Jim have renovated a little travel trailer (The Vardo) in their back yard; it is a refuge for travelers, like me, who are allergic to Quatro, the feline Mistress of the homestead. It is from that little casita that I typed most of this post, until it was hospitable to lounge out in their enchanting garden, which has been a source of great solace for me over the years. It is a place full of life and mischief. Anywhere you look, you find a Deva real or imagined. Faces smile at you from everywhere, all fashioned by Shirley’s skilled hands and impish heart. Among the flowers and vegetables, gaze fanciful frogs, serpents, gnomes, sprites, and more.  All around, up and down, squirrels dash, tiny birds dart, deer saunter; the occasional raven caresses the scene with its shadow, and a magpie will abrade or abraid the air, depending on your mood.  Eden? Yep. …At least today.


This Sunday, I did not get to take refuge out of town. I was preparing for a trip out of town later in the week. So, I ran errands.  I was suitably frazzled when I returned, and I retired early, knowing that Monday would start early and consist of a quadruple feature of challenges: car stuff, money stuff, bureaucracy and The Man.

I didn’t even get a chance to do a morning QiGong practice. Some days I get my exercise jumping hoops in an ongoing SSI case.

So, for contrast, today’s post explores a different jungle altogether: The unwielldy institution, the lattice of concrete and paper, built less upon the survival of the fittest,more on the Peter Principle.

On September 13, a letter came from SSA saying that they had not received the tax forms they needed from me; and if they didn’t not get them by today, 9/24, my pending application would be denied.

Of course, I remembered quite clearly having gone to my storage unit, extracted those records, brought them to Santa Fe (where I could photo copy them all), and then having packaged up a meaty stack of various documents and forms and sent it off at the post office. So, I began my near daily phone calls, trying to determine whether the forms were actually missing or just overlooked, and whom I must speak to for the answer. I reached many folks, most of them competent, some even concerned. One eventually did extra homework and deduced 1) that it was a certain Ms. K. C., who had sent the letter, and 2) what it was she was trying to learn from them.  But no one could be sure if the forms were actually in my file or not. One fellow reported they were, but it wasn’t clear.

Somewhere in the course of these days, averaging more that one call per day, a faint memory surfaced and strengthened. It was from the inquiries I made around the time I first assembled the parcel of documents and information to send in. It was one of the handful of representatives I spoke to then, telling me that she “guaranteed” that she/they “did not need” my tax forms.  As the memory took substance, my heart sank and my center gripped. Had I not sent them after all?!…Even though I have learned to take cautiously anything these people say, knowing from experience that, if I call and reach another, the assertion of the first is likely to be contradicted by the second.

As the deadline crept closer, I learned that Ms K.C. was out of the office a few days, until Thursday 20th, and that I had no recourse but to call her then. On that day, I called and reached another agent, who basically said that K.C. was busy, but that K.C. had communicated that she would not extend my deadline for getting the forms in by the following Monday.  The agent advised me to take them into SSA office in Santa Fe and have someone there scan them into the system.

Monday came, and after taking my vehicle to the repair shop early, I took my documents, in a borrowed car, to the local bureau and sat studying the Lord’s Prayer in Aramaic in a well-populated waiting room while the 25 or so people ahead of me were served.

My fellow waiting citizens were quiet and good-natured. It was diverting to watch their faces as each entered, sized up the crowd in the waiting room and what the system was for being served, their eyes finally finding the “register here and take a number” machine on the opposite wall, or turning to the security guard for guidance. When he was at his post, he seemed a very congenial, even compassionate fellow, well suited to his tedious charge.

Everybody there had a story; it was a room full of beautifully burdened and unique doing the best I cans. My blurred memory would not allow me to sketch many here. But I do remember the token black man, mostly because he had a bright white t-shirt on that said something like,  “It isn’t luck, I’m Irish,” in large green lettering. He pulled a petite grey dog along behind him on a fleece blanket. This melted the room and made his emboldened eccentricities more amiable.

At last number 315 was called, and I went to the window of a Mr. L. Castro and explained what I needed. Because I had double-sided copies of my forms, he had to fax all thirteen sheets twice. He gave me back my papers, I thanked him multiply and earnestly, and I went outside to call SSA AlbQ, to report the accomplishment and to ask them to be on the look out for the papers and call me to confirm receipt.

I got a less motivated employee on the line this time.  Unable to locate the documents easily, she gave me K.C.’s voicemail. I left a message that I regretted was far too long, and I hoped for the best. I then headed off to deliver some other documents to Human Services.  Once there, I found myself unduly anxious that these would not get received properly. The woman did her best to reassure me.

As I left the building, I received three calls in quick succession, each diverting the next to voicemail. Among them was a phone message from an SSA employee in Raleigh, North Carolina, who had just received the 28 page fax from Santa Fe.  She had done due diligence and looked up my name, found only closed cases, but called the number on my file. “Had I never had a case in North Carolina? Why had my fax come to them?” she wondered. Who wouldn’t?

I confess,  I began to cry, as my exertions had taken me from the ridiculous to the absurd. I explained that the documents had been meant for the Albuquerque office only 60 miles south of me.   She said she would find the number and call them and get the right fax number. Her name was Jenethra or Geneva. And I send beams of appreciation her way.

Meanwhile, I had two other voicemails. One announced that my van was ready for pick up. The other was a return call from one of the many representatives I had spoken to in the days since receiving the Ms. K.C.’s letter. This woman had also been doing her homework. She reported that my tax forms were there.

I called SSA AlbQ again, and talked to Dolores, who was also solicitous, and, hearing about the diversion of my forms to North Carolina, said she would call Jenethra and give her the right fax number. I didn’t get a chance to even mention the new input: that the forms might already be there.

Jenetrha called later to say she’d gotten a fax confirmation, and that she hoped they had truly arrived. So do I.  But I admit I was had been so exercised by the morning, I no longer had the steam to care.



Life attracts Life

     Our tools and our vehicles are extensions of us. It’s an easy enough statement to agree with. But the ramifications reach beyond a surface understanding.
     Yes. My pen is a tool that extends my thoughts to a wider audience. My car allows me to travel longer distances.  A blog gets my thoughts to a wider audience quicker than car and pen combined.
     But our habitual tools become our familiars, in a way, like pets. It would seem they fall into sympathy with our own broadcast.  Many people operate as if these tools are incapable of sympathetic entrainment. But we’ve all seen the experiments in which multiple clocks, with pendula and ticking at first cacophonously out of sync, come into sync in relatively short order. If we are all comprised of the same stuff, the same vibrating particles, this should really be no surprise.
     Years ago, I wrote a silly letter to Click and Clack on Car Talk, recounting my historic tendencies to share symptoms with my cars. The more empathic I became, the more pronounced this tendency grew. I can no longer find the letter, which was full of examples. And I never did send it.
     But recently I was reminded of the phenomenon. After having body repairs to my current vehicle in roughly the same place—the left rear quadrant— twice since I acquired it, someone backed into me in exactly the left rear corner of the van again this month.  I could only smile, almost amused.
     The dent looked like a kiss.
Did you know the French word for “to wound” is “blesser.” 
Wound as blessing.  
      I have had issues in my left hip and haunch for some time; my mother had such issues before me. The impression echoes from the depths. 
     When I got my van from my friend, it had the first bite already taken out of it.  My friend is also an empath. As I discussed this phenomenon with her at lunch this week, she reminded me that her bum hip is the left one, too.  The imprint is multiple. Vulnerabilities live remembered the energetic field, extending into, and influencing, not only our bodily vehicles, but our automotive ones.
     Like attracts like.  During my years of study in energetic medicine, it was a common understanding that if someone keeps injuring or developing problems in the same location, it is a call from the field for attention.  These places are our blind spots, places seeded with a wound, sometimes from before birth.  Conscious embodiment is a process of meeting those, letting them surface for healing: whatever that looks like.
     So, I’ve been musing, free-associating with whatever significances come to my consciousness. I could never enumerate them all—a lifetime’s worth—and I declare no conclusions here. But I’ll muse on a little more.
     The joints of our bodily foundation, the low back, the hip, and even the knees, are associated with issues of supportedness.  A lot of us have supportedness issues in this culture.  I certainly do! And a lot of us have back, knew and hip issues.
     The fellow who backed into me wanted to take care of the damages out of pocket, without taking a hit on his insurance premiums. As my mother’s daughter, I understood his frugality and was willing to honor it.   But in the spirit of  “Trust in Allah, but tie up your camel,” I asked around about this man’s integrity.  I got the impression that he is a decent guy, but had had some hard knocks and was maybe a bit “bitter.”  Hearing this helped focus my hunch that this incident wasfor healing, but NOT just my own.  Not just mine, not just his, not just my mom’s, but any of us with resonant wounding.
     So I said my prayers and tiptoed through negotiations with both a firm stance and an open heart, with compassion for all of us.  He came through with the money, and on the day I picked up his check, he was more relaxed, his face very different from the sweaty, pinched and stressed visage I’d beheld right after impact. 
     As I sat on the bench with him, my heart swelled a little. I went to his bank, cashed the check, savored a few minutes with a rare handful of crisp hundred dollar bills, and then handed them over to Ben’s Auto-body Repair.
     I went to Albuqeruque over night in a borrowed vehicle and visited the dear friend who had banged out the original dent in my van. He now has sickness in his left frontquadrant, the lower intestine.  As an empath, just being in his presence the next morning, my own body had six bowel movement in response to his own body’s struggle to have one.
     These are just a few of the hundreds of daily reminders that we are not as separate as we have been taught we are; hurting is everyone’s and healing is everyone’s. And every Body—car, star, bird, beast, ghost, angel, Trump, Buddha, and any of a myriad other thought-forms– conspires to help us, if we are willing.

  *   *   *   *   *


     I wrote the above paragraphs sitting just over three feet from a rivulet of the Big Tesuque creek. I had been feeling so poorly, not a little insane.  In addition to the more typical torsions of hormones and the general transfiguration, I felt like I was fighting a virus.  My mind and my viscera were tense and tangled, a tightening noose on my higher mind.  Even though I wished to stay “at home” and “in bed,” neither of which amenities I have in the conventional sense, it’s Sunday, the day I must be away from my lodgings (as mentioned in previous blog-posts). So, I packed up, and a barely-audible wisdom hinted that once I left, I’d feel better. 
I do.
     It took a while, but as soon as I had driven up the first few folds of a mountain road and the curtain of earth and trees closed behind me, my breath deepened and evened, and the vice of the mind began to relent.
     I am an empath. And as my own energies had dipped, my field became more porous, and I wasn’t able to bail as fast as I was taking on water.   No way to abandon ship, but for some of us, open sea can be safer than the harbor.
     I just drove, not knowing where until I was on my way. I drove into the eye of the storm, so to speak. I did not flee on one of the highways that spill onto (relative) flats in most directions out of town.  I turned onto the road that curls up into the cluster of Sangre de Cristo Mountains surrounded by Santa Fe settlement.
     I drove up, above the city, out of the teeming thought-grid. I drove to a high parking area, where cars were thick but the air was thin. I could feel in my fevered flesh a pulse quickened to grab for oxygen. I sat for a short while at a picnic table, until my eyes could begin to actually see the surrounds and the spectacular blue sky. I drifted back to the car and drove down the hill a ways, now that I could appreciate the view, and choose another spot, suitable for lingering.
     I swung into a picnic area, and I walked a short way into the welcome of orderly aspens, cleansing water and clear air.  I set down my chair. I ate my lunch. Eventually and uncharacteristically, I opened my computer. I rather hoped that this gracious and grounding place would help to drain all the dross and detritus out of my computer as well as myself. For I can feel how we both tend to silt in as we navigate the internet. 
     NO internet here, of course; only the original Web of Life, and a more immediate Higher Mind.  …The Mind in which all the wounds that this morning’s ego’s tantrum could throw up built the perfect storm required to blow my boat blindly to where it needed to be.
     Tanagers and chickadees flit about now. The burbling water filters out road noise. Other escapees hike by gamely, broadcasting their own relief, even glee.  Everything is stirring, but anchored to a deeper, replenishing stillness, out of which grows every breath.
     The aspens sway to a great, inaudible pulse; and their gleaming white trunks call back to me my own deep, unblemished innocence. …Like attracts like. 

Healing hides in plain sight

What intrigues me today is,
as guilt drains and guts leak,
how the word Guilt is spelled as
Gut with ill in it.


You protest that there is an “L” missing.

I find it interesting that the syllable El means God in Hebrew.

There is more to extrapolate here. But it is your turn.