Her Human Condition

     Today I led a little writing group for a couple of friends.  We sat in the relative quiet of DeVargas Mall and wrote from several uniquely challenging prompts. Occasionally, the setting itself provided fodder, or at least comic relief.  To begin, we gathered ourselves in a meditation that I used to prepare the first prompt, part of which entailed including a dog in the scene.  Just as I uttered my instructions, my friends tittered, as a dog walked by behind me. Perfect.

     As our session went on, we became aware of more dogs, all shapes and sizes,  strolling by with people. Finally we spied the whole assembly of dogs and owners lined up on a platform at the mall’s center–free dog training class? Free nail clipping? We never learned.   But as we were wrapping up our modest labors in word-craft, a little pooch–a Peekapoo, I’m guessing– trotted by, towing a family of attendants. He stopped a few yards away and got that look. As he squatted, I commented that he was about to wash the already-glossy stone the floor. But instead, he delivered solids; cute little chocolate-covered malt balls deposited at eight-inch intervals, as he excitedly wagged onward. Even for a pack animal, the mall is a lot of stimulation. (I was a teenager once; I remember.)

     The writing varied from the personal to the just, plain silly. And the time limits (and distracting dog parade) exempted all from perfection. The point was to prime our pumps, and that we did.

     The prompts included: a contemplation (by dwellers of the Norther Hemisphere) on Easter in Autumn; short eulogies using five provided words; a limerick about a Blue Schmoo; “His tombstone read UberProtoPanacea;” and a Haiku about any Broadway musical.  

     There is no right or wrong in these circles. If we digress from the original prompt as we follow where the creative energy takes us, all the better. Prompts are just launch pads; the trajectory from there is part of the juicy mystery.

     One of the only rules in these gatherings is to minimize grimaces and disclaimers about one’s work or talent.  So, when I felt charge of self-dissatisfaction building in the circle, I assigned an impromptu detour, a short portrait of each of us, as if written by someone else, about that feeling and our regard for our own writing.

     I close with one of the responses, which, like much free writing, reaches beyond a mere prompt into soul-speak:

It’s never enough. She is capable of such beauty; she vomits beauty. But it’s never enough, just Bactine on a Broken Heart.     It cannot slake her thirst for the cure for her human condition.   And so she dismisses the Miracle of the flowers blooming from her footsteps.     Is this humility or just the greed of the hopeless?

Keep living, loving, writing and dancing, everyone.

 

 

 

 

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The final stretch

The Miracle is too big for this body,

and for the little mind it is assigned

so that they keep each other blind,

forbidding each to cross the line…

of chalk, of sand… …of time.

 

The Miracle is too big for this body.

The sinews whine as they unwind

and sear and shear the ties that bind,

’til Liberation feels unkind.

And all relief I seek to find,

and the Light for which I pine

–and know is already mine–

hides behind the exit sign.

 

The Miracle engulfs this body.

I marinate in nectar’s brine,

skewered on Shiva’s triple tines,

praying for the anodyne

until dissolves the final rind

of the separated mind.

ML 4/6/2018

 

 

On Easter, guidance quietly whispered that I must resume writing daily.  Try to post daily, it further nudged.  

I will try for the former. And though the latter is unlikely, I ask advance pardon for the uptick in the inboxes of subscribers.  

It is said that the personal speaks to the universal. Let us hope that even unpalatable poetry holds merit and ministry.

Today’s reflection, continuing the theme of Easter’s,  flowed out on April 4, 2018, the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King’s murder. The ethers were achy and unsettled that day.  My own field had already been thick, but it helped to understand why my circuits overwhelmed.

 

     In the darkest, closest moments of any blind passage, we believe in our weakness fully, even if falsely.  

We writhe in a corrosive bath, which we fear will consume us, digest us. But it never quite does. We suffer as it picks our bones, and we protest indignantly.

We mistake victim story for humility.

Confronted with depression, the spiritual ego blanches with shame,

blanches at its “helplessness,”

its unseemly ingratitude,

its incapacity,

its loss of glamour.

Yet, at the other end of its scepter, buried deep behind his own eyes, in the shell around its heart, is the very resistance generating this untenable impasse, the blinding cloud and intoxicating lie of weakness, isolation and deprivation.

We cry out, we reach for help that we believe could never be found in a self at wretched as “me.”  Yet this prayer can be spun into the gold of humility by the very Self we conceal from our own view.

And in doing so, we take one small step out of the swamp and find ourselves—miraculously– on a ledge looking back, not sure how we got there, but seeing now evidence of the answers and validations we’d been crying for so long in vain.

After an unspeakably hard day of staggering on the razor’s edge, of relentless distortion of mind, of abject exile, I humbly ventured forth—mind expecting little; heart knowing more– to a simple yoga class, led by a simple man. I took this simple step toward the body I felt shut out of and at odds with. The ogre in my pocket growled that I should use that cash for food. So it felt that much more life-affirming to give those bills away.

 Having taken action in the face of forbidding paralysis, taken one insignificant step, I disinterestedly resumed streaming Jesus Christ Superstar where it had left off the night before. On came “Gesthemene,” the number in which Jesus doubts, bargains, pleads with God and then resigns himself to his fate.

I only want to say
If there is a way
Take this cup away from me
For I don’t want to taste its poison
Feel it burn me,
I have changed I’m not as sure
As when we started
Then I was inspired
Now I’m sad and tired….

And thus was I reminded, I’ve been here before,  waking from a bad dream.

This too, this blind passage, is answer to prayers forgotten,

Is another contraction in the greater labor of Divine Birth.

Is but another crisis of faith.

All the knowing in the world could not convince me until I was ready.

Quiet Faith is as skilled as midwife as Loud Doubt is outmatched as abortionist.

Addendum: Onward All Fools

Remember, the steps to maturity are necessarily going to be immature. God is an expert at working with mistakes and failure. In fact, that is about all God does. Mistakes do not seem to be a problem for God; they are only a problem for our ego that wants to be pure spirit. We first tend to do things wrong before we even know what right feels like. I am not sure there is any other way.

–Richard Rohr

Embodied Light and Black Alchemy….

Happy Easter, All Fools.

I think it so perfect that in such serious looking times Easter and All Fools Day coincide, ushering in spring together, and reminding us that each of us must be as a child to walk in the Kingdom of Heaven, even while on Earth. (Er, child-like, not childish, Mr. Trump.)

As I navigate a passage in which layers of original and constitutional depression, the very seed bed of separation consciousness, are rising to the light to be transfigured– wrapping body and psyche in a heavy blanket,  revealing mis-stacked blocks at my core– I found solidarity in Richard Rohr’s Easter contemplation this morning.

I share most of his piece here below, followed, for contrast, by an unpolished airing– a riffing, if you will –on depression’s mysterious and morphic presence.  This piece is not complaint as much as allowing a natural keening from a sight of oft-suppressed torsion, and an honoring of the beauty even in the forces that rend the earth and cloud our vision.

A mystic recognizes depression is a phenomena of embodiment, a walking with the wounds, even in resurrection.

Richard Rohr:

…It is no accident that Luke’s Resurrection account in the Gospel has Jesus saying, “I am not a ghost! I have flesh and bones, as you can see” (see Luke 24:39-43). To Thomas he says, “Put your finger in the wounds!” (John 20:27). In other words, “I am human!”—which means to be wounded and resurrected at the same time. Christ returns to his physical body, and yet he is now unlimited by space or time and is without any regret or recrimination while still, ironically, carrying his wounds. “Before God, our wounds are our glory,” as Lady Julian of Norwich reflected. [1]

That Jesus’ physical wounds do not disappear is telling. The mystical, counterintuitive message of death and resurrection is powerfully communicated through symbol. The major point is that Jesus has not left the human sphere; he is revealing the goal, the fullness, and the purpose of humanity itself, which is “that we are able to share in the divine nature” (2 Peter 1:4), even in this wounded and wounding world. Yes, resurrection is saying something about Jesus, but it is also saying a lot about us, which is even harder to believe. It is saying that we also are larger than life, Being Itself, and therefore made for something good, united, and beautiful. Our code word for that is Heaven.

Many do believe in the bodily resurrection, as do I. But, in a way, that asks little except a mere intellectual assertion of a religious doctrine. We can go much further than that. I choose to believe in some kind of bodily resurrection because it localizes the Christ mystery in this material and earthly world and in our own bodies, the only world we know and the world that God created and loves.

Depression is a starving artist.

It has so much more to say than it can find means to speak and audience to hear.

When I feel it, like a jealous, drama-queen sibling, trying to upstage life force and belonging, it shows its truest colors, the ones even it cannot see: the rich stream of sensations, unlikely juxtapositions, running colors of subconscious.

From its acrid, steaming core billows brilliance, fueled by stolen anger.

Let it intone. Listen to it. The power that throbs from its too- tightly-wrapped wound is nuclear. Let it weep and seep;  then pour off the details of the story, and breathe to the seeds.

When I go out alone in public, to cinema or theater, I take a journal, because, brushing up against humanity that way enables me to perceive the contours of this companion inside me as an entity with which my body-mind shares real-estate. I let it speak. I let it use the colors of the crowd, and the words in my vocabulary, to riff and rap and remind us both of a vitality we forget when it’s just the two of us.

Tonight I went to a very good play, wonderfully executed, called Constellations. While waiting for the performance, I let the demon have the pen and sketch itself from my point of view.

Draining Count Fistula

Under my dais, demure doom,

Under my daffodil blanket of unrest,

Under my heavy aching breath,

Lung parched by popcorn’s perfume.

Depression by any other name

still hangs like rusted fuselage

from the ceiling, ugly but entitled

enough to command market price

of the emperor’s new electorate.

I have detached.

I gaze at 1,000 differently-dressed mirrors, 

and I recognize everyone and no one,

feel no familial love,

only the numb confusion

 of one who is only home with family 

alone under the stars.

My horizons have shrunk

as my eyes have taken root underground.

Depression is resistance to something forgotten.

 

I don’t mean to be rude;

I still love, but it’s not personal.

Ossified arrogance, invisible inheritance,

Frozen complaint, existential stench,

Heirless gloom in airless room.

Acid-sizzling sandbar of loneliness.

Curiosectomy.

What is another word for Thesaurus? 

Depression is not a word, it is living death,

–that is, a stalled composting process

masquerading as the

dedicated, hapless, asymptotic 

Fratricide of Joy;

Black alchemy.

ML
3/31/2018

Wyatt Christmas

This is my first post in months. Do not expect anything exceptional. It is just a flexing of muscles and hailing the angels from a place as fluffy and white as their home cloud,  and a singing “I Am Alive.”

I awoke this Christmas morning to a foot of fresh powder in the wooded outskirts of McCall, Idaho.

“Was this intentional?” you might well ask, knowing the astral ramblings I’m given to in this life.

I’d say, “Mostly.”

Living the dream:
White Christmas? Check.
New Snow? Check.
Is all calm? Yes.
Is all bright? Getting there; still snowing.
Before light, I took a huff puff in the new fluff, out to the road where I could walk on a plowed surface, spend less energy heaving the knees chin-ward with each step.  I wandered about chanting into the muted scene, the slick stream of pavement running through it providing the only reverb. Standing still in the dark, performing Qi Gong for the Devas, I watched morning inflate the sky.  So beautiful… and quiet, even as a little CAT snow-mover began shuttling around busily, like R2D2, making spirits brighter, and making the way safe for the humans waddling around, swaddled in down, through the near-zero-degree air.
I ducked into the lodge where my friend Jack and others were, by now, breaking fast on the spread of edibles inedible to me. I continued out onto the deck to Lift Chi Up and Pour Chi Down, as pines reached for the sky and snow for the ground. Country Christmas songs cut a warm and tinny spiral of sound into the frigid air, and I felt my heart melt open as I blended with a world both arctic and plasmic and as Glenn Campbell’s transcendent “Silent Night” redeemed humanity.
For a few timeless moments I held all the beauty and calamity, the peace and the paradox, past and future, tenderly. Simultaneously: I recalled how, years ago, while caroling on an equally freezing night, I’d for the first time really heard the deep verses of these Christmas classics, horrified by the violence hidden there. And now, seeing with different eyes, hearing with different ears, scooping my palms through the Breath of Creation, I heard the best of these songs, felt the timeless resonance of “O Holy Night.”
Don’t let the absence of sun, sand and palms fool you. This is an oasis from the colossal conundrums of my life. Once again I have allowed myself to be lifted out and reborn, if only in a bubble, to remember the why of life.
I may be here, ostensibly, to record some vocals on Jack’s holiday CD, and to capture photographs of “New Snow,” the title of the album. But I am here at Christmas, the celebration of light returning in the darkest time of year, in one of the darkest times of my life, to remember and harness the perennial rebirth and hope of this season, to remember and reclaim the Christ within and without.  I AM ALIVE. Today, that is Miracle enough.
That segues into a “poem” (below) captured from my day of travel to Idaho. But first the obligatory selfie echoing another of songs we’ll be singing on this week: “Thank You.”  Already a Classic.

 

Xmas@Airport.hum

Cold in the Breezeway…

But inside, the toilet seats never cool in the Women’s

as the line snakes down two gates to the Starbucks.

Gazing over a sea of bowed heads,

I practice QiGong in a corner.

I’d get more views on YouTube.

Perhaps the single fellow watching will post it

for the rest of the room to see.

I’m touched that an old friend braves

Xmas at an airport

to come share a hug and a smile on my layover in a once-home town.

Matching his kind exertion,

I pass through security twice.

The scanner gives me a headache,

And what passed in Albuquerque is searched in Phoenix.

What does pass while I am here is a tax bill– so unspeakably corrupt

that, for all his words, statistics and volume,

Bernie Sanders goes unheard on CNN,

And I throb with the undigested, indignant impotency of throngs I don’t even know,

…their thumbs tapping away on their glowing pacifiers.

Everything hurts. But I AM ALIVE.

It’s hard not to object; but I am alive.

I need no I-Phone; this body

provides its own distraction.

There is no airport mode.

I cannot turn it off:

I am ALIVE.

On another plane now,

Sandwiched on an exit row between peanut and pretzel.

Napkin says:

In a world of No, we’re a plane-ful of “yes.”

Yes. The plane is full.

The crossword is full.

My head is full; my mind is empty.

More hope in my pocket than my heart.

But I am alive.

The desert hills out the window

loom in a dusty haze, barren

as the moral landscape.

No hope outside.

Must find it within:

I AM ALIVE.

ml 12/20/17

Alive… and grateful for my friends…

Jack Brown

Why Wyatt? Wyatt is the name of our host at  Bear Creek Lodge, who given his size and elusiveness might actually have been part Bear.

Standing on the shoulders of Diamonds

This living boulder–

mossy diamond–

beneath your height

rises and revolves

as the shoulder

of the giants

who bequeathed this life

and privilege to evolve.

Yesterday would have been my mother’s 83rd birthday.  It was the first October 16 since her passing that I was not plowed under in a tunnel of thick astral fog. Blessed be.

I celebrated the day in service: in the morning operating a health technology that might have helped Mom see this birthday, and then later in fellowship with light workers helping to unburden all humans of the undertow which drew her asunder.

On these anniversaries, we like to honor those who gave us more than we can comprehend while they were alive.  Sometimes we do so by calling up the memory of who we thought they were. 

Eventually it feels healthier not to invoke the past, but to gratefully live as fully as possible with the gifts we carry, as they have evolved in us beyond the imaginings of the loved ones who contributed their seeds.

Our loved ones knew who we’d become no more than we did. And we knew who they were then no more than they could know who we’re becoming now.  It never ends. They live on and evolve through every heart and body they touched, not only ours. As do we. Every meeting plants a seed. It is in remembering this every hour that we honor the gardeners of yesterday.

 

The Ice Plant Cometh

     I have recently come into possession of my father’s photographic legacy. It is a formidable sorting task. The first step was simply to bring it all into the same zip code as me.  It has rained nearly every day since I retrieved it. The boxes remain in roped together, snug and dry in my van, cozying up to my bed, offering me added insulation on these wet and cool October nights.

     For the drive home, I extracted an envelope or two from an also-rans and rejects box, to give away as little tokens of sunshine, like you might hand out cookies. Smiling cards I called them.  But I gave them all away in one stroke, as I read a contemplation I’d just written about the images, before the ink could dry or I could deem it unworthy.  An act of love is never unworthy, only unpolished.

     The image he chose from the box and made into a notecard is below, along with my “contemplation.”  I won’t call it a poem…. Not unworthy, but definitely not polished.

The ice plant cometh

 

It is not one of his best portraits.

Still, it draws us closer to unsung beauty at our feet,

which I might not have noticed; but that is less the plant’s fault than mine.

She isn’t flashy; a plain Jane pretty as she is hardy.

Nor bashful, but demure in the blessing eye of his lens.

 

No sparkle, no choir. Just comely chords of Pink on Green, White on Green.

Succulent sprigs of green orzo, strung like a tangle of Christmas lights,

And flourished with a Mum’s head.

Try walking –lightly—on its woven blanket:

Soft Rabbit tails on a bed of sea vegetables:

cooling the feet, and the earth beneath.

Portulaca: holding water and innocence.

 

My father was legally blind in one eye, yet his sight could bring a flower alive,

In a way that you saw it for the first time,

into it, and in it God—

All feathers and light—

Sacred geometry—

Infinitely repeating in His hall of mirrors.

 

Dad himself only discovered color after 50 years of contrast—

Pattern and chiaroscuro:

Petroglyphs… Ansel Adams aspens…

The long arc of a train’s beam traced through a starless midnight around Tehachapi Loop.

 

Then he woke up.

Enlightenment was really InColorment.

Cactuses bloomed and so did his heart.

He opened, softened.

My father became a friend.

 

So, these unspectacular little blossoms,

in imperfect focus,

These also-ran portraits–

Mere snapshots, really–

They are little gifts from my father,

Tumbling from his wake,

Like mothballs from memory,

Rose scent wafting from a saint,

Petals scattered playfully,

unceremoniously

from the here-after.

ML
Oct 2, 2017

ALAMENTATION

We’ve both settled for too long, she and I.

Even the memory of our wings is clipped.

When I shut the screen door between us, she weighs her chances.

She waits. Then she asks.

Today her question vibrates shrilly in every taut and tender membrane of my body, rousing the pain…and the hypocrisy police.

I open the screen.

She launches through before I master the demons and change my mind.

 

When she has been outside until ready to come in, anywhere she rests inside is a throne.

Her repose is regal; her eyes clear; her aura vibrant; her whiskers longer; and her coat shinier, even after all that rolling in the dust.  

Her presence is saturated.

She owns herSelf, her body, the house (of course).

She owns history and now.

She takes up all her space.

 

When she is denied her full outing, she wanders distracted.

She cries, appealing to sympathetic frequencies in the doorkeeper.

Failing that, she tries eye contact: her gaze penetrating, reasoning with me, plucking all kinds of strings.

If ignored she walks the kitchen counter, where she knows she isn’t allowed. She naps restlessly. And then, resigned, she will go to her dish, for the surrogate gratification she is never denied.

 

I do the same thing. I turn to food to mute the wayward wilds.

When the native desires are thwarted, we make do, pass the time, confused, civilized and compromising, living a life not quite true.

And we eat… to cover the echoing well of undigested longing, to feed a world huddled, dissociated, around the hole in Wholeness.

 

 

(ALAMENTATION is a portmanteau of Aliment and Lament)

ML

SFE, NM Sept 3, 2017

Louise Hay

There’s no such thing as good weather, or bad weather. There’s just weather and your attitude toward it.

That’s a segue from the last blog post to this one, and the statement was made by Louise Hay, who passed on today. I didn’t say “died,” because she’s immortalized in her contribution to society, to the collective psyche, to the evolution of humanity’s understanding of itself, especially those strands in the human tapestry that took the great detour with Western Science that drove a wedge between body and mind for a few centuries.

Louise Hay published  Heal your Body over 40 years ago, and its expanded version, the seminal You can Heal your Life, continued to chart on best seller lists 20 years after publication  . It continues to be a dog-eared reference  for healers the world over. Most of it can be found on line now; I consult it every so often, taking it for granted like many of a certain age have the dictionary, or the phone book, or Scripture.

So it is I make an extra post to acknowledge a luminary, a remarkable woman, who used illness in her own life to learn spiritual lessons, and then shared what she learned. Many others have followed her journey, and some have further researched and refined her teachings.  What she taught, each of us has the capacity to learn. But she  forged for us a path and permission for remembrance.

She also said:

We are all students and teachers.

Ask yourself: What did I come here to learn and what did I come here to teach?

Like this woman who posed it, none of us should really ever stop asking that question.