Sabbath among the Stones

Safe among the Stones

At last I am still

and everything

from my breath to the birds

moves faster.

Tree boughs bob and shimmy,

and winged missiles streak through my peripheral vision

as if to say

You cannot see everything,

Cannot know all,

Cannot control your world.

And this is as it should be

Still

enough that

Silence seeps into the dirt

and into my own parched heart,

–through the wind raking the hair against the grain on my arm

soaking between the freckles

reminding me there are nerve endings on my back that love caress and tell my soul

where I am rather than where I’ve been.

I already know the secrets whispered between the pines’ fingers

but I’m happy to hear them again.

(ml 8/18 tres piedras)

 

References about animal totems generally agree that the medicine of the winged Jay family is Proper use of Power.  Many spiritual disciplines consider the mind to be the prime source of human power.

As I sat in meditation Saturday morning, I reflected on the previous day’s Course in Miracles lesson: I rule my mind, which I alone must rule. Not an easy task for most, yet mastery of the personal mind seems key to liberation …into a much greater Mind.

I’ve been faced with some core triggers lately, unbridling my own mind. Humbled, I’ve watched it rear and buck like a bronco with a burr in his back hatch, stomping many of my trusty tools for taming it.

On this morning, as I sat watching my own mind throw every weapon in its guerilla’s arsenal—more likely a gorilla arsenal for the monkey mind—a stellar blue jay landed in the clearing before me, as if to punctuate my ruminations. I felt the blue flash brush my heart; I nodded and re-closed my eyes. To make sure I got it, he soon flew in for a sloppy landing in the juniper right next to me, jostling the branches in all directions for effect. I smiled, “Got it; thanks.”  But did I?

As I packed up for my weekend away, I realized the two humans I would be visiting that day were also both named Jay. Wow. Thanks. Not just one pebble to my window, but three stones. And by that afternoon, I had rendezvoused with the second human Jay just to the west of Tres Piedras.

 

We walked up onto two of the three (piedras) the following day (Sunday).  The second is a more extensive cluster of globular formations, many with cliff faces as sheer as their curves can generate.

 

But we eventually found our way up a sloping side and came upon an uncanny staircase—un grand escalier –in the folds of the rock, beckoning us to the summit.  From the bottom, Jay and I both spied the “troll” in its folds, looking like Yoda’s menacing dragon cousin….

Although we were by then tired, both of us feeling our trick hips beginning to object, the Capricorn in me felt compelled to climb it.  I got fairly close to the top—within 25 feet, estimated Jay, who stayed below– and I could have gone farther. But I paused, to be content where I was, taking in the view, feeling the tug upward, but knowing I had nothing to prove. In mastering both mountain and mind, we mustn’t push beyond wisdom.

The fact was, I was content, happier than I ever am in town. While I have companions who prefer to hike nude, clothes were no encumbrance to my sense of freedom, now that I’d shaken off the oppressive clamor of the city. That was enough.

Sometimes a warrior’s power is in knowing her limits.

 

One but asks to know what is hers to do…

When the call is true,

help is already due…

and granted.

 

Later, as bats flitted above my head in the dusk, Mars pierced the blue with the fiery color of last weekend’s red ruins. Mars itself is about personal power, summoned for both inner and outer jihad.

Below him, another sort of power cast its light about inside a thunderhead, like a burglar behind the bedroom curtains: Lightning ricocheting through its belly and turning a bright white ghost amber.

I greeted Mars and invited any messages. Immediately I heard the wordless reminder from him that he cannot tell me anything I don’t already know. He can only embolden me to act fearlessly from that intelligence.

Every time I look at him, he seems larger; the message however, does not change: clear as light, true as blood, steady as stone.

Just as I was noting to myself that Mars would turn direct on the morrow, I realized there was another light source to the east. I turned and met full moon, looming large between low clouds, illumined in blushing ivory.

What a Feast this Sabbath!

 

What a feast this planet.

What a Feast this life.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Baptism

     Circumstances require me to be away from my home base for several hours on Sundays these days; so, rather than be inconvenienced by it, I decided to take it as license to observe the Sabbath and go wandering.  Yesterday, I didn’t plan, I just got up in the morning and asked for suggestions in meditation. Pecos entered my mind, and I perceived Our Lady, Guadalupe, beckoning me toward the monastery there. But I got the sense it wasn’t her I was going for. She was just playing holy dot on the map.

So, I packed some provisions and took my freshly replaced fuel pump out for its first high-speed test drive. It felt good to be on the open road a bit with Hildy, the name my Honda Odyssey finally presented to me for herself this week, short for Hildegarde VAN Bedroom. 

I was wanting to find a cool spot in the pines… maybe give my bare feet some river time; but, arriving in the tiny village of Pecos, instead of making the left toward the monastery and up into the hills, I followed the signs for Pecos National Historic Park. I hadn’t even been aware it existed.

There were quite a number of people there, considering the competition: the annual Indian Market in Santa Fe, and the well-attended Pecos rodeo just up the road.

It looked more sunny than I wanted, but entry was free and half the trails were closed, so little strain was promised by following through on the impulse.  I walked toward the ruins behind some tourists speaking in Russian, and, undistracted by intelligible conversation, I became aware of how green the Pecos Plain was from the recent monsoons, with puddles still sheltering in the shade of cedars. Yum, said my eyes, as I crested the rise, feeling massaged by the vibrating contrast between the verdancy of the grassland and the rich red of the ruins’ stone and adobe walls.


I was the only loner out there; most others were in pairs or families. I was wandering the trails like everyone else, but soon enough the unstated, unheralded mission for my Ministry of One became to take pictures for groups so no one would be left out of the shot.   No one turned down my offer. Can I get a witness!? Neighborliness 4, Selfies 0! 

Eventually, Hildy and I headed for the hills. I wound up the two-lane highway for a short while, past the monastery, just to see…but I felt its tug strengthen the farther I climbed away from it. So, I returned, and lunched in the grass outside the long abbey.  I’m always there on Sundays when the gift shop is closed, so I headed for the chapel/conference hall. I wasn’t sure what in this world I was after; the call was not from this world. It felt like the Christ, and while there were images of Jesus in the chapel, it wasn’t in there.

I sat outside in the courtyard, near Guadalupe, who gleamed like alabaster in the mid-day sun, bowing her head demurely, as if to confirm it wasn’t her I was here for. But I could feel a call, so I walked down to the river. I waded in, sandals on.  That was blessing, but not enough. So, I emptied my pockets onto a picnic table, took off my hat, and walked back into the golden ribbon of living libation.   And something inside wasn’t going to let me leave until I did it:  I lay down backward into the water for a moment and then stood back up. The water was shallow, barely as deep as my body as I lay on the bottom, but the current was enough to douse my front. I left my burden there. My clothes were soaked and heavy, but I was lighter. I walked, dripping and drying, to the car and drove back to town. Mission accomplished.

.

 

House of eternal return…

The Monsoons have come. After a stultifying spring drought and heat wave, I can think of no better surround-sound entertainment and sensory satisfaction than these simple, salvific storms.

     Reclining in my zero gravity chair this afternoon, appreciating the cool, fresh breeze as a thunderhead loomed and rumbled behind me and the hummingbirds swooped, vroomed and hovered just a few feet before me, I floated on the simple innocent wonder of my breath, resting after my first, and probably only, visit to MeowWolf : House of Eternal Return this morning.  

     For those not familiar, I’m not going to attempt to capture the place with words; it’s meant to be a sensory experience:  https://meowwolf.com/santa-fe/about/  .

     It is a one-of-a-kind, modern interactive art installation for kids of all ages. It’s a big hit; lots of noise and neon, so I was in no hurry to have the experience. But, a friend had a weekend pass, and she offered me the chance to take it in—finally. And there is a lot to take in, I’d heard; people take hours.  So, two of us went this morning before 10am. There is no avoiding the crowds, really, but we did our best. I’m glad for the experience; an hour was plenty.

     I had the same feeling there as I do moving through an airport: of a benevolent, if swimmy, witness navigating the surreality of a world that isn’t mine.  I brought forth game playfulness to meet it all, summoning energy outward to enjoy the novelty for a while. But nausea set in within five minutes.

     The only moments in which I experienced much sense of affinity were always in relation to installations that, in some way, mimicked nature: A dim cave with walls bedecked with big (6-inch-diameter) illuminated, colorful and single eyes, with speakers broadcasting sounds of the birds, reptiles and insects whose eyes these creations imitated; a big raven with a ruby amulet and a very attentive green eye; a giant (1.5 story) white bunny, whose body cavity was a blank, white room– but a cubical room with corners, which held none of the appeal of the thoroughly curvy exterior of this reverend rabbit. His ears, pressed against the ceiling, were the size of porpoises.  The sign outside his belly door was something like “Don’t step on my cape, Mortals.” Of course, this clearly served as an invitation; his bottom few inches were soiled by the thousands of shoes that had tried to step up onto his outer walls.  Although I walked among the mortals beneath his stony gaze, I confess I related to the voice speaking from above the madding Muggledom. 

     Maybe most I enjoyed the few seconds of creative interactivity early on, when I stepped inside a mammoth and took a soft mallet to his glowing ribs, each of which triggered a gruff musical note. I almost instantly picked out Beethoven’s 5th on his left row of costal ivories.  My friend caught this moment for posterity.

     Resting in the quietude between the morning’s “eternal” man-made storm of whimsy and the afternoon’s happy, short-lived sky-born frenzy, I mused that I had been too young to appreciate Beowulf in grade-school, and I’m too old to appreciate Meow Wolf now. But I’m content to have memories of both.

Albatross: the film, the symbol, the whole beautiful catastrophe…

…Grief is not sadness. Grief is love. Grief is a felt experience of love for something lost or that we are losing…. I think we all carry that abiding ocean of love for the miracle of our world.

—Chris Jordan

 

Mr. McGuire: I just want to say one word to you. … Are you listening?

Benjamin: Yes, I am. ….

Mr. McGuire: There’s a great future in plastics. Think about it. Will you think about it?

–From The Graduate

 

I just watched Albatross (2018).

It was a hallowed gift to watch this film.

I believe it deserves an Oscar, and more fittingly, a BigBird and a Snuffelupagus, as well. 

 It is a spiritual experience, which may sound like a cliche, but it probably more an understatement.  While it is a profoundly, sumptuously gorgeous film, it is not an easy one. It is a visually stunning and mesmerizing elegy to the beauty of all life, and the aching beauty and life within Grief.
It is also a most sublime charnal grounds practice. It reaches into the heart to stretch it: To  awaken the courage to stare down death, fear and other ghosts, and let them penetrate your armored vision until you see only beauty;
To summon the capacity  to distinguish between complicity and guilt, to accept the first without turning away and freezing with the other.
 If your familiarity with the albatross extends only as far as Disney characters, literary symbolism and a few snaps from science-books, the film offers revelation and romance.  But it takes you much deeper. Here too, the Albatross is a symbol…many layers deep.
The film has the intimate power not only of a death bed vigil for someone you love, but also witnessing of a birth; the heartrending awe inspired by the grace, persistence, fragility, innocence and soul of all Life.
But these are just words.
This is a film to be experienced, to let call forth your Humanity: your Love, your courage and your forgiveness.
The first quote above are words of the film’s narrator, Chris Jordan, spoken toward the end. I came across them in some context years before the film was released, and the quote has since been rotating in the random signature generator of my email program!  So stirring to hear them come to life in their original context.
What about the second quote?
Watch the film.
…When you’re ready. 
You can stream or download it at: https://www.albatrossthefilm.com 

Hanging Questions

The only experience I had with Anthony Bourdain was through interviews; the only experience of his TV shows was through audio clips. I never read Kitchen Confidential. Through the interviews I glimpsed a strong and articulate personality; he struck me as a rebel who had found a cause. Hearing of his suicide, I wondered if the recipe for a rebel contains a lot of overlapping ingredients with the recipe for depression.  Even so, without more details, my intuitions resisted the report that his death was suicide.  He had sounded so dedicated to his late in life role of Dad. How could he abandon his 11-year-old, I wondered.

I wondered this even though I know from experience how blinding depression is.  In a segment on NPR today with Michel Martin and Roxanne Roberts (who have lost loved-ones to suicide) and Dr. Nadine Kaslow, a comparison was made to the numerous  fatalities of people lost in Minnesota snow storms who stagger around blind until they finally give up, lie down and perish, to be found later only 100 feet from a farmhouse. Depression is like that, how it dulls and smothers the soul in the cold illusion of isolation, hopelessness, and often ill-worth.  In both circumstances, observers wonder why they couldn’t have kept going just a little longer.  Of course, those of us who have navigated that psychological grey-out know we could just as easily wonder they held on as long as they did.

The NPR commentators also discussed how, if their loved ones could have only heard all that was said at their funerals, how many people valued them and wanted them to stay alive, they might have stuck it out.  Yes, maybe.

But I also know that depression creates compelling mirages in perception and personality. Even in enviable life circumstances, a person can succumb to a strange, thick swathing of inconsolability, can slip into the gravity of a black hole from which emanates a prejudicial undertow, a broadcast of “I am not enough.”

I was moved as I listened, as my own loneliness pressed itself to the surface of my heart. I am blessed in many ways, but I have so many isolating factors in my life; and while I need and love solitude, I know great loneliness, as well. This especially as I go through not only the challenges of my physical and fiscal circumstances, but the purgative vicissitudes of a mystic, metabolizing the loneliness of her ancestors.

Our modern life makes this far worse. We often think everybody else thinks they’re okay, and we should look that way, too. But few of us are, no matter how many face-book friends we have, no matter how full our lives are of vapid tweeting. We are alone, even in the crowd, conditioned as we are to tend and protect our gardens of individuality.

However, as long as we are born naked, chances are that we aren’t really designed to thrive without real community, which is the unconditional net we weave together that accommodates everyone’s weaknesses and is in fact fortified by these as much as by our strengths. It is fellowship made resilient by honest vulnerability, lubricated by our humility and tears, and galvanized by laughter.

Perhaps the cumulative impact of all the school shootings, combined with the antics of our uber-narcissistic president, two more high-profile suicides and new sobering suicide statistics out this week will spawn another sort of #MeToo movement, a Me-True movement, in which we make our gloriously imperfect humanity a focus of collaborative compassion and celebration.

Reach across the gap today tell someone you appreciate them; they may need it more than you, or even they, know. It costs you nothing. In a world of “not enough,” Love always increases in the sharing.

 

 

 

 

GaiaTree

 

I see you.  

I saw you first.

I saw your solidity, the girth of your base, the reach of your limbs, your generous shade.

I saw the old, broken birdhouse cradled where one trunk becomes many– where the elder becomes the village. I saw its walls and roof cracked and crooked, as if squeezed a bit too tightly to keep it from spilling babies in spring wind, and how, as if by contagion, you’ve turned its wood the very grey of your own bark, and it fades into shadow.

I felt your gentle strength, much more than I feel your thirst, marooned as you are here in this grassless yard. You are a waterless island; you make your own companions: in an instant made one of me. The birdhouse is not the only orphan you’ve adopted.

I saw you first, the girth of your trunk, before it became many. Eight strong and elegant pillars rise from your base, but only seven are your progeny, and like good children they reach wide to expand your heart and Queendom.

But the one in the center, he reaches straight up, unwavering verticality, no leaning to catch the sun or dance in circle with the rest. This adopted son favors you with the same grey, but he is smooth and barkless pine. And through your leaves, he casts black lines, which reach farther than all his siblings, connecting to houses, to distant metal trees, to his own and different dharma. 

In this he gives the game away. He may just be your elder, but your embrace stunts and pins him there like a problem child contained, against a wall of paler gray. He hardly needs his stabilizing cables, your leaves and bright prayer flags camouflaging their obsolescence. There is muted menace in this scene.

But I saw you first, how your stability and weight anchor this spartan garden. Only in time did I see how your branches hover over house as they rise and reach from your thirsty root… how they will lift the air there until the day it becomes too heavy.  And I wondered who will protect you from the wind? Who will protect the roof from you? 

But you wave away these thoughts with your legion laughing leaves. Why abandon the perfection of this moment, this futureless, sun-dappled Present? You are here, I am here. Let the future fend for itself.  

You are content; it is infectious, and I am only housesitting.

We are all just visitors here.

Happy Mother’s Day.

I also acknowledge here that tomorrow is the 7th anniversary of my own mother’s passing from this world. The mystery that she was fades into the greater Mystery, and I celebrate her in a quietly eloquent Elm tree, and in every unfolding fractal of me. She, and anon we, are subsumed in Beauty.

Ramblin’ refuge

Buddham Saranam Gacchami

Dhamman Saranam Gacchami

Sangham Saranam Gacchami

I go to the Buddha for refuge.

I go to the Dharma for refuge.

I go to the Sangha for refuge.

So many seek refuge on the planet right now. So many bodies are fleeing harm, seeking safety and finding little rest. I know how relatively lucky I am in that regard. I may be by some measures homeless, yet, most days, I am not without refuge. I believe that, while we are in these bodies, we all seek refuge; it is simply a matter of degrees. 

  To seek refuge implies we must go somewhere to find it. The very roots of the word mean “to flee back.”  This sense of return also implies that we know what we seek: a safe home, a place of peace. Most of the spiritual traditions ultimately remind us that in the outer world, peace is ephemeral; yet, there is a home always waiting in a deeper place, where peace is eternal.  The purpose of spiritual practice is to cultivate discernment as to whether, in any given moment, refuge is reached through action (outer), non-action (inner) or a combination of them.

…Fundamentally, refuge isn’t anywhere but in the mysterious here, whether buried under the noise of mass mayhem or just under ordinary mind and mundanities. And even when the journey clearly calls us inward, sometimes we must still travel to find it again.  I had such a moment recently, when I knew that going inward required a going outwardly. The key was to let inward steer.

Given my particular nervous system, periodically I must leave the thought grid of a city. Finding refuge involves hearing my own native vibration and that of the Earth that speaks a language free of judgement; that of the Cosmos, which holds universal knowing and also holds my unique soul song within it; holds it for me when, amid the din, I lose the tune.

The three refuges invoked above, are, in a way, the Buddhist trinity, the aspects of a balanced human life, and we find them, time and again, in their relationship with each other, and in the relationship between inside and outside. 

This weekend I went to an unfamiliar place to find the refuge most familiar.  And because I knew what I needed, but not how it would show up, I found it. But what I found is not what can easily be described.  So, I share instead scenes of outer magic, fed by the spring of inner refuge.

This was my first visit to Southwest Sangha, nestled here amid the voluptuous hills of the Mimbres, near Gila Wilderness and Silver City.  The quiet here is deep, though nature, abhorring a vacuum, has filled the space with a playful and boisterous wind, which careens and flops and kicks and drops, rather like an exuberant mountain biker. There is something so forgivable about it, like an outsize puppy who hasn’t grown into his paws and knocks over your tea with his irrepressibly wagging tail.

The air heaves and sighs through many species of tree here, but the one I’m romanced by is the Alligator Juniper, whose bark is layered like roof-tile, giving the appearance of a mosaic, lines of gray brindle squares.  And of that species, there was one tree in particular on the property, so perfect in shape and line it defies description and surely houses royalty among the devas. The trunk seemed to capture a goddess growing out of her own womb.

 

When I arrived in the late afternoon, I sat for tea with Michael, the founder.  He showed me around and to my Kuti, a free standing monk’s cell, if you will. Most of them were little converted trailers, but mine, an adobe structure, was larger and about to be converted into a duplex. For now it was down-right luxurious: bed, windows, electricity, patio, clock, chamber pot, even a sofa…and a view.

This is a small property on a spacious rise overlooking a long-dry and flora-filled river basin. Unseen cattle low from all directions in the morning dim. And even more elusive coyotes ring in moonrise.

We ended my short tour with group meditation (just three of us today) in a chapel that had existed on the property before, stewarded by a priest. It has been renovated but still features a simple, beautiful altar fronted by rows of uniform tree branches or trunks, arranged around a central cross of the same material. It never felt appropriate to intrude with a camera. But, I recognized in that altar a soothing presence, spiritually and aesthetically. 

In those first moments, though, still rattling from travel, I could take in little. I was grateful to just sit and shed the buzzing road-skin. My focus in this first meditation would be the ringing in my ears, which pulsed in synchrony with a pulsing in my crown. 

After evening tea that followed, I retired to the Kuti, lay in the resounding silence and observed my nervous system gasping with relief. It wasn’t much after 7pm, but I did not, could not, get up until 5ish the next morning. I slept deep, even with the full moon beaming loudly in my windows, waking me only long enough to make her bright and benevolent presence known through various windows over the course of the hours.

Next day, as I sat on the living room floor for the community blessing of the breakfast, I noticed a striking blossom on a plant in the sunroom; its brilliant red was catching the light as a sail catches wind.  I asked what it was. “Night-blooming Cereus,” said Michael.  I had not known they came in red. I only knew them as cream or white flowers. I have happy memories of helping to carry my father’s camera equipment a few blocks from his Tempe, Arizona, house to help him photograph a magnificent specimen in a neighbor’s yard. It was a warm, full-moon night, breeze just calm  enough to encourage a decent shot. 

These are impressive blossoms, the size of a man’s fist. (But then what flower isn’t impressive when you really look?) Dad made a series of note card photos from that plant.  The blossom I was appreciating here and now would have wooed him and his camera for sure.  I had only my low resolution iPod camera, and this blossom, perhaps the plant’s first for the season, was a coy maiden, her face turned toward a wall under the window, to catch the light without having to meet the gaze of her admirer. 

  

 

The red bloom is saturated, flashy, catching the sun; the shot is over exposed, as if it almost too much to take in for my lens as well as for me. I was tempted to look away, as if seeing a forbidden burlesque. In my father’s photo, the feathery delicacy of this serene moonlit creature draws me in, encourages my eyes to linger and open to the subtleties, encourages my heart to breathe in the miracle. 

The ranchers in the land surrounding this property are still suspicious of what goes on here, so different is it from what they know. So we are discouraged from hiking the surrounding hills, alas. But we can take in the air and the views along the scantly travelled road.  On my first short walk, I was doing just that, and I tramped within three feet of a long, slim bull snake stretched out across the road. He must have been as lulled by the sun as I’d been by the moon, because I made plenty of noise for him before he stirred at all, tongue long before body. I’d snapped a shot or two of him—any good shaman takes note when a snake sprawls so conspicuously across her path!  But once he began to propel himself forward, his movement took my breath away. It never fails to mesmerize me: the grace and mystery, the pure, primitive brilliance and effortless power with which they propel themselves along, as if from some inner blossoming of energy; it’s the closest I can imagine to a perpetual motion machine.

I only had the iPod again, so you get no such magic from the snap shot. Go find your own serpent.  And for anyone assigning significance to the direction he’s headed. I came upon him headed right to left, and as he passed, turned around and snapped this shot, where he appears to be headed left to right. It was all north-ish. 

The second night, sleep did not come as easily. I sat on the unlit porch and scribbled, only sometimes legibly, in my journal:

I love it when the moon is rising, 

the earth is sighing, 

the light retiring, 

and the sky and the eye 

open wide in the quiet, 

for poetry.

But nothing comes, 

because nothing comes close.

The air and ears are full to brim 

with the hum of silent Life and earthen Presence….

Nothing comes because it is all already here: 

Om issuing from the intersection in my head of brain and mind and mystery. 

…Then there were some lines I couldn’t read…

Silently, while I’m looking down

 to write in the dark, the moon

 disappears and a coyote releases curly-Qs of sound, which, 

if I could see them, would move like red, orange and buttercup smoke rings in the dusk. 

Not because the moon is full of pale amber, but because that is the color of the sound. 

Oh, Wait! That bit was more burgundy; red violet, there, with flashes of electric blue; 

and that one was white hot, yellow and fuchsia.

He’s alone. No one answers, but he keeps the night company as he trills and warbles through the whole color wheel, 

expressionistic Pollack squeals 

pierce twilight’s impressionist idyll.

Sharp curves of sound, spiral and sickle. 

Is he trying to carve up that cloud and liberate the moon?

The third night sleep was even harder to catch.  The eyes were sleepy but the body wasn’t, with the psyche stuck in the middle. The moon, the meditation and the powerful midday naps worked on me differently here, and I suspect that the way one witnesses with different vision the material that arises in meditation affects the need, the nature and the content of dreaming.  

When I did sleep, I noticed as I changed positions that I felt swimmy and light-headed, as if the structure and contents of brain and psyche were under metabolization, metamorphosis. I stayed another day, to let things normalize before I slammed into   urban atmosphere.

Next morning, I drove on to Silver City, to meet for tea with a friend recently transplanted there. We sat in the little sheltered courtyard of The Tranquil Buzz, surrounded by little stone Buddhas in uncommon and enchanting poses. These, and the whole, old-fashioned downtown, felt safe, sensible and friendly.

And then it was back in the car for the long drive “home,” threading through the mountain slalom of Emory Pass and then north up New Mexico’s central Rio Grande Valley corridor, passing Bosque Del Apache and Sevilleta refuges…for wildlife.

While I was in Silver City, I had received a text from an expat friend, who has taken refuge in Mexico from the estrangement of his native U.S. He was encountering the National Guard now assembled in Texas borderlands to refuse others refuge. 

As I descended onto the eastern plain again, I, myself, encountered a Border Control check point— this a good ways farther north!  Sigh. Back into the nonsense of the world again. Keep chanting, little bodhisattva; in the world, not of it.   I stopped where required, lowered my window.

“Hi!”

“Anyone with you in the vehicle today?”

I gave him the outer-world truth. “No.”

The inner world truth, of course, I knew to be very different. Which is why, when he said, “You have a good day,” I knew I would.    

…I could hear my precious cargo laughing amongst themselves: Buddha, Dharma and Sangha.

 

Not Alone

A couple of weeks ago, the reflection below was inspired by a real event.  Given the content, though, I opted to let it cool and settle, to see if merit outlived the immediacy of the moment and to ask permission from those referenced (unnamed) in the piece.  Blessing came on Earth Day, whose mood was a world apart. So I gave the Earth its day, and delayed a little longer to publish this piece, which speaks of matters that conspire to obscure for us the daily marvel –confounding, vexing though it may be– of embodiment on Earth.

The air and the ethers have been so unsettled. High winds, high pollens, high agitation, high solar activity, high stakes globally. The cacophony is carried holographically in every particle and photon, within and around us.  I couldn’t with certainty attribute the scattered-ness of my psyche to anything in particular, as I sought to corral it in meditation that morning.

When the phone buzzed, I didn’t hesitate to pick it up.  It was a dear one in crisis. His daughter had attempted suicide. I listened, I offered blessing, I promised to pray and stand by. I offered it up and returned to the cushion with a mission, a different kind of witnessing.

Having trained to look at things with psychic remove, I asked to see what I could see, what might be helpful for me to see, even as the flak-storm in the ethers rasped in my ears, and as persistent invalidation of my vision chaffed at my presumption to SEE. The psychic gaze can still feel voyeuristic and intrusive to me, especially when not expressly invited by the subject. This is because I know I am not yet completely without judgment.

What I saw, though, taught me much.   The images I was shown were simple, with any number of interpretations, I’m sure.  But two primary ones coalesced in my mind (and then, in time, began to blur): the first, it seemed, for her; a second for me. But it really isn’t that simple, because, as the restive ethers were demonstrating, all minds are joined.

At that point, I was not sure whether she was conscious or unconscious, dead or alive.  I just looked, with a mind that knows that doesn’t matter.  I saw a fuzzy blue light listing to the side: a soul drooping with unconsciousness; it could have been, in part, drugged drowse, but this was also the fog and weight of a light swathed in the emotional pain that causes us all to dissociate.

I knew that this event was an attempt to dive deep, below consciousness and even the subconscious, to the bedrock of remembrance, to the oasis of her Light, her true identity, her What For.  And I knew that time unconscious would actually be productive. Regardless of whether she lost consciousness, if she remained incarnate, she would need to be allowed to be different from now on, to access the pearl she’d nearly abandoned her body and children to dive for and recover.

I knew also that the burden she could no longer bear was not merely personal turmoil, but the potent, corrosive brew of her lineage’s legacy, held in her physical and psychic DNA.

Then I was shown an image: a full body shield or mask of Quan Yin, with a pair of large, dense black bars– like thick and opaque redaction marks– trying to cover or hook and pull at the head and head-dress of this Quan Yin.  Looking behind the Quan Yin, I saw no one, nothing but vestments left on the floor by a wearer who was not there, had seemingly disappeared, letting the clothing fall into a puddle of fabric on the floor. Inside its periphery, a small bunny rabbit moved about, sniffing. 

The first, more circumstantial interpretation, involved this Dark Force, long in place, trying to attack and invalidate goodness, power, light. Quan Yin was a shield, a talisman of protection, a false wall.  The black was trying to get at what was behind it, which had vacated, escaped, leaving behind the mantle of the old self, of the unbearable weight of circumstance and the pain body of guilt, self-loathing, confusion and overwhelm. The bunny represented pure, animal innocence, left at the ground of being when the drama and distortion fall away.

There is so much more to what I apprehended than can be expressed here. 

Later, as I proceeded with my morning, the images continued to speak to me in light of A Course in Miracles,and a clearer, more universal interpretation presented. 

Healing is necessary on the outside, in dealing with the darkness and falsity of the separated and suffering mind and world. And the darkness we project outside our personal fortress seemsto be perpetually trying to get at us, at our innocence. Thus we use a shield of healing magic, which takes myriad forms.  Yet behind this façade, this battle zone, there is no one, nothing to protect. There is only innocence, which remains untouched by, even unaware of, any threat or limitation, a ray in the sun of all creation.

Most disciples of any spiritual path experience Level Confusion. Body identification has its blinds. Eternal Truths can’t be anchored completely into embodiment in the realm of duality. So we entertain relative truths as well, and we often conflate elements of the two.  As I watched my mind oscillating through morphing interpretations of these images as they first appeared, I came to recognize them as demonstrations of this level confusion.

I am seldom certain of some objective accuracy to my interpretations. This could undermine my confidence in my clarity as a “reader.” But, today, instead, it reinforced my conviction that every bit of it is God talking, using the vocabulary of each unique psyche and of the different levels it navigates. The more I let go of investment in rightness or ownership of the interpretation, just allowed them to arise and massage my psyche, the clearer, more useful and illuminating became the transmission, the more powerful and pervasive their healing force in and through my own mind and faculties.

The images of dreams and divination like this provide me with evidence of a greater intelligence steering, from the invisible bridge, the course of our fluid psyche and the hull of our personality.

A guilt-free pleasure: I Honestly Love Her.

Wow, two posts today….

From time to time I post a blog in tribute of some luminary who has passed out of our world.   Sunday I learned that the cancer that Olivia Newton John kept in remission for a quarter century has reprised. She may have years more in the world, but I was  inspired not to wait.

Julianna Hatfield has just released a tribute to ONJ, who, though you mightn’t know it from Hatfield’s music, was a beloved influence.  Olivia Newton John’s long string of hits in the 70s and 80s were pillars of my own youth. I loved them and I sang to them best I could, usually in falsetto, or harmonizing an octave lower. Because, as many have heard me say in my low register, I was hitting the notes of Barry Manilow, sometimes even Neil Diamond, when my peers were singing at the other end of the keyboard with Olivia.

Julianna Hatfield, who describes herself as a scrappy vocalist, rather than a true singer like Olivia, really has as little business as I do covering those songs. But love ain’t always pretty.  In her interview, she and I choked up at the same time as the discussion brushed against our gratitude for, our celebration of, this woman’s voice, her songs, her grace and probably for her extra 25 years (and counting) of Life.

Catchy as it was, I confess I didn’t care for Olivia’s last big hit, “Let’s get Physical” when it came out; but soon after, both our paths were getting more outwardly spiritual. And I remember being glad to see this one of a certain angelic beauty walking a path of some spiritual substance as well, and having these years’ remission to grow in that,  to deepen and share it with the world.

I admired the dynamic range of her voice– from the mellifluous, almost meek whispers of “I Honestly Love You” to the expressive potential of “Hopelessly Devoted to you” and the penetrating belting of “Let Me Be There” and “…Physical.”

Her voice carried a power beyond volume, even beyond the melody. It seemed to flow with a certain truth and goodness, even in a song like “You’re the One that I Want” from Grease.  Her acting lacked the dynamic range of her singing, but there was still a sweet naturalness in her delivery that made it forgivable somehow– for me, anyway, at least in the kindness of hindsight.

I am just so grateful that she exists, that she lived and filled that place in pop culture with her song. I still feel her voice in my heart, and I know the world is a friendlier place for her contribution, as it echoes, audibly and inaudibly, through the years and through the ethers, even now. She is still here, and according to Juliana Hatfield, she still hits the high notes at the end of “Xanadu.”

I encourage everyone who appreciated her to take a moment and savor that now. And if mention of her songs inspires you to pick up her greatest hits, mission accomplished.

If you didn’t appreciate her, my condolences. I mean, what’s the matter with you? Have you Never Been Mellow? It’s not too late.

 

Earth Day… rhymes with Birthday, antidote to Dearth Day, choose your Mirth day.

I can’t say it any better than Jane Goodall’s words featured on today’s Google Doodle. But on the first clear and relatively still day in some time where I stand on the Earth in Santa Fe, New Mexico, I offer a spontaneous verse that is but a restatement of the same sentiment.

 

If we, as homo sapiens,  look around

and feel our feet upon the ground

we can try but can’t get ’round 

that every day is Earth Day.

We as Homo Erectus,

our heads more distant from the dust

than our kin of fur and musk

forget the Earth gave rise to us,

and every day’s a Birthday.

Embrace, Embrace, please let us,

our HeteroGenius,

The marvel of many from One,

Infinite dwelling in Union,

Laughing, dancing, lost and found,

each song from One primordial Sound,

this All-of-Equal-Worth-day.

 

ML April 22, 2018