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.
* * *
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
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,
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?
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;
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.)
May 13, 2017
Bear Canyon, Randall Davey Audubon Center,
Santa Fe, NM
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 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
Yesterday I left the housesit I have inhabited for unanticipated stretch of nearly three years. I left a different person from the one who arrived, both less and more myself than before, and both perfect. These moments of transition are always full of phenomena for a writer to witness and tease into poetry; but these moments also demand most available stamina and action, and the writer must be content to live the poetry, becoming a headlong participant in the river of experience, rather than stopping to capture or divert the delirious flow of conceit and insight into tidy pastures and plots of poetry.
Still, to promote full release and closure, to call myself awake and whole into what will come next, to address myself and my life anew, with or without a new address, I would nightly invite the highlights to flow onto a page with any energy and clarity I had left. which was little! And now, having closed the door on the house and this life chapter, I honor this graduation, by posting what little did articulate itself: two quiet expressions of the same theme.
12 Moya, I
Three Aprils, two Augusts.
Nine hundred sunsets,
One ever changing wind.
Countless faces of the sun
on three wild yellow rose bushes.
Twenty six hills surrounding,
like the horse tribe protects a foal.
A place to heal, stark yet teeming.
Giving always what one needs;
not always want one wants.
Here, God hides in a cracked bird bath:
Quiet, steady and broken.
Broken so that water does not stay. It moves, always—
Lifted into sky, or carried into earth.
Flows where it is drawn;
The bones of this house crack and pop,
like mine. Silent, but not quiet.
Quiet, but not silent.
This house holds thoughts, memory, from before I came.
What memory will it hold of me?
In me, all memories blur into one blessing,
which I carry onward,
only as one carries the sensation of a smooth river stone
that spotted one’s bare foot across a cold river:
Gratitude, wonder and a moveable feast of belonging.
12 Moya II
For over two years, it has been where I am,
long enough to stop asking the question “why?”
Now, as I cross the gawping expanse of tile
in what, when furnished, was the living room,
my shuffling footfalls echo,
and in the sound bouncing back to me, I hear
an amusement, ease and belonging that have snuck up on me somehow,
in this house that was never really mine.
There is no sentimentality in my leaving,
only the knowing that I and the house, both, have benefitted from the arrangement,
and a friendly contentment that it is done.
And I give thanks…
for St. Patrick’s Day….
The winter-bare branches wore green;
not full summer sleeves,
but more than a blush.
Smaragdine: yesterday’s word of the day…
a foreign word if ever there was one,
sounding like some cheek-curtling dessert
of the Vikings,
rather than one that might–anon–
rename these purple, high-desert hills.
Hmmm…I imagine a coffee table book,
Smog to Smaragdine:
The Fashion Evolution of Global Warming.
This is not a poem…
just a bleary morning’s musing,
a means to pour the pollen-silt onto a page,
and clear my senses for the unrestrained Spring Revue
of birdsong and brightening sun:
Warming’s happy chorus of
M.L. 3/ 18/17
I woke into the Bliss of still body and silence. I brought a dream to the surface to remember; but I lay in long, dozing while my various faculties coalesced in the here and now, and I let go of its thread… let it sink back behind a curtain of open prayer silently intoned, earnestly dispatched in the Morse code of my heart… and repopulated my waking story.
I knew that as I stirred the uncertainties and malaise seeded in the body would swirl into awareness, but for now the pond was clear and still, and I felt the prayers were automatic in the intimate cathedral of that silence. Now that I’m up and stirring outside my womb of a room, I hear the wind swirling and whipping, and I hear the warble of a robin augering through it into the still space of this house, silent but for me, the refrigerator, and the high electric hum of these walls.
This silence, the teeming silence of New Mexico, its sometimes-deafening implosiveness, seems important for me. Somehow, over the years, I have been gifted with—or brokered for myself from beyond personal and conscious conjuring—homes of remove and silence. It must be important. But if my mind makes it important, something to be valued or needed, it feels vulnerable to attack, confiscation, subject to the deprivations that follow on unworthiness and greed (all fear).
I am in perfection here, yet with fear always a shade away. What a set-up! I can only live with an open hand…on a precarious perch over a precipice of unknown future. This perch would seem to be the maidenhead of a good ship of the Greater Self, steered by Karma and exigencies to which I am only occasionally privy.
I ask into the silence, again and again, what is mine to do? … Sensing (right or wrong) that I am still responsible for adjusting the sails of my conscious attention and intention, and plagued by the sailors’ lore of shipwreck, by the belief that I can do it wrong and that catastrophe, while in a boat on these capricious seas, is a matter of when, not if.
But here I am, doing and praying into a sea of love, humility and merit, offering up the ego’s anchors, forgiving their weight and their tendency to catch on things and startle awake the lightly sleeping belief in “Dragons.”
My last post touched on magic, and a moment when events cohered into a beautiful sort of Celtic knot of synchronicity.
Only a couple of days later, I look back upon another day’s events, which flaunt mystery but so far flout the same crystalline clarity of message. Still, they present a poignant aura of magic amid the mystery.
On Friday, a friend reported to me that she had been lunching Thursday at a beloved Santa Fe eatery, Jambo, only minutes before a confused little old lady had driven into the storefront of the restaurant, demolishing the table where they had been seated and injuring a number of people. They were just driving off when a friend of her husband, who had been seated at the next table, texted to tell them what had happened.
We read similar news accounts often enough, normally with an accustomed (or protective) remove. Knowing that my friend had been right there made for a more chilling read, and yet, also uplifting, given the manager’s words:
No one was sitting at the tables by the window when the crash occurred, Swaleh Obo said. “It’s crazy. God is great. … “It could have been a couple dead.” (Santa Fe New Mexican)
I later remembered that I, myself, had driven through that parking lot that day– not once, but twice. Historically, I go for weeks or months without doing so at all. It was just before 4pm when I recall passing the restaurant and noting that a well-coiffed fellow in a silk blue suit was standing facing an unmanned camera on a tripod in the parking lot outside the place. I wondered in passing what special event was getting attention there. My eyes were not attracted by any conspicuous wreckage, which may have been obscured by cars. No emergency vehicles lingered to raise alarm.
And then my attention was drawn to a rather eccentrically dressed woman (in a mink coat and warm-ups) walking along the sidewalk toward other shops, and my previous wonderings were abandoned. My interest in her is curious in itself, as I rarely linger on such human oddities as I drive. I now remember her holding my attention inordinately long.
I learned this morning that another, unrelated friend had actually been inside Jambo during the incident. He escaped with only a scrape or two. Others, I gather, had broken bones. He is still processing the experience. And, in a far subtler way, I am too.
It was eerie the I had been drawn to that location twice that day, ostensibly on other business, and that two of my friends had been on site. No other “logical connection” can be drawn, however.
By the following day, Telocote Café, another long-lived Santa Fe eatery, had put the word out that they were donating 15% of this weekend’s proceeds toward the swift reconstruction of Jambo! My sense of Santa Fe as a community of heartful souls was heightened by these reports. As if an invisible player was more palpably strumming living threads that weave through Santa Fe, and among its diverse populace, linking us all below our normal radar.
If there were anything I could eat at Telocote, I’d have driven into town today and patronized the place — for the first time. I later heard that Jambo Café’s food truck was parked outside their wounded store front and serving today. If I’d known, I might have scraped together my pennies for a mid-day Afro-Cuban indulgence: a spot of fish or goat stew.
I presume opportunity is still there. If you are in the neighborhood, do stop by. Everything on the menu is always delectable. But something tells me that right now the extra helping of good will—the fresh seasonings of poignancy and pathos –will add special savor. Bon appetite.
Forget counting calories. Count your blessings!
About 9 a.m., I set off on my weekly drive to the big city. A ways on, Intuition nudged me to divert from my customary route and to take the King’s Highway west. The winds were wicked strong; the air billowed toward heaven in yellow clouds, and tumbleweeds rolled toward me more plentiful than oncoming traffic.
Midway along this narrow corridor through the pastureland, flashing lights appeared in the distance. I, and the car ahead, slowed, as the approaching scene grew and gave birth to details.
The sight was stirring: a magnificent dappled white horse galloped a slaloming course along the road in our direction, wind whipping his–her?– mane wild and urging him from behind. A vision of freedom!
… For some moments, I had to squint to subdue the delectable notion that I was seeing a Unicorn.
As we rolled to stop, the beautiful creature slowed to a trot and crossed the road in front of us before stopping, and a cinnamon-chestnut Shetland pony appeared, swinging toward us as fast as he (she?) could trot until alongside his regal companion. Clearly together, they made an odd and touching twosome. My sense was that the smaller was the chaperone of the larger.
A ranch vehicle leading a retinue of squad cars approached from the other direction, slowed its creeping pace and stopped along the opposite shoulder. The horses cautiously investigated the grasses on our side of the road, while we simply watched, admiring, and wondering who would make the next move.
As a small, stocky fellow in a trucker’s cap emerged from the Suburban, slowly, and walked along his side of the road, I thought to get out of my car and offer help. But even though, deep down, a part of each of us humans was rooting for the Wild One—within and before us– none of us wanted to spook the creature. The man ventured across the road, a respectful distance from the “White Beauty” and gently put a bridle–which he had held hidden behind his back– on the little pony.
He then lead the pony back across the road and down a driveway to our left, looking back now and then and calling, coaxing, to the winsome white prize before turning forward again. He was counting on social instincts to eventually compel the creature to follow. And, tentatively at first, s/he did. Familiarity—food and friends—won over wild abandon.
…And off this great tamed unicorn trotted toward home.
Yet, I felt an aura around my heart as we began to roll forward again, reluctant to leave, even as space grew between cars and hearts united by the event.
We are all starved for Wildness and Magic.
After a long, full day in the city, I sped home on the interstate, racing plummeting blood sugar. It had been a good day, with other grateful miracles, many more than I counted, I’m sure; but I had forgotten the morning’s first and had mentioned it to no one.
The next morning, still bleary from yesterday’s exertions, I opened a message sent by a friend about 9:30 the previous morning, after I’d left home. No words, just the emoji of a Unicorn. I caught my breath, felt my glowing heart smile.
As I recorded these twinkling events in my journal, I was reminded of a recent reading I’d given a friend, which had prominently featured a Shetland pony and a majestic horse. The pony was coming to terms with his dharma, releasing the compulsion to try to be an Arabian, and accepting his equal value, his equally essential purpose. In this vision, he was a stable, trusty mount for learning children. He had to apprehend the importance of this, and how the aptitudes and attributes of his current form were uniquely and perfectly suited for it.
…And I remembered yesterday’s lovely pony, diminutive and, one might presume, lesser to his companion more mighty in speed and refined of line. Yet, he flanked his friend protectively, stood by him; and it was his departure that lured the “greater” one home.
I was also reminded of a scene from the upcoming episode of Victoria (PBS), in which the young and beautiful queen is confiding in her devoted governess and attendant. “You still see me, don’t you, Lehzen?” To which her companion tenderly and earnestly replies “I live to serve you, Majesty.”
And it struck me that in knowing ourselves, accepting the form we’re in, the gifts we’re given, and what we’re best made for, this is how we serve The Majesty. Comparison is a form of covetousness, which is included among the deadly sins (envy). It is a ploy of the egoic mind to keep us adrift on the sea of separation, rather than home in the ocean of wholeness and belonging.
We are each unique, and in any given life, we cannot all be the Queen on the Chessboard. But each of us has a square to fill in that game, a role to play. Happiness comes from accepting, exploring and expressing each role to the fullest, even if it doesn’t have a name yet.
…Give it yours.