Green and pleasant land

Well, yesterday the heatwave abated; you could almost hear the thud: Rumors of winter blowing in with summer solstice, perhaps, chilling as Amazon’s buyout of Whole Foods was to Grocery stocks.

Thursday was a transition as temps spiraled in for a landing and overshot the strip, stirring up all kinds of rain, cloud and light play. Late in the day, I got out before the monsoons broke and enjoyed a short and restorative solitary

walkabout near

Horsetooth Reservoir, drinking in the green. On the ridge above, I seemed to be poised on a threshold between two different days:

Rainclouds loomed heavy over the water to my immediate left:

On my right could have been a gleaming postcard of New Zealand:

Almost….

Today, it was about 20 degrees cooler. When we learned that Kevin’s (the handsomest fellow in the last post with normal ears) was not able to join us on a drive to Shambhala Mountain Center, Jack and I decided to take the planned drive up to anyway. I’d not been there in years (and they had never been). The Spirits of the land up near Red Feather Lakes are powerful. As we drove out of the Ft. Collins grid and behind the curtain of hills, I began to have a sort of energetic detox. At first, assuming from my perpetual yawning that I was sleepy, Jack offered to drive.  Soon those and other symptoms became intense enough that I pulled over, did some physical and non-physical calisthenics to release the pressure, and took him up on that.

As we turned onto CR 68, I had released sufficiently to clamber back into my body, but was still sensitized enough to be hear/feeling thrumming broadcasts from rock formations that even looked like robed and dancing spirits in the magic morning light. This was surely a power spot for first nations ceremony, and a perfect and conducive place for a Grand Stupa anchoring and emanating kindness and compassion.

I wasn’t able to actually snap any pictures of these rock formations until hours later as we drove out, when the sun, the spirits and I were all in different orientation.  Minimal magic captured here by the naked, or Nikon, eye.

Walking up to the DharmaKaya Stupa, one passed many “gates” where the path is flanked by tall flag poles;  the perpetual breeze whips through them,  giving one the sense of being  cleansed of any burdens brought from the past.  

The 108 foot tall Great Dharmakaya Stupa:

The silence inside the stupa is profound, and I would have stayed there meditating all day, letting the years’ worth of 

vibrating tension in my body shudder and spin itself out.  We’d  planned on a hike, though, so we moved on, but not before I snapped a fresh photo of the sublime androgyne Buddha before us, whose countenance uncannily brought to mind Cameron Diaz Rinpoche.

They’d offered us lunch, so before any major trail ventures we dined at a table aptly reserved for Mindful Hiking retreatants. I confess it I didn’t eat as mindfully as I could have. We were starving, and I rapturously devoured a piece of vegan, gluten free pizza with fresh basil before you could say OM MANI PADME HUMMMM.   I skipped to the Mmmmm part.

 

 

 

Eventually we throttled up the steep hill to Marpa Point, stopping to hang a few Yoga asanas amid at a sacred tangle of prayer flags.

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Our hike ended where our day here began: the parking lot, into which were now steadily puttering arrivals for a weekend retreat. I cheerfully ceded my prime shady spot to some lucky winner–Life is not ALL Dukha, my good dharma buddy! And we drove home grateful for a quietly satisfying day.

A final dinner with Kevin, and this morning we have dispersed. I to Indian Hills, where I launch further south tomorrow on a meandering journey toward Santa Fe, via Poncha and other Springs.

This return to Colorado has taught me much, which I am still digesting. Both New Mexico and Colorado are beautiful and varied terrains, and each has a unique spiritual power. I noticed that each promotes clarity and emphasis in different aspects of spiritual experience, and how these ambient influences on Consciousness made me know and relate to others, the land, myself and my Self differently. So it is not so silly that I was called to make this the trip of the Selfie.

And now I will spend a final evening relating to other Selfs: Jim and Shirley Self, the dear friends with whom this whole Selfie-fest aptly started.

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Travelogue part II : One bird in the Eye worth twelve in the Ear? And Jester snakes are Wild.

Yep. It’s been warm in Colorado this week. No hotter than where I came from, but there is more moisture here, and the monsoons press over the mountains each day, sending a barometric trough well ahead of any sign of them, which packs some serous undertow.

After a semi-functional, and super Funk-tional, morning Thursday, I was about ready to write off the day until I saw the first clouds, and, once again, I remembered how linked my inner weather was to the outer weather. Thus reframed, the day reclaimed some promise.

Later that afternoon, we were, in fact, able go for a drive beyond Horsetooth Reservoir, as the clouds spilled clear of the foothills and squalls spilled clear drops (and occasional lightning) over us. The best pictures went untaken, as rain saturated the air as well as the vivid greens, reds and blues of the scene. We drove until it had subsided and a road name gave us a reason to choose one trailhead over the others.

We hiked a ways up the Overland Trail, seeing one bird for each dozen or more Meadowlark calls we heard ping-ponging around us in a cagey meadow Kirtan. I brought my eyes back to the trail just in time to greet the back half of a beautiful snake sunning his tail across the trail. I picked up a small stone and tossed it near him, to produce the extra vibration that might hasten his trajectory into the brush. No rattle, just three to four feet of mesmerizing brown jester patterns and willowy S-curves gliding through the grass.

On we trod until rumbling thunder and tummies reversed our course. As I approached where the snake had been, I peered about and declared in my euphoric, post-storm baby talk: “All Gone. No more Snakey.” Until, of course, three strides later, when we spotted him/her just ahead crossing before us in the opposite direction. This time we got a couple of snaps, and I quite contemplated what such an omen might portend in this shamanistic life.

Wednesday we set a course for Boulder, where I planned to meet some good friends who gather for A Course in Miracles group and lunch. Jack decided he would ride down with me and then bike back to Fort Collins, so we loaded the bike in my van and set off so early we expected to be twiddling our thumbs on arrival. HA! We lost count of the number of obstructions and detours we encountered. I didn’t have an ephemeris, but I’d wager some celestial mischief was afoot.

During lunch I got word that Jack had a flat tire…. then later that he’d gotten another. I ran my errands expeditiously in a somewhat sweltering Boulder, as the thunderheads pressed overhead. I was addled enough by that and the strange parade of dust devils scouring their way down Spruce Street (as I walked up), that I left my keys at one stop. But soon I gathered my belongings and most of my wits into the van and headed up through Lyons toward Ft. Collins, where Jack was replacing his faulty tire tubes.

Despite the diversions, I did manage to get a couple of Selfies for the collection, and enjoyed a lot of good laughs with my old homies!

Colorado: Where the dear and the antelope play….

I begin my travelogue the day before Friday’s departure on my first road trip out of New Mexico since 2015. Hence this is two posts in one today. It’s three days long. Take it in installments. I did.

 

PART I

Thursday, almost as a dress rehearsal, I went to the woods. Despite an infected foot and a defective digestive system, I drove up Hyde Park Road to a trailhead I’d only ever passed before.

I noticed, gratefully, that I was far more forgiving of my funked-up state than I’d been in the past and was less convinced that the woods were offended by my polluted field. I knew this was a place of life for life’s sake.

So I walked and wafted like pig pen along the path. I finally came to a creek and bared my feet for baptism, not only in the frigid flow of snow melt, but in a swarm of insects, there for the heavier work of scouring my field of the citified fog of ferment and frenzy. I sat and journaled, with my feet in a burning cold stream, which drowned out the throbbing toe. What insanity did not drain out through my feet was purified in pouring out my pen:

Walk of the Prodigal Daughter:

Even as I drove up the canyon and the cloying cloud of society loosened, the grid of rigid thoughts ungripped, and the clammy weight of flaccid wills lightened, I began to shudder. The heat and toxic plaque of judgment in my gut began to surface, along with silty flotsam of weary grief and tightly wound spring-traps of grievance.

I walked into the woods impelled by a wise memory, a barely perceptible knowing that I MUST, to save my life.

I walked among the trees in a cloud of Dukha—self-recrimination for being here again, the bleating broadcast of a poisoned belly, a smothered heart….

I walked barely able to feel the benevolent air, filtered by the pine needles slowly sifting my own field.

I walked in prayer and prostration, preferring death to this, preferring death to failure.

I walked in hope, because, I’ve been here before.

I walked on, flouting caution, distrusting my own mind, and the voice of fatal domestication.

I walked down and down, into the sound of running water, my own cloud giving way to one of flies: two legs stirring a cauldron of wings.

I came to a log across a stream and I sat; the flies flooded around my still form. I dropped my feet in the stream, and with them every lie I could, though the belly held fast yet to its tangled moan.

And I had to let that be. There was space around it now, filled with soft sun, loud water, swarming insects, and the pain, numb and redemption of feet in cold water.

I did not mind the flies; they were doing what they would do whether I was here or not. I was content to let them feed on the fetid cloud: little psychic bottom feeders, feeding on the rage and rot, feeding on my age, but NOT profanity.

My state is but a morning’s parable of the humbled mortal, the prodigal daughter, walking home to the Mother to reclaim absolution.

The mind whines, “Why must I go through this again? Why must I fail and fall, again and again?”

But falling is just coming back to Earth, where the human body belongs;

and failure is only a thought, a weapon of the ego.

If I have done this to myself, I give it to the Wise One to redeem it; to use it to redeem me; to use it to show me how to redeem myself and to show me what I cannot on my own redeem; how to claim and live what does not need redemption;

to forgive myself…again.

I can only be as pure as my definition of purity. No matter how pure one eats, a body made of undigested memory may respond to food in an impure way.

All food grows the soul.

Just Say Grace. 

After that I hiked out and drove home, sun-soaked and starving …but sane. And simple tasks of self-care that had become so fraught were simple and clear. I then kept my afternoon obligations, and stopped at Sprouts for travel provisions. Sprouts has notoriously long checkout lines. Even so, what should have been a 15- minute errand became a 45-minute one, as the transaction ahead of mine froze the computer, and we all waited for it to be rebooted. But it was still locked up. Eventually, we all got in the back of other long lines, grateful that they moved at all.

During the wait, folks were relatively patient and civilized but began to get restless. I was strangely patient and amused. I began doing a bit of subtle qi gong and looking psychically at the home of a friend who’d had a break in earlier in the day. It was obvious I had space in my field that had become almost unfamiliar at that time of day in that sort of setting. I remembered this as how I used to be… before…when I walked in nature near every day. When I went to Eden each day before breakfast.

 

*       * PART II   *       *

 

Up early the next morning, I was ready to be on the road by 7:30 a.m. But, concerned by the swelling and pain moving up my foot from an infected right toe, I followed a friend’s suggestions for ministering to it before I left, to quell visions of urgent care lancing in Colorado.

I got to Crestone around noon and spent a sweet afternoon in the charged silence at Haidakhandi Ashram, interspersing light karma yoga with powerful meditation in the temple. It had been too long, and Baba-Ma had a lot to work on.

Not surprisingly, they kept me there overnight without much resistance from me. My projection had been to soak my bones Valley View Hot Spring up the road before camping in my van; but the phone connection was uncannily uncooperative when I called to make sure they had space. Silence and Geothermal water are two of my favorite earthly experiences, but in the great cosmic game of rock, paper, scissors, Silence trumps all

The next morning I intuited I should just continue on toward the Front Range. I stopped by Valley View, and sure enough, they were at capacity. So, I contentedly wound through the San Luis Valley on the route both familiar and fresh to me. It never got old, even when I travelled it regularly. Less familiar today was the TRAFFIC. High season. All the rafting outfits along the Arkansas river were packed, their parking lots solid with cars. The oncoming traffic was steady, cars whooshing by rhythmically, with relatively few gaps. The farther north I cruised, the greener and greener became the roadside majesty. I was exultant to be back in Colorado. I felt it bodily, more so than I expected. I felt myself coming alive, and filling with…what’s this? A sense of humor!

As I cruised alongside the gushing and frothy Platte River, I felt the growing tug to pull off and douse my feet in it. Before I could find a suitable turn off, I was approaching Bailey and seeing signs announcing “Special Event 6/17/17; expect delays.” I opted to get myself clear of that canyon, and I arrived in Indian Hills to a fond welcome from friends—two human, one feline, flora…and eight chickens.  

A walk and a tour of the property unwound the kinks, and before dinner I was recovered enough to give Shirley a Jin Shin Jyutsu session for her crotchety hip. Then I had to excuse myself for an early bedtime in the van. I’d been up early and the cat hair was bringing on my allergic autism.

As I retired in the van with the hatch up, I exchanged some silent ruminations with the three deer grazing the pasture across the narrow road. A couple of blinks later, it was morning. As happy as I was to be where I was, I woke with blahs in my body-mind. So I rose and distracted myself. I had hours before anyone else rose, and my meditation, surrounded by lush flora of the garden, Shirley’s endearing sculptures, and the busy politics of birds and squirrels, was a particularly powerful one; quite a download, made possible, I assume, by the fresh energies and support of the pulsing mountains and surrounds.

I led Shirley though some exercises for her hip and back, and as we lay on the front deck, daughter-in-law Kristin 

 

appeared, holding her own back and bemoaning the fact that she couldn’t stay and join us. They had come to deliver Jim’s Father’s Day card –which was a big hit—and present –which was the wrong size. Hugs were exchanged by all, and off they went. And as S and J settled into fond kitchen bickering to strategize a Father’s Day breakfast for him, I couldn’t 

eat, I moseyed on. But not before 

establishing a query for the trip: silly Selfies with every friend visited.

 

Here I want to acknowledge that as I led Shirley through the impromptu yoga therapy session, I felt the spirits of numerous yoga teachers along my path. One of the first was Kim, my original Iyengar teacher. I had gotten a text, once I broke out of the mountain curtain of cell-silence onto the front range, that he was in hospital after suffering an aneurism. So I dedicate any merits of the session with Shirley to him.

I decided to take the high road north—the Peak to Peak Highway—through Black Hawk, and Nederland, in order to stop and visit my friend Caroline outside of Allen’s Park. We had a sweet visit, an opportunity to woo the favor of yet another cat with sliced turkey imported all the way from Santa Fe.  Dexter is as black as Shirley’s Quatro, but twice her size, with green eyes to her gold, and comparably contrasting temperament.

Dexter’s dander (and mood swings) drove our party outdoors, and eventually C and I crossed the busy highway that runs between her house and the river. We sat on a rock, captured the required Selfie, and watched liquid glacier sluice and snake along.

I resumed my drive down the highway about 4pm, merging into the stream of SUVs, Subarus and Harleys easing back toward the city flats after the weekend’s escape above it all. Nobody was speeding home; all the cars slalomed down the canyon with that that satisfied and sunburned pace, slowing for cottonwood puffs as they drifted through air twinkling with water reflections and fluttering aspen leaves.

I drove through clouds of memories as I descended into Lyons, waved at Calista’s house as I passed, and sped over the flats with homebound traffic, up 287 to Ft. Collins.

I arrived first at the AirBnB apartment Jack had reserved. I entered and took in a subtle bouquet of the body and perspiration of a healthy, athletic male. Our host wasn’t home, not only because he wasn’t there, but because, I confess, the accommodations didn’t strike me as particularly homey. Well, not by American standards. But then, Jake, the bachelor host, runs a yoga studio, so perhaps time in India has influenced his standard of such things.

Upon I arrival, I could not think past a shower. This was still America, after all, and there was hot and cold running water, and only a three mosquitos in the bathroom (far fewer than in India, or even Crestone, where I had just been slap-dancing with its prodigious population of golly-nippers). One of the bedroom windows even opened, although the blind was broken.

After a shower had uncovered my happier self, I sat down to call a friend, put on my glasses and found myself staring at a pile of finger and toe-nail clippings on the corner of the coffee table before me. I could only laugh.

Next necessity would have been food, but I couldn’t not get the provided WIFI password to work to investigate where the nearest natural grocery was. So I sat down here and began to write.

Jack arrived, and we found our way to a Trader Joe’s. I dined gratefully on smoked salmon, humus and watermelon. Ah…Dolce Vita… and superlative food combining.

When we returned, we quickly surmised that Jake eats mostly smoothies, dominated by green powders, turmeric and bananas. It was a good thing we weren’t counting on the stir fry Jack’s son (Kevin) had offered to cook us there for dinner. We found only a steamer, two each of plates and bowls, and a cabinet full of mason jars. When I opened a drawer to find the single table knife, and three forks and spoons, a cloud of fruit flies was liberated into the air from the hatchery among the mason jar lids.

Eventually Jake arrived and helped us with the proper WIFI passwords, and we all tumbled into our quarters to sleep off our day’s travels.

Continuing with the Yoga thread: The next morning, I received a powerful video from my dear Partner Yoga teacher, Elysabeth, another important influence. In it she performs a brief stage piece revealing some of the darkness of her early life and what her journey has taught her about the blessings of her past. I learned things I didn’t know about her origins, things that could only quadruple my admiration for the Grace and Courage of who she is and what she offers the world.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=epIvPJ85fEE&feature=youtu.be

Heat wave expected this week. Stay tuned.

Mathopathy

I’ve found it strangely difficult to write about my recent SSI hearing, which I was sure would yield a rich crop of blog fodder. Its psychic impact was disarming. In truth, I still have both arms, but some of my other faculties haven’t seemed properly connected and functioning since that day.

If they come back on line, more merry musings may flow forth. Meanwhile, nearly two weeks later, I offer only the following extract:

Mathematics underpins the universe; it is, thus, somewhere behind all the most beautiful things I know. Math is truly the universal language. Falling into the fractals and sacred geometry of nature opens my heart quicker and deeper than almost anything else. My point? While I might have flunked my first attempt at algebra, I’ve got nothing against math.

But man does not live by math alone. Even Brian Greene knows this.

https://onbeing.org/programs/brian-greene-reimagining-the-cosmos-2/
In the interview at that link, math and physics professor and author Greene also talks a lot about the illusory reality we all live in. It’s a consensus reality all of us more or less agree to, based on the five most common senses and our common conditioning. This doesn’t take into account the alternate reality each of us claims for ourselves—let’s call it subjectivity— nor the ones shared and espoused by subsets of our population: mystics, libertarians, pot-heads, deaf persons, etc.

Many of us watch the spectacle of our national political drama and see an alternate reality playing out before us, like a diorama in a museum gone amok and infecting the greater world. Others of us encounter such bewildering 3D Kafka-fests just going home at Thanksgiving, or applying for health insurance.

As I have ridden the steeple-chase of my 3-year SSI process, I have been navigating another such alternate reality.
It is one that reduces people and circumstances to numbers and equations, and the occasional rudimentary geometry. As in, “must ..make.. this… lemniscate… fit.. in… square …hole…”

There were, of course, the periodically-issued forms asking myself, my health practitioners and my friends how much I could sit, stand, kneel, crouch; how far I could walk; how many pounds I could lift and carry and for how many minutes or hours. The answers required were in the form of numbers, not words.

There were perfunctory exams in which doctors barely looked in my eye, focusing most attention on the computer screen where they documented the numbers they derived from brief contacts with my body: with three fingers on the wrist; ten seconds with a stethoscope pressed to chest, back, belly; three taps of a rubber hammer to reflex points; a quick beam of light into eyes, ears, throat; numeric readings of weight scale, thermometer, and pulse oximeter. 

Finally there was the judge asking me in the hearing how many dollars I made in 2002 and how many hours I had worked to do so; and how to estimate the number of dollars a recent housesit had saved me in rent.

Then the same judge conversed by speakerphone, in a language of percentages and statistics, with a disembodied voice borrowed from the Simpsons. I could not now reconstitute enough of the exchange to quote verbatim, but it was structured in a series hypothetical conditional equations, like the following:

“If hypothetical claimant M could spend X number of hours standing, sitting, walking, P-ing Y number of times, what job could she hold?”

“She could work in a fast food restaurant; number of jobs nationally: 3,498,732.”

“Thank you. Now, if claimant M can spend only F number hours doing G, H and K, what jobs can she perform?”

“ She could be a copy machine operator, at 31.6 hours/week: number of jobs nationally: 89,726. That is in accordance with the DPI.”

And so on, until the judge has added in enough theoretical handicaps that subject M elicits the reply from the voice: “No, said claimant could not work… But that is not from DPI; that is from my own experience.”

The last statement made her sound eerily human. But mostly, I felt like I was spectating a conversation from Star Trek:

“Computer, calculate the vectors to arrive in orbit of planet 9Quark2 in the Orion Sector during its Apogee with Binary cluster D62.8.”

“3.7 light years at warp speed, by way of Worm Hole U8L, or 4.8 decades by way of the New Jersey Tunnel.”

“Is this factoring in the coinciding proximity and girth of Chris Christie?”

“Affirmative.”

By way of the New Mexico bureaucratic Manana-vectors, the hearing results can be expected within 30-90 days. Stay tuned.

Gate, Gate, Paragate

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

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

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

Where else is there to sit?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Happy Mother’s Day…

O, DU BON

“I’ve never seen a sky so blue!”

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

We were in Sedona.

We weren’t there for the vortexes,

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

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

magnified, frozen-magma monuments to the Freudian,

on which a buried boyhood could clamber up

from beneath the layered and cracking patina of adulthood,

as a spring bursts forth to fill that big sky.

Now, twenty years on,

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

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

I lay my head back on cold granite

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

of ageless, medicinal blue;

benevolent screen for all my projected hopes;

blotter for the hemorrhage of collected demons;

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

*   *   *

Here, I AM.

*   *   *

Here,

where my mother never went, or wanted to,

I am more myself,

and better able to know, honor and absolve

the courage and contortions of her soul…

the camouflaged triumph of her life.

M.L., MayDay, 2017

Alta Mater

Alta Mater

The day is perfect!                                                                                                                                         

The canyon is wall to wall applause:

Every pine needle is laughing

     Whole bows bouncing,

         Whole trees dancing;

Their mirth billowing upward in clouds of yellow confetti.

Celebration needs no justification,

But today is witness to a graduation.

The breeze is becoming a wind.

Hear it oscillating one to the other in an adolescence

   unpredictable, but fluid;

more graceful than the voice of a boy

   calling himself to manhood

   through a larynx climbing backward,

   in wrong-footed shoes

down a deepening throat.

Occasionally a pinecone breaks free,

Bouncing from branch to bow

   amid this audience of lanky misfits

    down to the thick-woven floor

And blending in,

Disappearing,

Like the jettisoned mortar-board ,

   Having made its last, high-hurtling statement,

Disappears among shiny shoes and robes.

They’ve gone quiet now.

Are my thoughts too loud?

Am I interrupting a speech?

Shhhh…

I will let this conceit fall to my lap,

Just another name in the program celebrating

1000 names for the One Self.

Graduation is perpetual here.

What is there to say, really,

that isn’t said daily

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

And in the wind born again and again

   and milling between the

     Is and isn’t,

     the standing and falling,

       the logs now hollow and still clad in green.

It is always graduation day, here;

Though here are no teachers or students;

Only contagion:

   The contagion of becoming.

And the silence breathing,

   sounding the notes behind every voice,

As the mountainside sings my Alma Mater.

(No Pomp; All Circumstance.)

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

A Week’s Winter of Discontent

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

No Matter What…

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

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

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

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

What we learn earliest dies hardest, it seems.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(1970, Badfinger)