Archive | January, 2014

silence of stone

31 Jan

stony silence“You have traveled too fast over false ground;
Now your soul has come to take you back.

Take refuge in your senses, open up
To all the small miracles you rushed through.

Become inclined to watch the way of rain
When it falls slow and free.

Imitate the habit of twilight,
Taking time to open the well of color
That fostered the brightness of day.

Draw alongside the silence of stone
Until its calmness can claim you.”
― John O’Donohue

the fitness of grace

26 Jan


As I was getting ready for my shower this morning, I had a flash thought of my cousin Susan.  The reason she came into my head was for a funny thing she revealed to me about herself many, many years ago.  It was a good thought.

She once told me that before she got into the shower, she made herself do something like 10 push ups and 10 other difficult rotating exercises vigorously, then she rewarded herself with a shower.  She valued the appearance of her body and played this game with herself in her busy life at that time to keep herself in shape.  She has come to my mind often for this one single truth sharing over 20 years ago.

The knob on our shower is sticking, making turning on the water a difficulty.  I got myself in an athletic lunge position and pulled mightily away from the shower wall to get the water flowing.  This position brought the thought of Susan and her exercises and made me smile.  I see that behind this nice thought of Susan is a cascade of sorrowful thoughts as well, that I choose not to follow.  I bowed to her after my lunge this morning,  encasing  the sorrow to give equal time to the sides of her that contained beauty and truth and love.

In the past 10 years, many lives have changed drastically in my family and acquaintances.  It has been quite a rocky avalanche of downfall, tragedy, unveiling of hidden lives, pain, separation and destruction —> through the lens of appearances.  HOWEVER, through another lens altogether ——-> the happenings seemed to bring truth to a head, giving each of us the opportunity to pop the  abscesses and heal, or to allow the disease to sink deeper into our vessel and take us out for good.

Susan had such a story and in the examination of the spiral down, there are avenues of thought that can take that dead end into judgment,  self-righteousness, alluring despair, hopelessness, anger.  This morning I recognize that I consciously do not go down any avenue except the one of grace today with my thoughts.  I honor the pain – but also choose to remember the good things that became harder to see.  I honor the funny, quirky, light and beautiful threads that were woven into the delicate thread of her life.  I do a few lunges  and some push ups before the reward of the shower in her honor and with a smile.

Thinking of her this way allows me also to dwell on the immensity of choice and the truth of grace.   In the tie to this wordily reality, the body seems the whole shebang, and death seems a final defeat.  Yet through a longer, zoomed back view, death is such a tender release and restart button for the journey.  Grace –  shanti -love –  OM – blessings of life and death as just inhales and exhales of a much larger path.

Those 10 pushups this morning strengthen my arms and soften my heart!


January Challenge

17 Jan

“For those who have an intense urge for Spirit and wisdom, it sits near them, waiting.”  ~ Patanjali  *

A beautiful and inclusive soul, Barbara Franken, had a wonderful idea for the month of January on her blog.  She called her awakening tale:  January Challenge…My Awakening Experience and Moving On…  , and she invited her friends to join her in this exploration.  The 17th is my day to spin my tale for the 17th is the day of my birth in september and my daughter’s birth in november – which seems a poetic nod of the numeric sort to mystery and meaning.

the path

Having signed up to participate in this challenge, suddenly I was hit with a major case of…what is the name for this feeling of reluctance to go back over the details of my life because while it all truly happened to ME, NOW it actually feels like someone else?    The details feel tedious,  but here is where I found a place to start:

I once lived in a modern house under a canopy of old growth oaks.  We had a wooden swing hanging from a high branch out front, perfectly centered for viewing through a wall of windows.  

The house was knocked down for the value of the land when we left; all of my beautiful possessions were sold in an estate sale, yet it still exists for me,  not with regret, but with joy of a place I once inhabited.  The mirror of this experience loves to show me  the transient nature of our material world;  houses, possessions, our very bodies are one way for a while then everything changes – there is no thing to hold on to in this world.  There is no thing that I can grasp with my hand that will be forever the way it is right now.

I move along by some invisible force beckoning,  a god-sized finger points down the road a ways, a tap on my shoulder asks me to turn around,  the ground  trembles,  then finally earthquakes break the earth wide open beneath my feet; I fall endlessly it seems into the abyss, no house, no perceived security, a future written in permanent ink  now disappears off a page that never was ~  yet some thing never stops interrupting the regularly scheduled program. 

In the searching for some meaning, I’ve joined belief systems and left them only to create new ones to define who I thought I was.   I’ve been Presbyterian, Southern Baptist, Agnostic, Jewish (conservative, orthodox, reconstructionist, renewal, cabalistic, reform); then I felt the pull toward Buddhism, Taoism, random philosophy, the Vedas, and now finally  I have found the label I shall wear forever;  finally I have found a practice that suits me.  I am a Cannibal.  Eating the flesh of other humans has allowed me to come full circle to my Christian roots……..Are you still reading?

NO, REALLY… NOW there are No More Labels.  Finally, nothing – but an ongoing realization that when I ask, What is next?  I am answered, for that is the way the mystery has always spoken to me, bit by bit, pulling me in the moment to what is next.  I believed myself to be abandoned many times, but in the urge and asking, I was never left that way for good.

I have died  (or have gone to the other side for a bit), and returned by choice to raise my daughters.  I’ve had a post childbirth/near-death experience depression that turned into a dark cave-dark night of the soul –  that actually saved me.  If I had not given myself the experience of exploring my shadow, and of feeling the discomfort of the life I had chosen, if it had not gotten really, bloody uncomfortable, I might have lived the life of obligation and slow decay – so strong was my conditioned programming!  Here comes an apt quote given to me at a pivotal time from one of my key holders:  SeeingM:

“Barn’s burnt down – Now I can see the moon.”


My barn had to burn down.  It felt tragic, but now I have come to a place where I would bring marshmallows for the event – most days 🙂

My own confusion has wrought an imaginary sort of havoc; I’ve run around like a fool screaming fire more times than I can recall, but I’ve come to see those emergencies were of my own making.   I am okay.   I’ve always been okay.  

 Books often were the tool the mystery used to talk to me, though, at some points, people with the keys to my locked doors have magically appeared at the critical times they were needed.   These gifts from spirit are just as real as the laundry to be folded, the dishes to be washed, the papers to be graded that I can touch with my hands.   Lately, I am picking up on signals through people, numbers, patterns, flow and cilantro.  ha!  Not cilantro, but maybe someday.  That word just wanted to be there.

One of the most profound visitations I’ve had was invisible to everyone around me; it occurred in a moment, and filled me with the assurance that I have tapped into throughout these many years –  I have been shown how much I am loved and connected to love.

This meaningful moment for me occurred in my beautiful, modern house in my fancy neighborhood days with small children.  I was overwhelmed with fatigue and drain and disconnect in the task of taking care of my girls in days that seemed to go on and on.  My thyroid was beginning to not function so well, so I was exhausted all of the time without knowing why.    I was sitting on the couch in our breakfast nook next to the kitchen, surrounded by such wonderful windows but drowning in sheer exhaustion.   I just prayed a simple phrase, “help me through.

In that moment,   the most powerful and all encompassing love whooshed into my body – enough to make me swoon.   I was flooded with love so big,  I disappeared.  What I am describing was physical and real, and utterly unexplainable.   I can’t articulate just what happened.  It helped me through that day, but more importantly, the memory of some thing that personal and profound that answered me has helped me through these last 10 years of challenge.  As my life spiraled into outwardly seeming disarray, I had an inner knowing of this love that came when I called.  I was given a gift to get me through, to help me know I wasn’t alone, to pull me out of a cave, to pull me out of a marriage that could no longer work, to exhibit independence and strength to my daughters who were being sucked into the undertow of their father’s mental  plight.

More and more the wash of bliss seems to be a normal flow.  Behind the tasks of every moment is a spaciousness full of love, and humor, so forgive my silliness;   to me Awakening is not serious business but more a coming back to who I am, have always been, but forgot for a bit.  This original self is known by the comfort she embodies.  She is usually ready with a laugh, a dance, a deep breath, a stop for looking at the sky or a bug crawling by.

If it isn’t a momentary awakening experience like Eckhart Tolle and  Byron Katie, then perhaps it is just this walking along,  and getting pulled along, going along, trusting the path to strip and refurbish  – a cosmic car wash.  And boy, do we shine, so scrubbed and buffed at the end.  And boy, are we held during the tough, bristle-brush rubbings.  What mystery pulls me forth, I do not know, but conveying through I am, glancing right and left as I go, seeing you and you and you along the ride with me,  fractally small, connected to all, falling in love with a cat at the foot of my bed.

*  Thank you Erin for the wonderful quotation from her blog!

Here is a list of fellow path walkers and their stories as they participate in the January Challenge!

1st     Barbara  –
2nd    Paddy    –
3rd     Emanuel-
6th     Julianne –
7th     Sarah     –
8th     Shree     –
9th     Dace      –
10th   Korinn    –
11th   Sindy     –
12th   Stefanie –
13th   Mick      –
14th   Joss      – Postphoned
15th   Megan   –
16th   Pat         –
17th   Marga    –
18th   Kimberley –
19th   Becki        –
20th   Serena      –
21st   Heather     –
22nd  PurpleRay –
23rd    Sue          –
24th    M…          –
25th    Brian G    –
26th    Dotta       –
27th    CW          –
28th    Laurie       –
29th    Debra       –
30th    Linda        –
31st    Michael     –
1st      Leigh        –
2nd     Shaman   –
3rd     Joss         –
4th     Jenna       –


8 Jan
“Tired of Speaking Sweetly
Love wants to reach out and manhandle us,
Break all our teacup talk of God.
If you had the courage and
Could give the Beloved His choice, some nights,
He would just drag you around the room
By your hair,
Ripping from your grip all those toys in the world
That bring you no joy.
Love sometimes gets tired of speaking sweetly
And wants to rip to shreds
All your erroneous notions of truth
That make you fight within yourself, dear one,
And with others,
Causing the world to weep
On too many fine days.
God wants to manhandle us,
Lock us inside of a tiny room with Himself
And practice His dropkick.
The Beloved sometimes wants
To do us a great favor:
Hold us upside down
And shake all the nonsense out.
But when we hear
He is in such a “playful drunken mood”
Most everyone I know
Quickly packs their bags and hightails it
Out of town.”
From: ‘The Gift
Translated by Daniel Ladinsky

thoughts behind the thoughts

6 Jan

Thorny Plant

We often have little bugaboos that are particular to each particular body suit:  recurring sinus infections, celiacs, migraines, asthma, insomnia, allergies;  we all know about these sort of  things!  There are challenges that are particular to each of us, yet also shared in  a commonality of annoyance or dread or danger: a thorn in the side, to tie it to a more ancient character, Paul.  I remember endless debate about what Paul’s thorn in the side was referring to when I was a child, immersed in a Christian world, which can get fuzzy to me now after all these years.  I remember speculation about his thorn being poor eye sight, a chronic disease, a sinful desire, mental anguish.   How cool that he didn’t come right out and reveal his cause of suffering!   By not doing so, he raised an awareness of a universal challenge of being a human in a body.

After having worked through the handful of accepted modern medical suggestions without results for one of my little body bugaboos, I moved on to the gazzilion of alternative and wacky suggestions found on the grab bag of the internet 🙂 !  I also have taken many days of separation and quiet to address the issue through mediation, spiritual causes, prayer, stopping short of dancing around a fire, naked, howling at the full moon…Okay, I admit it;   I tried that too!  😉

In the midst of my working through, This article about Rinpoche’s gangrene and year of healing came to my attention.   Some of the wisdom that I garnered from this article was not the actual end result of healing, but rather, the process and acceptance seen in the being of Rinpoche.  Gangrene is a gladiator match compared to my playground argument as far as body challenges go, so through this article, I became immediately aware of  SCALE.   Gangrene, loss of limb, oozing discomfort, risk of infection throughout the body, sure quick death and decay knocking on your doorstep every morning upon waking, every night upon sleep, every opening from empty mind, a road of scary thoughts beckoning one down the path of fear.  The big bad wolf is a smelly guest who may not ever leave.

And while there was mediation and spaciousness with Lama Rinpoche, the symptoms did not disappear over night from the sheer strength of his trust and fearlessness and detachment.  It took a bloody year.  Every day of that year were symptoms and sensations, changes that could be taken for doom.  Putrid ooze, my gracious!

How does he approach this?  First, he is accepting.  He is not banking on anything.  He is not proclaiming healing from day one.  What is the worst that can happen, he asks?  He looses this one life.  Hmmm.   That’s the worst?   He is awareness observing what is unfolding.

Through Rinpoche’s example,   I became aware of triggers that small symptoms of my discomfort could bring about – as quick as lightning, thought behind thoughts.  A negative thought  can be hidden behind a positive affirmation.  This is hard to describe, but it can go something like this.  When I might get a small symptom after thinking the problem was getting better, I realized that I had been attached to getting better, and any indication to the contrary, sent me into a remembrance of the thought  everything I have tried has not helped  which led to the thought this will not get better  which led to a self pity crescendo I will have to live with this until the end of my daysOye, such a pity :)…but it is just a flash, just a flash of that negativity, covered up by another plan quickly, another solution, a mask of positivity instead of an examination of the powerful flash of negativity – still bouncing in the playing field of polarity of thinking.

I’m trying not to get bogged down here in my explanation, but it is hard to describe the momentary workings of the brain and thinking.

There is this truth:  I already know what the healing is like.  I am releasing outcome – and that is what healing is…not the physical manifestation.    I can walk through the symptoms without attachment because I know that this is exactly what is right for right now;  healing is the thoughts, not the body.

Rinpoche woke every morning for a year with symptoms and seemingly did nothing but observe and continue on his path.  When the symptoms appear momentarily for me now, I am becoming aware of a shift within.   I often catch myself before the spiral down, and I remember the way it feels to be well.  I remember wellness in a bodily way without attachment.

I even question the thought that “it” should even go away – that is not really my concern, is it?   I even have found the positives for if it continues for forever.   Staying present in the discomfort and not following a negative path of thoughts wakes me up to blessing that are existing right in the moment.  When I followed the negative thought trail, even for a moment, I was blinding me to the moment.  I couldn’t feel the very air around me, the presence of others, the things that are going well, all the amazing things I am able to do, the blessings raining down!   The symptoms could momentarily trigger in me a blindness.   The contrast of my very endurable symptoms to Rinpoche’s diseased leg woke me up to some very subtle levels of thoughts.

I am observing, sharing, I have no beautiful summing up for what is unfolding currently in the now – and I think this is a valuable place to be, in the now, without words of wisdom but glimmers of Ahah!  Ahah!  Ahah!  on a  beautiful morning  this new year.  Love and blessings and remembrance sent to you, wherever you may be, experiencing the twinges and discomforts of living in a body, awakening to the blessings present in every moment!

Absolutely profound teaching here from Katie:  Could we ever imagine a reason for the challenges?  Do we want the blessings found even in perceived suffering to end?  Never!


1 Jan

Last night, I heard a desperate father take his screaming toddler over to a garbage bin and hang him over in a threat to throw him away.  The boy is screaming, the dad is yelling.  When it is over, he gruffly tells him to get back in the car.  A woman yells from her balcony, you ain’t got a treat a person that way.  You ain’t no father.  He yells something back that I don’t catch; the car pulls out and is gone.  I am close enough to hear, but not to react for it takes all of a few seconds and it is over.   And how would I react to such a scene were I closer?  A dad  in  a quick and rash act of anger in a public space, retribution, regret, humans in despair.  On another street,  I meet an elegant woman walking around the block with a martini without shoes, desperate, she says to me, laugh laced with pain, to get away from her husband.  She keeps moving.

I stop, I listen, I observe as I walk downtown.  I am the same as me who rides in a car at 75 miles per hour; the trees blur into a connecting line beyond which I can see fields of breathtaking winter sleep and decay.  I am a passenger.

Life without the chatter of mind is so immense…where to look, what to take in, what to ignore:   movement,  other people in all their clothes, life going on about its business all around.  Pieces of me peel away as I turn my attention; my attention is enough to make my body slough off whole mountains of cells.   I am a dervish coming apart at the edges.

The mind does not fill the space inside but tries to protect it, shield it from the sheer overwhelm of being a part of everything.  The mind’s chatter at times is a weak attempt at sound cancelation, the rocking motion of an autistic child to find rhythm and pattern in the chaos of it all.  My mind makes repetition of my identity to shield me from my disintegration that is occurring every  moment of my life.  The mind is a blankie to protect me from a tsunami – but the wave cannot be held back.

The flood of information is in the form of a crying dog – abandoned and sick, a winter bare tree, low hung ceiling of cloud,  hunger but no appetite, the smell of decay in a loved one’s breath, a daffodil trying to push through the soil out of season, a warm chat with a stranger about quinoa under fluorescent grocery lights, the photons from the sun surprising my face with warm, indifferent love, a song going by from a  moving car, a screech of tires, birds…it is all just too much, isn’t it?

grant me the courage, self, to see without protection, for truly, I am the creator of the chaos and the pain and the beauty of this world;

merging is not death.

death is not even death.

pain is on its way to love.




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