Category Archives: synchronicity and magic

a still place, containing everything

 

moon“We think that the point is to pass the test or overcome the problem, but the truth is that things don’t really get solved. They come together and they fall apart. Then they come together again and fall apart again. It’s just like that. The healing comes from letting there be room for all of this to happen: room for grief, for relief, for misery, for joy. ”
~Pema Chodron

 

 

I woke this morning in a dreamy fugue, not quite able to pull myself from the world of sleep into the bright one of legos and breakfast-making that awaited me.  In the kitchen, I danced with my son to this song while I cooked eggs and tried to push away a growing sense of nostalgia for a life that wasn’t mine.

There is something about this music that reminds me of the time I spent in New England, working on an organic flower farm that also offered yoga and sacred circle dance.  It was a long time ago, and the friendships I made there still bear fruit, but this nostalgia is not about that place.  It’s about something deeper than that.  It’s about a life built around the deeper spirit of things.  It’s about a life built around seeking, and mystery, and an overarching pattern that I fit within but can never encompass.

I’ve written about nostalgia before—here and here—but today wrapped its arms around me and reminded me that however often I come to this understanding, it will both elude and find me again. There is no endpoint to life.  It goes on and on, with its immense joys and unbearable losses. Things come together and they fall apart again. We never ‘arrive’ at happiness.

And yet–there is, always available to us, this deeper place of relating to life, this ever-present and invisible river of other lives, other experiences, those who came before and are yet to come.  There have been long stretches in my life when I lived more in that world than in this one. Lately, with the tasks there are to do, with time stretched thin between studies and work and children and projects and plans, I have mostly forgotten that there is more than today’s to-do list.

I danced with my son in the kitchen, and I cooked breakfast, and we walked to Meeting, pausing to look at the striated colors the rain had painted onto the path.  It was a beautiful morning, bright and warm, and my heart was full and ebullient as I readied myself for the silence.  Yet the moment I sat down, tears began to fill my eyes and drip onto my chest.  I played it cool and kept my breathing even, surreptitiously swiping at my eyes from time to time, unsure of the origins of this sorrow.

yvar3My youngest son looked up at me, puzzled, and asked why my eyes were crying.  I told him  I did not know.

The moment I spoke these words, I began to concoct theories.  I’m crying because I won’t see the boys for seven days.  I’m crying because I’m overwhelmed.  I’m crying because my grandmother is in pain and dying.  But I wasn’t listening to the reasons.  My heart knew.  It was bigger than that.

The tears kept falling, steadily, for over an hour.  People rose and spoke out of the silence of Meeting, sharing messages of loss, of the connection of community, of the beauty to be found in stillness.  I spoke too, worried my voice would quaver but unable to silence myself.  I spoke of the world of linear time and the world of presence just alongside us, always, infinite and containing everything.  I spoke of the sense that sometimes the boundaries between self and world blur, and I fall in love with the rise and fall of everything, the transience and beauty and impermanence of lives that have brushed mine and passed on.  I spoke of the gratitude I feel in these moments of supreme joy, walking in the sunlight with my children, even as I know they are growing and changing, as beautiful children are born, beloved elders die.

The sorrow ended as abruptly as it began, and we walked home laughing, but I’ve been tender all day.  I want to hold everything close and bathe it in my attention.  I want to understand why that song tugs at my heartstrings, I want to wrap my mind around the scope of all that I’ve lost and all the treasures I’ve experienced. I find myself wondering whether I will still be here in thirty years, wondering and wise, whether I will be strong enough on this path to put my hand on another’s shoulder and say ‘this is how it is, the daily struggles and losses, the small joys, and this is how it will be always, and that’s the beauty of it’.

I think about the ones who have done this for me, the ones who have really seen and opened my heart to seeing:  Rilke, and Teilhard de Chardin, and Hildegard von Bingen, all the ones whose names I don’t know who have felt this same shuddering beauty.  Where are they now?  When I think of this, I am not afraid of dying.  I love life so much, and yet I cannot fear to walk a path that these have walked before me.

The days go on, full of floors that need to be swept and dish drainers that need to be emptied; applications that must be filled out and nails that must be clipped; tires to inflate and battles to fight.  Each day marches forward from the last, bearing pain and ugliness and boredom and beauty and delight.

 And beneath all of it, always there:  this still place, containing everything.

2013-12-23 11.59.32

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March 16, 2015 · 3:23 am

drawing water

English: Pine trees in the fog

Full moon, and female rain–that’s what the Dineh call these long, soaking, gentle days:  as opposed to male rains, which are the lightning storms, sudden and dramatic, an onslaught that is quickly over.

I love the female rains. Yesterday, waking to their gentle music,  I smudged the whole house with cedar and took off on a walk through the low clouds. Everything seems to be breathing on these days, rain-soaked and calm and alive.  Tiny reminders of the sacred are everywhere–curling wisps of fog reaching skyward, birds flying silent. These are the days I remember to take a bath of salt as the evening winds down, reconnecting with the ocean, the way the full moon draws tears to my eyes as it draws waves to the sky.  I remember on these rainy days to simmer the peelings and cuttings of vegetables to make broth for later.  And now, brewing up this month’s pleasure packages for Briana, the whole house fragrant with balsam, I feel rocked by the rain, drawn into memory.
I’m studying Jung again, and it draws me back to those months at UCLA when the Hammer Museum acquired his Red Book as part of a visiting exhibit. I remember taking my Theories of Personality homework  there every day that I could, writing and reading amid the colorful art and scribbled journal entries of that wonderful man. Continue reading

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September 20, 2013 · 4:04 pm

nourishment

Blackberries

I write this from Boone, North Carolina; I moved here yesterday to begin a master’s degree in expressive arts therapy.  The air here is cool, with that slight edge that whispers of coming autumn, lightly scented with apples and woodsmoke.  The mountain roads are lined with echinacea and blackberry.

Walking on the street this morning I came across two women bent over the carcass of a goldfinch that had flown into a window.  They invited me to help them with a ceremony, and together we placed the tiny body in the grasses and wished its spirit well.  From my medicine bag I took some acorns harvested from the tree we camped beneath at the elements gathering and placed them by its side.  I thought of how the things we see reflect our inner questions. I listened for this tiny bird’s message:  pay attention. move slowly. don’t fly full-bore into walls.

I remembered when I was eighteen, studying permaculture and ecopsychology at the Findhorn community in Scotland.  Each morning I walked the gorse-lined dunes to the soft shoreline of the Firth.  One stormy day I came upon the carcass of a bird washed up among the driftwood.  That afternoon I sat down and wrote this song. Continue reading

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August 15, 2013 · 7:16 pm

elements and earth harps

This past week I took the boys and joined the inimitable Michelle Wilde at the weeklong Elements Gathering.  We made cordage with wild dogbane, we carved raw alabaster into fetishes, we sewed and beaded braintanned buckskin medicine-bags, we started fires, we gathered food, we baked acorn bread, we wove baskets. My children went feral before my eyes, bartering for knives, setting traps, crafting their own belts and clothing from the desert landscape.

Every evening (rather surreally in this landscape of buckskin loincloths and flintknapping) there was world-class music.  I wrote this reflection by lantern-light after listening to William Close play the Earth Harp.  If you click on the link there, you will see a very professional and las vegas-y presentation of what the earth harp is.  My experience of it was far more…well…elemental.  I could feel the music rising up the ground through me, humming out all of the sadnesses and rough edges and deeply-carried emotions. I understood sound healing for the first time.  In the context of the week, it was a life-changing experience.

Years ago, my friend Bud Howell introduced me to primitive skills and accompanied me to Tom Brown’s tracking school.  In those weeks of tracking and shelter-building I could feel the beginning of something large and vital, but it fell by the wayside as the years went on.  Now I had found it again. I felt as though I’d been watering one tree all of my life, and suddenly had learned that my life is not one tree.  My life is an ecosystem, layered with shrubs and vines and groundcovers, and for the first time all of them were watered at once, and the raw bits and ends of my life started to cycle round and support each other.  There’s really no way to put it into words.  But this is what I wrote as it happened:

Continue reading

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August 4, 2013 · 3:01 am

Just Jump

20130722_101830Yesterday I took a walk with a friend.  We walked through scented valleys, among heartrendingly beautiful groves of ancient oak and sycamore.  This land has always been sacred, a source of constant water in an arid range. When I walk here, messages are so close to the surface.

Here is what I mean:  when I lift my water bottle to take a drink, the wind rushes across and sounds a low, perfect note.  Or, lying back in the cool water of the creek, watching the herons dive for fish, setting the waterlilies trembling, I melt completely into the water until there is no difference between my heartbeat and the bend of the cattails in the wind.  Here there is water, shelter, food, joy, an abundance of everything.  So too there is an abundance in me. Continue reading

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July 24, 2013 · 2:30 am

women’s joy circle: thank you, it’s true

Sparkling wine for two.

Last night, for the first time, joy circle met in public, on the outdoor patio of a downtown restaurant.  We were surrounded by tables of young hipsters (the men bearded, the women in cateye glasses and/or handmade purses), fairy lights, and fountains, the sky slowly darkening over the busy park opposite.   We opened circle as we traditionally do, left hand palm up, right hand palm down, connecting palm to palm all around, breathing deeply together.  I passed around the goddess cards and everyone selected an archetype to ponder while ordering bruschetta and wine and creme brulee. Continue reading

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July 17, 2013 · 5:43 am

Women’s Joy Circle: Internal/External ways of knowing

Giuseppe Arcimboldo - Farm Woman Going to Mark...

Giuseppe Arcimboldo – Farm Woman Going to Market

In the normal course of things, writing comes to me like breathing.  I do it without thinking.  When I sit down to write an article or a post or a letter, I am more mindful of writing, just as I am more mindful of my breath during a yoga class or meditation.  But it is still an involuntary process, flowing through me, requiring little of me.

Lately this has not been so.  It’s been a tumultuous few weeks: last week I traveled to Indiana with my parents and children to visit our family matriarch, a powerful woman of 95 years who ran a dairy farm alone after her husband dropped dead, leaving her with three small boys and pregnant with a fourth.  From all accounts, Grandma’s  early life was pretty joyless: an unhappy marriage followed by an even unhappier widowhood, constant struggle with poverty and endless hard work, a tornado that destroyed her entire town, hopes for a second marriage that were cruelly dashed, an unsupportive and judgmental extended family and church community.

As an adult, I can see all of this.  Yet as a child, my experience of Grandma was her ever-present gravelly chuckle, her bustling busy-ness as she baked and crocheted and painted, utter delight in her work as a hairdresser and in her family.  Grandma always sent buckets of presents for Christmas, and her house was full of art and candy.  Her hair was always perfectly curled and colored, her eyes were always sparkling.  She gave me my first “permanent” when I was 12 years old, treating me as a co-conspirator in my endeavor to be beautiful despite the disapproval of my staunchly anti-chemical-hair-enhancement parents (the heathens!) Continue reading

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June 4, 2013 · 7:38 pm