Archive for March, 2010

In this sacred time…Passover, Easter Week, Spring at hand…I am fasting and spending more time on my mat and more time on my cushion in meditation. It is Retreat Week at Yoga School. We gather on Sunday for three hours and then attend two Hatha classes and two meditations daily during the rest of the week. We journal and look deeply into our lives.

Outside Moodna Creek is turbulent–white capped muddy water. Fields are flooded. The first hint of blue sky appears at sunset after what seems like interminable rain. Inside, my mind is alternately turbulent and subdued. My dreams are vivid. All of my senses are heightened. The smell of my husband’s Nespresso coffee in the morning, the symphony of bird songs, the taste of toothpaste, the sound of the clock ticking in my office…all amplified.

We are asked to explore where we are suffering…to name our pain and to see it’s source clearly. I see that bliss and suffering are not two…they are not separate. The more expansive my bliss, the more aware and sensitized I become to suffering. I see and sense the interdependent co-arising of all causes and conditions. My body electric and vibrating.


All night
under the pines
the fox
moves through the darkness
with a mouthful of teeth
and a reputation for death
which it deserves.
In the spicy
villages of the mice
he is famous,
his nose
in the grass
is like an earthquake,
his feet
on the path
is a message so absolute
that the mouse, hearing it,
makes himself
as small as he can
as he sits silent
or, trembling, goes on
hunting among the grasses
for the ripe seeds.

Maker of All Things,
including appetite,
including stealth,
including the fear that makes
all of us, sometime or other,
flee for the sake
of our small and precious lives,
let me abide in your shadow–
let me hold on
to the edge of your robe
as you determine
what you must let be lost
and what will be saved.



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There’s a morning when presence comes
over your soul. You sing like a rooster.

in your earth-colored shape. Your heart
hears and no longer frantic, begins

to dance. At that moment, soul reaches
total emptiness. Your heart becomes Mary,

miraculously pregnant, and body like a
two-day-old Jesus says wisdom words. Now

the heart, which is the source of your
loving, turns to universal light, and the

body picks up the tempo and elegance of
its motion. Where [Spirit] walks

the footprints become notations of music
and holes you fall through into space.

– RUMI –

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Put your vileness up to a mirror and weep. That’s when
the real art, the real
making begins. A tailor must have a torn shirt to
practice his expertise

– RUMI –

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Last night–wakeful. Finally out of bed at 1:30 am. Ate an apple and read Jane Hirshfield poems until it seemed like I should be able to sleep. My mind spinning and reeling with its own myriad forms of non-acceptance. This is not the experience that I am supposed to be having right now in my life.

Everything that I “know” and “practice” parades through my consciousness. I must come into some form of acceptance; harmonize with what is; even extend loving-kindness toward the current circumstances…open my heart, sit meditation more, get centered, get quiet, be supportive, grow up, reach out…you get the drift. This is my great learning edge, this will persist as long as I resist, I must deploy beginner’s mind, this is an opportunity to transform karma…oh, the platitudes and the simplifications that the mind can recite in the wee hours of a sleepless morning.


It’s like so many other things in life
to which you must say no or yes.
So you take your car to the new mechanic.
Sometimes the best thing to do is trust.

The package left with the disreputable-looking
clerk, the check gulped by the night deposit,
the envelope passed by dozens of strangers–
all show up at their intended destinations.

The theft that could have happened doesn’t.
Wind finally gets where it was going
through the snowy trees, and the river, even
when frozen, arrives at the right place.

And sometimes you sense how faithfully your life
is delivered, even though you can’t read the address.


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It’s 68 degrees today. Lawns time-lapse greening before my eyes. Broken budding branches and huge limbs are piled at the end of every driveway…remnants of the last storm. Daffodils spear their way through soggy soil. A skunk waddles across Sarah Wells Trail, oblivious to traffic.

It’s the perfect day for a drive with my Dad. His face lights up when he sees me…his happiness is contagious. He says over and over and over, “I’m so happy to be alive…I’m alive…I’m so grateful!” He says, “I’m so grateful for my family; my children, my beautiful wife, even though she’s gone. I thank the good Lord every day! Or at least I think I do…I try to remember.”

We drive through the Black Dirt farmland. Flat fields, flooded–some roads under water, bridges out. I give him my iPod and select “Classical Play List.” We share some favorite junk food and he says, “This is heaven!” Before long, he closes his eyes slightly and hums while conducting an imaginary orchestra.


Luxury itself, thick as a Persian carpet,
honey fills the jar
with the concentrated sweetness
of countless thefts,
the blossoms bereft, the hive destitute.

Though my debts are heavy
honey would pay them all.
Honey heals, honey mends.
A spoon takes more than it can hold
without reproach. A knife plunges deep,
but does no injury.

Honey moves with intense deliberation.
Between one drop and the next
forty lean years pass in a distant desert.
What one generation labored for
another receives,
and yet another gives thanks.


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“Now winter, the winter I am writing about begins to ease. And what if anything has been determined, selected, nailed down? This is the lesson of age–events pass, things change, trauma fades, good fortune rises, fades, rises again but different. Whereas what happens when one is twenty, as I remember it, happens forever. I have not been twenty for a long time! The sun rolls toward the north and I feel, gratefully, its brightness flaming up once more. Somewhere in the world the misery we can do nothing about yet goes on…”


There is blue sky this morning. Not the frigid blue of winter but a warmer tone–almost a pueblo turquoise. Things are still difficult, and yet, I remember the lesson of age. Yes, that one. It’s what I tell my daughter when her baby seems endlessly cranky: teething, nursing non-stop, feverish, not sleeping, wanting to master the potty, pitching a fit when told not to use crayons on the wall…I say to her what I am saying to myself. “This, too, will pass. I know it seems endless. Everything changes. Impermanence is always at our backs. What is wonderful becomes difficult. What is difficult becomes wonderful.”

Something about now…this now…here…is so impossibly beautiful and horrific at the same time. I can sit in deep stillness and silence. I can walk as I did yesterday, bathed in sunlight, breathing the air–so fresh, almost sharp, smelling like sun-dried laundry. I can sit with my husband and his mother, watching fault lines and fissures widen in their family–loud cracking noises, whole mountains crumbling filling the air with particulate rage…the rage of grief, the raging aftermath of the death of mental illness and how it remains embedded in the lineage, the rage of divisive endless suffering. Still, the morning is lovely. The ice is melting. Somehow, all of this will change and change and change again.

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It is on dry sunny days like this one that I find myself
thinking about the enormous body of water
that lies under this house,
cool, unseen reservoir,
silent except for the sounds of dripping
and the incalculable shifting
of all the heavy darkness that it holds.

This is the water that our well was dug to sip
and lift to where we live,
water drawn up and falling on our bare shoulders,
water filling the inlets of our mouths,
water in a pot on the stove.

The house is nothing now but a blueprint of pipes,
a network of faucets, nozzles, and spigots,
and even outdoors where light pierces the air
and clouds fly over the canopies of trees,
my thoughts flow underground
trying to imagine the cavernous scene.

Surely it is no pool with a colored ball
floating on the blue surface.
No grotto where a king would have
his guests rowed around in swan-shaped boats.
Between the dark lakes where the dark rivers flow
there is no ferry waiting on the shore of rock
and no man holding a long oar,
ready to take your last coin.
This is the real earth and the real water it contains.

But some nights, I must tell you,
I go down there after everyone has fallen asleep.
I swim back and forth in the echoing blackness.
I sing a love song as well as I can,
lost for a while in the home of the rain.


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