Friday, December 18, 2020

Christmas, letting the light within merge with the light that guides us...



    Stars when you shine - You know how I feel, Scent of the pine - You know how I feel ...                                                                                                                 Leslie Bricusse and Anothy Newley

Every year since my two Grands were able to hold a Christmas ornament, they have excitedly created a manger scene on the mantle. Sometimes Jesus was supported by a little smarties box so the light shone right on him. Yet, this is the Christmas of the COVID 19.  Unlike the last twelve years, the mantle is bare and will remain so until my Grands return. Nor is there any need to decorate the table for Christmas dinner which all feels a bit barren. A neighbor was telling me her dream the other day. She found herself in a desert, yet, not like the high desert I love in Tucson. Her's felt barren, lifeless -- a part of life that can feel prison-like and even under siege -- be it from boredom, loneliness, loss, or sadness as the COVID has its way. 

The above observation, begs the question, who am I without all the (human) stuff, where is my happy place, and how can I find it? I am also sure we are on this earth plane to do just that - where no matter what the limitations, with its desert-like feelings, something deeper, richer, and larger always calls, "Do not be afraid. I am always with you. I call you by name."* This inner essence, this emanating presence waits. Its cadence, resonance, and longing are in each of us.   

St Exupery tells us what is essential is invisible to the eye. The other night watching the news, a very tiny light at the top of a very little tree caught my attention. It's light looked like a star, reminding me of my meditation candle in the early morning. Its rays in some magical way spread up beyond my little altar, as it was doing with the little tree light. Light in the darkness, I lost myself in it or better said, found myself in both. 

This happy place I am referring to really has nothing to do with anyone or anything else. It is between me and the mystery of me, as it is between you and the mystery of you.  Know yourself, stay behind what you know yourself to be.  It is not material. Tolle tells us, we have to let go of seeing things through the screen of concepts and knowledge. We call a tree, a tree and there it stops, we call a dog, a dog and there it stops --  until we spend time with each. When we go beyond the tree-bark and dog-fur, we discover presence in both as we find our deeper selves in what we love, in relationship, and our beyondness. And it's here we discover our happy place. 

In Jacob Leiberman's book, Luminous Life: How the Science of Light Unlocks the Art of Living the author points out that presence is what arises when we embrace and allow the light within us to merge with the light that guides us and this life is magical. 

 Yes, it is a very different year, this COVID year. Humanity is crying in so many parts of the world. Yet, no matter the threat, no matter the table won't be set, no matter hugs are out, we each can find our happy place. The little tree light was hiding a presence that is invisible to the eye - a oneness in me and a oneness in the beauty of it. And like the wise shepherds who said so long ago, "Look, look, there is the star..." We can find it now, find it today. We all have it built-in." This light bounces off God.  

*Ancient scripture

** P.S. Late yesterday afternoon, Nova Scotia announced it was easing restrictions so that ten can gather in a house for Christmas. I am happy, the mantle will come to life after all.   

Thursday, September 17, 2020

The sweetness of breath and the wrong doing...


Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing
 and rightdoing is a field.
 I will meet you there. 

When the soul lies down in that grass, 
the world is too full to talk about.
                                                         ~ Rumi

In my case, Rumi's "wrongdoing" was my body, the shingles ached, the rash burned, and the body dominated as I was driving to an appointment.  The clinic doctor called it, in a two-second look, "shingles." It was drowning me and drowning the moment. I keep writing about how we are not our bodies. Yet, not that day. My body was me and certainly was keeping me from experiencing "the field." Gratitudes, enjoying the beauty of the trees and lakes I was passing was lost. 

The body ached -- breathing was thin air going in and thin air going out. Everything else was an effort. Then, a thought, I have a choice -- let the body do me in or just breathe, which takes no effort I was doing it unconsciously, anyway. I decided on the latter. (By that time, I was parked outside the office waiting for the receptionist to call me in.)

After a few minutes, I began to wake up to the fact, I was beginning to feel a little more than thin air. My breath contained an aliveness. I searched for a word, oh yes, sweetness, a seemingly funny little word for what I was feeling. Then drawing the air in slower, with a long draw as if I was pulling a thick liquid of magic up through a straw -- yes, this is the sweetness.  Then I let it out slowly savoring this soul-ness moving in and out of my chest. And the more I breathed the sweeter it became. Then my mind went back to my body of aches and burn, my discomforts were all still there but I wasn't. I was escaping into Rumi's "field."

A thought flickered, "Oh, this is how I would like to take my last breaths, as breathing is the last thing I will do on this earth plane when making my transition. 

I reflected later, this sweetness of breath goes into my body, nurtures the sweetness in myself (which I can hardly call mine,) and renders a quietness. This breathing maintains me, does something inside me. I know what I am seeking is seeking me. This intake of air is not an object or a thing I do. This breath is breathing me as I am breathing it. It is more than me. It comes to me. I give it back. It is not what it is, but who it is. 
Indeed, breathing does take one out beyond "rightdoing and wrongdoing", beyond the ache and the burn to the field of love and loveliness. My soul-self says, "In this place that's where I want to meet, My Darling. I want to meet You there -- beyond perception, death, beyond this reality of flesh and bone -- out there..."  

Thursday, August 27, 2020

Summer play, cultivating a sacred space...

I cultivate my garden, and my garden cultivates me.
                                                                         ~ Robert Brault

Her face was lit with life and excitement. She and a friend are taking off for the weekend. She began to tell me how much work she should be doing for her Doctorate as she is coming to its completion.

As a writer, I too have felt a slight guilt that goes with taking the time to go to my favorite play spots. Yet, on reflection, how valuable. I have just come back from a long weekend at the beach. A garden of sunrises, sunsets, evening breeze on the cliff, walks, swims, and vast amounts of the sky's all velvety patterned.

I tell my friend about my book-friend Thich Nhat Hanh who is a great spiritual teacher. This renowned Buddhist monk, whom I quote often on this blog, was gardening one afternoon. A woman watching him asked why he uses his time gardening when he could be writing or sharing his enlightening presence with others. He replied quietly, that tending his garden is why he can write.

Another enlightened human being Jesus, who was teaching a new way, had a similar take. The crowds were waiting for him to heal the sick and perform miracles. Yet, numerous times, he would leave the people who had come for healing and wisdom and go off into the desert to pray, rest, and tend to his sacred garden.

After listening, my young friend hugged me, "Oh, I need to hear that." And I too, indeed, need to hear it again and again for I have a garden to tend -- a garden of awareness, of consciousness, prayer, and of holding sacred space.

Two days later, she texted me a selfie. Two friends in sun hats, laughing, having a glass of wine, and sitting with the sun setting behind them. New energies, new growth, a new freshness of scent -- and obviously, tending to their gardens.


Monday, July 27, 2020

Second-guessing death...

For life and death are one,
even as the river and the sea are one.
                                                      Kahlil Gibran

My doctor turns and looks at me, without any prior conversation or thought, at least on my part, he asks, "Do you think death has to be morbid?" The question is so sudden and seemingly out of context, it shocks me.

Having more wrinkles than I might like, having said a good-bye to most of the people of my younger years, I am glad he asks the question. My doctor works in many countries so I am sure he has his reasons. I look at him saying, "No, death need not be morbid. Because there is no death." We discuss it, then driving home I pondered it further.

My first encounter of aliveness, after what I thought was death, I have written about a few years back in this blog.* If anyone had died a morbid death it was my father. I was in my twenties. He was fifty-seven. His suffering was a darkness for him and us that lasted months. No light at the end of that tunnel or so I thought. Yet, coming home from the grave, relieved and thanking God it was over, I headed upstairs and was stopped on the first step. There was my father, healthy, whole, and standing looking directly at me, laughing. So much so it was catching. He stayed and I looked. He was more alive and free than I had ever seen him. That was the day in 1968, I first second-guessed death.

About twenty years later, my ancient, spirit friend, the cottage woman, kept correcting me every time I said the word death. She would always respond, "Death is change, a transition, a continuation of living, of life. There is no death as you humans use the word." Then added kindly, "We do not use the word and suggest you don't either." So I try not to.

The cottage woman also allowed me a look at times. I had a dear, older, friend who had a great faith that was challenged by her family which disturbed her. When she died I asked the cottage woman how she was doing. She said, after a pause, "A lot of energy. Very happy. Ah, yah, like a kid in a candy store. She received a lot of what she was seeking in her time on earth -- indeed, like a kid in a candy store."** Maybe a somewhat irreverent observation but, nevertheless, an answer full of joy, aliveness, and a certain sweetness.

 The invisible does not have to be visible to be real. Life and death are doorways to another reality, to other possibilities, and other dimensions. The ancients, the enlighteners, and the quantum physicists know that all is energy. The wind blows because the leaves move, we know about virtual reality now, you press a button and are looking at a half dozen people in your living room, and flick a little switch on the wall then poof, fire in my fireplace, or the room lights up. A hundred years ago,  fifty years ago, we humans would have said, "No no, only visible life is real, only what I can see, and physical touch is real."

Life is a kaleidoscope of dimensions, levels, planes, and realities -- and death, I believe is, too. We have been too quick in dismissing what is not visible to our human eyes.

* Also referred to in my first book, Moments That Blink Back (Amazon and in major book stores)
** From the book, The Cottage Woman which is being published later this year or early next.

Friday, June 26, 2020

Prayer comes in disguises...

Considering what to write about this month, prayer is forefront. Demonstrations are happening around the globe as the COVID is seemingly catching its breath. Under the threat of a pandemic, in spite of the violence, the rubber bullets, and the flash grenades, the walkers just keep coming. And in such times as these praying needs to hit the streets.

Like fingerprints, praying is different for each of us humans. Some of us pray without saying prayers, some use words, and some have different physical positionings. Others sacrifice their lives as do the caregivers going to work each morning in a pandemic and some walk their prayer. Five hundred doctors in Russia have died and that is probably the least of it. In fact, whatever the religion, non-religion, or nationality, praying is a heart business, a compassion business.  Are not the demonstrators walking for justice, fairness, and for healing?

Yet, how do I pray? It all seems too big, too overwhelming. Where do I start and would it do any good anyway? However, I do have to join them. An inner voice says, "Take the leap." Looking out over the bay and beyond, I slip down from my head, that place of conventional reality that keeps telling me, my little prayer won't work. Then entering my house of compassion, hope, and daring, I know differently. The heart is never overwhelmed. Here is where I can sync with the walkers and the caregivers. This is not about being religious, or pious; this praying is about vision and humanity evolving.

This prayer, I can feel. As the days pass and in spite of all our human imperfections, it dawns on me, I am watching a flowing, golden river, not separate walkers.  They are desiring and demanding something fairer, more just, and more caring in this world. A slice of humanity struggling for a new paradigm of meaning.

Now I am part of the river. It is beautiful, elegant -- a heart and mind coherence transforming us en route. City buildings form the banks as its water spills out into parks and thoroughfares -- cautiously beaconing us each to a new spring and to be a living prayer.

While I was writing this piece, I woke one morning to an aliveness in my room. Words fail here, however, I felt silken, gentle waves of energy that I only can call love. Not the conventional "love" but the deep, abiding, faceless source-kind that was flowing through me like a river, through the bed, the air, and then, I realized it flows all the time tangibility through each of us. I began singing quietly the old, worn-out folk song, "Love is flowing like a river, flowing out through you and me..." And I had never sung it or felt like this before.

Wednesday, May 27, 2020

The everything-ness of One moment...

The morning is sunny. With a laundry bag in each hand and still here at the chalet in semi-isolation, I head down the hill to my daughter's house to use her washing machine. Starting across the lawn, I turn to glance at the bay. The beauty of it stops me. The sun is brilliant, the Atlantic is endless, islands sprinkle its edges and the sailboats lean in the distance. Yes, here is the "eye kissing light, the heart sweetening light,  my darling..." in ocean-blues and island-greens with the distant horizon disappearing somewhere out there -- somewhat like myself as I am beginning to see/feel as if from another place, in another space, yet all so very right. This I have not experienced before.

I want nothing more. Suspended out of this life, yet totally in and through it. Amazing, this is the one-ness that I always think I understand but not like this. This is something else -- inside and out, around and under. There is no time here, no past, no future, no death, and there is no me.

Ah, so this is it, there is only One moment, this moment -- holding everything -- all of heaven and earth. This is what the ancients know, the mountain monks, the yoga's, the enlightened ones of history who went before us, created morphic fields so we could follow. Everything, all I could want to be, and could never guess -- I am standing in it, right here, right now. A nothingness which is an everything-ness. What words? Really there aren't any. I, like the words, can only point...

And if I hadn't set my laundry bags down and stopped to look at the bay I'd have possibly missed the most important moment of my life? Wait, but how can I write that when I think of all the trillion moments I have lived? Yet, not like this one. Breathing in, I feel Tagore's great lines from the Gitanjali again, "Ah, the light dances, my darling, at the center of my life, the light strikes, my darling, the chords of my love; the skies open, the winds run wild and laughter passes over the earth."

Post Script:

I expect the experience to fade. Yet, a wise woman tells me, "bring it back and live in it. Then it will expand like a rainbow into prism colors."

Four days later, my granddaughter has a birthday, her tenth. Her aunt and I drop in on their lawn (keeping our social distance) for a visit. Both Grands, freed from house confinement, momentarily are attempting handstands and cartwheels. Watching them, a little breeze brushes by. Turning, fluttering cherry blossoms fill the air. And instantly, again, the everything-ness in One moment.

Monday, April 27, 2020

How do I hug the wind?

"The answer my friend is blowing in the wind, the answer is blowing in the wind..."

Several Nova Scotia readers have told me of their tears for the carnage that was wrought here in the province several days ago. Indeed when one thinks of the lives lost, the suffering of those who loved them, family, and community members, the experience is devastating. And of course, the backdrop to this horror is Covid19 and its threatening presence to each of us. Tears indeed, sometimes I think even God cries.

Thus, I need to pray but that will be as hard as hugging the wind in this heaviness of spirit.  How do I become the prayer? I will be lost if I follow such tragedy down its steep slopes with my conventional heart, thought, and mind. I can't clunk around in this dense solidity called skin and bone which feels at zero frequency in the moment. I know the feeling is the prayer and this isn't it. After all, the frequency of the vibration does create the nature of the particle - plus or minus. And, mine is the latter.

I do have to go somewhere else, invite those elevated feelings that wait in that deeper caring of spaciousness with its seeing beyondness -- that inner vibration for prayer with its compassion, healing, and the peace that truly does pass all understanding -- possibly better known in the Christian scripture as the balm of Gideon.  

Is the answer in the wind -- that east wind, that south wind? I love it and know it as a companion. This divine wind that tips me on my toes and roars through this roof every few minutes in perfect timing, which makes me jump as I write. Its invisible power invites me to bow my head in reverence and reminds me of a childhood poem by Christina Rossetti.

Who has seen the wind,
neither you nor I,
but when the trees bow down their heads
the wind is passing by.

"And you think of it only as wind?", my ancient friend observed wisely. Then I did and now, like the tree, I also bow my head. Prayer transforms this solid density.  The divine, by whatever name, meets me.  I lift my hand, place on a little leaf, my compassion, caring, and the feel of a peace that is a balm for such suffering. The wind takes each on their way. And, on arrival at the doorsteps of their destinations, some broken hearts may feel a holy breeze and say, "Oh look, a little leaf ...

How do I hug the wind and know it's hugging me? Of course, the answer my friend is blowing in the wind, the answer is blowing in the wind..."