Wednesday, December 19, 2012

What child is this -- this child of Christmas?

Children are full of joy, giggles and holy presence. As we say, what is Christmas without children? They may not know the stories, have life experience but they certainly know the feeling.

My two grands, four and two arranged the manger scene on the mantel last night.* They've never been to Sunday school, are not taught religion and yet the figurines were handled with excitement, great care and feeling. The donkey lost an ear, the Babe bounced from the mantle to the floor twice but both proved to be hardy. The children did not care, their eyes glowed as the two wise men and one wise women, the Mon and Dad took their place in the manger on the mantle.

The one foot Santa was unwrapped next. As the red suit and beard emerged -- an intake of breath. Eyes widened and mouths formed a perfect 0. A high octane sound of pure glee, innocence and deafening aliveness filled the room. Two children bursting their skin with an ecstasy welling up in an instant from a deep, deep land of joy, love, and aliveness.

Christmas is feeling and magic. "The deepest things after all are intangible."** All that matters to the two grands is the feeling -- the surge of joy, sweetness, and love from somewhere, some land within. Maybe this is the child our souls know about without religion, theology, without a face or a word, always waiting and always ready to birth in our mangers.

* Christmas 2012

Friday, December 14, 2012

the Christmas turkey...

My daughter is an environmentalist among other things. I try to be but do not want to sacrifice as much as she might. I came across this quote by Berke Breathed recently and thought of an earlier writing published here about the trees crying and the research that reveals plants and water respond to our feelings-intentions.  
So in honor of the turkey and all its kind this maybe the prayer at our table:

"Dear Lord, I've been asked, nay commanded, to thank Thee for the Christmas turkey before us... a turkey which was no doubt a lively, intelligent bird...a social being...capable of actual affection...nuzzling its young with almost human-like compassion. 
Anyway, it's dead and we're gonna eat it. Please give our respects to its family..."
                                                                                          Berke Breathed

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Look, look, there is a star...

"I saw the backyard cedar...charged and transfigured, each cell buzzing with flame. It was less like seeing than like being...The flood of fire abated, but I’m still spending the power." Annie Dillard

Watching the yellow finches eating their breakfast, the old bird feeder caught the sun and a flame of light flickered from its edge.  Next time it flashed, squinting my eyes, I saw undulation, red, orange, blue web-like threads of light coming through the window, crossing the table, penetrating the coffee mug, and on into my chest.

 I sat there quite fascinated. Then, instantly, the rays of color were gone. I was left looking at the same old plastic feeder, yellowed by the sun. Beyond the feeder, the lake was ordinary blue and the trees were the ordinary green of the scrub spruce. Then a thought shocked me, "How dull I see."

 All of life must be alive like this. Certainly the new physics has proven everything is energy, light is a solid mass.  Mystics, scientists, and sagas witness to the awesome beauty of the ordinary.  The sun hits the car fender in the driveway, I squint, the rays move up the drive, through the door, down the hall and pass through me. One after noon, I spotted a broken CD lying in the dust reflecting the Tucson sun. The light and colors were brilliant.  My eyes took time to adjust.  I walked around the broke pieces watching light beams ripple prism colors, creating, extending, shimmering threads.

Laughing, I thought, imagine these gorgeous, undulating prism colors radiated from a bleached old, yellow plastic bird feeder, a car fender, and a broken CD.  I did not have to raise my vibration, move into a larger consciousness or be an evolved "light being". No feat of consciousness, just squinting.  

Watching the Christmas star on top of tree or looking at the stars on a dark, frosty morning I see the same beautiful, light beams -- long rays, pointing to and from the most commonest of objects. A wise woman once told me,"Look, look, the Christmas star. Don't be fooled, it's there in the ordinariness -- where the power is" -- like a babe radiating light from a smelly stable, filling the libraries of the world, without having a dime. 

photo source:

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Swimming is easy but you do have to get in the water.

After reading "Changing gears" (my last writing), a friend asked what it meant when I used the quote, "If you only have five minutes to meditate, make sure it is a universe of it's own."  She did not know what "universe" meant in the context of meditating and I sensed she felt it was out of reach. Not wanting her to give up,  I replied, "It is like swimming, you can't jump off the side of the pool, not knowing how to swim, then say, "Oh shoot, I give up, I can't swim. I'll never get the feel of it."  She laughed and said, "Write it."

Indeed, you can't learn to swim by looking at the water, no matter how hot the day, nor can you learn to meditate by not meditating. To swim a person needs to experience the feel of their body in the water, the feel of how buoyancy works, then learn and practice the strokes repeatedly until one is in another "universe" called swimming, quite different from standing on an edge of the pool and looking on.

Swimming is not hard, in fact, it is easy and ordinary after you learn -- so is meditating.
However, one does have to jump in to get the feeling, practice the strokes, take the time to stop, breath, quiet oneself, and try not to think of the daily jobs waiting. En route spirit grows,  silent resonance begins, feeling is evoked, then arrival -- meditating, a sacred place. 

photo source:

Monday, November 26, 2012

Changing gears...

I was thinking earlier how meditation is like changing gears in a car because one can actually feel the difference in the levels of energy after each shift. I noticed how distinct the differences felt.

This morning I did not feel like meditating.  My only urge was to get on with my day.
Jobs to be done, waited.  So as a pump primer, I picked up a meaningful reading. A little feeling other than dull and neutral evolved. I slowed my breathing -- softer, deeper. An awareness of presence began to form, mine, then Other. Finally, I was ready to meditate, no longer wanting "to get going", I just wanted to Be in the hum of being.

This energy movement from dull neutral to spirit-feeling was like shifting gears on a standard (car).  I started cold, then with a little reading shifted my energy into first gear and second, (stiff, noisy) working up to third, then forth where the engine is beginning to hum. Once in fifth gear the energy purrs between the paws-pause (I couldn't resist). A place of no thought.

Leaving the bedroom after, it struck me how distinctly different each shift of my energy felt, like moving through different layers of aliveness, like sitting in another reality. if one has only five minutes to meditate then "make sure it's a universe of its own."*   

*Piero Ferricci, psychotherapist, philosopher

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Bounty-ful memories

News of the sinking of the HMS Bounty triggered memories long forgotten of my personal connection with the grand ship.  I and my future spouse were there when it first took form in a Lunenburg shipyard 50 odd years' ago.  The ship was a replica of a vessel with a history worthy of a Hollywood blockbuster -- which, of course, happened.

Going to Lunenburg to see the ship take shape was an adventure. We had very little television, no iphone, or ipad in the early sixties.  Here, an 18th century historical drama was being brought to life in the form of wood, caulking and tar. Most Nova Scotians knew the story. On these visits, one week the keel was laid, on another visit the ship's ribs curved up like a well picked turkey rack.  Months later standing under the bow, the ship looked massive. Finally in 1960 the day of launching arrived and so did we. As it moved down the slipway we knew we had watched the HMS Bounty come to life, again.  

This morning, the ship is at the bottom of the ocean as are the initials the two of us carved on the keel that day in our own private celebration, when no one was looking.  Today, fifty years later, Bounty's sinking and the loss of life is, indeed, sad and personal.

(Published November 2012 in the Reader's Corner of the Halifax Herald.)

(Merchant Marine Published November 2011 in the Reader's Corner of the Halifax Herald: click here to read article.) 

Monday, November 12, 2012

dragon fly

Taken by Lisa from the kayak
"See the light in the tiniest insect, and even in the invisible particle that forms that creature's leg. It's the same light that beats your heart and holds the universe in place -- so allow yourself to not just be in the awe of the insect but to be the insect."  Wayne Dyer 

Dragon Fly...

Having toast and coffee on the sun deck, I noticed this phosphorescent blue-green thread quivering suspended in air, two feet in  front of the rail. Watching four wings emerge,  it is a dragon fly.  I wonder, is it really?

As I watched the blur of gossamer wings, I am captivated by the insect's green iridescent, hovering beauty. Labels and naming freeze life into matter, into objects, into things. Maybe it isn't a dragon fly, an object, a label, a description, a life reduced to a definition.  Maybe it's something else. The longer I observe this hovering motion of color the faster we both seem to be dissolving, escaping solid matter -- no boundaries, no sides, no containment. 

Then it moves toward the rail. I ask in a quiet voice, hardly breathing, "How about it little dragon fly do you want to play?"  I wait, it moves through the rail, hovers in front of my legs. "Are you connecting? Are you hearing my caring? Are you feeling me out, too?" 

Breaking contact,  I move back to the deck table.  Glancing over my shoulder, the iridescent blue-green seemingly follows. I shift slightly back, again. Now it almost touches my T-shirt, pauses a few seconds and fly's back toward the lake. 

The power of seeking is in leaving the question.  Mine is, was this little insect making love, too? 

Monday, October 29, 2012

Back from Italy...

Back from Italy...

All our stories begin at the Rialto.  Merchant of Venice

The Rialto Bridge (built 490 AD) was the beginning of my Venice/Italy story. Landing at the Marco Polo airport at nine in the morning, I arrived by water bus at the Rialto Bridge and took this picture of  gondolas as I was searching for my hotel. 

Venice is a city without wheels: the roads are water. Gondolas, water-buses, water-taxis and barges, I discovered, are the cars and trucks of Venice. I was under the impression that gondolas merely belonged to a romantic past I had seen in movies or had read about.  At night outside my window I watched them gracefully, silently glide past, outlined by a small light in bow and stern.

Several nights music wafted through my window from the little bridge outside my hotel: a male voice one night, a female voice another, singing opera.  One night I came out the hotel door to meet a group laughing and singing with gusto as they made their way toward San Marco Square.  I followed them adding my English to their Italian.  

More exerts at another time, possibly... 

Saturday, October 27, 2012

The Night I Learned to Speak Lamp

In the evening darkness, the Victorian lamp shade with its musky rose colored floral and three inch frills illuminated the sofa chair. I had seen it countless times yet this felt like a virgin viewing. A caring begins to play with a wild, amusing thought, "Is this lamp flirting with me?" 

No, of course not. Logic, that great godlessness, tells me the lamp is a solid, lifeless object.  Yet the longer I observe it, weirdly, I awake to a vitality, a zing in the air. No need for human eye, ear, or mouth. The more I attend to it, the more it seems to attend to me. 

Modern physics states there is no matter, only vibrating energy. The ancient seers have confirmed this for centuries. Science and spirituality are cross fertilizing. Photos show how water responds to a range of human emotions.* Apparently, we are all made of star stuff  --"99.9% dancing energy -- lamps included." 

What is lamp language? What is this energy that is speaking and caring for me? The communication tonight is my attention, my awareness, and a dropping down deeper than thought, beyond conceptual form. I need to see and feel the lamp differently. 

Awareness makes love. "Look at a bird until it becomes a song." Nepo encourages. Maybe real seeing is feeling. Maybe real listening is silence. Maybe I need to take responsibility for an intelligence other than human. 

Our bodies, voices, senses are not our identity any more than the lamp form is its.  Tolle suggest we are consciousness disguised as a person. Maybe the object by the chair is a consciousness disguised as a lamp.  

Listen, to a heart song.  Objects are not inanimate. In essence, we are all made of love, from love, and for love. This object called a lamp may not speak but now I know it can.

*Masaru Emoto has presented these findings at the UN.

Monday, October 22, 2012

A Place called Love....

Why am I lovable? Surely not because I am old and wrinkled. My personality is mixed, liked by some but not others. My body was recently described as rejuvenated road kill. In spite of these flaws,  I am loved and lovable. This love is not personal yet it drips with sweetness over and into every part of my day. When I arrive here, at this place called love, I look softly, hear bird song, and speak more carefully or not at all.

Several decades ago, I discovered love has an actual physical location in my body, behind the rib cage. From experience I know my destination and the route I need to take. If I travel to my ear, nothing happens, nor does it if I travel to my elbow. There I just experience pointed bone.

How do I arrive at this love location when I feel none and can find no self to love?
Mechanically in my busyness, I have to remember to take the trip. The path has been built with practice and feeling. As I head for my rib cage my ordinary awareness shifts. I am on my way. A feeling as rich as deep velvet begins to form, colors of these fall trees brighten and a bird is singing out the window.

However, I have to watch for blocks to this inner route. Negative thoughts impeded my travel . Needy-needs can stop me, authentic ones clear the way.  When there seems no love to find,  I pretended love.  Thinking back on a memory, I practice it.  Then act as if I am in love and more often than not, I am.

Is it Christ, Buddha, the Great Love the Kalahari bushman refer to? Maybe, I do not know. Yet, in my imperfection, I discover I am love.

photo source:

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Grandma visits the "Pure Land."

"Yesterday during walking meditation I saw two little violet flowers in the grass.  They were so beautiful, tiny, very well manifested, and I picked one and I picked the other, and I offered them to two venerable monks who had come to visit from Vietnam. I told them, these flowers are available only in the Pure Land..."   Thich Nhat Hanh

The phone wakes me at five fifty. My son is at the restaurant with my two grandchildren.  Twenty minutes later, cold and half awake I pull into the parking lot. 

A new spring snow begins to fall.  Looking through the restaurant window, I see a father who is up too early to be his young children's entertainment.  After some seconds my granddaughter glances up and sees me. Her giggles and wiggles in the high chair alert her father. He turns and smiles. I wave.  Then my grandson glances toward the window and a grin lights his face. 

Entering the restaurant, a blue dinky truck is thrust my way. He shouts with gusto, "I am going to play with Sammy today at my house." His sister bounces a little rabbit across the table joyously speaking one and a half year old which her Grandma does not understand, yet. The excitement at the table is palpable. Soon the other early risers are looking our way with smiles. 

Later, driving home, I ask myself where have I been? An aliveness, a vitality is in me that was muted if there at all when driving to the restaurant an hour before. Remembering the words of Thich Nhat Hanh, I know I have just visited the place of "Pure Land."  A place of joy and glee.  I was welcomed by it, splashed and played and felt it's pureness, its freshness unimpeded by anything human. 

How does one describe this pureness beyond form, beyond skin, bone and organs?  One doesn't of course. A grandma can only visit. 

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Off to Italy...

Off to Italy tomorrow for ten days...  I am staying in a hotel just behind the left smaller dome.  My ticket to view the Basilica is for Wednesday morning. 

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Taking my spirituality body to the gym...

Taking my spiritual body to the gym...

"We are not physical beings having a spiritual experience. We are spiritual beings having a  physical experience."  Teilhard de Chardin, a paraphase 

Yesterday I discovered I have two bodies. The physical one gets all the attention. I feed it, clean it, and pause it to sleep. I take it to the gym, ride bike, jog, and I'd even walk the dog if I had one. However, my spiritual body gets short shift. How do I walk it, feed it? What exercises make it robust and strong?  

Observing the spiritual body as separate, I see how much it gets neglected. I know the feel of the skin beneath my dress or jeans but "do I know the feel of the Being beneath the skin."* That indeed is my Cinderella child, too often sitting in the cinders out back -- if I see her at all.

* (quote from Nepo)

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Were the trees crying?


Were the trees crying?

Walking the wooded path, enjoying the fragrance from the new spring growth of the trees, I passed a small lake. As I came to a bend in the path, I felt a sadness and was almost stopped by a different smell, an odor.  I looked up to the left and just beyond the little lake there was a hill newly denuded of trees, felled with ragged ends, thrown this way and that. 

A thought came to me or was it a communication?  Were they calling out in pain, seeking help? Were the trees crying, lying twisted, broken, ragged? 

I walk softly, carefully, holy by knowing -- their springs are gone.

Photo source:

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Holding the space...why don't I feel lonely?

Holding the Space...

Sitting here alone on my deck I am in ecstasy? It's ninety degrees plus. The car died last week, the fridge yesterday. I suspect a scorpion bit my heel a day ago which benched me, instantly. Yet velvet caring holds me.   

Why don't I feel lonely? I have in the past. Family and close friends are four thousand miles away and have been for two months.  I should be lonely. However,  their presence and love are palpable in this warm evening breeze. 

The Buddhist teacher Thich Nhat Hanh takes a few monks with him as he travels to speaking occasions. When asked why, he explains, "in order to hold the space."  Sacred space. My few monks -- family and friends -- with their invisible presence holds mine. 

Does my cousin know she is a sacred space holder, does my grandchild, does the difficult neighbor? Do I hold this space for others? The coyotes are beginning their night song from the river. The evening is cooling as the sun slips behind the mesquite tree. The car, the fridge will be fixed, the scorpion bite healed. Next time on the deck, maybe I whisper, "Thank you."

Saturday, September 1, 2012

"Isn't it lovely."

The Saguaro and the Kachina

Isn't It Lovely

My art student, hunched over her walker, seemed to have melted to mere skin, bones, and dents. She informed me she is too weak now to come to class. I am saddened. Several years back, this vibrant, talented woman, whom I assumed was in her early seventies, shocked me by volunteering. "I am ninety-two." 

After class, still somewhat shaken,  I relate the encounter to a friend.  "Isn't it lovely." she replied, thoughtfully.  Angry, I wanted to shout, "No, she is dying." Then a memory stopped me. One afternoon walking in the desert, surrounded by what I thought in one moment were dead saguaro cacti, in the next moment were more alive, were more intriguingly gorgeous in  their variety of rich brown, yellows, purples, and greys.  No longer green and full, they now stood amazingly undulating, in crisp, curled forms dancing in the intense desert heat. All wrinkles, dents and boneless flesh, they had made their transition.

My logic said, "No" to this dance, but something else whispered, "Be careful Augusta, do not dismiss it. Allow your heart, your invisible being to expand until you catch the aliveness, the beauty of those dancing forms."

Here in the southwest certain groups of  Native Americans put on the mask of the kachina and dance the dance, not of the “live saguaro” but of it’s transformed energy. My art student-friend is in the process of her transitional dance.  I think she knows, walking away from me; dignified, dented, crisp, and faltering that indeed, her possibilities are lovely.