Saturday, July 30, 2011

All in this together

Life has taught me the wisdom of moving toward what scares me. Although it is embarrassing and painful, it is very healing to stop hiding from yourself. It is healing to know all the ways you are sneaky, all the ways that you hide out, all the ways that you shut down, deny, close off, criticize people, all your weird little ways. You can know all of that with some sense of humor and kindness, By knowing yourself, you're coming to know humanness altogether. We are all up against these things. We are all in this together.
                                                                    ~ Pema Chodron

In 2005, I traveled to China, the farthest I'd ever gone. My daughter was teaching in Beijing for a year and it afforded me the opportunity to experience a culture very different from my own. One of the strongest memories I have is a felt-sense of humanity, large masses of people moving like ants, knowing which way to turn, where to find food, shelter and companionship.  

Our visit to the Great Wall was filled with adventure, excitement and fear. Lillie, a student and friend of my daughter's was our guide. She found the right buses, all four of them, leading us through the city and countryside until we reached our destination. For better or worse, it was a holiday in China and many people joined us on our excursion.  Lillie said it wasn't always this crowded as we squeezed our way up the 1000-year old stairs. It was a beautiful day and the air was clear, filling our lungs with much needed oxygen as we made our way along the wall. Coming down the steep staircase, I marveled at the young women who chose to wear stiletto heels, as I carefully placed one foot after the other, my sturdy walking shoes grounding me with each step. 

It was a long day, filled with such intimacy. The vastness of the geography of the place and the sense of oneness with the earth was really amazing. Along with the thousands of people, whom I would never know; I felt a kind of intimacy with them. Through our shared experience we discovered "all the weird little ways" of the each other and ourselves.

Humor and kindness are essential tools for travelling. We are all in this together. 

Friday, July 29, 2011

Everything... is Light

The Ponds

Every year
the lilies
are so perfect
I can hardly believe

their lapped light crowding
the black,
midsummer ponds.
Nobody could count all of them—

the muskrats swimming
among the pads and the grasses
can reach out
their muscular arms and touch

only so many, they are that
rife and wild.
But what in this world
is perfect?

I bend closer and see
how this one is clearly loopsided—
and that one wears an orange blight—
and this one is a glossy cheek

half nibbled away—
and that one is a slumped purse
full of its won
unstoppable decay.

Still, what I want in my life
is to be willing
to be dazzled—
to cast aside the weight of facts

and maybe even
to float a little
above this difficult world.
I want to believe I am looking

into the white fire of a great mystery.
I want to believe that the imperfections are nothing—
that the light is everything—that it is more than the sum
of each flawed blossom rising and falling.  And I do.

~Mary Oliver

Sometimes these poems just speak so authentically there is nothing to add. I love the image of light being everything. What a great day "to cast aside the weight of facts and float a little above of this difficult world."  I do want to be dazzled by the white fire of a great mystery...

Monday, July 25, 2011

The True Self Hidden...

Your true substance is concealed in falsehood,
like the taste of butter in buttermilk.
Your falsehood is this perishable body;
your truth is that exalted spirit.
For many years, this buttermilk of the body
is visible and manifest, while the butter, which is the spirit,
is perishing and ignored within it -
until God sends a prophet, a chosen servant,
a shaker of the buttermilk in the churn,
who skillfully shakes it, so that you might know
your true self which was hidden.

~ Rumi ~

This body does conceal the true self and I love this image of the body as buttermilk, the butter as my exalted spirit. What is it that shakes the buttermilk until pure butter emerges? Is it practice, or awakening, or a teacher? Sometimes it's so easy to see those chunks of butter; other times so deep is the truth that even the great one shaking skillfully does not reveal what is hidden.

After many years studying, practicing, meditating, searching, I've come home. Could it be the shaking has done its job? Of course, there will always be unfolding, opening, experiencing, but the taste of this butter is unmistakable.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Heart Speaking

Always speak from the heart, never from the mind.
Your sincerity and courage will set an example for others too,
And by listening to you they will be inspired to reveal their own heart.
This "heart speaking" is a spiritual practice.
It means you must only tell the truth and live within your own boundaries and dimensions
Without ever bragging about things you won't ever be able to live up to or deliver to others.
Heart speaking will bring you a gift whenever you practice it.
You will always be right.
The heart knows but cannot tell; the mind doesn't know but can tell.
Stretch yourself to speak from the heart and bypass the mind.
You will see miracles boomerang back into your life.

Most of us want to believe that we are honest; that we are sincere. But do we speak from the mind or the heart? I've found there is quite a difference. Heart speaking doesn't weigh how I will look in the eyes of others. It demands that I be compassionate will everyone, including myself. 

Perhaps most importantly, it gently allows the space to feel my boundaries and move softly into my own dimensions. After a lifetime of trying to be there for everyone else, I find myself longing to stretch into that "boundless heart space." Here I am sincere and courageous ~ what a gift!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

My True Task

Red Bird Explains Himself

“Yes, I was the brilliance floating over the snow
and I was the song in the summer leaves, but this was
only the first trick
I had hold of among my other mythologies,
for I also knew obedience: bring sticks to the nest,
food to the young, kisses to my bride.
But don’t stop there, stay with me: listen.
If I was the song that entered your heart
then I was the music of your heart, that you wanted and needed,
and thus wilderness bloomed that, with all its
followers: gardeners, lovers, people who weep
for the death of rivers.
And this was my true task, to be the
music of the body.  Do you understand? for truly the body needs
a song, a spirit, a soul.  And no less, to make this work,
the soul has need of a body,
and I am both of the earth and I am of the inexplicable
beauty of heaven
where I fly so easily, so welcome, yes,
and this is why I have been sent, to teach this to your heart.”

~ Mary Oliver ~
(Red Bird)

I watch and listen to the birds and find such connection to life! Maybe it's true ~ the task of the red bird or every bird is to teach us. It seems reasonable to me, for we do need "a song, a spirit, a soul." Early in the morning, at dawn, or just barely before, all the birds begin their songs. It's as if they can't help themselves. Their joy simply must be expressed!

And some mornings, after a rainstorm has cleansed us of all grief and sorrow, we might be able to join that red bird, recognizing that we too,are "both of the earth and of the inexplicable beauty of heaven."

Monday, July 11, 2011


Chicory & queen anne's lace line the roads this time of year and open my heart to the simple beauty of nature. I remember when my children were young, we would drive from our central Illinois home to northern Michigan for the summer. The roadsides were full of wildflowers, particularly chicory and Queen Anne's lace. As we neared our destination, we would stop to pick some flowers to surprise their aunts upon arrival at the lake.

Each time I wanted to include the beautiful small blue-flowered chicory, but it would always be wilted by the time our flowers were reached their new home in a vase on the table of the cabin. I wonder if those delicate flowers, like so many of us, just can't survive being taken from their home. Chicory is usually found along roadsides because it actually likes growing near warm rocks! Although an inhospitable environment for most plants, chicory finds a loving home.

Chicory is one of those biennial plants having a two-year life cycle and blooming only the second year. They grow everywhere in the United States and southern Canada reaching about 4 feet tall. This size makes them easy to spot from the road. They are wispy and graceful in the breezes that blow in the fields.

I found a photography website where a man named Brian Johnson posted beautiful close-ups of chicory. He said he picked the flowers and brought them back to his studio. How is it they stayed alive for him? Amazing to see the rich beauty of these flowers!

Oh well, now I am content to enjoy their beauty with the eyes only, not needing to pick them and bring them home. Somethings are meant to simply be...

Thursday, July 7, 2011

See All the Love

My Guitar Gently Weeps

I look at you all see the love there that's sleeping
While my guitar gently weeps 
I look the floor and I see it need sweeping 
Still my guitar gently weeps 

I don't know why nobody told you 
how to unfold your love 
I don't know how someone controlled you 
they bought and sold you 

I look at the world and I notice it's turning 
While my guitar gently weeps 
With every mistake we must surely be learning 
Still my guitar gently weeps 

I don't know how you were diverted 
you were perverted too 
I don't know how you were inverted 
no one alerted you 

I look at you all see the love there that's sleeping 
While my guitar gently weeps 
I look at you all 
Still my guitar gently weeps 

~George Harrison~

I love the Beatles! When I was young, they were so amazing, opening my heart and mind. George was always my favorite, especially after he showed his interest in spiritual things.  I remember sitting with huge earphones under our stereo which was suspended from the ceiling in our family room listening to this and other songs that touched my heart in ways I had never imagined. 

Now some forty years later,  I'm sitting with my MacBook wondering... why nobody told us how to unfold our love... see the love there that sleeping... with every mistake we must surely be learning.

Love really is all there is.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011


For Marriage

As spring unfolds the dream of the earth,
May you bring each other’s hearts to birth.

As the ocean finds calm in the view of land
May you love the gaze of each other’s mind.

As the wind arises free and wild,
May nothing negative control your lives.

As kindly as the moonlight might search the dark,
So gentle may you be when light grows scarce.

As surprised as the silence that music opens,
May your words for each other be touched with reverence.

As warmly as the air draws in the light,
May you welcome each other’s every gift.

As elegant as dreams absorbing the night,
May sleep find you clear of anger and hurt.

And as twilight harvests the day’s colors,
May love bring you home to each other.

~  John O’Donohue ~

One of the happiest days of my life was three years ago today, when I witnessed my baby girl marry the love of her life. There is something so magical about Love. It contagious and everyone feels it. It brings a spaciousness, an openness, a deep sense of well being. It might last a few hours, days, years or a lifetime; whatever time you are immersed in it, be grateful. 

Love doesn't ever go away, but the feeling usually fades in and out.  I can't help be think it has to do with us rather than with Love.  For isn't Love all there is? Isn't it always here? Aren't we always steeping in it? It's just we aren't always open to it...

Happy anniversary to a very special couple! May Love bring you home to each other for many, many more years...

Friday, July 1, 2011

The Moon

At night, I open the window
and ask the moon
to come and press its face 
against mine.

Breathe into me.

Close the language door and open the love window.
The moon won't use the door, only the window.

~ Rumi ~

It's the new moon; a time when the moon is not visible in the sky. Yet it is a very precious time to connect with the moon's energy. It is a beginning and as such offers the chance to plant seeds for fruition at a later time. Intriguingly, it is said that this new moon in Cancer offers energy to release attachment to outcomes. Moving deep into the heart space with loving kindness and trust, courage to be who we truly are is found. Recognizing our true nature comes from closing the language-door and opening the love-window.