Saturday, July 25, 2015

Some Thoughts on Being Let Go

"Dreaming escape from all the days without a soul," I wrote, returned from soulful weeks in England to my writing room with Saint Bernard (whose lessons on ascent I had forgotten), Saint Cecilia with her wooden mandolin, and San Pasquale in his kitchen with bread oven and big-bellied smile.  And finally tired of my plaint, they released me.

Instead of careful order now, finches every which way.

Instead of dread, dismay, that wobbly airborne feeling of a child first on a bicycle—the concrete all too obviously there lying in wait, but for the moment the glee of not having met it even midway.

Instead of complaints unjustified and unanswerable, the description of an old Normandy wheelbarrow.  No longer useable, but charming in its garden repose.

I will re-pose, regroup, wobbly or no.

Music, cooking, climbing, birds.  I write backwards on notebook pages, last to next-to-last, and look ahead.  What am I now?   All of these things and more, the Serene Highness I have been becoming all these years while seeming least serene, while driven to a lapse (or two) in my serenity.

Puccini, Frederick, and a calico chicken—all gathered on the big old Random House, the "Mr. House" my father consulted for words (if randomly) over the years, the words that mostly haven't failed me.  All of the words I'll ever need.

And now the Friday songs are coming from the synagogue next door, and light pours through my little Tiffany window, and I am whole—wholly myself, despite (to spite) no longer having the work that seemed to define me or delimit me, acting as training wheels on that child's bike so long.

The one afraid of letting go, let go.  And going, like those yellow-feathered finches, in precarious exaltation, every which way.

image:  She Who Is

Friday, July 17, 2015

Seeing Holy

I have just been given the gift of this thought:
"Years ago, an image from the Sufis struck me and has guided me. Looking for God, they say, is like someone standing in a lake of fresh water and being thirsty.  It’s foolish to seek the sacred and the divine when we live in a world that is holy and saturated with divinity, if only we had the eyes to see it.  Black Elk, the Sioux mystical teacher, said that we need to see in a sacred manner.  It’s not that the world is secular and godless; it’s that we don’t look at it in a spiritual way."
—Thomas Moore, Care of the Soul:  This Fractured, Heavenly World (Spirituality & Health)

And this:
"By bringing a soulful consciousness to gardening
sacred space can be created outdoors.”
― S. Kelley Harrell (Evolver Social Movement)

A week ago I climbed Glastonbury Tor, a pilgrim eager for whatever I might find at the top of that mystic hill, the ley line passing famously through it, religion and myth celebrating there—along with a contented groundcover of sheep; but just as surely back home in the garden I've created (despite the lack of water, shade, the balm of English rain) I find myself daily in an equally sacred space.  Or do when I let myself be there fully, wholly, seeing as I should, with birds and plant life in my care, and pottery- and wooden creatures gracing it as well, strings of silk birds and copper bells, and all the colors gathered to light it.

My pilgrim's journeys with bottomless pockets bring the distant holy places near, up close and personal, and they remain in muscle memory filling me and my everyday spaces with the spirit that fills them.  I love them all—the ruined abbeys and the chalice wells, the arched cathedrals and St.-Martin-in-the-Fields with its well known music, Green Dragon Temple where I go to find silence and that old quintessential apple tree, the green cathedrals of the cottonwoods along the often dry river in Santa Fe, the little Zen stone on our patio the birds come to drink from, the blooming of a single purple flower, the shape of a leaf—and gratefully worship our lovely, saturated world.

image:  Christie B. Cochrell, Purple Flowers

Monday, July 13, 2015

I Am One Who

I am one
who eats his breakfast
gazing at morning glories.

image:  morning glories, Critical Pages

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Go Quietly, Quietly

After Reading Tu Fu, I Go Outside to the Dwarf Orchard 

East of me, west of me, full summer.
How deeper than elsewhere the dusk is in your own yard.
Birds fly back and forth across the lawn
                      looking for home
As night drifts up like a little boat.

Day after day, I become of less use to myself.
Like this mockingbird,
                      I flit from one thing to the next.
What do I have to look forward to at fifty-four?
Tomorrow is dark.
                     Day-after-tomorrow is darker still.

The sky dogs are whimpering.
Fireflies are dragging the hush of evening
                     up from the damp grass.
Into the world's tumult, into the chaos of every day,
Go quietly, quietly.

(Charles Wright)

image:  *Twighlight in Riga*

Nikolay Bogdanov-Belsky, SevenArts Friends

Monday, July 6, 2015

Branch by Branch

“Foolishness? No, It’s Not.

Sometimes I spend all day trying to count the leaves on a single tree. To do this I have to climb branch by branch and write down the numbers in a little book. So I suppose, from their point of view, it’s reasonable that my friends say: what foolishness! She’s got her head in the clouds again.

But it’s not. Of course I have to give up, but by then I’m half crazy with the wonder of it — the abundance of the leaves, the quietness of the branches, the hopelessness of my effort. And I am in that delicious and important place, roaring with laughter, full of earth-praise.”

image:  File:Thomas Fearnley - Old Birch Tree at the Sognefjord - Google ArtProject.jpg - Wikimedia Commons

Saturday, July 4, 2015

How to Be Idle and Blessed

The Summer Day

Who made the world?
Who made the swan, and the black bear?
Who made the grasshopper?
This grasshopper, I mean—
the one who has flung herself out of the grass,
the one who is eating sugar out of my hand,
who is moving her jaws back and forth instead of up and down—
who is gazing around with her enormous and complicated eyes.
Now she lifts her pale forearms and thoroughly washes her face.
Now she snaps her wings open, and floats away.
I don't know exactly what a prayer is.
I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down
into the grass, how to kneel in the grass,
how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields,
which is what I have been doing all day.
Tell me, what else should I have done?
Doesn't everything die at last, and too soon?
Tell me, what is it you plan to do
With your one wild and precious life?

—Mary Oliver

image:  "Lunch in the garden," oil painting by

ALPHONSE D'HEYE, born 1955, Netherlands, Seven Arts Friends