Sunday, July 21, 2013

Three Things to Remember

As long as you're dancing, you can
   break the rules.

Sometimes breaking the rules is just
   extending the rules.

Sometimes there are no rules.

This reminds me so much of a posting we had on our refrigerator when I was a child.

Household Rules
Rule #1: Dad is always right
Rule #2:  Refer to rule #1

Today it brings a chuckle, and also a caution:  Be wary of rules, especially if they report to be simple or give power over to oppressive schemes, such as patriarchy.

Yet we humans live with rules.  Might we also find a way to live with the constant breaking of rules as a way to double check on institutionalized rigor mortis that restricts flourishing, joy, and love?

Make rules, then break them by letting your heart break.

Here are some of my rules:

Earth Rules
Kindness first
Love fast
Joy not last
Forget the past
Live with thirst

What rules would you make if you could have just one, or what one thing will you strive to remember today?  Then how will you let your heart break?

Monday, July 1, 2013

And Bob Dylan Too

Anything worth thinking about is worth singing about.

Which is why we have songs of praise, songs of love, songs of sorrow.

Songs to the gods, who have so many names.

Songs of the shepherds sing, on the lonely mountains, while the sheep are honoring the grass, by eating it.

The dance-songs of the bees, to tell where the flowers, suddenly, in the morning light, have opened.

A chorus of many, shouting to heaven, or at it, or pleading

Or that greatest of love affairs, a violin and a human body.

And a composer, maybe hundreds of years dead.

I think of Schubert, scribbling on a cafe napkin.

Thank you, thank you.

It is July 1st - the beginning of Bob Dylan month in our household.  This is really just one family member's idea and the rest of us groan and roll our eyes.  "How is this music exactly?" we ask, and have been asking for years. 

Something has shifted over the years, however. On my Leonard Cohen Pandora Radio Station, frequently pop up songs by Bob Dylan, and to my surprise, I do not change the channel. As both Bob and Leonard croak, I hear beauty and life. They both are singing, thank you, as so scribbles Schubert on a napkin.

Our thoughts are but a few notes, and our lives but a bar of the infinite measures that make up the song of the universe.

Come, you, whoever you are, let us go where no two notes have gone before.

May we open ourselves across the universe.

Sounds of laughter, shades of life

Are ringing through my opened ears 
Inciting and inviting me.
Limitless undying love, which
Shines around me like a million suns,
It calls me on and on across the universe
- From "Across the Universe" by the Beatles

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Poem of the One World

Great White Heron (photo by William Majaros)

This morning
the beautiful white heron
was floating along above the water

and then into the sky of this
the one world
we all belong to

where everything
sooner or later
is a part of everything else

which thought made me feel
for a little while
quite beautiful myself

It's easy to feel beautiful when the pileated wood pecker flashes by with enormous wings in pretentious hurry.  Who cannot imagine feeling smashing with such a colorful red hat?

When a chimpanzees kills another chimpanzee, is he beautiful?
How about when a white heron spears a fish?
Is this not tragic for the fish?
How then do we hold both beauty and tragedy?

Answer: Silly, we hold always both in our heart, for we are of the same mix as they - beautiful, and harmful.

Request:  Remember that we all are a poem of the one world.  Breathe in beauty, but also breathe in suffering and tragedy. Then breathe out less harm.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Good-bye Fox

He was lying under a tree, licking up the shade, 

Hello again, Fox, I said. 

 And hello to you too, said Fox, looking up and not bounding away. 

 You're not running away? I said. 

Well, I've heard of your conversation about us. News travels even among foxes, as you might know or not know. 

 What conversation do you mean? 

 Some lady said to you, "The hunt is good for the fox." And you said, "Which fox?" 

 Yes, I remember. She was huffed. 

 So you're okay in my book. 

 Your book! That was in my book, that's the difference between us. 

 Yes, I agree. You fuss over life with your clever words, mulling and chewing on its meaning, while we just live it. 


Could anyone figure it out, to a finality? So why spend so much time trying. You fuss, we live. And he stood, slowly, for he was old now, and ambled away. 

When we fuss, is that not living as well? Unless in fussing, I suppose, we block life's potential? But doesn't fussing guide us into knowing life? I think of the squirrel in the back yard with her chatter squeals at the red-tailed hawk, and the parent wren's insistent call to their 4 nestlings to leave the shelter of the porch nest, and their whining response. 

Go away! Get out! Come here! Feed me! Do something! Are we ever saying much else to one another?

And what about a fox fussing at the hen house, trying to find a way in. I think he is writing in a book too -

Whiskers full of cobwebs, paw scratches in the sand, blood drops on boards and feathers exploding out into the air. That's quite a story Mr. Fox.

The hunt is good for the fox!

Sunday, June 2, 2013

If I Were

There are lots of ways to dance and to spin, sometimes it just starts my feet first then my entire body, I am spinning no one can see it but it is happening.  I am so glad to be alive, I am so glad to be loving and loved.  Even if I were close to the finish, even if I were at my final breath, I would be  here to take a stand, bereft of such astonishments, but for them.

If I were a Sufi for sure I would be one of the spinning kind.

Though we can't see it, we all spin, for we twirl as the earth dances it's daily rhythm and its yearly cycle around the sun.  If that's not astonishing enough. I don't know what is. Okay, maybe this - the human capacity to be loving and loved.  Now that is a force to be reckoned with, along with the other great forces of the universe:  centripetal, centrifugal, and gravity. Without all these forces we would lose our center and our grounding. Without them we would also lose the ability to fly off from the center to know something other than our more intimate circles. 

I'm glad we are of the spinning kind.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

After I fall Down the Stairs at the Golden Temple

For a while I could not remember some word

I was in need of,

and I was bereaved and said: where are you,

beloved friend?

Golden Temple in Amritsar, Punjab, India.

This is Mary's latest book after all, so I'm guessing she is speaking of age and losing words and the mind turns mushy.  So is she losing the medium of her art?

Aren't we all?

Are we always falling down in gracious awe of the sun bathed earth - the golden temple?  What if aging, decay, illness, were one large prayer to earth?

We were born to be bereft of the beloved, but the temple is always there - our bodies, earth bodies, one body!

So today let me fling my words away from me, my health, my walking, and let them tumble down the Maya temple, headless, without thought. Just heart and bones.

Oh yes, they may eat my heart too.

Depiction of Maya Sacrifice from Film Apocalypto

Sunday, April 14, 2013

The Gardener

Have I lived enough?
Have I loved enough?
Have I considered Right Action enough, have I come to any conclusion?
Have I experienced happiness with sufficient gratitude?
Have I endured loneliness with grace?

I say this, or perhaps I'm just thinking it.  
Actually I probably think too much.

Then I step out into the garden,
where the gardener, who is said to be a simple man,
is tending his children, the roses.

Does everything, all our struggles, doubts, and seeking come down to this - tending life?  Tenderly?

Tending to what is present gives birth to life in every moment.  But I suppose we must also attend to death.  Every step, no matter how reluctant or gimpy, is in the garden of earth. It is as simple as that.

Princess Mononoke

In the 1997 animated film, Princess Mononoke, the Great Forest Spirit is feared and awaited, for the spirit's footsteps are origins of life and death.   Attuning to this universal divine wisdom, we too know that with every step we seed new growth and say good bye to old life. Step, life death - step, life, death.

What steps will you take today for the children of this earth?  

Saturday, April 6, 2013

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 an important place, roaring with laughter, full of earth-praise.

As I lay slumbering in bed, I peek out of the covers to see how the sun attempts to come through the countless leaves of the trees.  But perhaps you like me project - the sun is shining whether there are leaves to block the light just as you are shining whether you come out from the covers at a decent hour.

There are countless ways to be useless, beautiful useless.

How about counting the ants?
Hugging every tree in the yard or park?
Reciting poetry to a tortoise?
Saving the parrots or some other endangered species?

May you do something foolish today as a prayer for praise - for yourself and the many others, which are really just you come out of your skin into exoskelton, bark, shell, and feather.

How have you been a fool full of earth praise today?

Monday, March 18, 2013

I Happened to be Standing

I don’t know where prayers go,
or what they do.
Do cats pray, while they sleep
half-asleep in the sun?
Does the opossum pray as it
crosses the street?
The sunflower? The old black oak
growing older every year?
I know I can walk through the world,
along the shore or under the trees,
With my mind filled with things
of little importance, in full
self-attendance. A condition I can’t really
call being alive.
Is a prayer a gift, or a petition,
or does it matter?
The sunflowers blaze, maybe that’s their way.
Maybe the cats are sound asleep. Maybe not.

While I was thinking this I happened to be standing
Just outside my door, with my notebook open,
Which is the way I begin every moning.
Then a wren in the privet began to sing.
He was positively drenched in enthusiasm,
I don’t why. And yet, why not.
I wouldn’t persuade you from whatever you believe
Or whatever you don’t. That’s your business.
But I thought, of the wren’s singing, what could this be
if it isn’t a prayer?
So I just listened, my pen in the air.

Beautiful useless is Mary with her pen in the air. 
Isn’t this who we are, all of us, all the time?
Isn’t this what a prayer is? A cat? A wren?
The triumphant trees?

My fingers are typing out a prayer, as is my breathing, my being, my being – every act a gift and a petition for life to flow easily, fully, in me, which silly me, always does no matter what.
May it be so.
(Alas, another petition, silly me)
At last, hallelujah!
It is so.

What do you ask for with your very being?
How is your life a prayer?

Monday, March 11, 2013

I Go Down to the Shore

I go down to the shore in the morning
and depending on the hour the waves
are rolling in or moving out,
and I say, oh, I am miserable,
what shall-
What should I do?  And the sea says
in its lovely voice:
Excuse me, I have work to do.

What is the longest amount of days in a row you have been miserable?  I am thinking that I might for myself say 400, and am currently just now finishing that long stretch where it has been hard to work, and wondering if I could even return to work.

Silly me. Silly humans.  We are always working - like a hummingbird flying around a flower, eating, surviving, fighting, dying.

I think God knows no particulars of this and that work.  That is a box we humans create, and into which we attempt to stuff as much activity as possible. What's the use of damning the river, caging the bird, or boxing ourselves into this or that?  

We are here to be beautiful useless.