Sunday, February 28, 2010

First Snow - February 28, 2010

The snow

began here...

...calling us back to why, how,

Whence such beauty and what

the meaning;...

...and though the questions

that have assailed us all day

remain-not a single

answer has been found-

walking out now

into the silence and the light

under the trees

and through the fields,

feels like one.

The Night Traveler brought a gift of living the answer, and so too here the snow brings the answer - to walk in beauty. The snow also brought the questions - of why such beauty in the dark? From birth to death and from cosmic burst to cataclysm, our walking in beauty weaves a course in the fabric of our unknowing. The Navajo prayers speaks so well of this:

As I Walk with Beauty

As I walk, as I walk

The universe is walking with me

In beauty it walks before me

In beauty it walks behind me

In beauty it walks below me

In beauty it walks above me

Beauty is on every side

As I walk, I walk with Beauty.

It beauty it is begun, and in beauty it is ended.

Where and how do you walk in beauty?

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Egrets - February 27, 2010

...bleached reeds

at the far shore

which, as I looked,

wrinkled suddenly

into three egrets-

a shower

of white fire!

Even half-asleep they had

such faith in the world

that had made them-

tilting through the water,

unruffled, sure,

by the laws

of their faith not logic,

they opened their wings

softly and stepped

over every dark thing.

I come near to the end of reading Mary Oliver for two months, and with this poem, I see my faith growing that we humans belong on this planet though we feel so distant for the source of our being. Mary's poems have been full of questions for me as I look for answers. I want to know how to be sure that I can fly over the darks things in the human psyche, soul, and genocidal and environmentocidal cultures. Despite (or perhaps because of) our burdensome logic which discerns ourselves and others as flawed, my body begins to trust that this is only part of our story. With our musing and abusing, we are flowing with All and we are flying. Our very struggles in the dark is the beauty by the pond that is the white fire of our beings. In the pond's stillness, in the stillness of pre-dawn dark, I see my reflection in the world around. I fly with egrets, and I fly with my regrets.

Do you have regrets where you judge yourself as being less than the beauty of a wood's pond or the egrets flying over them?

Friday, February 26, 2010

Lightening - February 26, 2010

...the lights went out fast...except

for the lightening-the landscape

bulging forth like a quick

lesson in creation... was hard to tell

fear from excitement:

...As always the body

wants to hide,

wants to flow toward it-strives

to balance while

fear shouts,

excitement shouts, back

and forth-each

bolt a burning river

tearing like escape through the dark

field of the other.

Okay, I admit it, I love "weather movies." Throughout the opening scenes my body is torn between fear and excitement, and when the storm seems suddenly upon us, them, me, all of us, there is a release of tension. There, in the dark of the storm, is perfection, a flowing, an escape from the cognitive brain wondering how we shall live. It is even more so in person. To view through the day the gathering clouds and to hear the rumble amidst the pecking of the key board as I tune into the latest storm tracker reports, there is a shameful joy - how can looming disaster be so much fun? Yet is not disaster upon us every day in one form or another, offering us a brilliant flash of joy if we could just live the beauty? Gods and goddesses throw bolts from upon high so that we might see the glory within and without.

What truths do you see in storms, in disasters, and in your fear?

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Mushroom - February 25 2010

Rain, and then

the cool pursed

lips of the wind

draw them

out of the ground...


balancing in the earth

on one hoof

packed with poison..

...looking innocent as sugar

but full of paralysis:

to eat

is to stagger down

fast as mushrooms themselves

when they are done being perfect

and overnight

slide back under the shining

fields of rain.

Out in the woods are plants that save and seduce, beckoning us to join them in the composting of leaves and lives. Mushrooms for example. Last week I went for a walk where mushrooms peppered the trails. They were such perfect things - and I wondered how it was I knew so little about them. I have no ideas which one would kill, and which would thrill with their hallucinogenic properties. Others would likely fill my gullet with savory delight. Mushrooms are one of my favorite foods, but I know them not. Maybe I stay away from them in the wild state because I do not trust myself to discern what is friend and what is foe. I grew up with my mother saying "don't pick and eat mushrooms except what you can get in the store." I wonder what other messages she and my cultures gave me that keep me away subconsciously from what might nourish me. In part, this too explains my reactions to some people, or even our species as a whole. If we could but discern who is with us, and who is not, we could awake in the day knowing whether to save or savor the day. Maybe I'm just dreaming. Perhaps, like mushrooms, we know there is beauty hidden in the wet rug that blankets wildness, and choose to admire from afar.

Do you eat any wild foods? What nourishes you that is wild and untamed?

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

August - February 24, 2010

When the blackberries hang

swollen in the woods, in the brambles

nobody owns, I spend

all day..cramming

the black honey of summer

into my mouth; all day my body

accepts what it is...

...there is

this happy tongue.

We are what we eat and how we eat. To be so connected to all of life around us, to feel the spirits of the woods enter us and nourish us in such bodily form is such a blessing. No wonder peoples around the world offer thank the gods for the food before them, for when we see how the food comes to us as an offering of interconnecting life, freely, abundantly given, how can we not give thanks? In the hot summer days of August, there is a Blackberry Goddess, and today, out my window, are Tree Spirits. The flowering trees give food for the eyes, and soon, soon, food for the tongues of the many beings that are in this wood's community. I wet my lips with my happy tongue and kiss the sun as she rises, and give thanks

When do you harvest the abundance of nature?

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

The Night Traveler - February 23, 2010

Passing by, he could be anybody:

A thief, a tradesman, a doctor

On his way to a worried house,

But when he stops at your gate,...

...You know it is not just anyone-

It is the Night Traveler...

...He has a gift for you, but it has no name...

...He holds it in the moonlight, and it sings

Like a newborn beast,

Like a child at Christmas,....

All night-and all your life, if you are willing-...

...Will hold you like a mossy jaw,

A bath of light. An answer.

In the winter's night, there is a possibility of joy that so many of us know in the story of Christmas. For when the dawn breaks, we know it will be "our" day. Our brains calm, our hearts open, and the community breaks into a song of possibility. Sometimes, the night before my birthday I have had this same singing gift, and the days before and right after my wedding. In these presents (presence) I didn't know that they were the surprise of having an answer, as Mary suggests here. Looking back, though I see that they were a time to rest from asking questions of why and how. They were simply a "how" of living where questions were no longer important, because we were living the answer.

When has the weight of your days lifted in the night?

Wolf Moon - February 22, 2010

Now is the season

of hungry mice,

cold rabbits,

lean owls.. is the season

of the hunger Death;......he means to cleanse

the earth of fat;

his gray shadows

are out and running...

from cabin to cabin,

from bed to bed,

from dreamer to dreamer

Yesterday I spent the morning with a wildlife ecologist and a few professors of Religion and Nature. Our conversation ranged far and wide, and came back to the how of living in an ecologically diminishing world. The ecologist said that life is a series of relationships of facilitation and competition - all life, and she meant specifically we humans, compete, discern, judge, and collaborate. We do this all, and it is the way we evolved. The harm we do will not go away. Through us, ecology comes as a threat in the night to clean the world of fat. I am feeling the awesome responsibility to accept it all, and in particular, the tension of our kind between such beautiful dreams and terrible nightmares. In the winter darkness the hunter speaks, "There is no way through the night except to accept that we are part of dance that ends in death and ends in life."

What goes through your mind when you see a predator catch his or her prey? Does your response depend on which species are involved?

Sunday, February 21, 2010

The Black Walnut Tree - February 21, 2010

My mother and I debate:

we could sell

the black walnut tree

to the lumberman,

and pay off the mortgage...

...That night I dream

of my father's out of Bohemia

filling the blue fields

of tress and generous Ohio...

What my mother and I both know

is that we'd crawl with shame

in the emptiness we'd made

in our own and our father's backyard.

So the black walnut tree

swings through another year...

...and, month after month, the whip-

crack of the mortgage.

The America Black Walnut is a native tree and is being hunted out of its range. Looking through the internet I see that a 200 year old tree could be worth tens of thousands of dollars. Those people out of Europe in many ways did empty out Ohio of its native species, bringing with them their cultivated plants and trees. The Walnut is both native, and a tree of cultivation. So when Mary speaks of shame about taking the tree down, is it the shame that her lineage, her species took from Ohio? Or is it shame from not honoring the toils of her forebears? Both? Oh how our species delights in work and cultivating products. We yearn for abundance while killing it.

When you look in your backyard, what do you see? What trees, plants, and wildlife come from other lands, supplanting the native species? (In Florida, about 25% of plant and animal wildlife is non native).

Last Days - February 20, 2010

...As everything,

forgetting its own enchantment whispers:

I too love oblivion why not its full

of second chances Now,

hiss the bright curls of the leaves. Now!

booms the muscle of the wind.

Currently I am immersed in a study of "last days" by reading fiction and nonfiction concerning apocalyptic myths. I wonder why this myth persists throughout the centuries. Perhaps it is to tell a story of hope, that the end means a beginning, and that we can begin again anew. In the mess of our lives, in the mess we've made of the planet and of human cultures, we so badly want to build something new, but we don't know how. Perhaps there is something hopeful in wiping the slate clean so that we may inscribe gratitude and love upon our cultural constructs.

Where might you have the impulse to get rid of everything so that you could start again?

Friday, February 19, 2010

Hunter's Moon-Eating the Bear

...Good friend,

when I crouch beside the blades of fire,

holding a piece of your life on a knife-tip,

I will be leaning in like a spoke to the hub-

the dense orb that is all of us.

my body like a cupped hand...

...holding your vast power, your grace

...your breath, your hairiness,... the small sinews of my prayers.

some invisible dead-center

Here is Mary telling us an answer once again to THE questions: What is the meaning of life? Of death? Death is the center of us all. We are here to eat and be eaten.

I know this most strongly in the animal flesh I have eaten over a fire in the woods by gentle streams, or on a beach near ocean's black night. These waters flow into one as I take into my body the precious fish, a vow of union if ever there was. I love fish! I love to swim with them, look at them, catch them, eat them, be them. In the movie, "Lord of the Rings" when Gollum goes fishing he takes the flopping fish in his hands and prays, "my precious, my precious," and then proceeds to whack the head of a fish against a rock. Being largely vegan these days, my heart swells with joy and wonder with the thought of life as food. The trick is to see my own self as food.

On my wedding day when I gave promises to my spouse Meredith, we celebrated the union with a poem he had mostly written:

Our Whole Lives (OWL)

The owl has special wing feathers that quiet its flight,

So the prey never detects the predator.

One noiseless flap, two, and the small mammal is caught.

As out of the soul's dark night, love is suddenly there, upon us:

Talons and beak.

We succumb,

And turn our bodies over to the nourishment of a grander thing.

In my death, in my ego death and the seepage of my bones into the earth, is my prayer to earth and all her beings.

What foods bring meaning of life and death to you?

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Aunt Leaf - February 18, 2010

Aunt Leaf - February 18, 2010

Needing one, I invented her-..

Dear aunt, I'd call into the leaves,

and she'd rise up,..

...and whisper in a language only the two of us knew

the world that meant follow,..

and we'd travel

as cheerful as birds

out of the dusty town and into the trees

where she would change us both into something quicker.

At day's end she'd leave me back at my own door

with the rest of my family,...

...this bone dream,

this friend I had to have,

this old woman made out of leaves.

The friends that I conjured up as a child were always birds. I'd walk in the woods and talk with them, and make up songs for their ears only. I longed that they would talk or sing back just for me. And they did. They came to me in dreams and gave me visions and flew me around the world upon their backs, showing me beauty and wonder, and death and suffering too. In my young adult hood the birds usually came to me as an albatross, who would land next to me on some island paradise, and hold me in his or her arms. I'd cry and be comforted by this great beauty that knew my worth and who watched the world from up high and knew the worth of all my kind. It is only in recent years that I have become the albatross in my dreams and on days full of grace, I am also the fish or some detritus scattered over the ocean's surface upon which I feed.

Which nonhuman form do you long to be? Why?

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Bone Poem - February 17, 201


The litter under the tree

Where the owl eats - shrapnel

Of rat bones, gull debris-

Sinks in the wet leaves...

...The long fall back to the center-

The seepage, the flowing,

The equity: sooner or later

In the shimmering leaves

The rat will learn to fly, the owl

Will be devoured.

I do other daily readings besides Mary Oliver. I read poetry from Latin America, daily nonviolent communication meditations, and Rumi Sufi poetry. Some days there seems to be a confluence of meaning that awakens me more thoroughly in these dark hours.

Today's poetry was an Amazonian oral tradition in the book Revelation: Latin American Wisdom for Everyday by Danielle and Olivier Follmi that said:

Your body is the place of memory,

A privileged place, the junction of Matter,

Energy, Spirit, and Conscience.

The entire universe is in your body,

your body is a Temple.

The message from Peaceful Living, Daily Meditations for Living with Love, Healing, and Compassion by Mary Mackenzie:

In Toltec cultures, this is called a Puja. It is a sacred act of honoring your body. Every morning while you're lathering yourself in the shower, caress every part of your body and say aloud all the reasons you appreciate it. I embrace radical self acceptance.

And also from A Year with Rumi: Daily Readings by Coleman Barks: The Worm's Waking:

This is how a human being can change.

There is a worm

Addicted to eating grape leaves.

Suddenly, he wakes up,

call it grace, whatever, something

wakes him, and he is no longer a worm.

He is the entire vineyard,

and the orchard too, the fruit, the trunks,

a growing wisdom and joy

that does not need to devour.

In this weaving of wisdom, I sense a rising joy. There is no self. There is no death. We are here to love this body, for it is the whole universe that one day will learn to fly. In this knowing, there is an unbearable responsibility to live devouring no more than what life needs as it flows through us, from stars into earth, and rising once again.

How do you treat your body? Do you "feel" that you are part of everything and if so, how does this influence your daily actions?

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

The Lamps - February 16, 2010

...You light the lamps...

...You light the lamps because

you are alone in your small house

And the wicks sputtering gold

Are like two visitors with good stories...

...But of course the darkness keeps

its appointment. Each evening,

An inscrutable presence, it has the final word

Outside every door.

What story does darkness say? Are there not good stories within the enveloping reaches that connect us to all others - the stories of light, shadow, and black night? In the day light, we might imagine ourselves as separate, capable to go it alone, ego driven to get the day's chores done. But when the power of night comes with the threat of foxes that pull birds out of trees, we see that we need each other to affirm that the sun will rise once again. When the dark comes, we listen to stories of light and life. So that in the next day, we can bear the stories of dark and death.

What are nights like for you?