Spring

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Ah Spring,

she sneaks in

wearing nothing but

raindrops and lace

and the promise

of a green summer gown.

Burgeoning beauty

that she is

she offers us

a dance.

Put on your finest

pinks and yellows,

she says,

shine in your splendor,

unfurl your petals

and make love

to the bees.

Tenderly hold

each blossom,

inhale its beauty,

and then joyfully

dance on.

We are the kiss,

she says,

we are the embrace,

we hold life blossoming

and death returning

in this dance

of motion

and stillness

and love.

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Full Circle

There once was a very small child who explored the vast new world around herself.  When she crawled in her yard, she felt the dampness of the earth under her knees and smelled sweet clover.  She blew at dandelion puffs and watched the seeds sail up into the air and back down.  She noticed all the different birds pecking at seeds in the feeders, chattering, then darting up and down before flying away again.  Everything was in motion, everything was an enchanting mystery.

Now she wanted to have words for all that she saw, so her mother introduced her to chickadees, four leaf clovers, lilacs, and red-headed woodpeckers.  Names became attached to the mysteries, words delighted her, and then they began to define her.   She was Rachel, a girl, now trying to be a good child, a good student, a good human being.  But when she was cross or impatient or silly, unhappiness found its way into her mind.  By the time she was 16, despite her many accomplishments, in her most hidden thoughts, she thought she was a failure, a word that pinched her heart with fear. What if people knew that she was a failure?  Would they still love her?

During her walks to school, her mind incessantly went over thoughts about boys, about what her friends thought of her, about her grades, about how she looked.  Occasionally she would glance at the birds flying back and forth between trees or landing on the telephone lines above her, but she didn’t pay them much attention anymore.  They were just birds, as familiar to her as her socks or her lunch bag, and she turned back to her exquisitely painful thoughts about how inadequate she was.  But despite the lowly thoughts, she graduated from high school, went to college, and married a kind and handsome guy.  Like flashes of light flaring out from a lighthouse there were moments of great joy and happiness and sorrow; the births of each of her children—looking into their deep and wise infant eyes, the death of one of them, the long days of her marriage, the ups and downs of her job.  All these successes blossomed and as well, the failures pricked, and quite before she expected it she was old and alone.  Her children had grown up and left home to live their own lives, and to her great sorrow, her husband had gently left his body behind.

For a long time Rachel missed them all, reliving memories that squeezed enough to let her know she was still alive.  But as the days unfolded and her body slowed down, she spent more and more time outside in her small overgrown back yard.  In the warm summer days she abandoned her chair to sit on the grass.  The earth was damp beneath her, bees hovered over the clover, and birds flew down from trees to feeder dipping their small beaks into the seeds.  She began to notice how different each one was, some colorful, some shy, some aggressive, and it made her remember her wonder at these winged creatures when she was very young.

One morning while sitting outside, she picked a dandelion stalk and blew at the fuzzy puff.  Each tiny seed swirled into the air, each with its own parachute launching it to its new home.  A great love swelled from Rachel’s heart for this miracle of nature and in that moment she felt exactly the same as she had seventy years ago.  The sun felt warm on her skin, the grass smelled sweet and pungent, the birds sang, and while she sat there she let all her thoughts come and go without hooking into their words of discontent.  She briefly wondered why she had spent so much of her life quarreling with what life brought to her, and then she even let that thought go.  Life was here, now, in the breathing, in the feeling, in the wonder of birds pecking at seeds.  It was as new and fresh as the mysterious days of her young childhood, nothing had changed at all, and she was content.

We are

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I am

water

bursting into

a fan of spray

from the endlessly

dancing river.

~

See me!

Now I am

this tiny drop,

a woman,

a man,

a human,

completely unique,

glistening in the sunlight,

alive and moving.

What freedom,

how wondrous

this brief and

radiant life,

how exciting this journey

leaping into the unknown.

~

But wait, stop!

I see so many drops

separate from me,

what are they?

Who am I?

Suddenly, I’m afraid

they won’t like me,

I won’t like them.

Perhaps my shine

is not as bright,

perhaps I’m smaller,

perhaps I’m bigger,

perhaps they’re terrible.

I’m separate,

I’m different,

I’m alone.

This waterfall

is loud and scary

and menacing

and I’m afraid of it.

How can I dance when

I’m so alone,

how can I be carefree

when I might dry up

into nothingness?

Or worse yet,

let myself be overtaken by

the dark and swirling torrent.

All I can do is try

and steer myself away,

but oh, it’s hard,

it’s scary,

it’s painful,

I don’t know if I can do it,

but what’s the choice?

if I let go, I might

disappear.

No.

Stop.

Help,

one last terrifying gasp,

I’m going under,

goodbye,

I’m afraid,

I’m afraid

~

Why hello!

 I am

water

bursting into

a fan of spray

from the endlessly

dancing river.

~

See me!

I am a drop now.

Oh, and I see you!

We are mirrors

for each other

so that we can

see and delight

in our

creation–

you are so beautiful,

so radiant,

I am shining and alive.

We are water,

playing

with itself,

we are unique

and complete

and all we need do

is remember

our divine

source,

the endlessly

dancing

river.

The capacity of the heart

dear heart,

what a gift you are,

a portal

into the ecstasy of love.

You’re so sweet

so comforting

so gentle

and kind,

and in your

tender embrace

 I can love her

and him and her.

But I’m not sure

about him.

I can only love so much, right?

There are limits,

don’t you think?

I need to protect my

sweet little heart,

my oasis where I am safe

from the chaos in this world.

~

Oh heart, what’s that you say?

How wide can I open?

Well since you ask, here’s my list:

I love my family and friends,

I love my co-workers,

I help the old lady down the street,

and whenever there is a calamity,

I donate money and things.

So you see how well

you’ve taught me,

to give what I can,

to take care of my close ones,

and of course,

to take care of me,

I mean you.

~

Wait, what are you asking now?

How about loving a thief?

How about loving someone who looks different?

How about love for people who hurt people?

Well of course not, dear heart,

my love has boundaries you know.

They certainly don’t deserve my compassion,

they are choosing their lives,

they are squandering their hearts.

But I,

I  am choosing the right way to love.

They are bad,

I

 am

good.

~

Oh.

Did I just say that?

~

Hello?

No words from you, heart?

~

I feel ashamed.

I feel small

all the way down

to that hidden place

where I fear to go—

for what if I discover that

I am bad,

that I am unlovable?

What then?

What then?

~

Keep feeling,

you say?

But how much can I feel?

It feels scary

to stretch like this,

it feels unknown.

I need to hold on

to something,

I’m alone,

I’m terrified

I might disappear.

And oh my god,

if I disappear,

what’s left?

~

Feel all of it,

you say?

Trust it?

Okay.

Deep breath,

yes it feels less tight,

less bounded,

less restricted,

and somehow held.

~

Oh but

it hurts, and

it feels good,

I’m breaking open

and open

and more open.

There is no end to love,

is there?

No barriers,

no conditions,

no limits at all.

~

And if there

are no walls,

where do I end?

Where do you start?

Where is the separation

of our heart?

~

Beloved one,

I offer you a rose,

 you offer me

the universe.

It’s simple,

you whisper,

be love,

share it

freely.

A conversation with pain

Pain,

long have I pushed you away

long have I bargained

to keep you at bay—

not me,

not this,

not fair,

not now.

~

But you show up

anyway,

embroidering your thread

upon my heart.

Can you blame me then

if I recoil

at the piercing of

each stitch?

~

Please stop,

I say.

Can’t you see

I’m suffering?

Hey!

Are you listening?

But every time

your answer is the same:

~

Pay attention

pay attention

pay attention.

~

No.

I’d rather not.

No.

Some other day.

Help.

I’m not sure.

Can I just push you away?

~

Pay attention.

~

But it hurts too much,

can’t you see you’ve

sewn my heart shut,

now what?

I’m afraid,

I’m afraid,

I’m afraid.

~

Pay attention.

~

Don’t you hear me?

Can’t you see me

in my misery?

I suffer because of you, old pain,

and yet all you offer

 is your ceaseless refrain.

~

pay attention

~

Must I?

Can I?

Will I?

Ah.

Dear pain,

how you’ve

 worn me down,

my arguments are gone,

and all I can do is

breathe

and

listen

and say

yes

yes

yes

 

Dear Mind

Dear mind,

you are so smart and clever and useful.

How you yearn to know

the nature of life,

the breadth of the universe,

the vastness of what is.

And yet, let me say this gently to you dear mind,

for there will be much indignation–

you are simply too small for the task.

And it is now, while you are yammering

about your importance,

when your calculations and ruminations

can turn into fixations,

I release you to do your valuable job:

the bridges need to be built,

the words need to be defined,

the cities need to be designed.

But it is right here,

right in this very motion of welcoming you

and letting you go, dear mind,

that I live in the mysterious

wonder of now.

The gift of the elders

Yesterday I visited my 91 year old mom as I do every few days.  Immediately I could see that it was one of those days when she seemed almost not of this world anymore.  Not in a bad way, but as a gentle reminder that her human life is waning.  I sat with her in her dark living room sometimes reminiscing about so many memories that we have together, sometimes basking in the silence and love.

At one point, I looked at her shelf full of books that were once so dear to her and asked if she wanted me to read something.  She’s almost blind now and even with a magnifying glass, can barely make out print and pictures.  She took her time to answer, and when she finally did, she talked about how she had loved her books because they had opened up such knowledge and so many new worlds for her.

“But now, they aren’t important to me,” she said.  “I can’t see and also my mind doesn’t understand them anymore.  Soon I will be gone, and the world will go on without me. What is most meaningful is love and family and kindness.”

Yes, oh how we know this in our very core.  In our deepest heart.  But with the clamoring of the world and our busy lives, we often forget.  But what if we listened deeper?  What if we lived as if we were at the far edge of this human life staring into our own passing?  What if we listened and felt deeper into what is showing up now? What then becomes truly important?

In this beautiful cycle of life, my mother nurtured me when I was young, and now, she offers me simple wisdom.  In between, as mother and daughter we had many experiences, both difficult and rich, that offered great opportunities for us to grow.  Now our gift to each other is simply to love.  It is the greatest gift of all.