Sunday, December 28, 2008

Poets and Light~

Ring the bells that still can ring
Forget your perfect offering
There is a crack in everything.
That's how the light gets in.
~ Leonard Cohen

Oh, how grateful I am for the poets of the world.  Poets are my saviors in difficult moments, when the challenges of living come to remind me of my humanness.  They remind me of the beauty even in the brokenness, even in the darkness, even in those spaces too ugly to speak of.   It is a most incredible experience to have a human life, and poets know this, they must know it, or they couldn't write the way they do, they couldn't reach into the very center of us and ring the bells of soul that resonate with the stars.  Don't you think? 

To Poets then~

Image by Bill Carlson

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Buddhist Himalayas~

On the winter solstice just passed, a most cherished and beautiful friend gave me a most cherished and beautiful book.   She gave me a picture book, filled with many photographed pages of Tibetan people, living their prayerful and dedicated lives in the Buddhist Himalayas. The book is over an inch thick and is mainly photographs, although there are some words, carefully chosen to give the readers a deeper explanation of the beauty their eyes are beholding.  

And yesterday, in the morning, while the snow continued to pour from the sky, I lit a candle, poured a cup of tea, and opened this beautiful new book.  And after looking into the faces of a people who have suffered so greatly, and lived in such difficult circumstances, for such a long time, I was amazed at their remarkable capacity to smile like the sun, to hold onto sacred strands of beads with hands that still know how to pray, to look out upon the world with eyes that seem to know a kind of peace.  

And there is a chance that I have romanticised these images, that I have made assumptions about these people that may not be entirely accurate, but if I have done, it is okay with me, because what I felt in my heart when I closed the book, was very real, and it had something to do with  prayer, and an all consuming belief in something that can only be articulated as love.

Images by: Oliver and Danielle Follmi

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Leg Warmers of Snow~

There is something about the way a dog enjoys a good snow fall that is wonderfully contagious. Something about the canine awe and thrill, as those paws touch down on the powdery whiteness. Something about those little balls of ice that cling to those furry legs like icicle leg brings on a kind of luminous gleefulness that unthaws anything in the realms of heart that might have been in danger of freezing.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Happy Winter Solstice~

Winter Solstice Blessings to you all~  Welcome back sun, welcome back light.  Giving thanks for the darkness, for our journeys that went in and down, for the learning and the wisdom gleaned in these dark months. Let us sing and dance and celebrate the turning of the wheel, another cycle ending whilst another is beginning.  Let us ask ourselves...What are we leaving behind? What are we moving toward? What have we uncovered in the darkness?  Where are we heading, as the sun illumines the path before us, and we can see the beauty of this life all around...

This morning the world is covered in a soft snowy blanket of whiteness, the house is warm and cozy, still filled with the warmth of the smiling friends who gathered together with us last night to celebrate the return of the sun, to share food, and stories, and laughter. Gus and are heading to the woods to walk amongst the whiteness and the trees.  

To the Sun then, happy birthday sun!  I welcome back your returning strength, and as you are reborn, so are we.  Let us bring the wisdom of our inner journeys into the outer world and as the light comes back, let the fiery warmth fuel the positive changes and creations we are manifesting.

Blessed Be.

Image Source Unknown

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Winter Days~

Frosty snowy days have come, and Gus and I are dedicated to soaking up the beauty of this season. Sometimes we watch the snow fall from the sky, from inside our cozy house, past the windows, with sweet things baking in the oven and hot tea in the pot. And other days we head straight for the woods, bundled up in our warm woollies, and after a good play, we stand under tall trees and look up into the sparkling branches of frosty white, letting the snow land on our warm faces like pixie dust.

First Snow
~ Mary Oliver

The snow
began here
this morning and all day
continued, its white
rhetoric everywhere
calling us back to why, how,
whence such beauty and what
the meaning; such
an oracular fever! flowing
past windows, an energy it seemed
would never ebb, never settle
less than lovely! and only now,
deep into night,
it has finally ended.
The silence
is immense,
and the heavens still hold
a million candles; nowhere
the familiar things:
stars, the moon,
the darkness we expect
and nightly turn from. Trees
glitter like castles
of ribbons, broad fields
smolder with light, a passing
creekbed lies
heaped with shining hills;
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.

Monday, December 15, 2008

A Visit From Senay~

Well, what can I say, I have been blessed with another marvelous visit from the wise and wonderful Senay, and this is a very lucky thing indeed. She came down to the stormy Pacific West Coast to see her nutty Auntie just a few short days ago.  It was a long journey through snowy mountain passes with Nana and Papa, but despite those long hours in the car she still bounded in through the door as though she had wings, and there she stood twinkling from head to toe.  ( I actually think she does have wings, but grown ups just can't see them).  

Senay, for those of you who don't know, is my 4 and 1/2 year old niece.  She is wise beyond her years and has an incredible way of reminding me of what matters most in life.  Bear hugs and belly laughs and wild dancing are absolute priorities for all days.  You don't need a special occasion to put on your best dress and twirl about in joyous ways.  Dog kisses and bubble baths are the cure for most ailments, and chocolate is the cure for everything.  Senay is truly the best sort of teacher, her questions always lead me into the very center of things, and soon my troubled mind is having way too much fun to be troubled at all. After no more than a few minutes in her sparkling company, it is clear to me that a cup of honey tea, a snuggle with someone you love, and a good hearty read of Winnie the Witch is all one needs to clear the cobwebs and see what an exquisite gift it is to be alive.  

For the past few days Senay and I have danced, and sang, and discussed the most heartfelt things.  We spent one morning gently anointing my antique Indian bronze statues with rose oil, we lit candles and we rang Tibetan bells.  Together we noticed that there was magic everywhere, in all things, and then Senay went through my house counting Faeires. There were six in total.  And after a long discussion about the most precious things, Senay informed me that the most important thing in life "is to have a really big heart Auntie, and one that is filled with love."  She said that this is what the bronze statues on my alter were teaching me. "You know Auntie, your heart is bigger than you think," she said, before bursting into an explosion of giggles, on my pillowed floor and heading into the kitchen for lunch.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

From St. Francis of Assisi~

"No one lives outside the walls of this sacred place, existence." 
~St. Francis of Assisi, 12th century Italian Saint.

This morning I started my day with this beloved Saint.  I hope he inspires you as much as he did me.


Such love does
the sky now pour,
that whenever I stand in a field,

I have to wring out the light
when I get

~ St. Francis of Assisi 1182-1226

I don't know about you, but my task for this day is to apply these words to my experience of living like a kind of holy salve and then simply notice what magic occurs.

And then again, perhaps it's something about Italian fields that basks one in a kind of indescribable radiance, because during our visit to Tuscany last spring I couldn't help but run through the fields doing ecstatic dances.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Patchwork Pondering~

As I stretch into this day, waiting patiently for my kettle to boil, I am realizing how very different my Sunday mornings are now compared with the way they used to be.  And as I contemplate these differences, each one, each difference that is, becomes like a piece of a patchwork quilt that makes up the colorful tapestry of my own being, dark in some places and light in others.  I can see them their now, these patches of self, all laid out in my minds eye, and each gentle thought like a kind of thread that holds the pieces together, creating a "quilt of being" that contains the diversity of my human ways.

The diversity that I am noticing in this moment comes from comparing the many ways in which I have been known to greet the day. I used to spend my mornings running and making lists, and getting things done.  I took great pride in this and declared to everyone around me with great enthusiasm that I was a "Morning Person."  The irony in this statement is that I was so busy, I didn't even know what morning was.  I had never really noticed morning, never really observed this beautiful time of day, never really admired mornings light, or her stillness, or her smells. In all of my doing there was not much being occurring, and so mornings quickly became afternoons, and afternoons evenings, and whole days could be swallowed up with tasks, without me having noticed that the light had changed.

As I write this, I have to giggle, because I am not immune to these ways. I have by no means out grown them, or risen above them, or evolved into some kind of verging on enlightened mediator, no, nothing like this.  The only thing I can say for myself here, is that sometimes, on some days, like today, I choose to greet the day with listening rather than lists.  And when I do this, I always feel better.  And then, I have also given up running, which was a good choice for me.  This all happened quite suddenly, some 10 years ago, when I found myself jogging at dawn on a beach in Thailand.  There was a young boy there too, and he started to run along beside 
me on the white sand, asking me in a panic " miss miss, can I ask you, what is chasing you, what are you running from?"  

Needless to say that young Thai lad  changed something in me forever, because when I stopped running to try and explain to him why I was running, I didn't actually have an answer.  And as far as what I was running from, well, I didn't have the ability to articulate this to a 9 year old boy whose language I didn't know.  And so, I thanked him for pointing out to me that what I was doing was confused, as indeed, there was nothing chasing me, and after that, I walked on the beach, and did yoga outside my grass hut in the mornings.  Now I mostly sip tea and read poems in the mornings or go for walks with my Dog friend.  

If ever you are wondering how to best spend your morning, watch a dog.  Dogs do the same things every morning, wake gently, stretch attentively, greet lovingly, pee, and then they take a few moments to sniff the air and the grass before expressing their happiness to simply be awake.  It's a kind of brilliant thing.  

So this post is dedicated to mornings, and wise children, and dogs, and listening, and acceptance, and pause, and breath, and light, and newness, and patch work quilts~

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Cat Consciousness~

There is something about the wisdom of cats that cannot be denied.  In fact, I think it is safe to say that cats are very wise beings and simply leave it at that. I am continually in awe of the wisdom and playfulness with which they go about their lives, and just a very short moment ago my cat Moaph ( pronounced like Loaf, originally called Sophie) taught me something, that I hope, I might never forget.  

There I am, a stack of books spread upon the table before me, a cup of herbal tea steaming away, the light is dimming, dusk is upon us, candles are flickering, and I am seeking inspiration for an up and coming dance class.  I am looking for a poem, or a picture, or a concept that will lead me into a creative place.

It was during this exact moment that I thought I might take a rest from the searching and the looking, a break from my dedicated need to find something of magikal and mysterious importance.  And as I paused, and breathed, and took a sip of tea, and looked across the room, I noticed Moaph, my calico feline friend, doing a most interesting thing.  

She was watching something with that kind of soft alertness that cats are famous for.  At first I thought she had found a mouse, but no, it couldn't be because her gaze was moving from place to place too quickly.  Then, she got up from her stationary position on the floor and began to follow something around the room with a kind of playful inquisitive enthusiasm. "What is she following," I thought, and as this thought came into my mind, she took her delicate paw and began to gracefully touch it down on various parts of the floor.  She did this, this graceful touching down of paw to floor, paw to floor, whilst moving around the room in the most joyful way, and that's when it struck me... that's when I realized just what she was doing.  

Moaph was playing with her shadow, she saw it there in dusk's light. The pale December sun setting outside the window made a soft yellow glow that illumined the living room and made the most perfect shadows on the dark wood floor.  And Moaph being the wise and content being that she is took full advantage of this fine moment and made a game for herself.   And when she tired of it, which was not so very long after she began, she simply stopped playing, stretched and took a nap.

And, as for me, well,  I took another sip of tea and I thought.   I thought what a good idea Moaph just gave me, for the next time my shadow,( and I am speaking of my psychological shadow now) comes out to find me, the next time I find myself surrounded in my own darkness, I will do what Moaph does.  I will try to see my shadow for what it is, and then,  I will follow it around in a playful way, until I tire of it, at which point, I will pause, stretch and take a rest.

See what I mean, cats are brilliant, the cat consciousness is truly something to marvel at.