The Everyday is Sacred

hours of forgetting

then a flash of sunlight

wind ruffles wet flesh

awash in sensation

heart stills, time stops

and I open myself

to this

falling awake

to  sun and bone

wind on water

I am here

all here in

sacred space

☾☽

 

 

A Walk in the Woods

“Said the river: imagine everything you can imagine,then keep on going.”
~Mary Oliver

I went for a walk in the woods a few days ago. I love paths that are a bit wild and natural even in the middle of town. On this particular day, I am on one of my favorite trails; it meanders through  a dense patch of woods next to a big wide creek. The path has been left untouched for decades in many places and I love wandering there. But walking into some sections of this trail brings to mind Dorothy hesitantly walking into the dark scary woods with the scarecrow on her journey to Oz. Or maybe it’s Gretel wandering in the forest with Hansel, looking for her way home. Either way, the path can be a bit unnerving. I find myself humming that old Lou Reed song, “Walk on the Wild Side”, as I walk.

Deep dark untamed woods hold big, scary, archetypal energy for me and lots of other people; all those wild, uncivilized natural spaces where we might just meet something bigger and hungrier than us on the path. It is exciting and and enticing and scaryall at once. I think this is why our ancestors spent so much time trying to tame Mother Nature. Generation after generation of Americans have spent huge amounts of time and energy trying to corral and control Mother Nature;  e.g. clearing away the forests that once covered the northeastern US like they were tidying up a closet by throwing almost everything away. Or The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers dredging and straightening and pushing around the Mississippi river decade after decade – we all saw how well that worked out for New Orleans when Hurricane Katrina made mincemeat of the Corps’ dykes.

Even logical and reasonable adults plant grass over mile after mile of suburban neighborhoods, then burn thousands of hours of free time and gallons of gasoline every weekend mowing their lawns down with military precision until the grass is a socially acceptable “tidy” length that resembles some perfectly green and uniform man-made carpet. We humans cannot seem to leave Nature to her own devices, can we?

Mother Nature scares the crap out of most humans. Mostof us either hide away in man-made homogenized boxes and pretend Nature doesn’t exist or we head out loaded for bear to try and kick Mother Nature’s butt and make her our bitch. In the end, neither way works very well.

I go visit an old tree every time I walk this path. Her diameter is larger than my wingspan. I remember the golden mean ratio – exactly how tall does that trunk diameter mean she is?  And how many rings does her trunk hold? Her rings must carry the wisdom and the history of this place at the edge of the path, this spot that she has anchored for at least 80 years . This tree has been here at the edge of this path for many, many years; she has seen all this human silliness before.

That’s where true wisdom comes from, being silent and still like an old tree; just absorbing what happens in whatever place I find myself today. And in taking the time to make the connections between what happens today and what happened yesterday on my path – and 2 years ago and 200 years ago. I need to remember to stop; get still, watch and listen to everything happening around me. And to take the time to reflect; to remember and store that longview of history like an old tree does.

I leave grandma tree and move on down the path. As I wander, I look up at the sky and realize that a storm is rapidly brewing on the horizon; it’s time to head for the safety of my house. Once home, I sit by the window in my study and watch the wind and rain thrash at the trees. Lightning splits the skyagain and again. Mother Nature is flexing her muscles. Even my tame garden seems a bit scary now. I watch the storm from a safe perch inside.

The path I choose again and again is not tame and civilized like a perfectly groomed suburban lawn. But it’s also not a solitary cabin surrounded by wilderness; I don’t require a life so wild and scary that I quiver with fear like the cowardly lion every time I venture out into the world.  I seem to constantly be searching for the middle path; in my mind I picture land on the boundary between wild woods and tame suburbs. That feels like the space where I belong.  It is the space where I feel most at home.

There has to be a way of living that is more in synch with my own inner nature. I want be find that way, to dig in and explore that middle path. I wonder if it is possible to live in way that is engaged with Mother Nature, fascinated and respectful of her powers rather than trying to subdue and mow and bend her to my will? And at the same time, can I develop a connection with Mother Nature so deep that I’m not left feeling completely helpless in her storms?

What is the middle path through this landscape? How do I become an actual friend and ally of Mother Nature? There are a thousand different opinions out there about how to walk softly on the earth; go vegan, buy local, grow your own, buy a hybrid, solar power… But I am wondering about diving deeper and making choices where I work with Mother Nature rather than doing things to her.

Whatever I choose has to come from my heart truly connecting with the natural world.  I wonder what will my life look like if I open up and deeply connect with Mother Nature? What would it look like to be close friends with this Earth? This feels like a shiftin my path… like rounding a bend on a trail and seeing a whole new vista opening up in front of me. And just like any great adventure, this new terrain is exciting and a little scary, but not too scary…

Sitting

I sit in Ridgen shrine room

I sit, I breathe

I scrawl words on paper

I feel happy and peaceful

I sit, I breathe

It begins to snow outside

I sit, I breathe

I write word after word

I feel sad, so sad

an old wound exposed

Snow falls

I sit, I breathe

Machinery hums outside

out of sight but still with me

I sit, I breathe

My hip aches, my nose is numb

I sit, I breathe

and wonder, why numb?

the pitch of a roof outside

catches my gaze

I sit, I breathe

My hip aches

I breathe with the ache

the hum, the roof

Snow falls

I sit, I breathe

I feel hungry

the hum, the ache

and the roof go on.

The Solution to the Problem

Oil Spill photo by Gay, AP May 28, 2010
Oil Spill  by Gay, AP May 28, 2010

It does not take a genius to know that this country is in a deep financial mess; billion dollar bank bail-outs, massive numbers of mortgage foreclosures, record debt levels for both individual Americans and our government as a whole – we have dug quite a deep hole for ourselves. And it’s not just America, the crisis is worldwide.

And it is not just financial news. Add to that my worries about the sickening state of this country’s food supply and healthcare system, and oh yes, let’s not forget global warming and the state of the world’s oceans. Just 15 minutes with the news and I may decide to curl up fetal and never leave my bed again.

How does a reasonable adult deal with the state of our world today? What can I possible do that will help turn this mess around? Anyone with a firm grasp of reality would look around and be very worried. But spending my days in a stressed out, worried state is NOT going help me or anyone else. And I don’t want to ignore the problems either. That would be like Nero fiddling while Rome burns. So, what’s a woman to do?

Well, my solution is mostly spiritual; I spend way more time in prayer and meditation. I increase my connection time to God. That might seem to some people like running away from the world and our problems. But I think it’s just the opposite. Connecting with God or Spirit calms me and keeps me grounded in a reality beyond all the horrible news. It reminds me that I never see the entire picture and that God has got this. God has got this under control, even when it looks like everything is going to Hell.

The other thing that happens when I take time to meditate or prayer is that my mind clears; I stop pinging from one problem to the next. And I find that I can calmly get out of bed and happily go out into the world and face our global problems without panicking. But if I don’t stay “prayed up”, I am constantly freaking out about the future and predicting gloom and doom. Connection time with God is key.

One of the thoughts that keeps coming to me in meditation is that the solution to our problems will not be logical at all. The solution to this mess will NOT come from logical, linear thinking. A right-brained, holistic view of this mess is needed before the solution will become apparent. My left brain looks at the mess we’ve created and screams in panic because the hole we’ve dug is so deep that my logical brain cannot conceive of a solution. But my right brain intuitively KNOWS that there is a solution to every problem – even this one. My right brain also knows that the Universe is a helpful place, not a malicious torture chamber. We will figure a way out of this mess. And the solution will holistic, global, non-linear.

I look around at my kids and their friends and I see the PERFECT minds to tackle these global problems. Please don’t send the straight-jacket, I am totally serious. This is a generation that excels at right-brained thinking. They may lack in the linear thinking department, but right-brained networked thinking is their forte. Attention Deficit Disorder gets a bum rap, in my opinion. ADD should be called Extraordinary Right-brained Thinking! It is a strength, not a weakness. Unfortunately our schools are using 19th century methods to teach 21st century thinkers.

This generation surfs the internet and intuitively knows that there are no national boundaries. They know that we are all in this mess together. My suburban kids have friends from every ethnic group and sexual persuasion. A global economy makes complete sense to them. A global solution will come naturally to them.

So, I read the news and still I am filled with hope. I cannot WAIT to see what happens next. God (and my kids) have got this one under control.

The Coming Storm

Last week I went for a walk in the woods. There is a path near my house that I love. It winds through the woods next to an untamed year-round creek. I’m wandering down the creek path and I know a big thunderstorm is coming. I saw the storm brewing before I left home, but I love my time on this trail, so I risk a walk in the woods anyway.

I am walking and keeping an eye on the storm clouds that are rapidly building in the north sky. But I’m enjoying my walk so much that I extend it a bit, and then a bit more. I get cocky and misjudge how fast the storm is rolling in. And for my cockiness I ended up getting rained on. Not drenched, just a little damp. Just a gentle schooling from Mother Nature, thank God!

That’s how I hope to weather all the storms in my life; maybe just a little damp but not drenched and no permanent structural damage. I don’t want to end up in chaos at the epicenter of any storm – I have no desire to end up like those Japanese fishermen downwind from a broken nuclear power plant, or those folks in Joplin with no basements where the tornados decided to touch down a few weeks ago. Most of us really cannot handle being at the epicenter, can we? Most of us have no urge to fly right through the eye of the hurricane in a small metal plane. Oh yes, the epicenter is exciting and enticing. Some people love hanging out there. It whispers a siren song that I definitely hear. I’m the one walking in the woods with a thunderstorm brewing on the horizon.

This is one lesson that I have learned the hard way when doing energetic healing work. How close do I want to be to the center of the action, the center of the storm? Through years of trial and error, I have learned that I cannot stay healthy and alive if I hang out in the epicenter of a client’s healing storm. My job is to be an anchor point of calm, on the edge of the action rather than trying to ride the wild energies at the epicenter. I stay healthy and my clients do amazing healing work when I anchor and hold the edges of their dance floor. A client who is emotionally or mentally thrashing through a traumatic release or change needs a calm, deep anchor NOT a dance partner. I picture a giant old sycamore tree anchored in the earth next to this path I love. She’s a calm anchor!

I go visit Grandma Sycamore every time I walk the Mill Creek path. She’s a very cool tree. But on this particular walk, on this particular day, I notice a big chunk of bark lying behind her trunk. When I stop to examine the trunk, I see that the core of Grandma Sycamore is now decaying, rotting away. She has a huge hole at her center. Her time is almost finished here at the edge of the path. Soon she will fall and make way for new trees. I am sad to see this – I have grown to love this tree – I will miss her. She had many years here; wide and tall, majestically anchoring this piece of earth. Now her time is ending.

The same organic cycle of birth, growth and decay happens with everything in Nature. EVERY living thing – including the civilizations that man builds – springs up from the decaying earth left behind from those who came before. We are born, we grow and flourish, then decay and die out. Life on Earth is all about cycles.

Change is inevitable. And change can be very scary, like a huge thunderstorm brewing on the horizon. But If I get still and watch and listen – if I use my senses to really observe, I begin to notice that change is coming before it gets here and I can protect myself. When I slow down and look, I notice that the core of the tree is rotting long before it gets so unstable that it falls on me. In stillness I can see the change coming just like a big storm building  on the horizon.

I see a storm coming for my country. I am troubled by the chaos that the US seems to be spiraling into. A US dollar with no gold behind it, massive debt, medical treatments that make people poorer and sicker, grocery stores full of food that isn’t really food, politicians that pontificate and never really change anything – it is so easy to turn into a completely paranoid pessimist. Yet even my more rational optimistic self cannot deny the growing rot at the core of our economy, of our food supply, of our healthcare and our political structures. Beautiful proud strong Grandma Sycamore weakens with age and eventually rots at the core and falls to make way for new life. And our proud beautiful strong US culture seems ready to do the same just like the Mayans and the Romans and the European empires of earlier times. I try to remember that it’s not a good thing or a bad thing, it just is; cultures grow and flourish and then die out just like trees.

I stop and look around and see a world that has swung so far into the yang, active, doing energies. We are too active, too busy, too focused on owning and controlling everything we see. America has spent so much energy trying to conquer and master everything.  Straightening rivers, digging holes in the earth to pull out energy to burn, building more and more of the biggest vehicles and buildings in the world even though they consume energy like some giant ravenous beasts, processing the fruits of nature until they don’t even resemble fruit anymore… I could rant on and on. This country is so deep in Yang energy, it cannot seem to stop to even catch a breath!

US cities like Chicago and LA and New York feel like Yang energy on steroids to me; busy little ant humans running here and there on foot – or even more Yang yet, zooming from place to place in little metal cars and big metal planes. We get instant news and entertainment 24/7 on our TV’s and computers and iPod’s and Blackberries. Could we be less still, less receptive??

It is the nature of all organic systems to pendulum back and forth between yin and yang states, constantly seeking a balance point somewhere in the middle. And Western civilization is an organic system; civilizations seek balance and homeostasis just like our own body systems do. So a pendulum shift in this country away from yang seems obvious and inevitable to me. The obvious correction for this organic system is to pendulum back toward yin receptive quiet energies, qualities or ways of being. And the pendulum swing is inevitable; ALL organic systems do it. So I look around and know a shift is coming our way. And I also sense that this cultural shift could get quite chaotic and messy. I want to spiritually embrace and encourage this worldwide natural shift back into receptive mother yin energy. And I also want to protect my family in what could be a wild chaotic storm.

So I close with the questions that my husband and I find ourselves wrestling with this year; What can I do to help my family prepare for this storm? What can I do NOW, before the storm gets here, so that my family can emerge from storm just a little damp? How do I best help my friends and neighbors do the same?

And just as important to me; what do I want to shift towards? Even in the worst storm I have choices about what’s best for me, my family, my country. What is the new vision I want to anchor in and hold for my family, for everyone I love, for America? What seeds can I plant now so that they will sprout into life and flourish after this storm passes?

Here and Now

Here and now it is sunny outside

I chop carrots. Mince garlic.

Heat oil. Salivate.

Inhale the aroma.

 

Here and now I am sad inside

I grieve. Shed tears

Ponder death. 

See pain all around.

 

Here and now I sit with it all

Breathe pain. Breathe sorrow.

Breathe garlic and sun

Open to life.