Presence

With each book I hold I am in awe, with awe, am awe.  It’s not just the words, but the font, the cover, the arrangement – each book a miracle, a collaboration.  Might I receive each book as it passes through hands and mind as Jacques Lusseyran received the light? 

Blinded when he was eight, he later wrote his memoir, And There Was Light. He writes:

“I began to look more closely not at things but at a world closer to myself, looking from an inner place to one further within, instead of clinging to the movement of sight toward the world outside.” 

“I was not light itself. I knew that, but I bathed in it as an element which blindness had suddenly brought much closer. I could feel light rising, spreading, resting on objects, giving them form, then leaving them.”

Guided, I reach for Thich Nhat Hanh: With each step the earth heals us – ah, I first typed heart – earth and heart – and with each step we heal the earth.

“Breathe in and think I am solid, breathe out and think I am free.”

Each plant and animal, a niche

Intention

Angeles Arrien in her book The Second Half of Life, a guide for elderhood, writes of opening the eight gates of wisdom and cultivating four bones, the Backbone, Wishbone, Funny bone, and Hollow Bone. The Hollow bone is the quality of trust, where we maintain openness, curiosity and faith.

The marrow in our bones is pink, living, rejuvenating, healing, alive.  

Today is the day to tackle the wall of books.  I’ve tackled it before.  Books are passed on, but today I’m set. I scent myself with a gift from my son, perfume from Powell’s bookstore so I smell like a bookstore, a beautifully fragrant one, a combination of male and female, the archetype of my age.  I recognize my home is a library, a resource, source.

I begin with a top shelf – small books live there, and there I’m stopped over and over again by words trickling through me like water flowing in a stream.  Or maybe these words are the rocks in my stream giving me a song as Carl Perkins puts it.  

Dante:  This mountain of release is such that the ascent’s most painful at the start, below: the more you rise, the milder it will be.  And when the slope feels gentle to the point that climbing up sheer rock is effortless as though you were gliding downstream in a boat, then you will have arrived where the path ends.

Looking up from Sausalito

Fragile and soft meets longer-lasting counseling movement within

Books and Birds

The clean-out continues.  A friend says we should knock out one wall and create an open space – kitchen, dining room, living room – one space.

I sit in the living room comforted by a wall of books, and wake this morning feeling what they mean to me.  They hold memories and are easily seen and accessed.  They beckon, titillate, and calm.  Each book offers entry to another world, perception, space, time.

I think of Abraham Lincoln walking through snow to bring home books to read by the fire.  A Kindle may be named for fire but doesn’t offer that.  

The birds continue their song and my ears perk all the way along the eustachian tube to my nose, lungs, heart and feet.  The air vibrates, the ground.  I hear flight, vibrate inside.

Grateful, I wonder if gratitude is like a bird, singing and fluttering the air we share.

I read that Love is an energy, not an emotion.  It’s the tissue of life itself.  Oxygen enters through a wet surface and the heart moistens when we feel love. 

Thornton Wilder in The Bridge of San Luis Rey wrote, “There is a land of the living, and the land of the dead and the bridge is love, the only survivor, the only meaning.

And so it is! Let the bridge be long!

From Sausalito looking at Mt. Tam

A low, low tide looking at San Francisco from Sausalito

And Now

It seems another book comes. The Mill Valley Outdoor Club has a new book, Ladies to the Rescue:

Before women won the right to vote in 1920, women’s clubs were one of the only avenues by which women could wield political influence in their communities. The Outdoor Art Club was founded by 35 Mill Valley women who used what their husbands often dismissed as a “social” club as a platform for environmental, civic, educational, and cultural activism. Ladies to the Rescue profiles these women, and also illuminates a critical period in our local history when the boundaries between Marin’s rapidly growing urban areas and its natural spaces were the subject of fierce debate between land developers (all of whom were men) and environmental conservationists like the women of The Outdoor Art Club. Much of the open space in Southern Marin that we enjoy today survives because of the early efforts of these women.

Thank you, Women!

Mount Tam allowed to be as she is

A Fiesta

In cleaning out clutter, I’m with Einstein’s formula equating mass and energy.  I’m noticing how light is both particle and wave.  We create the cement.

In the living room of this house is a floor to ceiling wall of books and I have bookcases in two other rooms.  A few years ago, I gave away around 1000 books and though I’ve also given away book shelves, there are still masses of books.  Might I convert the space to energy?

I see the challenge of not perceiving each shelf as a block of books, an organization of beauty  and completeness.  It’s as though they’ve been crammed together for so long, they’ve grown together, bonded, and they don’t want to separate.  I feel like I’m separating flower bulbs, offering them a new place to grow and spread, and I feel resistance.

Since it’s my perception, what am I resisting, and why?  Perhaps I see it as another pulling me forward to death, a comment on my passage.   I feel myself lifting my oars from the water, allowing an evolving transport from river to sea.

I come to these words from Eduardo Galeano, in Walking Words.

The Church says: The body is a sin.

Science says: The body is a machine.

Advertising says: The body is a business.

The body says: I am a fiesta.

With joy in transition, I celebrate the fiesta I am.

Cleaning out will lead to an organization that coheres as I let go.

The Moon

Last night I sat outside with the stars waiting for the moon.  I felt pulled upward and outward by the vastness.  What is it that one person plans to murder other people? How can we speak of regulating women’s bodies, and allow no regulation of guns?

I’m up early, again pulled by the light of the moon.

The state of CA has a $97 billion dollar surplus.  Imagine if that money was used for education and infrastructure.  Imagine if every child was given the gift of a Vision Quest, a week on their own in nature, a week alone learning the  gift of survival and connection, the gift of looking up at the stars.

In the essay Spring by Gretel Ehrlich, she wrote: 

“I think about the eagle. How big she was, how each time she spread her wings it was like a thought stretching between two seasons.”

Surely we can stretch our thoughts like the wings of an eagle, like butterflies fluttering in air, like the relationship between sun, moon, earth and stars.  

Lichen growing on a rock, showing the purity of the air

Abundance – CA Poppies

Step into the orchid, petals like wings

The Birds are Singing

Shunryu Suzuki Roshi: I don’t know anything about consciousness. I just try to teach my students how to hear the birds sing.

I don’t know if I’m hearing better or if there are more birds singing this year but all seems alive with the songs and flight of birds and displays of flowers.

Photos from along the marsh.

Skatepark for the “kids”

Tending Layers of Change

Even immersed in the blossoming and birth of spring, I’m aware of grief.  A card comes, honoring the lives and passing of Tiger and Bella.  Others have passed.  I’m in a place of deep feeling, and in that place is gratitude.

I read these words by Bhante Sumano, from “One Thing for Sure”:

As Buddhist practitioners, we aim to let go of our attachments. At first, grieving for something or someone we’ve lost may look like clinging, but it’s actually a process of acknowledging our loss, which allows us to heal from the pain and loosen our grip on the past.

I’m not a Buddhist practitioner, though I have intention for non-attachment and living a philosophy of acceptance and trust by responding with “Is that so? 

Rosemerry Wahtola Trommer’s poem, “Seascape Near Les Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer” continues her examination of living with grief.  Vincent Van Gogh writes to his brother Theo about the sea.

It’s always changing.

You can’t even tell if it’s blue because

a second later the changing light 

has taken on a pink or gray tinge. 

It wasn’t very cheery but neither was it sad 

It was beautiful. 

And isn’t grief the same, complex and always changing, allowing us to live even more deeply in the layers within us, the layers of soil, rivers, trees, and sea.  

Stephen Levine: To heal is to touch with love that which was previously touched with fear.

The Poem:

Spring

Yesterday I was sitting outside on the deck, tilting my head back to swallow the sun, when I first heard, and then saw, her.

My small wren friend was hopping on the rail of the deck, then, bending to check the spider webs hanging between the rails.  When I read that wrens eat spiders, I stopped sweeping the webs away, though I understand that clarity is good feng shui, and now, I see her hop, hop, hopping along, bending over to check each web for a treat. 

She reminds me to breathe more deeply, to see more clearly, to honor clarity with the webs that twine.

She leaves her nest when I come out

Young redwood and old

Expanse

It is said when someone dies we lose a library.  A friend passed away Monday night.

I reflect on his gifts, on what he leaves.  He was a gatherer and creator of community.  He loved to cook and garden and offer those gifts, bringing together the wider community we share.

I read these words of Simone Weil, To be rooted is perhaps the most important and least recognized need of the human soul. I think of how he was rooted, and now, physicality dropped, essence expands and soars.

I’m still cleaning out “stuff”, perhaps will be until I pass.  Today, going through papers, I read Etty Hillesum, who in 1943, was deported and murdered in Auschwitz concentration camp.

She wrote: Every day I shall put my papers in order and every day I shall say farewell.  And the real farewell, when it comes, will only be a small outward confirmation of what has been accomplished within me from day to day.

My small wren friend continues to tend to her nest.  I think of what it is to be one of her eggs, so cared for within the shell, and soon there will be tiny chirps as walls pecked through, drop away, and tiny beings learn to fly through air, fragrant and clear, and buoyed with plant and animal exchange.

As Jack Kornfield says: Those who are awake live in a constant state of amazement.

May we all live amazed.  

Wren friend is flitting and hovering as she watches me