For Memorial Day

Poetry in America has a beautiful offering and discussion of the poem “You and I Are Disappearing” by Yusef Komunyakaa who went to the Vietnam was as a journalist and came home a poet.

It’s streaming right now and is essential to watch especially today.

You and I Are Disappearing

by Yusef Komunyakaa

“You and I Are Disappearing”
                       –Björn Håkansson

The cry I bring down from the hills
belongs to a girl still burning
inside my head. At daybreak
       she burns like a piece of paper.
She burns like foxfire
in a thigh-shaped valley.
A skirt of flames
dances around her
at dusk.
          We stand with our hands
hanging at our sides,
while she burns
          like a sack of dry ice.
She burns like oil on water.
She burns like a cattail torch
dipped in gasoline.
She glows like the fat tip
of a banker’s cigar,
       silent as quicksilver.
A tiger under a rainbow
  at nightfall.
She burns like a shot glass of vodka.
She burns like a field of poppies
at the edge of a rain forest.
She rises like dragonsmoke
  to my nostrils.
She burns like a burning bush
driven by a godawful wind.

Memorial Day

I always leave this day open to remember those who fought for what this country is meant to represent.  My husband’s father “flew the Hump”.  My father flew a B-17 and after flying more missions than was required was shot down. He parachuted out of a burning plane and was held in a Prisoner of War camp in the north of Germany. 

He never judged anyone knowing that his heritage was half-German.  We never know when or where we’ll be called.  My husband and I visited the village where he landed and was turned over to the SS. I met people who were there. They were so grateful to know he survived. Tears showed me what I represented as they explained they had no choice. I understand.

My uncle was in the infantry in WWII, and my grandfather in the trenches in WWI.

It’s a day to remember and give thanks.

I wrote in the last post about the “Sunday morning ride”, motorcycles that head out highway 1 north of San Francisco.  I’ve now learned it was formed after WWII by those who came home and bought motorcycles and chose a way to meet and release.   It’s been happening every Sunday for over 70 years.

My father died in a motorcycle accident when he was 47.  I’m reminded now of how my uncle said many POW’s died in accidents.  It’s as though they tempt fate feeling perhaps they’ve survived what many did not. Maybe it’s a matter of trust.

I’ve always felt with my father’s passing that it was more that “God” saw his beauty, compassion, and open heart, and plucked him right up. I carry him always in my heart.

It’s a day to remember, honor, and give thanks.  Namaste!

Shadowed Light

Compassion

Last night I noticed a crow sitting on a branch in a tree looking south over the valley.  It felt unusual, and then, I realized there was another sitting in a different tree.  Bella had risen from sleeping and gone to the door.  All seemed to be waiting for something and then I looked at my watch.  8:00.  The howl began.  It’s become a full neighborhood venture, a gathering to honor and release.

The bird’s participation reminded me of my sons’ middle school.  It’s by the bay and as lunchtime nears, gulls gather, ready to plunge.  

This morning I rose early and went outside with my coffee to watch the day come to light.  The crickets stopped chirping as birds stepped in with their different calls.  The owl kept up a soft who-who-who as a variety of birds tweeted, and the crows cawed.  Then the squirrel added its chirp.

We’ve lived here 42 years and every Sunday morning between 7:30 and 8:00, there’s the Sunday morning ride.  Motorcycles of all types gather at the junction and head out in a pack.  The ride started 70 years ago and the Highway Patrol knows about it, and so they gather, too, and the motorcyclists and cops enjoy coffee and goodies together, and then the ritual begins.  They ride out Highway 1 to Point Reyes, many having breakfast at the Station House Cafe which appreciates their business, and some continue up to Tomales.  On Easter Sunday, the mountain is opened early so they can go to the top and watch the sunrise.  I’ve done it and can state it’s a peaceful gathering, a tradition, communion.  

Yesterday, there were more bikes than usual, perhaps 60 or 70, which meant a roar of perhaps five minutes as the bikes swirled through the curves on their way to Pt. Reyes.

I actually didn’t hear them yesterday morning but some people who I assume are new to the area were affronted by this ritual and want it stopped.

This morning listening to all the different birds gathered together in a chorus, I wondered why there’s so much intolerance.  Yesterday because of the beautiful weather, and an opening in shelter-in-place, there were more bikes than usual, and the buzzing roar of bees was a little longer than usual, and yet still not long.

This Monday morning, Memorial Day, I sat outside thinking of Thich Nhat Hanh’s wonderful poem, “Call Me By My True Names”.

Self-Care

Sometimes I feel solar powered.  The sun is out and I bustle happily about, immersing in the movement of energy outside in the yard and in the house.  The wild roses are blooming, pink and white, and a multitude of plants are flowering. I prune and bring some of the most delicate inside.  Blankets are drying on the deck and all feels fresh.  Nectarines rest on a clean tablecloth, crimson and gold, to match the candles waiting for a fiery light.  

These days I’m with self-care and kindness that begins with ourselves.  A good friend, a cello player in the symphony, is loving and also struggling with the book Middlemarch by George Eliot.  I point out that I analyzed it in several college-level classes so it is to receive from the book what comes to her now, and perhaps be less judgmental about traveling through the complexity of the novel. 

The book is multi-layered and was written in a different time period when those reading had time to read.  They knew the social references that were current.

Periodically my long-time book group re-reads Anna Karenina, surprised at the difference in our response and sympathies as time goes on.  When I studied Middlemarch in college, I was told it was like reading the Bible, complex and with many intertwining stories to guide and digest.  Middlemarch is a book of humility and non-judgment and the last paragraph is often quoted.

“But the effect of her being on those around her was incalculably diffusive: for the growing good of the world is partly dependent on unhistoric acts; and that things are not so ill with you and me as they might have been is half owing to the number who lived faithfully a hidden life, and rest in unvisited tombs.” 

A Holiday Pause

Tonight I’m with Frank Ostaseski’s Five Invitations.

Don’t wait.

Welcome everything; push away nothing.

Bring your whole self to the experience.

Find a place of rest in the middle of things.

Cultivate don’t know mind.

The 8:00 howl tonight was even more exuberant than usual.  Everyone’s home and it’s a three day weekend.  In the past, our little town has gathered together for a down home Memorial Day parade.   Little Leaguers and Cub Scouts march down the street.  There are dogs,  bikes, strollers,  and amusement rides and music at the local park.  All of that is cancelled of course, and perhaps that’s why celebration is rocking the hood tonight. 

The birds have now joined in the howl, so not just the turkeys but tweeting birds and crows.  People honk horns and tonight a plane flew over.  The owl is waiting for dark and quiet.  It’s a weekend to remember and honor, and perhaps more than ever, we’re grateful for life, love, family, and friends as we continue to shelter-in-place.

Grandson is 7 months old today!

Embraced

I’ve been reading David Abram who writes of what I’ve always felt, the aliveness in this world we share, the intelligence, and here we are, each of us arranging our sails to catch the wind and be amazing and abundant as we claim the wholeness that is ours to share.

We each have a place, response, and choice when we open to this wide embrace in which we’re immersed, a playground in which we stretch, ingest, eliminate, touch, and play.

I watch my grandson on video as he learns to crawl. Delight sprays through me as I watch his legs go up and down, and sometimes he just lets go and lays flat on the floor. Through it all, he makes sounds to help the work of the play, and he looks up with a smile, because he knows it’s not just him who’s crawling and rising and falling. It’s all of us, and he’s young enough to know the truth of the oneness we share.

Memorial Day weekend is on approach, a time I always retreat to remember, and of course, this time, it’s necessary, and yet, I feel my heart reach out to honor and balance love and hope, as I release the ropes and lines of fear.

Chime the Gong We Are

Noting the Shadow

I’m reading a book by David Abram, Becoming Animal: An Earthly Cosmology.  The first chapter is on how we may see our shadow as two-dimensional, but there’s all that space between.  What is it for an insect when it flies between us and our shadow?  What’s perceived?

He examines his shadow from the start of day until night and says this.

“For the moment, let’s venture simply this: the shadow, this elegant enigma, is always with us.  Whether at high noon or at midnight, whether it stands quiet within our skin or envelops us as our milieu, the shadow is an inescapable consequence of our physicality – a disruption of the sun’s dominion, a disturbing power that we hold in common with boulders and storm clouds and the corpses of crashed airplanes. There do exist a few members of the bodily community that thrive without the dark companionship of shadows – the various winds, for example, or the pane of glass newly set within the window frame.  But for most of us material beings, the shadow is a part of our makeup. Our clearest thoughts are those that know this – that remember their real parentage in both light and shadow, fire and sleep.”

I’m with thoughts of the shadow because the country I live in seems to struggle with acknowledging its shadow, with acknowledging that though there are some good things, there is also a horrific history and stampeding of the rights of the native people here and in other countries. We have a shadow.

I’ve been struggling to understand how this current government continues to lie and get away with it.  The following article offers insight into how many are getting the intake that fuels how they function.

I’m reminded of the words of Carl Jung: “One does not become enlightened by imagining figures of light, but by making the darkness conscious.” How do we shine a light on our shadow both personally and more broadly?

Perhaps as we walk, dance, and play with our shadow, we can see, feel, and sense all that streams between, and open ourselves to helping others see with a little more deciphering perception than before.

I share this noting that The Daily Beast leans left which works for me.

https://www.thedailybeast.com/i-spent-a-week-down-the-right-wing-media-rabbit-hole-and-was-mesmerized-by-it?ref=scroll