Fragility and Strength

We know perhaps what it is to hug a tree, to sit under a tree, and feel the roots twining and living below us just like what’s above, but this week I’ve become aware of trees in other ways.

I mentioned the crackling of a wood fire, how I heard the sounds differently this week, as voices talking, as the tree speaking of new form, change.  

Then yesterday a friend, Anna,  presented the possibilities in tissue paper, the same crackling as the fire when it’s crumbled, and especially when it’s placed by the ear like a shell.

She pointed out that when one makes a circle with the first finger and thumb, and draws a sheet of tissue paper through it, it becomes a lightsaber, a sword.  One can play with its strength and when it comes to tearing off a strip, there is resistance as the fibers want to stay together like the fibers in the trunk of a tree, like when we contemplate the mysterious hand and heart hold of life into death.  

I’m with all that that morning as I feel my tissues, listen to their language, their voice, and what they might want to say on another morning of rain and wind.  I read of flooding in rivers all around me but here, other than plants in pots blowing over and me righting them over and over again, all is somewhat calm.  

I’m with delicacy and strength, and friend and family bonds.

Three year old grandson creates his family in hearts
A redwood family

Rain

Rain continues to pound down.  It’s like the old days and yet it feels so new after these years of drought.  I was up in the night, listening, opening like the soil and roots to cleansing and renewal.

For me, it slows down thought and talk, opens and clears a wider space.  The temples in the head spread as do the pelvic bones.  The feet land and spread.  

There is clarity in the four dignities: standing, sitting, lying, walking.

I look forward to this new January day.

Kahlil Gibran:

“In much of your talking, thinking is half murdered. For thought is a bird of space, that in a cage of words may indeed unfold its wings but cannot fly.”

Nostalgic Presence

With rain falling again today I keep a fire burning all day into the night.  I love the crackling and the smell of wood smoke.  I did the same when my three year old grandson was here this week.  He was entranced with the sounds the wood makes as it burns.  It’s as though the crackles and loud bursts are last words of what life was like as a tree.  That thought leads him and me to a discussion of life and death, something a three year old seems entranced with, and so I read him The Giving Tree, a book I love though I know it is controversial.  Do we just give and give?  Well, certainly that’s what a tree does.

This rain and the burning of a wood fire returns me to the past and words of Ursula LeGuin.

She died in 2018 at the age of 88 so these words are from 2014 when she was interviewed by Heather Davis.

Ursula LeGuin: “I lived when simply waiting was a large part of ordinary life: when we waited, gathered around a crackling radio, to hear the infinitely far-away voice of the king of England… I live now when we fuss if our computer can’t bring us everything we want instantly. We deny time.

We don’t want to do anything with it, we want to erase it, deny that it passes. What is time in cyberspace? And if you deny time you deny space. After all, it’s a continuum—which separates us.

So we talk on a cell phone to people in Indiana while jogging on the beach without seeing the beach, and gather on social media into huge separation-denying disembodied groups while ignoring the people around us.

I find this virtual existence weird, and as a way of life, absurd. This could be because I am eighty-four years old. It could also be because it is weird, an absurd way to live.”

Of course I am typing this and communicating in a modern way and it’s important at times to breathe in the essence of wood smoke as it crackles and speaks.

Remains of the sawmill built in 1830 on Cascade Creek in Mill Valley to provide lumber for building in San Francisco and Marin.

 

Oneness

I went to sleep last night absorbed in the luxuriant, bright green moss I saw during the day, absorbed in its clinging to and reaching out from rocks and trees.

I was also with the creek, its soft flow in some places and more wildly in others.

One of my grandson’s favorite books right now is “We’re Going on a Bear Hunt”.  If you know it, you know that you “can’t go over it” and “you can’t go under it, “ but you can go “through it”.

And so, we travel through, not going over or under, but gently and courageously moving through like moss on rocks and trees and water flowing in creeks.

Green Flow on the trunk of a tree
Moss grateful for rain
Creek drops under the bridge
Rushing
Curving softly = gentle flow

Gratitude Gifts

Today I had a doctor appointment at 9:30 which meant I had to deal with a 7.9 tide at 9.  I left early and when I returned my freeway exit was underwater and closed so I went to the next one which I thought would be clear but wasn’t. I creeped through rivers of water.  It was a little scary but though I got home I also had two necessary appointments so had to go out again. 

I went up the mountain and around, and then between the two appointments went to the Mill Valley Library rather than coming back home.  What a treat to be in the library in the rain, or anytime. It was filled with happy people, computers, and books: a shrine. 

Seats upstairs were full so I went downstairs and found a comfy chair right by and angled to look out the almost floor to ceiling window. Heat swelled up through the vent at my feet. I overlooked the now full and rushing creek and trees. 

Occasionally children’s voices tilted and lilted like tiny lights. Communion! Warmth! Gratitude!

Society doing what it does best. A library – a gift!

Looking up at Redwoods in Old Mill Park
Reverence reigns outside the Library in the park
How to create a Smart Garden
Smart garden outside the Mill Valley Library
Outside the front of the library
Looking up at the back of the library
A wood fire inside the library
The creek

Reflecting

My father died 54 years ago today, a beautiful, sunny day in San Diego.  It was a motorcycle accident.  He wasn’t wearing a helmet.  Each year, I honor this day.  I sit here now listening to the gift of rain.  Much has been canceled due to the “atmospheric river” on approach.  It started raining the night of my father’s funeral and my memory is that it rained for forty days and forty nights but that seems rather biblical so I don’t know and there’s no one left to ask.

Tears of sorrow – sweet tears perhaps, sweetened with Love.  

I don’t know why I’m so affected by what has, and is happening to Damon Hamlin.

My early years in Iowa, I was raised to watch football.  The Rose Bowl game was a huge deal and I remember going when I was a teenager and then later.  I’ve been to the Super Bowl twice, once in L.A. and once in New Orleans.  I enjoyed watching football, and then Steve and I watched a documentary on what it does to the players, and we stopped – cold turkey – actually I like cold turkey but the point is it didn’t feel right to watch.

Now I wonder what will happen to a “sport” that thrills and unites, and also divides people, but at such a cost to the players.  

And the rain pours down.

Meeting Movement New

Today feels like a “free day” as we enter  into this new year.  We set intention and priorities.

I’m beginning to realize – well it’s been happening – that putting things off makes no sense.  Life is movement, and all is moving around and in me.  I recognize my place in all of this is to land, ground and respond.

I trust in my willingness to be moved.

I’m with these words of my teacher of Sensory Awareness Charlotte Selver:

If you have these two things – the willingness to change, and the acceptance of everything as it comes, you will have all you need to work with.

Camellia Blooms

Gratitude for Beginning

I type in the new date, this new year, and I feel like I’m in a spaceship, a time machine.  I never imagined I’d be living in this year.  What a gift, and of course the earth is our own beautiful spaceship spinning the years and seasons.

I notice that already there’s more light, more at night and more in the morning.

We’re spinning Delight!

We’ve had rain like the old days.  Our road river returned and now there’s a sunny day of absorption and reception.

I go outside, surrounded by a concert of twittering and tweeting.  I hear the rushing creek.

It’s a new year!  Celebrate!

Morning today – the hills in reception of a coming return to green

New Year’s Eve

I’m listening to the sounds of rain, grateful, though it means a neighbor’s beloved oak tree fell yesterday.  The photos show a soft fall as though the tree simply paused in overseeing and came down to gentle rest.  That’s how I view this day.  The rain is cleansing and watering my roots, as I pause, and reaching horizontally rather than vertically allow my path to rest.

It is only with total humility and in absolute stillness of mind that we can know what indeed we are.

– Wei Wu Wei

Homage to change and transformation as we leave one year and enter a new one

Stillness

We enjoyed a beautiful holiday celebration and then I caught this respiratory cold that’s circulating around so today is a quiet day, a day of stillness and rest.  I have no expectation which is a lovely and freeing place to be.

The release of expectation is motivated by and supported by these words of Shunryu Suzuki:

When we do not expect anything, we can be ourselves. That is our way, to live fully in each moment of time. This practice continues forever.

I’m also resonating and sinking into these words of Br. David Steindl-Rast:

May you grow still enough to hear the small noises earth makes in preparing for the long sleep of winter, so that you yourself may grow calm and grounded deep within.

Christmas Eve Sunset

After typing out her Christmas wish list, Ginger is ready for the holidays.
Ebi is prepared for a Christmas Eve walk