A Moment

It’s Monday morning, a new week, and I’m awakened at 4 by my cat needing to go out.

I rise to meditate with intention to surrender to the current situation.  I believe that when we surrender, we are held like a baby, rocked. Buoyancy is our rock as we lean into movement grounded in stillness, in support.

When we were cleaning out our basement, I came across a treasure trove of journals from 1993.  I haven’t felt ready to go back through them, but since I’ve now exhausted every mode of distraction as I shelter-in-place, today I open to some pages from November, 1993.

I had returned from six weeks in Nepal, four of them in the region of Everest, Khumbu, and was struggling to adjust to the abundance and busyness here.  I found it disorienting that people who had so much didn’t seem as happy as people who had so little. Perhaps it was the closeness to death there, and nature.  Their feet knew the ground, and of course a constant bowing and saying “Namaste”, “I see the spirit in you, and therefore in myself”, also helped.  

Wanting to understand and integrate my return, I walked with a friend to Tennessee Valley Beach and we talked.  She grew up in the Bahamas on an island where there was no electricity, no phones. She spoke of the earth and nature, and said people who are close to the earth, who are farmers, are warmer and more generous people.  She said the people on her island are religious and aren’t into material things. She said, “as you accept natural reality, you begin to understand other human beings as people, and you understand what it is to live, love, share”.   She said the White House and our government do not set an example or model. That was 1993.  

She then asked, “How can we survive?  How can we make it better for our children?” 

In Nepal, I learned to be comfortable with silence, to wait.  After all, I’d returned from a small room where I spent a week with a gecko who was my friend and companion.  We were together, but didn’t speak.   

My friend answered, “We can love and pray. Science and religion are now connected.  The mind is healing.” 

She continued: “People here expect things to be handed to them but happiness is within. We are made to reach out and help each other.  True happiness is when you help someone.”

I sit with that now.  We’re seeing that in action.  People are helping each other, seeing and feeling connection even as, or maybe because, we are isolated in place.

What matters right now, this moment? 

Perhaps being with what comes, right now, this moment, is the answer.

I loved quotes then, as now, and this gem anchors this portion of my journal.

Thich Nhat Hanh: 

“It is with the capacity of smiling, breathing, and being peace that we can make peace.” 

“Breathing in, I calm my body. Breathing out, I smile.  Dwelling in the present moment, I know this is a wonderful moment.”

And so it is!

Peace!

Masks

I haven’t yet worn a mask.  I’m rarely out so I haven’t needed a mask to protect myself or others.  I’ve been isolated now for over two weeks so I think I’m “clean”, and I want to do my part in this crazy world we all share. 

Yesterday I learned how to use Apple Pay as my local grocery store is requesting it as a way to pay without touching anything.  I probably don’t need to venture out for another week.  

I feel unnerved somehow, and this morning The Lone Ranger comes to mind.  Of course his mask just covered around his eyes and wouldn’t have fooled anyone.  It certainly wouldn’t have kept the virus away.

I’ve never used a mask.  In 1993, when I was in Kathmandu, my two friends used scarves to cover their mouth and nose but I wanted to breathe it all in.  I still have the two scarves I bought there just in case. When we were in the mountains, in the evenings, we wrapped the scarves around our necks to absorb the smell of wood smoke and bring it home with us. 

I see from youtube I could make a mask with those scarves and two elastic bands, though I gave the bands away when I went through chemo and had no hair. Hmmm!

I feel discombobulated this morning, feel like crying, and I balance that with some strange need to keep a “stiff upper lip”.  The news is dire, and yet this is news we all share, so we bond in support and find humor in creative ways, even as a few take advantage of the situation.  

We love the show Foyle’s War, and are considering watching it a third time.  It shows ethics and bonding through the hardship of war, contrasted with those few who use a tragic situation for their own ends.  

Today’s lift comes again from One Last River of Song by Brian Doyle:

“Every creature on earth has approximately two billion heartbeats to spend in a lifetime. You can spend them slowly, like a tortoise, and live to be two hundred years old, or you can spend them fast, like a hummingbird, and live to be two years old.”

“The biggest heart in the world is inside the blue whale.  It weighs more than seven tons. It’s as big as a room. It is a small room, with four chambers.  A child could walk around in it, head high, bending only to step through the valves.  The valves are as big as the swinging doors in a saloon. This house of a heart drives a creature a hundred feet long.”

We know little about the ten thousand blue whales on the planet, but we know the “animals with the largest hearts in the world generally travel in pairs, and their penetrating moaning cries, their piecing yearning tongue, can be heard underwater for miles and miles.”

“No living being is without interior liquid motion. We all churn inside.”

We all churn inside, and now I think of making butter from cream, which leads me to buttercream and chocolate cake.  I have the ingredients, so maybe today is a day for cake. May we all be well and remember what we can do with “our own two hands”.

Hold and cherish with our own two hands!




Good Morning

I wake at 3, rise at 4, meditate with “Little Sweetie”, Bella, our cat.

Last night I began reading a book on the influence of classical Chinese poetry on this country.

I’m struck by this quote by Henry David Thoreau, in Walden, in 1854.

“They say that characters were engraven on the bathing tub of King Tching Thang to this effect: “Renew thyself completely each day; do it again, and again, and forever again.” I can understand that.  Morning brings back the heroic ages. “

I check out King Tching Thang who was born in 1748 and died in 1798.  He was King of Manipur, a state in Northeastern India from 1759-1762 and 1763 to 1798.

I think now of the poem Ozymandias – 

Ozymandias 

BY PERCY BYSSHE SHELLEY

I met a traveller from an antique land,

Who said—“Two vast and trunkless legs of stone

Stand in the desert. . . . Near them, on the sand,

Half sunk a shattered visage lies, whose frown,

And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command,

Tell that its sculptor well those passions read

Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,

The hand that mocked them, and the heart that fed;

And on the pedestal, these words appear:

My name is Ozymandias, King of Kings;

Look on my Works, ye Mighty, and despair!

Nothing beside remains. Round the decay

Of that colossal Wreck, boundless and bare

The lone and level sands stretch far away.

And so I travel to Brian Doyle and his book One Long River of Song which begins:

“Consider the hummingbird for a long moment. A hummingbird’s heart beats ten times a second.  A hummingbird’s heart is the size of a pencil eraser. A hummingbird’s heart is a lot of the hummingbird.  Joyas voladoras, flying jewels, the first white explorers in the Americas called them, and the white men had never seen such creatures, for hummingbirds came into the world only in the Americas, nowhere else in the universe, more than three hundred species of them whirring and zooming and nectaring in hummer time zones nine times removed from ours, their hearts hammerging faster than we could clearly hear if we pressed our elephantine ears to their infinitesimal chests.

Each one visits a thousand flowers a day.  They can dive at sixty miles an hour. They can fly backward. They can fly more than five hundred miles without pausing to rest.”

We humans perhaps do the same with our minds, and now is the time for us to come together and unite to save as many people as we can, as we recognize the global rounding which brings our senses together in shared breath.

I believe this uniting, this renewing cleanse, requires a deeper recognition that the current leadership in the U.S. is corrupt, incompetent, and inept.  

Here’s Heather Cox Richardson reporting on yesterday: 

https://heathercoxrichardson.substack.com

Grounding in Place

It’s April Fool’s Day though today is no joke.  It’s also the beginning of poetry month.

Enchanted with stones and poems, I combine two of my favorite things.

The poem is by Charles Simic.

STONE

Go inside a stone 

That would be my way. 

Let somebody else become a dove 

Or gnash with a tiger’s tooth. 

I am happy to be a stone.

 

From the outside the stone is a riddle: 

No one knows how to answer it. 

Yet within, it must be cool and quiet 

Even though a cow steps on it full weight, 

Even though a child throws it in a river; 

The stone sinks, slow, unperturbed 

To the river bottom 

Where the fishes come to knock on it 

And listen.

 

I have seen sparks fly out 

When two stones are rubbed, 

So perhaps it is not dark inside after all; 

Perhaps there is a moon shining 

From somewhere, as though behind a hill— 

Just enough light to make out 

The strange writings, the star-charts 

On the inner walls. 

River Rocks in our Yard
Lavender outside a sachet, enjoying air and play

Sinking In

Though we’ve been sheltered-in-place, it’s felt a bit like a lark, but now another month, and the reality of our household as independent is clear.  Do we have enough cat food? That’s the big question as they look at us with huge eyes, and say we are here to comfort, and all we ask is a little food, well, sometimes a lot of food.  They go in and out on consumption.

I don’t know what to say but this gives a lift, a gift of laughter and tears.

https://www.kentonline.co.uk/faversham/news/familys-viral-les-mis-lockdown-success-224818/?fbclid=IwAR21St9HocxfruB7xLrfUnqnCbt4OitgJaKvazrnrXSzvBDiNjKWOXUdvsA

And there’s this poem by Martha Postlewaite.

Clearing

Do not try to save

the whole world

or do anything grandiose.

Instead, create

a clearing

in the dense forest

of your life

and wait there

patiently,

until the song

that is your life

falls into your own cupped hands

and you recognize and greet it.

Only then will you know

how to give yourself

to this world

so worth of rescue.

― Martha Postlewaite 

Shelter-in-Place

My son is incredulous.  You spent 18 minutes watching a porcupine at the Cincinnati Zoo?  Yes, I inform him, and though it’s for kids, adults, too, can send in a creative project showing what they learned.

“What did you learn,” he asks, adult now to my child.  “I learned how cute they are, how curious, and how even in a safe environment, they might feel fear and lift their quills.  They can’t shoot their quills, and they need interaction. They love to climb and this little guy had to learn how to use his tail as a fifth leg.  Mainly I saw how much we and porcupines need and love stimulation.”

I point out to my son that he has the joy of being sheltered-in-place with his adorable five and a half month old son.  He is stimulated. I want to learn something new every day too.

Mainly though I’m grateful for the gift of being able to shelter-in-place.  I understand that travel from our country has infected people in other countries. A doctor in India points out that many people there, and here, too, of course, have no ability to socially isolate or sanitize their hands. 

I’m a person of privilege, and I know and appreciate it.  I Face Time with my sons and grandson every day, and yet, even so, or maybe because of it, I enjoy watching the Jellies at the Monterey Bay aquarium, and reading about Orangutans playing with otters at a zoo in Belgium, and seeing a porcupine explore his human-created environment. 

Dwight D. Eisenhower, a five star general who not only served as Supreme Commander of the Allied Expeditionary Force in Europe during WWII, but was also president of the United States from 1953 to 1961 said that: Leadership consists of nothing but taking responsibility for everything that goes wrong and giving your subordinates credit for everything that goes well.

Imagine if we had that kind of leadership now, and yet this requires each of us to wake up and enter into responsibility for our lives and responses.  Our Interdependence is clear, and we thrive on interaction, touch, stimulation, connection, and Love!!

Baby pine cones in my yard
Jasmine Thriving

Stillness

I’ve read many books on coming to slowness.  I came to slowness when I trekked in Nepal, and when I went through chemotherapy and radiation, and when I broke bones in both my feet and couldn’t walk.  Slowness. Stillness.

It’s so still here this morning the wind chimes hang, no sound.  The trees and clouds are so still I feel like I’m living in a matte painting.  A friend says to view this time of sheltering-in-place as being on a retreat.  Yes.

Anne Lamott writes, Peace is joy at rest and joy is peace on its feet.

In this moment, I’m peace listening to the twitter of birds while all seems still.  

The sky this morning

Wind chime hangs still to receive