Pure Gold

When my children were young and at home, I savored cooking, made homemade soups, and baked bread and desserts.  Then, we realized two people cannot realistically consume what a family of four might, especially when it’s been more, when you include extra children and friends, so with the current proliferation of prepared foods, cooking has become minimal. 

Now, as we shelter in place, cooking is again an appreciated and celebrated  gift. We discuss our meals with intensity. I cook in quantity, and freeze, something I’d stopped doing when our power was out for five days in the fall, and we lost everything in our freezer and refrigerator. 

Now our lives swing around food, and when this is over, we may need to swing from very strong trees so they don’t break.  

Like toilet paper, food right now, is gold.  Today I made broth for soup, cooking chicken, carrots, celery, onion, ginger, and lemons for hours.  After straining, I froze some of the golden elixir and some will become soup. The chicken awaits.

This care and presence reminds me of water rationing.  Where I live, we are dependent on our reservoirs, so when it doesn’t rain water is rationed. Buckets are placed in the shower. The water is used to flush the toilet. Nothing is wasted, and again there’s a gift in noticing and honoring what flows through our pipes.  

Recently we watched the movie A Hidden Life.  The movie is beautiful and intense so we watched it in two nights. It shows the beauty, work, and wonder of being a farmer,  of procuring food, milking cows, gathering eggs, growing cabbages and wheat. It also shows what a family endures for their values, ethics,  and deep inner knowing of truth. Where does each of us stand? How much can we endure? Do we give way, or not?

The movie moves through me as does my life right now.  I am a colander, strainer, sieve. The only way I can handle what keeps coming is to allow movement through.  I stand, like a sprinkler, in flow and release.  

Spring Showers

It’s raining softly, the sweetest of sounds, and Bella is snoring softly next to me, also, the sweetest of sounds. I’m with all we share as this crisis brings us together.

If we have access to the internet and phones, we’re gathering even closer together with family and friends, and yet, in contrast, if we get the virus, we may pass away in isolation. 

We’re like the rain coming down, seemingly a collection, but really a composite of drops that enter the soil to be carried through earthworms, birds, flowers, and trees.

We are the river and the drop.

Moisture

We connect in moisture; we come from the sea.

I’m noticing that with Senna Dog’s passing and the shared connective tissue of love and grief, my eyes and heart are wet and moist much of the time.  I just Face Timed with my son and five month old grandson. We don’t let my grandson see me but he hears and responds to my voice. Tears of love and joy pour down my face, as I feel us connected in this sea of Love we all share.

May we work now for the benefit of All, with deep gratitude to those who are keeping the world functioning amidst a pandemic not seen in my lifetime.  We share a sea of air and we share in this passage with each breath.

May this day bring ease!

The Weight of Grief

Senna Dog passed at 10:30 last night.  I felt his passing, felt him come to calm and release.  His sweet, gentle spirit carried me with him into the light.

Facetime allowed me to see the body he left behind.  He passed in his home with his human parents right there.  He only suffered a short time.  

Now this morning, I feel the weight of grief, the weight of loss.  I woke from a dream where a child and I were underwater struggling not to drown.  I was trying to save her, but then there was a release and she floated gently down as I floated up.

I feel like all the cliches, like I’ve been hit by a truck and am lying under a pile of bricks.

Slowly I go, and once again, I round myself, circle around the fire I am, and the circles we are, and console on the words of John Squadra:

When you love, you complete a circle. When you die, the circle remains. 

Senna loved.  He loved with every fiber of his being, and when he saw me or others, he bounced and danced which is no small thing when you have long, slender greyhound legs.  He reminded me of my Grandmother who laughed with her whole being, like a child. Though she’d been through the loss of her husband during the depression leaving her with three young children, and though her son went off to pilot a B-17 in WWII, and shot down, was imprisoned in a POW camp so she didn’t know if he was dead or alive, she still kept her ability to laugh with her whole being.

Grief carves us out like a tree made into a canoe, so we can hold more joy, and rather than rooted, float downstream, making our way to the sea.

Right now love circles in my heart, a beacon, heavy with light and the weight of grief.

Love

Yesterday morning I woke thinking that all that matters is Love.  My mother, who was raised Christian Science, would always say, “All is Love,” and yesterday morning that awakening embodiment filled me and my realm.  I understood.

One of the elements that sent me on a trek to the Everest region of Nepal in 1993 was the following quote by Albert Einstein. I had been so focused on family, love of my family, my particular family, that the wider circle of compassion felt illusive, and yet as my children were growing up, and leaving home, I wanted to feel a wider connectiveness, a love less held and focused on a few.  I touched this place in Nepal, but then, as we know, we go in and out. We are both human and divine, and the life force guides us to both at the same time.

Albert Einstein:

“A human being is a part of the whole called by us universe, a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feeling as something separated from the rest, a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty.”

Last night, just as we were preparing for our 8:00 neighborhood evening howl, my son called with the latest news on the health of their beloved dog Senna.  Senna is a rescue greyhound, and when, despite his racing lineage traced generations back, he not only lost, but came in last in every race he was in, he was dismissed, banished from the track. I thought how smart he was, losing to win. He’s a lover, not a racer.

At one time, that banishment meant death, but amazing people have found their life purpose in rescuing greyhounds and he traveled from Florida to Colorado for neutering, and then came to the Bay area with other greyhounds to be matched with the family just right for that particular dog.  That was Jeff and Jan.

At the racetrack he had never been alone, never been touched, never been out of his crate, other than to be walked and trained to race on the track. He was incredibly thin, all bones visible. What a gift and opportunity to be with and guide a fellow creature to immerse in a wider world of the senses, especially touch.

He couldn’t be left alone at first, so when they went to work, I would go down to their home to be with Senna.  It was a gift, pure delight.

We bonded as together we explored a wider world than he knew. I touched and hugged him, taught him about glass doors, and showed him how to go up and down stairs. We learned together as I followed his pace and we both saw the world “new”.

A visiting dog taught Senna about toys and play. Watching the dog, Senna ventured in and began to pick up and swing a toy. Who knew we need to be taught to play.

He loves stuffed hedgehogs, and has a basket full, and they’re scattered all around the house. At night he carries the favorite one up to his upstairs bed. I love this dog with his long nose and legs, and when I visit, he lays his head on my lap, and we are one.

Now, Senna, named after Aryton Senna, a winning Formula 1 race car driver, is not well.  We’re awaiting the results of his tests but he is old for a greyhound and is clearly very sick.

I sit here now, filled with the wholeness of love for us all, and the beauty and weight of love for certain ones, which in this moment centers on this wonderful spirit who entered our lives through the love and rescuing care and work of many.

I am attached to his form, the spirit animating this form. I can say life and death are one, and I’ve worked and studied very hard to know enough and release, but when it comes to something like this, I want more. I want more Senna.

And here I am, sheltered in place, not feeling like an “artist-in-residence”, but only a very sad human, filled with the weight of grief.

Though I see my sons and grandson daily on a screen as we dutifully and carefully shelter in place, I want to physically be with Senna and family, and I can’t be.

Senna’s human mother is a doctor in Santa Clara, a dangerous place to be these days, so we are especially careful about exposure and sheltering in place, and tears keep coming.

Knowing tears are liquid love. I melt today, a simple task, a melting trust in the bonding and healing power and the energy and strength of Love.

Change

The weather the last few days has alternated sun and soft rain, making a garden for rainbows.

I finally succumbed and went to our local grocery store.  The parking lot was nearly empty. I learned that only 40 people were allowed in the reasonably large store at one time.  I was happy to wait my turn. The store was fully, well not completely, but certainly plentifully and abundantly stocked with milk, eggs, bread, meat, veggies, fruits, and grains.  

Everyone was careful to avoid each other.  We entered at one door and left at another.  It was all so sweet, careful, and strange that I checked out with tears in my eyes.  I pause to integrate what feels impossible to understand.

Carl Jung wrote that “One does not become enlightened by imagining figures of light but by making the darkness conscious.”  

Is that what we’re doing?  May it be so!

Buddha Frog

Gathering Creatives

When I told my son we’re howling in our neighborhood each evening at 8:00, he told me in their neighborhood everyone is asked to put a bear in a window that can be seen from the street. There are sidewalks where he lives and streetlights, so it’s easy to walk along and hunt for bears.

The idea comes from a book called “We’re Going on a Bear Hunt” by Helen Oxenberry and Michael Rosen. Children go around the neighborhood and “hunt” for bears. They’re with their adults of course. Have fun with this! Adults can hunt for bears too.

What’s next? Unicorns in the Garden, perhaps.

Bear Grooming Time

Oaksie in the garden waiting for his horn

Howl

Last night word in the “hood” was out.  At 8:00, go outside and howl, and people did, and it was lovely, lively, fun, and inspiring. We couldn’t see anyone. It was dark, but we’re not alone, and we live in community, and we love to howl.

Let your voice be heard in all its curves, high and low and in the cracks and through the seams. Howl! Be the wolf and the coyote. Get together, though not too close, and howl!

My husband and I are beginning to get on each other’s nerves.  Three meals together every day is lovely at first, and for a long time, but yesterday I found myself reading an article on how the astronauts on the space station deal with enclosure and isolation. They’re chosen for it and trained. They have tools, ways to release, though no one mentioned howling. I’m wondering if gravity affects the howl. It must join in as a companion when we howl on earth, I’m not sure how it reverberates in a container in space. Instead, writing poetry came up as a way to go within and release when confined.

My sage advice for today is write a poem and Howl.  Think of Allen Ginsberg and his poem “Howl”, and let go.  He had to grow and develop the breath to write and read those long lines. Do the same. Play with the length and strength of your breath. Be the Howl because it appears social isolation is here for awhile, and when, it’s over, imagine how much we’ll love to Hug, and place our voices together and dance knowing we’re in this together. We are one Tribe!

https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems/49303/howl

Reflecting

It’s raining and graphs show that “shelter in place” is working.  Inspired, I’m giving myself a new practice.  I pause, sit, ground, settle, and consider what three words describe my current state.  What comes in this moment is:

Inhabit, Lift, and Reflect.

You might pause and settle, too.

Wait.

Allow three words to come.  

What comes?

My plan is to pause periodically and allow three words to come softly, or with banners waving how currently I am. 

In that, I find peace.  

Thomas Merton said, “Peace is not something you must hope for in the future. Rather, it is a deepening of the present, and unless you look for it in the present you will never find it.”

And here is John O’Donohue:

 

I would love to live 

Like a river flows,

Carried by the surprise

Of its own unfolding. 

Me, too!

Bud Hugs

Community

I read Heather Cox Richardson each day as she gives a summary of the political events. She ends her column from yesterday with this:

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, and a voice of calm reason in this crisis, is not on board with Trump’s increasing flirtation with the idea that the country can abandon its isolation policies after fifteen days. Fauci was not at today’s press briefing, and while Trump brushed off his absence, there were signs today that he might be on his way out of his prominent role in combatting the coronavirus. Fauci has advised every president since Ronald Reagan and brings much credibility to Trump’s team, but he has corrected the president repeatedly in public, and his insistence that the coronavirus is more dangerous than Trump says is increasingly unwelcome.

In all my reading today, one thing jumped out. In an interview, Dr. Fauci pointed out that every president he has served, starting in 1984 with Ronald Reagan, has had to deal with epidemic disease: Zika, AIDS, SARS, Ebola, H1N1, MERS. Some have handled their crises better than others, but after Reagan botched the AIDS crisis, they have always prioritized public health so effectively that most of us have had the luxury of forgetting that we live under these grave threats.

No longer.

Margaret Mead, a cultural anthropologist said we know when civilization developed when we come across a broken femur that’s healed. It shows people took care of the members of their tribe, did not leave them behind even when they might have been perceived as a burden.

Right now, I’m inundated with beautiful and healing meditations. Communities are coming together for the health of us all, because as civilized individuals, we must stand together, and yes, “shelter in place” as “artists-in-residence,” knowing we’re in this together, with support for all.

I thought I’d shared this wonderful poem by Kristen Flyntz but I looked back through and I hadn’t. The virus has something to say. Sheltered in place for the good of all, we stop and listen. The video is no longer available but there is a discussion and the words here:

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/bear-in-mind/202003/message-the-virus-or-our-ancestors