On Saturday I was with my three year old grandson and the falling leaves from a Japanese Maple tree. We stood under the tree as though it was snowing beautiful red leaves upon us, and then he lay down in the leaves and made a Leaf Angel.
As more leaves fell, I raked them into a huge pile and wrapped them all around him so just his head was out in the air. The leaves became his racecar and then it was as though he entered a peaceful place, a study in bliss, as did I.
Each of us is being sprinkled right now in the memories of this closing year as we integrate and transform, as we are integrated and transformed with what is present and past.
I’ve been enjoying time with my three year old grandchild. Seeing through his eyes and imagination is stimulation, gratitude, and blessing.
As the political scene deepens, I’m with these words of Nelson Mandela.
It is never my custom to use words lightly. If twenty-seven years in prison have done anything to us, it was to use the silence of solitude to make us understand how precious words are and how real speech is in its impact on the way people live and die.
We’ve lived here on a non county maintained road for 45 years. When we moved in, many of our neighbors had built their homes here at the end of World War II, and were the age of our parents. The land was sacred; the Coast Miwok had lived and thrived here, and now people who knew war and left it behind, came here to raise their children in the serenity of nature, connection, and peace.
Now, those people have passed on but in some cases, their children, now my age, retain their childhood home. Last night the neighborhood block party was continued by a son and his wife, and yet the spirits of the parents were there in the generosity of hosting. The set-up was the same, the food, and many of the people, though now older. Where before there were children running around, including ours, now there were only two, though the neighborhood is changing and there are children around.
This seemed a gathering of the elderly though our spirits are young. Maturing gives wisdom and the focus of much of the conversation was on gratitude, gratitude for life and health, for what continues whether we are physically here or not.
One woman spoke of how she and her sister cared for their mother in her home until her death. She didn’t want Hospice so they administered morphine which was frightening because if they spilled it, their mother would be in pain. Her mother requested they wash and prepare her body. The woman said how hard it was and yet she was grateful too.
I haven’t had that experience, and wouldn’t choose to have my children wash my body but I respect the reverence in it, the way of saying goodbye to what the spirit no longer needs and leaves behind.
Several people talked about their chickens. I didn’t know that hens lay eggs in accordance with the light, and for only 18 months to two years. In the spring, more roosters hatch than hens, and that reverses in the fall. There must be a reason for that though I don’t know it.If you want eggs, you want more hens than roosters, though I learned roosters also fill the soup pot. The chicken we buy in the store is young, eight weeks or so, to keep it tender.
We spoke of how we love living here. For many their children live far away now and so the parents “think” they should move, but the land holds us here.Our roots twine with the hills and critters, and oak, redwood, and bay trees.
We walked home, each carrying a goodie bag, put together by the hosts. It was all so sweet, and I felt then and I feel now, I’ve been to, and still am, in the reverence of gathering we call church, temple, tepee, tent, flower, tree, mosque.
The fog is in, which may affect today’s flight of the Blue Angels. Tomorrow is Indigenous People’s Day. We honor the past with presence and awareness of integrating change.
Mingyur Rinpoche: Compassion is the spontaneous wisdom of the heart.
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.
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.
I’m reading a friend’s book, Sara Bragin’s The Living in Her Dying. It’s about the time she spent with her mother as her mother was transitioning. It shows how much we need an advocate at such a time, and the learning that occurs when we show up to be with the loss of the womb in which we came.
The end of life process is with me these days as I feel the approach of a change over which I may not have control.
Last night I had one of those experiences that takes one out of their body and into awareness of so much more. My cat Tiger is getting older, and needing body warmth, comfort, and support sleeps snuggled in with us at night. When I got into bed last night, he came over with a look that lit the room, that was more than his huge eyes. I felt the gift of this livingness, this gift of being in a body for a time.
I was reminded of Thomas Merton’s words about being on a street corner, and …
“In Louisville, at the corner of Fourth and Walnut, in the center of the shopping district, I was suddenly overwhelmed with the realization that I loved all these people, that they were mine and I theirs, that we could not be alien to one another even though we were total strangers. It was like waking from a dream of separateness, of spurious self-isolation in a special world. . . .
This sense of liberation from an illusory difference was such a relief and such a joy to me that I almost laughed out loud. . . . I have the immense joy of being man, a member of a race in which God Himself became incarnate. As if the sorrows and stupidities of the human condition could overwhelm me, now that I realize what we all are. And if only everybody could realize this! But it cannot be explained. There is no way of telling people that they are all walking around shining like the sun.
Then it was as if I suddenly saw the secret beauty of their hearts, the depths of their hearts where neither sin nor desire nor self-knowledge can reach, the core of their reality, the person that each one is in God’s eyes. If only they could all see themselves as they really are. If only we could see each other that way all the time. There would be no more war, no more hatred, no more cruelty, no more greed. . . . But this cannot be seen, only believed and ‘understood’ by a peculiar gift.”
He uses the word God. I might use the word Spirit or Light or Grace but the feeling and knowing, believing and honoring – that is the gift.
What’s happening in Ukraine is with us all. We are united in this. We feel the attacks; we share the fear and yet Tiger gave me such an invitation with his eyes, and way of being. I wake as light, flowing light, light that is both particle and wave as am I.
Ebi and Ginger, two rescue greyhounds, were with us on our trip to Palm Springs. There’s nothing like being greeted as though you are the most amazing person in the world even if it’s just that morning comes and you’re there.
On our return, our cat needed to go to the Cat Spa. He’s older now and his fur mats in a way we can’t comb through so I sat and talked with a lovely woman as Tiger was outwardly pampered though he didn’t seem to recognize it, but then, he calmed and now he’s happy to be home and freshly groomed.
My son attended a funeral on Thursday. It was done in the traditional Chinese way. He appreciated the ceremony, the ritual, and suggested he might want some of that when I go. I’ve said I want simplicity, a scattering of ashes in nature, no ceremony at all. He pointed out that I won’t be here, which is true, so this morning I’m with how to satisfy us both which even as I type this sounds ridiculous and I laugh both inside and out. I’m tickled by this odd need to control even when I’m entering and merging with other streams.
We’re home, after a journey on back roads down, across, and up a huge swath of CA, a state so beautiful, vast, and varied that enchantment expands.The complexity of the landscape helps to explain the variety of perspectives, opinions, and conclusions in this exquisite and complex state.
We return to flowering plum trees, singing birds, buzzing bees, and continuing sunshine.
This morning I was outside with the stars. I rose on starlight.
I’m reading The Empire of Pain: The Secret History of the Sackler Dynasty by Patrick Radden Keefe. It was a book group choice and I was hesitant, but wow. Thumbs and toes way up. I can’t stop. It’s a drama that will keep you entranced as you see how power, money, and lies manipulate and corrupt. It looks at the Sackler family and their founding of Purdue Pharma and the lies they tell as they hire lawyers to cover up what they do.
This is a taste of how they buy politicians.
“Shortly after Rudolph Giulani stepped down from his position as mayor of New York City, he went into business as a consultant, and one of his first two clients was Purdue. When he entered the private sector, Giuliani was looking to make a lot of money quickly. In 2001, he had a net worth of $1 million; five years later, he would report $17 million in income and some $50 million in assets. For Purdue, which was working hard to frame OxyContin abuse as a law enforcement problem, rather than an issue which might implicate the drug itself or the way it was marketed, the former prosecutor who had led New York City after the 9/11 attacks would make an ideal fixer. In Michael Friedman’s view, Giuliani was “uniquely qualified” to help the company.”
And help he did.
Because I often feel our government could move a little more quickly to address obvious wrongs I’m with these words of Auguste Rodin:
Patience is also a form of action.
I’m also with today’s report from Robert Hubbell:
Biden created more jobs in his first year in office than any other president did during their first year.
Biden created more jobs in his first year in office than Trump created in 4 years—because the economy lost 2.9 million jobs during Trump’s tenure.
Biden created more jobs in his first year in office than Trump created his first three years in office (before the pandemic recession).