Yesterday I was by the bay watching the tide go out changing the niches for the birds. Newly exposed mud offered new opportunities to feed. It was like a poem unfolding new places to feed what we already know.
My daughter-in-law’s mother passed away early Friday morning. She and her brother are dealing with the details and I am with how we meet death. How do we rearrange ourselves for this matter to energy exchange, this cloak of the personal opening to the universal?
Ramana Maharshi, was once asked, “How should we treat others?” He replied, “There are no others.”
My first blog was a sharing and exploration of my journey through breast cancer treatment in 2005 and 2006. The book Breast Strokes came from the blog.
My second book was about the relationship between the mother-in-law and daughter-in-law, a complex one for sure, as each of us is complex and when we have two women loving the same man, a man perceived differently by each, understanding and compassion come to the fore.
The third book, and the initial reason for this blog was my journey to Nepal in 1993 when I was 43. I wrote it without the journals I so meticulously kept while there, so I relied on memory, but sometime this year I discovered the journals, carefully wrapped and tucked away. I kept saying I’d go back through them, but then, there was always something “more important” to do but today, New Year’s resolutions connected to hands connected to heart, I step back into the trip.
My New Year’s intention is to post every day, and part of that will be a sharing of what I discover as I go back through journals from 27 years ago. Today, I realized that the theme of the book, Airing Out the Fairy Tale, and my life, and possibly yours, relates to the Zen koan, “Show me your original face before you were born.”
Vicki, Celeste, and I went to Nepal on a spiritual quest. We stayed in Kathmandu at 5000 feet to prepare. We flew into Lukla at 9000 feet, and from there we walked down to acclimate before we continued back up.
Today I’m reading of standing in line in Kathmandu on October 3, 1993, and it’s not really a line, but instead a cacophony of people anxious to get trekking permits. I saw that all those around us were young, and yet I felt young even though I was 43. Not intimated by age, I wrote, “Our spirits are high and so high we will go.”
Now, reflecting, I feel I touched my “original face” in Nepal. I was given the gift of understanding, a visceral immersion, elemental and original. It is said that all souls circle around Mount Everest, Sagarmatha in Sanskrit, and Chomolungma to the Tibetans, when they pass. My mother-in-law passed away when I was there, and now, this beginning of a new year, I honor those who’ve passedeven as I release.
This is the time of year when the veil between the living and the dead, the physical and the non-physical, is thin, though perhaps if we consider within us cells are constantly dividing and dying, this is always true, but it feels so much more clear with the increasing darkness, and here, for me today, rain. The hills return to green.
I’ve lit candles for this day, the honoring of those who’ve passed. I feel them gather in one embrace, gather close as I pause to honor expansion and embrace.
Today I read this short story by Stephen Crane, An Episode of War.
May it be a reminder of turning these darkening days toward compassion, connection, and peace.
It’s Indigenous People’s Day, a time to reflect back on what was taken by force and cruelty. I’d like to add ignorance but perhaps that is too kind.
On Saturday, our family gathered on Coast Miwok land to watch the Blue Angels. The Miwok used to travel across the bay in tule boats. Now, jets scream overhead as birds show how serene flight can be.
Logically I can say that environmentally and financially “Fleet Week” makes no sense, but when I hear the roar and see the flash of blue and yellow so precariously, yet harmoniously flying overhead, I lift on the sight of speed, forgetting the cost.
I’m with the words of Thich Nhat Hanh:
Sometimes your joy is the source of your smile, but sometimes your smile can be the source of your joy.
We’re considering moving to gather family closer together. A friend asks if I could leave Mount Tam.
Maria Popova describes Mount Tam as “the first vertebrae of the mountainous backbone of the Americas that stretches all the way to Tierra del Fuego”.
She celebrates Etel Adman who painted and wrote about Mt. Tam.
Etel Adman: In this unending universe Tamalpais is a miraculous thing, the miracle of matter itself: something we can single out, the pyramid of our own identity. We are, because it is stable and it is ever changing. Our identity is the series of the mountain’s becomings, our peace is its stubborn existence.
Can I leave her, move down the line of vertebrae? When I went to Nepal, I felt Mt. Tam sent me there, sent me to her sister mountains, mountains connected at the root.Where might she send me now?
On Saturday I was with my grandson who is almost two. We played a game where we placed a small block on our head, and then leaned left orright and off it fell and we did it again and again.
Where do I lean now to stretch and gather laughter like an opened cloak?
Etel Adman: “When you realize you are mortal you also realize the tremendousness of the future. You fall in love with a Time you will never perceive.”
I’m reading “We Came, We Saw, We Left: A Family Gap Year” where a family of five travels together for a year. I’m paused now where they are in Stone Town, the capital city of Zanzibar and a World Heritage site. When they visit the small museum, they learn that slavery created this cross-cultural outpost.
“Slaves were captured in the interior of Africa, brought to Zanzibar, and then exported to the rest of the world.”
“At the height of the slave trade, sixty thousand humans were trafficked through Zanzibar every year.”
“The exhibit that packed the most emotional punch was on the lawn outside: a full-scale sculpture of several women with chains around their necks looking up from a pit in the ground.”
I had to stop reading to absorb unimaginable numbers and pain.
I always find this an odd weekend to navigate. It began as a way to commemorate the sacrifices of Civil War soldiers.
On May 30, 1868, at Arlington National Cemetery James A. Garfield said:
“We do not know one promise these men made, one pledge they gave, one word they spoke; but we do know they summed up and perfected, by one supreme act, the highest virtues of men and citizens. For love of country they accepted death, and thus resolved all doubts, and made immortal their patriotism and their virtue.”
After he spoke,5,000 participants helped to decorate the graves of the more than 20,000 Union and Confederate soldiers who are buried there.After World War I, Memorial Day was established as a national holiday to honor all those who’ve died in American wars. It’s a weekend to remember as we move forward to change.