It’s a beautiful fall morning. My father, born in 1921, would have been 100 today. He died in an accident in 1969. He was 47, the age my oldest son is now. Time. Trust. Today I’m with James Wright’s beautiful poem “A Blessing”. There are so many ways to step out of our bodies and into blossom.
Just off the Highway to Rochester, Minnesota
Twilight bounds softly forth on the grass.
And the eyes of those two Indian ponies
Darken with kindness.
They have come gladly out of the willows
To welcome my friend and me.
We step over the barbed wire into the pasture
Where they have been grazing all day, alone.
They ripple tensely, they can hardly contain their happiness
That we have come.
They bow shyly as wet swans. They love each other.
There is no loneliness like theirs.
At home once more,
They begin munching the young tufts of spring in the darkness.
I would like to hold the slenderer one in my arms,
For she has walked over to me
And nuzzled my left hand.
She is black and white,
Her mane falls wild on her forehead,
And the light breeze moves me to caress her long ear
Jonathan Swift said that “No wise man ever wished to be younger”. I take that to mean we keep unfolding the beauty of the years.
Of course, today, we would expand that word “man” to include women and then we’d unfold outside of gender and humans to embrace this whole universe that is expanding and unfolding.
Yesterday it was suggested that I sit with a dish towel and fold and unfold it, and then, put something precious inside, maybe my own heart-felt and full beliefs, and fold and unfold with the deepest reverence and care. I do this in my imagination first, a delight of play.
Then I bring forth a dish towel, one now converted to fall so that harvest colors capture the autumn light. I gather abundance and wrap it up like a gift, and then open it out to share.
Steve and I spent two nights in Liege, Belgium four years ago. It was pure delight as we ate our meals outside in outdoor cafes.
When Steve wanted to find a laundry on a Saturday, he asked a policeman who then led us to the police station where he gathered a crew of police women and men interested in helping us fulfill this task. We all walked around together until we learned it wasn’t meant to be but meanwhile we’d made new friends.
When I look at the photos of the flooding in Liege, I’m shocked. Each moment of our lives, a moment preserved.
I know that climate change is bringing excessive heat to many areas of the country, but here, this morning, very softly, on her cat feed, the fog comes gently rolling in.
More and more I come to understand these words of Alan Watts:
The only Zen you’ll find on mountain tops is the Zen you bring up there with you.
I’m also understanding these words of George Washington Carver as the years unroll in me.
How far you go in life depends on your being tender with the young, compassionate with the aged, sympathetic with the striving, and tolerant of the weak and strong. Because someday in your life you will have been all of these.
Sunday morning, we rose early to a moist wrap of fog and flotilla after flotilla of pelicans flying by our deck by the bay. We counted fifty pelicans in some of the groups, and there were also individuals, couples, and smaller gatherings of flight.
We didn’t know if it was a wider circle than we saw coming from the sunrise and heading west so we were seeing the same ones more than once, or whether each one was unique to us, but I was reminded of Rachel Carson’s book Silent Spring where she pointed out that DDT was destroying our wildlife. Rachel’s book saved the pelicans, osprey, and other creatures and birds, and now we watched groups of as many as fifty birds swoop by, some high and some low just skimming the water. It was as exhilarating as a fireworks display, and quieter though we did hear the swoosh of wings.
One seal bobbed in front of our deck, also entranced.
It’s a different rhythm in Sausalito than West Marin and yet again there’s the rhythm, motion, and comfort of the waves and changing tides. We took this week to reflect back on over fifty years of knowing each other and what that means. We honored how we each contain both young and old. As Steve’s doctor reminds him, we’re not in the “young sapling stage of life”, and yet, there is a resilience, a reception as of the waves reaching and changing the shore.
It’s been a beautiful week as the planet shifts now in its reception of light. I feel refreshed and invigorated, calm and motivated, both young and old, as my individual wave connects with other waves and this whole planet we share.
A friend proposes we give ourselves time with photos and texts of and about Black people, note what comes up and how we feel. How do we embody the experience of another? How do we cultivate presence in ourselves while we take in and empathize with the experience of another? How do we reap kindness and root?
The fog is in this Monday morning where I live, and I’m grateful for the wrap as I give my heart space to open and feel a little more of the gift of each breath and the gratitude that nourishes each life as we pause to open and receive. I believe I need to give myself time for reception and absorption, and so I do.
These are complex times as we navigate opening to lives other than our own. May we be kind.
And then I stopped taking photos, and seeped in simplicity absorbing what’s written and taking place in and on my inner and outer walls. Gratitude and grace – two pillars anchoring unity and diversity in ourselves as shown in rocks.
Today I learned from Writer’s Almanac that it’s World Turtle Day and we’re meant to dress either in green or as a turtle. I’m in blue today so I am choosing to be the water that supports turtles and life. Watching the ocean this week allowed me to feel even more fully how we are the ocean and the wave, and how each wave is precious especially as it curves and curls to bow and meet the ground.
Thich Nhat Hanh: Thanks to impermanence, everything is possible. If a grain of corn is not impermanent, it can never be transformed into a stalk of corn. If the stalk were not impermanent, it could never provide us with the ear of corn we eat.
I wake and stay in bed listening to a symphony of bird song, twitterings and tweets, caws, and turkey gobbling that percolates through all my cells. It’s morning in May and we celebrate the mothering that connects us all.
This quote from an unknown source comes my way today.
“If at first you don’t succeed, try doing it the way mom told you to in the beginning.”
Perhaps there’s a way to balance that, or perhaps not, but today I remember all the women in my life, related and not, who’ve enriched, guided, brightened, opened, and paved my way. I’m grateful for celebration and honoring, a day to be with the birthing that continues to transform and unfold.
Yesterday I emailed a friend and the email returned with what augments all her emails.
I offer it here.
Five Vows From Joanna Macy and the Work that Reconnects:
I vow to myself and to each of you:
To commit myself daily to the healing of our world and the welfare of all beings.
To live on Earth more lightly and less violently in the food, products, and energy I consume.
To draw strength and guidance from the living Earth, the ancestors, the future generations, and my brothers and sisters of all species.
To support others in our work for the world and ask for help when I need it.
To pursue a daily practice that clarifies my mind, strengthens my heart, and supports me in observing these vows.”
I sink into the truths of this mothered by the roots, branches, leaves, and fruits of trees.
There’s so much going on these days and so many places to put our attention that sometimes I pause and sit in the middle, center myself in quiet and all that’s swirling and whirling in and around me. There’s nothing to do or even be.
I receive these words of Jane Hirshfield:
We cannot let our ideas blind us to our unknowing.