Navigating the Sacred and Mundane

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Sensation of Seeing

I finally found time for myself........sunrise. Perfect. I've been walking off the weight of things, stepping out of the need to reduce my life to manageable patterns. Looking instead to the intelligent patterns all around.
The love I have for this decade, this place, these people........I came here to go to hell and back, this time for healing. Who is it that will hold your head all night while you learn to breathe anew? Who takes you deep into the woods and keeps watch while you come utterly undone, then sings Amazing Grace over you for hours as you find the faith to reemerge? Who do you find beside you at the meditation retreat when the lights come up, full of that god-look glance that speaks to all the years of friendship?
I never wanted to live in California. But that's what life does - we ask for teachings, are lifted from our lives and delivered. I left a marriage one day in Portland, eleven years ago, and the next day my father died while I packed up. That night I dreamt an old medicine woman placed a feather over my heart, explaining why she had to seer it into my skin. In the morning I drove away in the rain to California.
My deepest gratitude with the gold light of morning. It's been a hell of a ride. A thousand thanks all around. It's not about becoming anything anymore - that's been worked out. Not that I have any clearer understanding of how to name what it is I do in the world. It just doesn't matter what I call it or what it sounds like to others. Weary and weathered and wrinkled, sore joints along the road now, and I'm really content with the release of all the stereotypes.

Perhaps this is the first move since I began all the movement where I am not going after something, going to be someone, after some attainment of knowledge or experience. Folding laundry for the trip, gathering sippy cups and a cache of tiny farm animals, I close out another chapter and turn slowly toward the north. One question guides my path: How may I be in service?
The Pacific Northwest is calling my name. With arms outstretched, listening carefully, I pull out the map for the journey.

Friday, June 22, 2007


I’m watching a tree dance wildly in the wind – lone tree out the center of this upstairs window, hovering over the ocean. Green variant waves, topaz on down to teal, and then it all merges with a white cap chorus. Off in the distance, a tower in San Francisco, but I look in the other direction where nothing but wind and moving water meet the horizon.

It’s been a week since we arrived at the beach house in Bolinas. Just now I begin to exhale, maybe because I’m writing again….maybe because it takes that long to let go.

Every morning before sun up I tip toe downstairs and ring my oldest friend (who happens to live next door), she picks up and whispers, “Hi, you ready?” I whisper back, “Yep, meet you in a minute.” And we go, we walk out, walk away, leave everyone behind in bed. Freedom.

With the sun, we bring ourselves to a conversation that has been revolving for almost twenty-five years. This topic and that, as we pass by the elder line of Eucalyptus trees. Two and a half miles along a lush ridge and we descend into town, which is really a small village, to grab a latte at the single coffee stand. Several people stop and ask, "Are you sisters?" We pause, smile, and search for a way to just say yes. Then down the road to the beach, we sit on a bench that opens to a wide lagoon. Golden light on every surface now and we stop to embrace the moment and this togetherness that is a bit heart breaking…….sad that we haven’t taken the time to connect as we should in these past few years. Now, so clearly aware of the inseparable quality of our lives, we face our parting.

It was twenty years ago that she threw her arms up at me in Boulder and screamed, “You can’t just leave! You can’t just pack up and go like this!” I remember staring back, that look in her eyes….what could I say?

I did leave. Again and again and again.

Somehow our lives have entwined around all the movement, across years, into different states and regions. And now, briefly, preciously, for two weeks, we are side by side. We always vowed to raise our kids together. River plays with her daughter Anwyn next door as I write.

In this one relationship, I see a reflection of two little girls, two young women, devotees, partners, mothers. Last night she leans over my essential oil bottle at our dinner table and squints. I break into a howl, "You need reading glasses!" Sheepishly, she laughs and I laugh even harder, "Me, too."

Returning home after dinner we sit in the jeep. We want to see our children but we want to feel eternity in the air, the way this marriage of sisterhood moves our bodies through time and space, to savor the sweet sensation of looking back at the brush strokes.

Little arms around our necks, limbs dangling from our hips, over whines and cries, we exchange a parting glance. Love and understanding, and a nod for the road.

Monday, June 04, 2007

Down the River

It's been awhile and now I'm in the middle of the river. Unlike any place I know, when I'm driving the streets that are so familiar, praising the gateway of trees, blocking out all the cars and houses along the way - I am in the boat now, on the river.

Aside from taking stock and inventory of every item I own, wrapping it all in shrouds of paper, putting it in the ground, box after box after box, stacked along walls and walls and walls, I nod to all my friends this morning as I make my way through the neighborhood - the hillside, the row of three stately protector trees, the rise in the pavement, lifting me every time to imagine how it must have looked one hundred years ago. Maybe I'm mistaken, but I thought they waved as I passed.

And then, parking across from Peet's I watch the mist rise over the north hills as a haunting and beautiful Sanskrit chant unfurls from the speakers in the car. Good bye is not a moment. Not this time. For all the years I took off at midnight to avoid confrontation with the love of friendship - the deep, abiding, pull your heart apart love of friendship - now I understand and am trying to honor my tribe as primal and not free, not broken, not transient. I think to myself that I must have walked this land before with just these people around me - what else would cause a pain of separation like this?

I walk across the street and head for the homeless guy that I have hated. Hated to know. Hated to care about. Hated to hear him ask for money every single day. Hated to give him the decency to tell me his daily joke. Hated that he calls me angel and sweetheart and darlin. I say to him, "Franklin, I'm leaving. I'm going away. And I'm really going to miss you. And I want to know that you'll be ok." He opens his arms wide and I fall into them and we hold that embrace and I think - who are we that we care for each other this much? He says, "Angel, you take care, hear me? God bless you." This man, I imagine as a boy down south, as I wait for my latte inside. He once told me that his name comes from his grandfather, whose name came from his father, all decendant slaves of Ben Franklin, who never having had children, named all his slaves Franklin.

Om Namah Shivaya Gurave
Niralambaya Tejase
Om Namah Shivaya Gurave

Sacchinananda Murtaye.....

I sing and whisper and silently turn this chant around the emptying rooms, in and around the recesses of my mind, ladel it over the top of my heart - bathing. Lift my voice like warm rose water, pour a wave of reassurance over the heart, down the body, tucked around cold limbs in bed at night. And it's getting me down the river. Into the current. Let go. Let be. Let go. Remember to breathe.

Some phone calls I cannot answer. An old lover, the thought of whom just makes me ache - so I imagine calling, walking through his tea shop, meeting his gaze, and offering my gratitude. That's all I can do for now. I don't stop loving, nor do I want to stop. I just let it ripen.

In the mix I can't track my direction, just the sensation of movement in many directions at once. There is departure and arrival, though I haven't set foot in the moving truck yet. There is the understanding of change and then, mysteriously, the emergence of what never changes.

Yesterday I sat again with the scholar of Indian philosophy. Hours into discourse, I write on my note pad that if I were to lie down on the grass and my skin fell away, if all my blood watered the soil, and my bones sank into silt far below the suface - and I could listen to these ancient teachings - my soul would send forth tendrils and shoots of flowers, beautifully content in their expression, happy to exist simply for the listening.

I fell asleep. For the last number of years. Is it marriage and motherhood? Not sure. But I am waking up. For all the tremendous lack of sleep, I am waking up. In the middle of the river.

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