Navigating the Sacred and Mundane

Monday, July 30, 2007


9:24p.m. Red blare, light turning light into numbers, spilling slower than anything else inside me tonight. In the other direction, teal bleeds to blue above waving limbs of leaves out the far window. Closer to me, oranges burn to red, fireball sun horizontal all the way. Straight ahead looks like a sheer wedding dress backlit, but it's really a sheathe of thin plastic across the bathroom door. Behind that light, demolition. Raw wood, open ribs.

The most humble place I know is this spot right here, right now. I'm all cried out.

There's a scene from The Horse Whisperer where Robert Redford waits in a field for a spooked horse to come to him, to yield, surrender, trust. He waits for many hours on one knee, yielding himself to the wounded dignity of his animal companion. Finally, the horse turns around and gently saunters toward him. When they meet the love is in the mutual understanding, the union of tenderness and fierceness, a shared alliance to the wildness of living. I love that moment. I love the act of that kind of waiting for what shows up on the other side of fear.

I used to rent the movie just to watch that exchange, longing for someone to meet me in just that way. Tonight I realize that I am hardly willing to hold that space for myself.

Two days ago Steve calls me while I'm on the highway to say that we need to move. I want to argue. I want to fight. But I know better. And it doesn't matter why right now. What matters is that in hearing the long list of things to do - tile, paint, fixtures, etc. I felt a wave of my own hidden life rise through my body and shake loose. Excusing myself from the table, I walk up to River's room, crawl onto her tiny bed and open to the internal river, rapid and held at bay for too long. In that rain, with blurry vision, I see that there is nothing on her walls. Half unpacked boxes sit on her dresser. Toys here and there. That brought the flood. I haven't had the ground enough to fully land, or to make the right base camp for the heart of my heart, my sweet girl.

There were gentle knocks on the door but I had locked it and I couldn't open it. All I could do was straighten her room, fold small blankets, smooth the hair on baby dolls and place them upright. Make her bed and put all the books in order. Cry and clean. Clear the space that I have in front of me and, at the same time, give it up.

Who needs a huge house with a stunning view? I guess not me. But I will unpack enough to make it beautiful for the next family. Paint swatches and stain and all the ins and outs of faucet hardware.......for what?

In one of my favorite books, Shaman of Tibet, the master tells the student to build a house, one rock at a time. Once completed, the master tells the student to take it down, one rock at a time. The agony of attachment....it takes practice to willingly loosen the grip on what we think we deserve, or what we have worked hard to acquire.

It's crazy how fast things can change. I feel so tossed about. But somehow, in the absurdity and the perfection of it all, the essential nature of things rises closer to the surface.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Mothering the Storm

Two mamas up and down the stairs. Whispers, songs, stories, sighs. One rubs a back, the other sways with a folk melody on the deck downstairs. They pass in shadows of light while the wine bottle rests in waiting on the kitchen counter. Hit or miss tonight, but we chance it anyway. Because for the thought of the hour when the little ones finally surrender, we image a shared silence with glances to each other in the din of low lamps, overlooking city lights across the west valley. Laptops and late night, how can we resist!

I'm in my pajamas -it's my house. Holly is still in jeans, her baby falls into sleep, up a flight just fine, then cries spread through the upper floor. Again. Half-way up the steps, I prepare for my turn. No cries just yet, but I hear feet banging the mattress. I did that all through childhood.

10:54pm and we think they're down. We think. So we toast to that. Toast to being super-present to enjoy every moment that the plan is working. One plate on the small ivory-inlaid table between us, two giant chocolate chip cookies. And red wine. Perfect.

An hour of conversation, wrapped in a soft fleece blanket, everything unpeels.

Another hour and we're heading toward the horizon of insight. Seeing into and behind the facade of our hiding - the ways we refuse to flower when the flowering is a given.

I'm thinking about those boxes and wanting to open them now. I need to see Thoreau's Walden and the ink of Audre Lorde's poems. All the scraps of paper with amazing lines scribbled through the years - I want to hold them in the palm of my hand. Sequins and gold thread, pink and orange dyes, hand block prints leaking into embroidered patterns - I want to unfold the hangings that remind me of the travels - how the contours of texture take me back to real landscapes of emotion.

Holly's following my thread of words until we conclude that I will rent office space and start my practice again, alternate between client days and writing days. What a good idea!

This is the gift of friendship. When the map is unclear, someone points and says, "Look, you're not lost, you're right here...."

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Cloud Cover

I turn around to look at the view, cloud cover then waves of green below. My new home. Nothing feels like home, nothing looks like home. This is the constant in all the change. I left a marriage the last time I lived here. Now I contemplate the same as I arrive. Makes it difficult to unpack. It's that uncomfortable. The whole thing is a tired, painful exercise.

Too tired......too blue.....too confused to write.

I should try to unpack it all in the writing. How I control and organize everything into the shape of a family and a life. And then I hate it because it's all......manufactured. Any intelligent person would drop the disappointment after the thousandth revolution of that wheel. Not me. It's the easiest, fastest sadness, more visceral that anything else.

If I was not attached to the desire 'to be met' by the man in my life, my marriage would be fine. It's good enough. Good man, good daily life. But it's a direct line, direct shot, to a much deeper wound, and that's the complication.....and the perfection. Truly, my chance at liberation exists right here, right now. I know it.....and yet....it gets worse because I watch myself fall so simply into despair. The condition of the environment - it gets to me every time.

And that's about me. In the scenario, this is always the conclusion. No matter what, the pain I choose to experience is mine and about me. Sometimes the insight is enough to generate a fire in my belly. I find my groove and feel better. I find myself again. Sometimes, the same awareness tips me into depression. The quiet, slowly isolating kind, where I forget my name and I forget how to find my way home. I lose my vision.

All the necessities are unpacked. In one small room upstairs three tall boxes remain taped shut: 1. Sacred Items, Fabrics, Icons 2. Prema's Writing Books 3. Spiritual books, Silks, Journals. I sit on the twin bed in the dark, tracing the shape of Tara's green gorgeousness, as she extends to the edge of the carved teak frame. So far, this is my favorite room.

River naps on the couch in the living room, arms outstretched, angel wings. She traverses the days by stating, "Mama, I a big girl!" when she wants to achieve a sense of independence. When the attempt falls short she hangs her head and comes to me. "Mama, I not a big girl...."

Isn't it so sweet and so heartbreaking.......all the becoming.

Two of my favorite plants sit in the garage, half dead. Grand and thriving at the other house, they didn't fare well in the move. The smaller plants made it but these grandmothers, towering beauties, show the impact of the journey. Like me. At the base, green goodness; furthest from the center, limbs are torn and brown.

Time to trim back what doesn't remain. Let the old life go. Make room for a new start to have a chance.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Guess who came over and set up River's room on move-in day? Yep, Holly, Amelia and Josie. Guess who broke out with chicken pox the day after that? River. The doctor asked when I first noticed a spot and I pondered, hmmm, was it on the road in California? This hotel or that one? At the beach? Can't say.

We can't go anywhere public for six days. No wifi yet, just loitering in parking lots here and there to catch a signal while the spotted one naps. Feeling more comfortable in my car than the new house anyway.

Thanks for all of your well-wishes and blessings. We made it.

Swimming in boxes, but we'll break out the wine early tonight so we can spend the later hours explaining more about why the sky pops and booms. Scary.

Another post from the road...

Sunday, July 01, 2007

The Road - Full Moon

Bolinas full moon keeps us awake through the night, spotlight on our sleep, already partly on the road....
Our last morning gives us a brilliant send off....
So good to be on the road.....
Mt. Shasta and we're heading to the Oregon border....
Pulling over for the night in a favorite place...
Happy family at dinner.....

Morning again and we're off to find great coffee and bakery. When we get to Portland this afternoon we're going straight to Toys-R-Us to get River a toddler bed - her first big-girl bed. The move-in will center around the big event.