Navigating the Sacred and Mundane

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Free Fall

Driving streets in Berkeley, River doesn't remember our old house, the way we walked to Peet's around the corner every day. She doesn't remember herself in the thousand iterations of becoming, baby to baby girl. And I am a bundle of roots tied to boxes, mislabeled, open, shoved in corners, piled in the basement in Portland.

Sunday morning at the coffee house where I spent countless days writing, but all I do is stare down, tear fingernails in a neat line, toss them to the floor, free fall. Two days down with the flu, two days out and I almost want to talk but not yet. Who knew that this sadness would take over as soon as the pace slowed.

In six months we've lost almost all of our assets, moved twice, found out our daughter has extensive food allergies, gone through a string of jobs, and spent every day in survival mode. Now, we decide to fly on Christmas morning to see family, three days after moving again. I can't even make intelligible conversation. A shadow of myself, I'm floating.

And grieving....

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Solstice Moon

Just moved and finding my way back to words. Finding my way through new pathways. Finding more patience that I thought I had. Finding out that it's possible to let go of long-held ideas about how it should all be.

Thank you, thank you, a thousand thanks to Carrie and Jess for packing and unpacking, for days of support. Thanks Rebecca and Dori, Scott, Adam, and Holly. We couldn't have done it without you.

River says, "Mama, where we live?" and I say, "Together, babe, together."

Blessings far and wide, high and low, to the center of the heart.

Saturday, December 15, 2007


Yep, you guessed it. Moving time again.....

How many circles around a house does it take to finally open the garage door, bring in a cardboard box and tape it up? Still counting.

Circling the labyrinth, just my kitchen. Circling the stone circle, just my bedroom. Circling the medicine meadow, just the little one's room.

This is our Christmas, and it's not a bad one. Getting rid of stuff. Keeping what redeems. Basic gestures of kindness, a glass of water, a glance, so appreciated.

Our next house waits just a mile down the road. Everyone knows, a mile is not just a mile.

Happy Holidays!

Monday, December 10, 2007

Join the Conversation

Just want to welcome readers out there to leave a comment. I'd love to know who's in the wider circle....

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Anger on the Path

Not enough has been said about anger on the path. ON the path.

Anger doesn't mean that we're suddenly exiled from the path, though we wish exile upon ourselves because we just want the light to stop illuminating the shame that follows.

Thank you to those who have participated in this conversation privately, sending me long letters of wisdom and insight after the midnight hour.

It's an important issue in regards to being a woman, being a woman partner to a man, and in mothering.

All strategies and compensations aside, dangerous to talk about. Dangerous because truthful.

I can't go there yet out loud, but it's where I've been these past few days.

I know the underbelly of rage as a daughter. I know it as a wife. I know it as a woman. And now, I know it as a mother. The first three were bearable, survivable, just be a tough kid and a hard ass and a really, really nice girl, and life goes on.

But anger and mothering......is dismantling all that other coping. It wipes out every trick in my bag and leaves me high and dry.

There are teachings in ancient scripture that speak to anger on the path. It's just part of the journey for many of us. It's fine to engage in practices, to send loving-kindness toward it. But sometimes it's also important to name it for what it is, to bring it out of the shadows.

May these words bring medicine for the telling, for the beginning of a conversation. Anger on the spiritual path.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Room of Her Own

Was it Betty Friedan who said that a woman needs a room of her own? If memory serves, 1990, University Colorado, Boulder, Women's Studies class. I'm midway back but I may as well be in the front seat, all those internal questions blazing.

That was also the year that I went to my first women's bookstore, Bangalore, India. Down a tight alley, up the back stairs, nondescript door, but inside! Women stretched out, saris across the floor, smoking beeties, reading books that were not found anywhere else in that town, probably not in a thousand square miles. Hand-painted pages of a woman jumping into a well, and I tremble a bit, so nervous to be white, and in such an important room, every other woman peering above book edges to stare in my direction. I walked out with Audre Lorde's Zami: A New Spelling of My Name, that thoroughly changed my life on the train between Madras and Delhi.

Through the rain again, I find my way to the current coffeehouse that poses as my office. Enough elements pass the test to make it just conducive for writing, though I still waste more time than not. This morning, under a blaring speaker of music, I stay because it's the only table near an outlet. Alas. My next project is a guide book of all the Portland coffeehouse/cafes that are good for writing....or not. Mostly not. Could write one for the Bay Area, too. Which is sort of sad. And I blame it on Boulder.

My mom died when I was nineteen and my siblings were much older with families of their own. My father remarried right away and I was not so welcome. The coffee house became my home. More than twenty years down the road and it's a hard habit to break.

But it's time. I need a space of my own. That's my vision today. Creative office space, close to other creative folk, yummy and comfortable, room for a group, room for friends to work, too. A place where I can, once again, create a healing space for those who want to come and sit, where together we will work it out, find the center of the trail again, wonder at what we notice as we walk.

It's a place where I can go after I put River to sleep. Where I don't mind driving to because I see myself so thoroughly in the wall color that poems start spilling before I fully turn the lock.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Spheres of Wonder

Rain in ever-opening spheres, continuous circles fanning the pavement. Fluid ground, now, not concrete. As if it’s ever solid underneath. As if gravity is up and down and not all around.

I’m peering out an old garage door, panels turned to glass. Outside green, slides in my field, side by side by side. Even though I’m at a table, sitting on a bench, the dark wood, dark and perfect coffee house counter straight in front of me, I’m also sitting in an old garage. It’s coming to me slowly. It’s a great café, too, upstairs. Yes, and it was once a house where people lived.

This is why I leave my house to write. I can’t go to other continents in the hour given, but the thrill is there. As if.

That’s always how I set out. Pilgrimage, you know. Big on that. Always feels like it to me, down the block or across the river, or after a thirty hour flight. If it doesn’t feel this way, aw, painful. Really. I can’t walk into a Starbuck’s without a weird twitch in my leg. Run!

It’s Paris this morning (aka Hillsdale). I write a few words. Pause to reflect upon the sheen of roasted potatoes on my plate, on the bench beside me. Laptop on the table. Contemplating texture for dragged out seconds, pepper flecks lightly adorn quartered wedges, and I taste – I want to say pumpkin? But that’s not it. Joy, though, just staying with sensation on buds. Taste buds to brain, and balancing the plate on my lap now, I turn to write again.

The man who sits beside me holds a magnifying glass directly in front of his eyes, lifts a stapled article, brain research, and reads. At the table next to him on the other side, slides of teeth, x-rays, charts and notes. A couple huddled in discourse. This is why I leave home to write.

I want to join that field. Aromas that I don’t know until now, associations I wouldn’t have made, but do, and beside people, the warmth of bodies and the beautiful strangeness of proximity.