How much of life needs to break down at first slowly then in ways, unimaginable. And not only here, but here and here and here…
How much needs to be turned inside out make no sense as day after day familiar routines fade into memory and fate makes folly, once, and again, of my plans.
How much of this happens before I, too, begin to see that, even I, am changing. That I am not the person I have come to know myself to be.
I have tied my identity my ambitions and my future to mainstays and certainties now upended, security replaced in these dark days with fear and the gnawing desire to escape it.
I see from here, just how much I have taken for granted. How much I thought essential to my life, has fallen away as I adapt to less.
As the anxious knots, and the drowning of them in Netflix and wine and patience and restlessness wear thin, such temporary pleasures give way to the only question standing beside all those with no answers:
What ‘less’ in my life, has now become ‘more’?
What really mattered when everything else was falling and yet the sun still rose each morning unphased in its stalwart loyalty to the earth?
What really mattered when my life as I knew it was laid bare and the stories faltered and the savings dried up but … we found our way. What, when we return again to life, will we bring from these quiet, fear-filled and solitary times?
Perhaps instead of nonsense and chaos, this has all been a divine intervention, with plagues and wildfires of biblical proportion. And what if the darkness we have lived through isn’t “the darkness of the tomb, but the darkness of a womb.”* And if — in this new year — a new sun rises and standing beneath it on this earth we double down now, for the birth.
With the blessings, then, of this shared darkness lighting our way – changed as we are by a changed world – what steps will we choose to take forward, birthing ourselves and our world towards a truly new day?
In Rumi’s fields beyond the contours of right and wrong-doing you can find me finding my true self.
For years I searched the earth navigating for answers in the knotted wind-blown grasses. But this mid-morning in place of answers, a peacefulness reaches me there. Beckoning from the far edges of my awareness, from the home of all I don’t know.
Perhaps it traveled on the vibrating hum of the bee song? Or, in the wind that filtered up through the old oak tree, the underbelly of its spring leaves flashing and flirting with the sky? Perhaps it came from the heart of the world.
Beyond right and wrongdoing, you are what you are. Neither oak nor bee, but human. Irreplaceably, individually, humanly you.
Understand. These words were not spoken. They were signals cast across consciousness making clear in bee song how bees sing bee, (not the sharp alarm of the falcons also circling the skies,) making clear the oaks dress this way in the spring, (not pining for the pine needles that hold on tight through the winter, sap-laden and Cyprus strong.)
You are only what you are. In the great network, long ago, your own sovereignty was already chosen.
And this was how I listened today, in Rumi’s fields, where languages I don’t know I don’t know were spoken and I found myself fallen open, beyond answers or questions, to the listening.
It was as a child in Europe where I began to search for answers in the fields. I hoped, myself, to become the language between seasons, the sentences that could tie things together, that could tie my family together, one precious season to the next.
In those fields, a generation earlier men’s bodies had lunged forward into battle. And were lost. The men who returned were lost to their bodies. In those fields, mothers turned cold, their lips tightening, holding back the truths of their broken hearts. (One doesn’t talk about it.)
But this hidden history called out, “see me!” through my parents’ and grandparent’s eyes.So I navigated the knotted, wind-blown grasses, gathering up ghosts and abandoned memories on my back, offering my shoulders to the grief. I ate the poison others couldn’t, believing If I swallowed it all, it would give me the understanding others had lost, …and with understanding I could find the words others refused to speak, …and with words I could form sentences for the stories I would write …and with stories I could make us whole. I could mend the loss. I could keep us safe. I could bind us together.
I was a child. A collector of bullets. A lover of words. A lover. But I took what wasn’t mine.
Five decades later, a continent away in California, the bee song reaches me for the first time.
Perhaps I can hear it today because after all these years my shoulders have finally tired of gathering ghosts. Perhaps because my eyes are weary of the search and the steady chorus is so velvety, so enticing, I can’t help but surrender. Perhaps, it is because I am becoming the girl I was, before the girl I became. Perhaps because the real world reaches us, only when we are readied to receive it.
You can’t carry what belongs to the lives of others… the grief they cannot bear is not yours to carry… what they abandon is theirs for the reclamation… be who you are in this one, precious life… love simply, what you love, simply.
And this is the part in my searching I had missed all these years. Not that their weight wasn’t mine to bear, but that this is OK. It is more than OK. It is my birthright. This family of trees and insects greets me. They buzz and flicker — “What took you so long? Join us in the homecoming!”
Like the Great Oak, that king of the open field, whose seasonal thirst draws up through taproots, and whose outreached branches flutter and flirt their new growth, my heart now tends to its own sovereignty. I need only enjoy the play of the wind on my own arms, uplifted, outstretched palms turned open to the sky. Take me as I am.
I see, drawn out of the ether, that it is kindness and honesty that allow me to be delicate, innocent, human, this way.
A thread circles down along the seams of my awareness rooting me gently, into the top layer of the earth. How many of us have carried the weight of our forebearers’ unthinkable losses? How loyal we have been in the carrying. How loyal in our love. How many of us have spent all our lives searching for bullets and ghosts in the battlefields of our ancestors? How our forebearers would surely wish for us to be free!
Beyond right and wrong-doing, seeing, now, what is simply mine, I lay down the losses, the bullets, and the ghosts. I am worth it. Worthy of my own irreplaceable weight. No one asked me to hold anything together. The holding is already here. It is part of the Great Design.
This, then, my greatest generosity. Not that of a child hoping, against hope, to tie the broken world back together. But the gift of a woman
receiving my birthright.
My one life.
Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing there is a field. I’ll meet you there.
When the soul lies down in that grass the world is too full to talk about. — Rumi
For too long we have been silenced by voices that wrongly speak to what is “natural.” For too long we have fallen asleep to ourselves.
For too long we have taken what they have taught us about “women,” “men,” and “nature” to be true. We have abandoned our courage losing knowledge of our true power.
We have left it to the “men,” who saw through the eyes of war and trauma, the ones who lost their way, and taught their sons to hold back tears with “strength.” These men who began to take what wasn’t theirs for the taking, who assumed the abundance around us, was simply there, like breast milk, for our survival and benefit alone, we have left it to these men …to build our world.
For too long we have closed our eyes and settled, saying “boys will be boys” and “men will be men,” we have failed to say “No.” “No.” “This must happen with reverence.”
For too long, we have settled for a world forged by this “strength” and “power,” billed as “natural,” but built, instead, on fear and cowardice, against nature.
For too long even the strong woman among us have been asleep, even those of us – like me – who once believed ourselves awake.
For too long we have betrayed ourselves. Our earth. Each other. All of us have.
In the dreams of our deep sleep, modern priestesses have been gathering. Witches in hippie robes carrying crystals and herbs have stirred up archetypes in a brew for our awakening. We brush them off with scorn and ridicule believing ourselves the ones who know.
Nevertheless, they have persisted. Working against the tide, they resurface the old stories and wisdoms, studying the body and nature from old, anew, because they have seen clearly that if we are to save ourselves nothing else matters.
For my five decades I have mocked this tribe as others have, for their fringe, womanish, heteronormative, freakishness. But what if the Witches know best? And who is paying the price, as we approach our slow and steady extinction, for staying asleep while they awaken?
The tribes of Witches know, after all, that the path to true power is birthed not in deviance, but from heartache and despair. Those chosen to walk it are taken into the dark, pried open to the truth, anointed in the deeper currents.
Walking upon it, bereft and lost, we all eventually fall to our knees, recognizing in the falling that the great turning only happens at the doorway of devastation.
When the courage finally finds us, to turn towards the grief, the tears begin to fall, forming rivers around our ankles. When we find ourselves able to stand again, to stay standing, held up in faith, our palms turned up to the sky …we have come home.
I join this tribe today. Persevering, not only through my grief, but the grief of generations past. Allowing layer upon layer to rise up. The anger and hate, the hurt and sorrow, the rape and denigration, the self-doubt and self-betrayal. All this comes with certain ferocity and Grace as the elixir of the Great Reveal flows forward.
We, the women, and the gender-queer. We the “they,” and the “them.” We, the new and noblemen. We who have seen the contours and consequences of who we were told we were and seen through to a new horizon. We who have witnessed what has been lost and survived, we who have cried are dissolved, then, in the riverbeds of our tears. Joining the rivers first cried by hippie priestesses.
… And the current is quickening now towards the ocean.
We come not only from Glastonberry and Esalen, but from the cities and countryside. We come from all directions, North, East, South and West. We walk through the water out of therapist’s offices with reclaimed strength. We walk out of poet-song, with the guidance of Sophia. We walk in the desert canyons, with the scent of medicinal plants on our fingertips. We walk out of meditation halls, with the stillness of a far deeper Truth in our hearts. We walk on the front lines of gender-queerness, where the revolution, itself, is happening. No matter our genitals, we walk the path of the new, feminine Warrior.
And somewhere, on a quiet night, after years of walking the path to home-coming, years when we are raw, under sun, moon, and stars, as the healing waters lap at our ankles, we receive the gift of life again that for all this time we thought lost: Our True Value, our Birthright.
That birth-right: The vulnerability, mystery, inter-dependence, tenderness and surrender within us, that constitutes life itself. That birth-right: The Love that connects us. The connection that loves us.
What, on our deathbed, other than these things, what? Beyond everything else in this man-made world, will matter more?
I wake from the disorder to this new dynamism. I embrace the dreams of Witches with the eyes to see the world right-side up. I stand in the warm running waters, ready to plant my stake in the ground.
I do not care what you see in me – Hippie priestess Wild woman Heathen Queer Wimp Slut Pussy Old hag Nut-job Fat Ugly Nasty Witch Bitch
I do not care what anyone thinks of me. I do not care for anything but the great Care, itself.
I stand. I stand awake in the warm running waters. I stand for waking up. I stand for making things right with the animals and plants. For tending to the sick, the forgotten, the children, the poor, and the suffering. I stand for seeing my right place in the grand design and taking it, with strength and humility. I stand for seeing what I have missed, in “others,” in women, in men, in darkness, in the great deep, creative feminine, in you.
I stand for seeing the fields of native wild rye, the brittle leaves, the swarming bees, and the wildfires that are taking them all. I stand for discovering in the ashes and rivers of grief that carry them, that we are not who we have come to believe we are. I stand for opening to this mystery because God damn it, nothing else on a burning planet, after four thousand years, has worked.
I stand for breaking rules, for breaking the delusions, for turning towards our grief, for turning our world right-side up.
The eyes of my eyes are awakening. The ears of my ears are listening. For too long I have been silent but now with these words, I stand. Flanked by allies in the waters of the Warriors. With Love and with fury.
The Great Invitation: On Learning to Listen to Bats and Pangolins
It is a full eleven days since we arrived at our sanctuary ‘shelter’ in the California hills. In eleven days our business — a nature-based retreat center serving non-profits, yogis and nuptials — has nosedived. The first wave of cancellations was followed by a second, then the third. Within four days, almost a third of our annual revenue had disappeared and my husband, Jon, after no small amount of hand-wringing, shuttered the business. In a matter of days, reality as we knew it had come to a grinding halt. Continue reading “Pandemic Diaries / 2”→
If you inquire into hatred, itself, it transforms into power. You want to feel hatred, be open to it, welcome it, see what it is about. Where did it come from? What is it trying to do? …That, by itself, unfolds it to reveal the truth lying within. – Hameed Ali, Diamond Approach, Spacecruiser Inquiry
These days, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see the hatred coursing through American’s political landscape. Progressives and Democrats are the first to point it out in the raucous, contemptuous, racist chants at Trump’s rallies or in his daily twitter missives aimed at the opposition. Around my progressive hometown, posters are scattered in front yards and on main street store windows with the words: “We Stand United Against Hate.” When we look at the damage and cruelty being wielded by so much of the hateful rhetoric today no doubt all this concern with hatred is more than understandable.
However, the moral stance against hatred needs to be met with a strong degree of self-honestly from those of us who are quick to vilify it. Many of us, many, are lugging around boatloads of righteous hatred ourselves. In fact, that’s one of the things the right tends to hate about us – our hypocrisy about hate.
I’ve always thought of hatred as born in the moments of utter heartache where anger, pushed to its furthest limits, is thwarted and gives up. Hatred isn’t the negation of anger, it’s high-octane, compressed anger, the combustible, incinerating power of the darkest, blackest coal. Rather than quickly hot, however, hate has an air of coolness and restraint about it, just like a deceivingly innocent piece of coal that takes time to reveal its real capacity to char the crap out of something. In this way, hatred hides in thoughts and projections that appear harmless but can crush another’s subjectivity with one, seemingly simple ‘idea’ (witness racist ideology). As such, hatred can be a wicked weapon and one that has devastating capacity when linked with mechanisms of power that seem innocuous but can have a devastating impact on people’s physical, emotional and spiritual wellbeing.
But back to the troubling hypocrisy among liberals… hatred can live quite comfortably in the people who hate the haters – people whose hateful parts would – in all honestly – wipe those powerful hating assholes out in a heartbeat if they could without consequence. Hatred can operate in slick ways like this; hiding in a sense of pride and victim entitlement and, unlike anger, can more easily live outside our awareness. Like a sleeping giant, it sneaks out when we issue utterance about someone despicable who disgusts us. Before it becomes action, however, hatred is a feeling. It is not a bad feeling, but an all-too-human feeling, one that may cause more trouble when we forbid it, or act it out, than it would if we found the space and support in our lives to actually feel and explore it. Continue reading “PART TWO: Power – The Essence of Hatred (4 of 5)”→