Wednesday, December 02, 2009
"Everything flowers, from within, of self-blessing...."
My buddies know I'm in the midst of a finals week SparkFast. Notice how I "fast" -- a little munch here, a taste there. (Yep, D for Discipline is my middle name, lol.)
It's...it's just that this poem is so damned beautiful and poignant. And I had a particularly brutal encounter with my housemate this morning...and then I came to my computer, and in opening today's poetry offering, it smashed right into my soul and begged to be shared with my community, my tribe here.
"Sometimes it is necessary to reteach a thing its loveliness...." And so...here it is, today's love offering to all of you...and to me:
St. Francis and the Sow
stands for all things,
even those things that don't flower,
for everything flowers, from within, of self-blessing;
though sometimes it is necessary
to reteach a thing its loveliness,
to put a hand on its brow
of the flower
and retell it in words and in touch
it is lovely
until it flowers again from within, of self-blessing;
as St. Francis
put his hand on the creased forehead
of the sow, and told her in words and in touch
blessings of earth on the sow, and the sow
began remembering all down her thick length,
from the earthen snout all the way
through the fodder and slops to the spiritual curl of
from the hard spininess spiked out from the spine
down through the great broken heart
to the blue milken dreaminess spurting and shuddering
from the fourteen teats into the fourteen mouths sucking
and blowing beneath them:
the long, perfect loveliness of sow.
~ Galway Kinnell ~
(Mortal Acts, Mortal Words)
Galway Kinnell (born February 1, 1927 in Providence, Rhode Island) is one of the most influential American poets of the latter half of the 20th century. An admitted follower of Walt Whitman, Kinnell rejects the idea of seeking fulfillment by escaping into the imaginary world. His best-loved and most anthologized poems, such as "St. Francis and the Sow" and "After Making Love We Hear Footsteps," stand as testaments to the significant possibilities for transcendent realization that can be induced by meticulous excavation of the physical universe. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Galway_Kinnell
Friday, November 27, 2009
I'm reading Sharon Salzberg's wonderful book, LOVINGKINDNESS: The Revolutionary Art of Happiness. It's not my first time either. It's chock-full of useful, everyday wisdom. And today, I'm reading JUST what I needed to hear in order to build a day of presence and mindfulness and purpose, from the chapter, The Gift of Equanimity:
"When the monks approached the Buddha and described (a series of circumstances), the Buddha wisely replied: 'There is always blame in this world. If you say too much, some people will blame you. If you say a little bit, some people will blame you. If you say nothing at all, some people will blame you.'
"This is the very nature of life. No one in this world experiences only pleasure and no pain, and no one experiences only gain and no loss. When we open to these truths, we discover that there is no need to hold on or to push away. Rather than trying to control what can never be controlled, we can find a sense of security in being able to meet what is actually happening. This is allowing for the mystery of things: not judging but rather cultivating a balance of mind that can receive what is happening, whatever it is. This acceptance is the source of our safety and confidence.
"When we feel unhappiness or pain, it is not a sign that things have gone terribly wrong or that we have done something wrong by not being able to control the circumstances. Pain and pleasure are constantly coming and going, and yet we can be happy. When we allow for the mystery, sometimes we discover that right in the heart of a very difficult time, right in the midst of a painful situation, there is freedom. In those moments when we realize how much we cannot control, we can learn to let go.
"As we begin to understand this we move from a mode of struggling to control what comes into our lives into a mode of simply wishing to truly connect with what is. This is a radical shift in worldview....When we become willing to experience everything, the confidence and certainty we once sought by denying change we can find by embracing it. We learn to relate to life fully, including the insecurity."
I used to have a sign with 12" letters above my fireplace in San Francisco:
I think I will post that reminder (smaller this time) somewhere for easy and frequent viewing. Not even self-blame. Especially not self-blame.
Thursday, November 26, 2009
I'm so deeply touched and grateful for the reaching out and loving thoughts from all my beautiful SparkFriends. I'm sure we can all figure out that I'm wishing you Happy Thanksgiving in Spanish!
It's a beautiful day here in central Arkansas. I began the morning with meditation and pranayama. I ate a healthy breakfast.
Four friends have invited me to share the day; I hope to make it by two. I never went to that "woe-is-me place" around spending this day solo, and look what happened!
My life is indeed full...I have myriad blessings...and my life isn't over yet!
I subscribe to silly, joyful "Notes from the Universe" www.tut.com and today *the Universe* said:
Mahalakshmi, I love this job! You know...writing you every day.
Do you know how I got it? No, besides being the Universe and getting whatever I want. Yes! I just started doing it.
And that's all anything takes.
P.S. Of course it'll feel funny at first, Mahalakshmi, might even look funny, but how badly do you want what you want?
Such a sweet reminder, eh. It all starts with a thought...and then just "doing it." How badly do I want what I want? Practice makes perfect!
I have been trying to read
the script cut in these hills—
a language carved in the shimmer of stubble
and the solid lines of soil, spoken
in the thud of apples falling
and the rasp of corn stalks finally bare.
The pheasants shout it with a rusty creak
as they gather in the fallen grain,
the blackbirds sing it
over their shoulders in parting,
and gold leaf illuminates the manuscript
where it is written in the trees.
Transcribed onto my human tongue
I believe it might sound like a lullaby,
or the simplest grace at table.
Across the gathering stillness
simply this: "For all that we have received,
dear God, make us truly grateful."
~ Lynn Ungar ~
(Blessing the Bread)
Thursday, November 19, 2009
(Hint: You must make your own map. )
A MAP TO THE NEXT WORLD
In the last days of the fourth world I wished to make a map
for those who would climb through the hole in the sky.
My only tools were the desires of humans as they emerged from the killing fields,
from the bedrooms and the kitchens.
For the soul is a wanderer with many hands and feet.
The map must be of sand and can't be read by ordinary light.
It must carry fire to the next tribal town, for renewal of spirit.
In the legend are instructions on the language of the land,
how it was we forgot to acknowledge the gift, as if we were not in it or of it.
Take note of the proliferation of supermarkets and malls, the altars of money.
They best describe the detour from grace.
Keep track of the errors of our forgetfulness; a fog steals our children while we sleep.
Flowers of rage spring up in the depression, the monsters are born there of nuclear anger.
Trees of ashes wave good-bye to good-bye and the map appears to disappear.
We no longer know the names of the birds here,
how to speak to them by their personal names.
Once we knew everything in this lush promise.
What I am telling you is real and is printed in a warning on the map.
Our forgetfulness stalks us, walks the earth behind us,
leaving a trail of paper diapers, needles and wasted blood.
An imperfect map will have to do little one.
The place of entry is the sea of your mother's blood,
your father's small death as he longs to know himself in another.
There is no exit.
The map can be interpreted through the wall of the intestine --
a spiral on the road of knowledge.
You will travel through the membrane of death,
smell cooking from the encampment where our relatives make a feast
of fresh deer meat and corn soup, in the Milky Way.
They have never left us; we abandoned them for science.
And when you take your next breath as we enter the fifth world there will be no X,
no guide book with words you can carry.
You will have to navigate by your mother's voice, renew the song she is singing.
Fresh courage glimmers from planets.
And lights the map printed with the blood of history,
a map you will have to know by your intention, by the language of suns.
When you emerge note the tracks of the monster slayers
where they entered the cities of artificial light and killed what was killing us.
You will see red cliffs. They are the heart, contain the ladder.
A white deer will come to greet you when the last human climbs from the destruction.
Remember the hole of our shame marking the act of abandoning our tribal grounds.
We were never perfect.
Yet, the journey we make together is perfect on this earth
who was once a star and made the same mistakes as humans.
We might make them again, she said.
Crucial to finding the way is this: there is no beginning or end.
You must make your own map.
~ Joy Harjo ~
(A Map to the Next World: Poems)
Need a roadmap? Bob Marley is singing the song of freedom to the Next World.
Wednesday, November 18, 2009
I've been up since 5:00am as usual...I've finished my morning brew and made a gallon of green tea for the house. I'm sitting here groovin' to the station I created on Pandora.com, Angelique Kidjo Radio. As a matter of fact, at this moment SHE is singing Bob Marley's anthem, Redemption Song, which actually speaks to the thoughts on my mind -- "emancipate yourself from mental slavery, none but ourselves can free our minds."
Here's my morning rant --
I'm tormented in my life by my sloppy discipline and lack of attention and presence. I find myself distracted by the "drop of a hat" and glued to this screen for a great deal more time than the necessities and requirments of my life allow for. So when Brooks' lyrics showed up as my poetry offering this morning, it really "hit home" for me since "tomorrow has become today."
I have managed in my wellness journey to keep a lid on my weight since losing the 80 pounds back-when. When the pounds start packing on, the emotional emergency systems "go off' and I get back into an acceptable range. That's not to say that I'm at my ideal weight...notice my term "acceptable range." I don't seem to have the *huevos* to make that final effort to knock off the last 10 pounds or so. It just hangs there as a way of saying "you just can't quite 'emancipate' yourself, can you; your mind is still being held prisoner by your body."
MOVEMENT, my body's cardio and strength-training (ST) requirements, are an ongoing challenge. During the better weather, much of my cardio needs are met via my trusty Trekmobile, my bicycle. Now that winter will soon be upon us, cardio needs must be met in other ways -- at the regional fitness center (RFC) or via fitness DVDs that I have on-hand. I choose to meet my ST needs that way as well. Hatha yoga is another movement modality that has been a part of my life for almost 30 years, and I've recently added some Pilates to the mix since joining the RFC. But am I consistent in any of this? Do I honor the needs of this body that serves me so well by giving back in this way? When is the last time I did ST? Yoga? I'm getting tired of hearing myself say this! How about you -- are you also tired of hearing me say it?
Since becoming a vegetarian, I have been on a quest of balanced eating, with awareness of the types and amounts of the various nutrients that make up said balanced intake. I have acquired a fund of knowledge and I generally manage to meet these needs...and then some. It's the "then some" that is my challenge...portion sizes and the treats being the major culprits keeping me from being where I really want to be.
Then there's my difficult living situation which, indubitably, impacts body-mind-spirit in searing ways that can result in set-backs at any moment. It is an extremely complex situation and one that I grapple with daily, looking for creative problem-solving. I know there is a way. I simply need to be open to IT. And that's a story in itself.
The FOCUS difficulty rears its ugly head bigtime in my university pursuit. I get seriously anxious and freaked out because of my serious procrastination habit and attention-deficit tendencies. Today is the final day to complete a draft for a paper that I turn in tomorrow...and I haven't so much as begun the draft. The day will be filled with it (of course) and I can't go to the RFC yoga class or cardio there because of this.
Next semester I've registered for nine seriously academic units. Without a different approach, I'm liable to literally make myself sick. So, I'm digging deep into my psyche and spirit to dredge up some answers...no more sitting on the shoreline, to paraphrase Garth!
And that's just the TIP of the iceburg ladies and gentlemen! So here's everyone's friend Garth Brooks talkin' to me, tellin' it like it is, offering gritty wisdom, answers that might really work in the context of life lived, "a life interrupted" --
You know a dream is like a river,
ever changing as it flows
And the dreamer's just a vessel that must follow where it goes
Trying to learn from what's behind you
Never knowing what's in store
Makes each day a constant battle
Just to stay between the shores
Too many times we stand beside
Let the water slip away
Till what we put off till tomorrow
has now become today
so don't you sit upon the shoreline
and say you're satisfied
Choose to chance the rapids
Dare to dance the tide
~ Garth Brooks ~
(excerpt from The River -- enlightenment is where you find it)
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