Monday, July 19, 2010
I just spoke to dear lovely Francesca (FRANCESCANAZ); we'll meet about 5:00pm; I'm back at the state park after an 11-mile bike ride and decided to use some battery power to write a brief blog before I have lunch and begin the journey north.
Me'n Azimat, nighttime
Being with Azimat (another SparkFriend), and meeting her husband, at the retreat was wonderful beyond what I could have imagined. I am deeply indebted to her for telling me of this Teaching, to the universe for arranging my trip making it workable to attend, and to the Sufi Order for gifting me with a partial scholarship, which made it financially feasible. The two teachers, Pir Zia, head of the Sufi Order International, and Aziza Scott, Director of Esoteric Studies, were unbounded in their wisdom and the generous sharing of it.
The mountain top where the programs were held.
Pir Zia is a soul of high consciousness, a noble man who moves and acts with grace and beauty. Being in his presence (darshan) was a deep blessing. Though my notes are paltry, since I was mostly too taken by his words to write, here is just the smallest sampling of a few thoughts that touched me deeply (paraphrasing): "Every opening, every flickering of desire for Truth IS the goal of the whole creation...sentient beings and otherwise. When you look for God, God is in the look in your eyes. The One we seek is seeking us. Every movement toward the One is another hidden disclosure. In the span from eternal to mundane is the paradox of all that is magic and splendorous in life.
"The vertical dimension of the heart is the medium of communion with the Divine Source. Its horizontal dimension is the medium of communion with all other manifest beings. Do not close the heart from being wounded, from pain. It shouldn't be avoided in a dual universe.
"It is our sacred task to be present for it ALL, to bear witness to it all. Pain is not to be disowned. Pain denied or repressed morphs into suffering.
"When I hold another in my heart (prayer) the person is uplifted by the holiness of my thoughts toward the other. We are the channels through which Divine remembrance flows through creation...divine grace pouring out to the world.
"Interbeing is our state, from the smallest particle to the largest galaxy. We are all made from the same *stuff.* In showing compassion toward all other sentient beings we are acknowledging this interbeing."
I came upon a huge red-tailed hawk hopping along the ground at Beaver Pond in Harriman State Park the day before arriving to The Abode. It was no more that eight feet from me! I was shocked and delighted by this incident, a first in my life, and just stood there as it moved toward a puddle in the path where I was, drank from it and then just remained there in its elegant magnificent plumage looking at me. Pir Zia would say that this "was a moment of mutual seeing, each of us having been impacted by the presence of the other." Indeed, my life was changed by the communion with this creature. It eventually flew away, its enormous wingspan awing me, its red tail glimmering in the sunlight.
After the retreat at The Abode over the weekend and the night at Hearthstone Point State Park at Lake George in the Adirondacks, this piece by the incomparable poet Naomi Shihab Nye so very perfectly describes my state of heart and mind.
Needing to be
From any store.
To lift something
You already had
And set it down in
A new place.
What does that do to
The old blood moving through
~ Naomi Shihab Nye ~
(You & Yours)
With failing battery power I won't even attempt any photos at the moment. Perhaps there will be time at Francesca's.
Among other things Francesca and I will take our Treks on the ferry across Lake Champlain to meet DokeyOkey (Kathleen) in Burlington, VT for bicycling fun and dining together. Also ahead is 1000 Islands in the St. Lawrence Seaway region, Ithaca leading into the Finger Lakes region, Niagara Falls, including the Canadian side, Yellow Springs, including Antioch College and hopefully Spark friends! I need to be home for fall semester and birthday celebrations by mid-August.
Wednesday, July 14, 2010
This morning I woke up to the sound of rain on the camper roof. It was raining when I went to bed early last night also. PennyAn and I couldn't seem to get to bed early (too much to do and talk about!), so last night I took advantage of my alone time to do that!
I drive on to the Berkshires, to Abode of the Message Mountain Conference Center for a silent retreat with Pir Zia:
which I've been looking forward to since Azimat sent me a link about it a few weeks ago. I'm SO excited that I'll meet her and DH today, both on the Sufi path for many years, a path that m heart deeply resonates with.
I did a retreat with Pir Vilayat Inayat Khan many moons ago in San Francisco. He was then head of the Sufi Order International:
Now that Pir Vilayat has left the body, his son, Pir Zia Inayat Khan, has taken on the mantle of leadership. I will have the auspicious opportunity of being in retreat with Pir Zia:
The poem below from Panhala spoke deeply to me in my meditative time this morning. I am increasingly aware of the briefness of this life and of the few years that I have left during this sojourn.
The trip has been the occasion of much time of inner reflection.
I am communing more deeply with nature. When my "heart stutters with pain and hope," I am learning to"bend forward over it like a (wo)man at a small campfire." This retreat is coming at an important time and I look forward to the inner journey it will encourage.
The journey continues....
OLD MAN, OLD MAN (aka OLD WOMAN, OLD WOMAN)
Young men, not knowing what to remember,
Come to this hiding place of the moons and years,
To this Old Man. Old Man, they say, where should we go?
Where did you find what you remember? Was it perched in a tree?
Did it hover deep in the white water? Was it covered over
With dead stalks in the grass? Will we taste it
If our mouths have long lain empty?
Will we feel it between our eyes if we face the wind
All night, and turn the color of earth?
If we lie down in the rain, can we remember sunlight?
He answers, I have become the best and worst I dreamed.
When I move my feet, the ground moves under them.
When I lie down, I fit the earth too well.
Stones long underwater will burst in the fire, but stones
Long in the sun and under the dry night
Will ring when you strike them. Or break in two.
There were always many places to beg for answers:
Now the places themselves have come in close to be told.
I have called even my voice in close to whisper with it:
Every secret is as near as your fingers.
If your heart stutters with pain and hope,
Bend forward over it like a man at a small campfire.
~ David Wagoner ~
Sunday, July 11, 2010
I have been graced and deeply blessed with the unconditional love of SparkFriends who have opened up their homes and hearts to me...first Rebecca; then in 2009 Stephanie and Gina; bringing in 2010, Kathy and Vivian.
And now this summer:
Tracey, who welcomed me into her home and life in an incredibly loving and expansive way. Amazing.
And SUSANNAH31, where I'm currently enjoying the beauty of the Jersey Shore, her generous hospitality and the sweet communion of women friends, who would seemingly have known each other for many moons.
Sue and the others have accepted me and opened themselves to me without asking for anything in return. In EACH case I feel like we've known each other for years. The level of connection is deep and strong...and I feel the bonds of sisterhood growing. Stephanie gave me The Elegant Gathering of White Snows, a novel that talks beautifully about sisterhood...and I've been telling all my close women friends to read it.
Locust Lake State Park, PA, where pennyAn came to meet me
At Lew's recommendation, Sue and I went to Jim Thorpe, a fascinating PA town. This beautiful stone church was awe-inspiring.
Sue and I were both struck by its beauty
Today Sue and I spent time on the beach walking and exploring the birds at the preserve next to the beach.
At the end of this picture-perfect summer day and with near-overwhelming feelings of gratitude and grace, I can think of no more fitting tribute than this Mary Oliver piece, "lifting me...into the world's unspeakable kindness":
ONE HUNDRED WHITE-SIDED DOLPHINS ON A SUMMER DAY
galloping in the pitch
of the waves, in the pearly
fields of the sea,
they leap toward us,
they rise, sparkling, and vanish, and rise sparkling,
they breathe little clouds of mist, they lift perpetual smile,
they slap their tails on the waves, grandmothers and grandfathers
enjoying the old jokes,
they circle around us,
they swim with us -
a hundred white-sided dolphins
on a summer day,
each one, as God himself
could not appear more acceptable
a hundred times,
in a body blue and black threading through
the sea foam,
and lifting himself up from the opened
tents of the waves on his fishtail,
with the moon of his eye
into my heart,
and find there
pure, sudden, steep, sharp, painful
that falls -
I don't know - either
or the pale, bearable hand
on my neck,
from the boat's plain plank seat
into the world's
It is my sixty-third summer on earth
and, for a moment, I have almost vanished
into the body of the dolphin,
into the moon-eye of God,
into the white fan that lies at the bottom of the sea
that ever was, or ever will be,
supple, wild, rising on flank or fishtail -
singing or whistling or breathing damply through blowhole
at top of head. Then, in our little boat, the dolphins suddenly gone,
we sailed on through the brisk, cheerful day.
~ Mary Oliver ~
(What Do We Know?)
Tuesday, July 06, 2010
Rear view: Harmony * Coexist * Yogaville
Packin' up, gettin' ready to leave this lovely little home
This final leg of the trip is around 3000 miles (including Montreal, which I may eliminate, reducing the total by around 300 miles), which will mean that the total mileage for Maha's Magical Mystery Tour 2010 will be over 6000!!!
By *sticking to my guns* and not driving more than four hours or about 200 miles per day (yep that's right; I'm using 45mph as my gage), I need about two weeks for the actual journey.
I have a total of five weeks available before fall semester begins. That means I have three weeks for enjoying the sights and visiting friends...and lots of bicycling.
I like that!
Oh yeah...and Thursday SUSANNAH31 and I are camping at Locust Lake State Park, PA, LEWISH11's park!!!
Monday, July 05, 2010
Gazing up on a straight line while standing at LOTUS (Light of Truth Universal Shrine) you first see Chidambaram (shown in my last blog -- www.sparkpeople.com/mypage_public_jo
urnal_individual.asp?blog_id=3388345 ), then continuing up that visual line, at the very top of the hill is Kailash, where the amazing brass image of Shiva Nataraj is housed. This architectural format follows the classical Vastu Shastra system of design.
A close-up of he 6' Shiva Nataraj (dancing Shiva)
Shiva Nataraj can be seen inside of Kailash
Looking down at the top of Chidambaram and then below that at LOTUS, from the Kailash vantage point
SONNETS TO ORPHEUS, PART TWO, XXIX
Quiet friend who has come so far,
feel how your breathing makes more space around you.
Let this darkness be a bell tower
and you the bell. As you ring,
what batters you becomes your strength.
Move back and forth into the change.
What is it like, such intensity of pain?
If the drink is bitter, turn yourself to wine.
In this uncontainable night,
be the mystery at the crossroads of your senses,
the meaning discovered there.
And if the world has ceased to hear you,
say to the silent earth: I flow.
To the rushing water, speak: I am.
~ Rainer Maria Rilke ~
(In Praise of Mortality, translated and edited by Anita Barrows and Joanna Macy)
My second stay this summer at my spiritual home is drawing to a close. Ahhhhhhhhh. Continuing the breathing that makes more space around me, moving on to strange new darkness, to new crossroads, and the constant of the loneliness of the road...here are my travel plans as they are currently unfolding.
1. I LEAVE THE ASHRAM (AGAIN) BRIGHT-AND-EARLY THURSDAY MORNING JULY 8, spending the first night at Pennsylvania's Locust Lake State Park, a pajama party with PENNYAN! SFriend Lew is the park director, so we'd better get some extra special treatment, huh!
2. Friday I head NE, crossing the Hudson River to the HR Valley and Mt. Kisco to visit dear old friends from Ecuador, about an hr. N of NYC, leaving by the morning of July 14, heading to the Sufi retreat.
3. N to New Lebanon in the Berkshires, which sits right next to MA, for a silent retreat with Pir Zia Inayat Khan, head of the Sufi Order on July 15-18, hoping to rendezvous with Azimat there!!!
4. Continue N to visit SFriend Francesca at Lake Champlain in the Adirondacks, which sits next to VT...and go kayaking -- WHEE!!! While there we hope to rendezvous with Kathleen (OkeyDokey) in Burlington, VT. There's a wonderful bike path there, and Francesca are both taking our Trek's on the ferry!
5. Perhaps N to Montreal, never having been there -- perhaps I'll take a class at the Integral Yoga Center!
6. Or else directly to Alexandria Bay in the 1000 Islands Region of the St. Lawrence Seaway. I've been advised there's a MUST DO 4-hr. boat tour of the islands whle I'm there.
7. S into the Fingerlakes area in the Catskills, beginning with Ithaca and Cornell University and then W, camping and bicycling my way through them
8. W to Niagara Falls, especially to the Canadian side. There's another MUST DO boat ride, the Maid of the Mist.
9. SW through OH to Yellow Springs and Antioch College, hoping to visit SFriends there
10. SW to my "stompin' grounds" Conway (central AR) to get ready for the fall semester! Gotta' be there by around August 13.
There's always "the best laid plans" aspect of the travel process but, in any case, these are my present intentions.
And now I'm going to immerse myself in this amazing day!
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