Musings on What is Hard to Comprehend

how much longer

 

 

 

 

 

 

It’s hard to comprehend that a virus could be so powerful on so many levels.  It makes people sick, it takes lives, it travels across continents, it halts the workforce, it stops education as we’ve known it, it damages economies–giant corporations and small businesses alike are affected, it creates arguments of politics around to wear or not to wear a mask (in America anyway).  It separates families and friends.  It brings inequities, injustices to light.  It commands that we save the world with better choices as to how we use the world.  On and on.  I bet you can add to this list and that if we analyze the list we make, it seems that we could find good and not so good within it.

I appreciate the perspective that the virus is giving us feedback.  That any response from the earth is feedback to us as a human species.  Often we act dumb in the face of such feedback.  Often we ignore it for as long as we are able to.  Often we try to outsmart it or upgrade our technology or continue more forcefully in the direction that we’ve been going.  Even while we see that’s not helping.  In fact, proceeding as we have been is making things worse.  However, we don’t seem to know how to stop and turn ourselves around.

Why is that?

Why do some people accept that wearing masks could halt the spread of the virus and adamantly wear their masks in public?  Why do other people vehemently object to wearing a mask at all?  What is the motivating force beneath each of these stances?

These days, I am fortunate to live in an area that isn’t highly populated.  Although we are now getting tourists in the summer.  And our numbers have increased accordingly.
I get out very early and shop for groceries–when I shop early, the store aisles feel a bit more spacious and I feel calm as I shop.  This is one thing that I can do to lessen the intensity of these times.  When I shop early, I’m in better shape over the course of the day.  Returning home with my weekly groceries, as I handle each item, wipe it down or rinse it in a pan of water, I am tuning in more to the particular item.  I give it attention that I might not otherwise–a type of gratitude.  Hmmm.  Interesting.  I note this.  I could consider it a big hassle and I have…but today, no, I’m grateful.

I also notice the accumulation of plastic bags…the ones that don’t break down in a landfill, the ones that end up choking the sea creatures that we conveniently forget have a life down there in the astonishing depths.  What am I to do with these plastic bags?  Isn’t there, I wonder, an alternative to plastic!!!  How brilliant are we that we can’t come up with a solution here?  Wouldn’t our minds be put to better use in learning and practicing how to harmonize with our planet in reciprocal and beneficial ways?   Instead of strategizing war tactics or how to make it big in the stock market.  Think of the jobs that would materialize if we put our heads together to make the world a better place for all creatures great and small and including the earth.

“You may say I’m a dreamer but I’m not the only one…” from a song that we all remember.  The truth is, we need to proceed wisely in a better direction or we won’t be earning our keep here.

Galana…an Elephant

I first came across Dame Daphne Sheldrick and the work that she and her husband were doing–via a Sixty Minutes program.  With her husband, David Sheldrick, she created an orphanage for abandoned elephants…the mothers were poached for their ivory tusks.  Dame Daphne and her husband developed a sponsorship program to support the care of the young elephants.  One young elephant, Galana, was found on the Galana River in Kenya.  The trauma was visible in his eyes.  I wanted to draw him.  I used a graph to get the proportions right.  Then, he translated into my more whimsical purple elephant.

elephant.1elephant3

 

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Dame Daphne’s (1934-2018) legacy continues.
This one-and-a-half minute film says so much.

 

In gratitude.

Conscious Ceremony

In our workaday world, it isn’t often possible to slow things down.  Depending on the demands of your life, your stage of life, where you live, etc., it may seem to be infeasible.  However, years ago, in the midst of a growing family and work outside the home, I began to claim time apart.  I converted a space in the roughly finished garage as my art, craft and sewing studio.  Giving myself this physical place, A Room of One’s Own, facilitated both my creative and contemplative process.

Back to the idea of Conscious Ceremony…Did I mention that I love the morning?  Especially on a day when I don’t have to rush out the door.  I’m working at minimizing adrenaline rushes.  This morning, before I get caught up in the momentum of the day, I’m going to harvest cherries from the cherry tree in my backyard.  This fleeting seasonal gift from the earth–if I don’t pick them soon, they’re going to be overripe or for the birds.  Then I’m going to blend the best cherry smoothie.  Sip it slowly, now, as I greet this day.

When I move into the day, sloooowly, I am able to bring a feeling of ceremony to my activities throughout the day.  Surprisingly, when I start the day in this way, I seem to “get more things done” if that is the goal.

As poets, writers and artists, we deepen into another level when we take such time apart.  Not something crammed into an already jammed schedule.  But truly A TIME APART.  There is a leisure to this  non-ordinary time, as if we had all the time in the world and could actually savor the moment.  This is how we deepen and evolve as creative beings.

This morning offers time enough to write my blog, to write in my journal, to practice drawing, to make my list for the day.  And, to be a witness to the determined sun rising over Quail Ridge.  All of this is ceremony!

Expressing the gratitude I feel for the beauty and appreciating the many wonders is ceremony.  Sipping this amazing smoothie, reveling in the generosity of a tree that shares its gifts with me–this nourishment to my body, mind and spirit.  Such a pure gift.  Deep awareness brought to the morning activities–this is ceremony.

cherries.2.2019.jpg

Taking Time Apart, Conscious Ceremony, can take five minutes or as long as you choose for your busy life.  It’s really the pause that you invite in as you move into your day.  Awareness, gratitude and presence do seem to be the key ingredients of this pause.

Awakening Beside the Stream of Consciousness

So, is there a stream of consciousness, of awakening?  Would all who sat beside it or sipped from it become enlightened?  Could it be that easy?

The mystic poets, i.e. Rumi, Hafiz, Lalla, Gibran, Blake, Miribai and more, appear to have drunk from the stream of consciousness.

I wonder what has to be surrendered in order to sip this divine nectar?  Any ideas?

Rumi says:
“There is only one sunrise a day.
In  your sleep you see many shapes and people.
When you wake, you see nothing.
Close those eyes and open these eyes.”

Realistically, can you do that…see through your dreamer’s eyes?  At least some of the time?

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This one rings true because I’ve had some experience with it and I have talked with others who practice gratitude.  Even in troubled times, they look for something to be grateful for.

from Rumi (again):
“Flying toward thankfulness, you become
the rare bird with one wing made of fear,
and one of hope. “

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I also appreciate this poem by Hafiz.

Absolutely Clear
Don’t surrender your loneliness
So quickly.
Let it cut more deep.

Let it ferment and season you
As few human
Or even divine ingredients can.

Something missing in my heart tonight
Has made my eyes so soft,
My voice
So tender,

My need of God
absolutely
Clear.

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Have you thought of loneliness as a doorway to the divine?  I’ve had the experience of being deeply with my loneliness.  And then, slipping into the place of reflecting on the loneliness that is pervasive across our planet.  A connection was then established with all who experience loneliness.  I was less alone.IMG_9970.jpg

Writing Prompt:
What’s it like for you when you visit this deeper Stream of Consciousness (Awakening)?
Tell me…don’t be shy.  We’re more connected than we realize.

e e cummings

One of his poems of gratitude:

i thank You God for most this amazing
day for the leaping greenly spirits of trees
and a blue true dream of sky, and for everything
which is natural which is infinite which is yes

(i who have died am alive again today,
and this is the sun’s birthday, this is the birth
day of life and of love and wings: and of the gay
great happening illimitably earth)

how should tasting touching hearing seeing
breathing any–lifted from the no
of all nothing–human merely being
doubt unimaginable You?

(now the ears of my ears awake and
now the eyes of my eyes are opened)

by e.e. cummings

Sigh.  This is one of those poems that I like to let wash over me.  Imagining that I’m laying on my back on a Huck Finn type raft, floating downstream, gazing skyward, dreamy.  Hearing e.e. cummings read his poem for the first time, I felt joined with him in this prayer poem of gratitude.  Wow!

Writing Prompt:
What does this poem evoke for you?  Read and/or listen to it a few times.  Savor the way the words flow.  What images arise?

 

Ode to My Jeans

An ode can convey gratitude.  This ode also employs the use of figurative language.  My sister, Kathryn, wrote this ode to her jeans several years ago.

Ode to My Jeans
© by Kathryn O’Brien

you always hug me
in just the right places

I remember
flipping through pages
slinky skimpy girlie stuff
Victoria’s Secret
catalog of glossies
the kind Joe liked

I sipped coffee
in bored fantasy
until you appeared
pure cotton denim
so out of place
like me in Joe’s life

you were hidden beneath
a one-size-fits-all
cotton sweater
overpriced
but just my style
I sent away for you

stretched snugly over my limbs
you highlighted my form
holding me up
where I might have buckled
always there to slip into
when nothing else fit

stuffed into clunky hiking boots
or finished with delicate heels
mickey mouse sweatshirt
or silk camisole
I remember how it never mattered
who I was inside of you
how Joe never noticed either way

so here we are
faded and worn
sagging around the hips
loose at the waist
six years gone
Joe too
your left knee exposing bare flesh

Writing Prompt:
What in your life would you like to elevate into an ode?  It could be a n y t h i n g.

 

 jeans2

Gratitude

Yesterday, in the United States, we celebrated our Thanksgiving holiday. Tradition has us gather with family and friends to give thanks for one another, for the harvest and the gifts that life has bestowed upon us.  Ideally, gratitude is a part of our daily experience.  I notice that when I come from a place of gratitude, I am able to better hold the balance with what doesn’t seem to be working (personally and in the world).  There are as many ways to give thanks as there are people.  In autumn, my thoughts are naturally drawn to gratitude for the harvest.  Sometimes this is an internally whispered “thank you.” Other times it is a proclamation delivered on a mountaintop or a feeling of sheer exuberance without words.

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“Harriet Kofalk was a beloved naturalist, author, activist, mother, grandmother, and dear friend to many people worldwide.”

From the book, Earth Prayers, we have Harriet Kofalk’s poem of thanks:

Awakening
in a moment of peace

I give thanks
to the source of all peace

as I set forth
into the day
the birds sing
with new voices
and I listen
with new ears
and give thanks

nearby
the flower called Angel’s Trumpet
blows
in the breeze
and I give thanks

my feet touch the grass
still wet with dew
and I give thanks
both to my mother earth
for sustaining my steps
and to the seas

cycling once again
to bring forth new life

the dewdrops
become jeweled
with the morning’s sun-fire
and I give thanks

you can see forever
when the vision is clear
in this moment
each moment
I give thanks.

WRITING PROMPT:
Harriet’s poem is one of both gratitude and presence.  Write your own poem of gratitude. You could start by listing some of the things you feel grateful for today and develop your unique gratitude poem from that list. Or, you can borrow Harriet’s line “I give thanks…” and allow your own poem to evolve from her line prompt.

Wait a few days and then spend some time crafting your poem. 

Mt. Shasta on election day

I give thanks for where I live.