Alone

April 6, 2014 § 21 Comments

I am alone in this moment.

Empty house. Solitude.

Not lonely, not disconnected or isolated. Just alone.

I have been in crowded rooms, surrounded by familiar faces, and yet nearly undone by a sense of loneliness and disconnection.

Solitude helps me to settle, to center. From that place I can feel the connection to all things- the woods just outside the window, the cloudy evening sky, the bird sailing on.

And the connection with all those who have been truly with me, those who share this sense of unity, those who allow themselves to be open and vulnerable.   The tender filaments of true human connection.

Feeling connected can come in solitude and it can come in company. Not a matter of physical presence.  Spiritual presence.

When I am here, really here, fully and spiritually, I am never isolated, never apart.

Alone, yet never alone.

 

Begin Again

March 11, 2014 § 24 Comments

What you don’t have, what you didn’t do, what you did do, what you broke, what you hurt, what you lost, what you gained.

All the pain, all the joy, all the longing, all the intimacy, all the fear and the worry, the cold and the warmth, the isolation and connection.

That angry exchange, that exquisite feeling, that ride down the mountain, that moment of sorrow.

Every single thing.  Each past moment.

All of that- done and gone.

We sometimes dream of the power to go back; we imagine that we might change what we have done or failed to do.  Make things right.

But to have such power would be our greatest curse.  Just adding cascading, infinite layers of second-guessing and regret.

The inescapable reality- and our great gift- is that each and every moment that passes- with all its pain or joy- is now over and gone.

And thus we are blessed to begin again.

 

Mirrors

December 31, 2013 § 17 Comments

Just before dawn the black night lingers.  The light from within transforms my windows into a set of hazy mirrors.

The last day of the year.   An ending that promises a beginning.  Resolutions to make the new year different from the old.

All a crippling illusion.

Resolutions are our pretense that we shall soon bring forth change. Shuttling between imaginations of the old and the new, judgments of the bad and the good.  Living for the shimmering portent of a change that never comes.

If we say that we resolve to live differently in the coming year, we are already lost.  Such resolution is existence deferred.

Our life is here and now.  Each precious and unique moment.

I lift my head and in the time it has taken to write these words, the dawn’s glimmer reveals the natural world beyond the still mirroring windows.  I see fresh snow blanketing the ground and dusting the bushes.   Tree trunks etched against a gray sky.

This is all there is- yet more than enough.

 

The Nourishing Rain

October 7, 2013 § 29 Comments

It is dark, long before the dawn.  I move through the house, not needing the light to navigate this familiar space.

A steady nourishing rain is falling.  I hear its hum.  And then the wind comes up- the rain hits the house with its strong staccato beat.  I open the window for a moment and feel the cold, wet air on my face.

And right then- in that moment- all the punishing duality disappears.  There is no me and the rain, no me and the house, no me and the many things that I must do.

A moment of just being.

I am home.

The Waltz in the Woods

March 19, 2013 § 31 Comments

Cold and gray this morning.  The storm has moved on.

I sit at the wall of glass looking into the pine forest that encircles my home along the southern coast.  I hear only the sound of the coffee brewing and the faint clicks from the keyboard as I write these words.

Right now the wind from the tail end of the storm is moving through the tall pines.  Each tree moves rhythmically with the wind, first bending to the wind’s will and then swaying back to its upright posture.   Yielding just enough to accommodate the gusts and then returning to its centered, upright way.

The wind ceases.  The dance ends.  The trees are nearly still now, just quivering a bit in the soft breeze that remains.

And then the wind comes up.  The dance commences again.

This cycle repeats- still, then quivering, and then swaying- a choreography of wondrous and hypnotic beauty.

I have not written anything for more than two weeks.  I have thought of writing every day.  And every day I somehow wasn’t able to write- too busy, the idea for the writing unworthy, whatever.

But this morning, I didn’t think about writing, I just sat here and looked out the window.  Wrote what I felt and what I saw.

Nature always models the way.  Giving up resistance, the tree bends to the wind.  But when the wind passes, she returns naturally to her centered existence.

The winds took me away because I resisted, I tried to think my way out.  But when I ceased fighting those winds, when I stopped thinking about what I had to do, I found myself again- here, at the window, watching the waltz in the woods.

Flesh and Bones

March 5, 2013 § 43 Comments

Strength feeds strength, as weakness feeds weakness.

Weeks of drifting.  A ghost of myself, neither truly alive nor fully present.

A malaise to match the gray, damp, chill that has hovered over my city.  Shuffling through the grimy streets with my devoted companions- doubt, fear, and evasion.

Even as I got things done, I performed rather than existed.  Not committed.  Not engaged.  Thinking, thinking, thinking.  Busy, busy, busy.

This morning different.  Meditation.  A walk in the woods.  Being present with those I love.  Strength.  The flesh and bones of true being shattering that pale, ghostly shell.

And then the sun came out.  I bathed in its warmth, adored the way it lit up the snow and ice, lost myself in the blue sky.

But those were just extra things.

The light of my true self had already broken through.  All I needed.

From the Beginning

February 5, 2013 § 43 Comments

Wandering through the museum, appraising the creations scattered along the walls, I found myself before the Rothko and everything stopped.  Anchored in place, rooted in the moment.  That breathtaking moment.

Taking a different path that morning, I walked into the woods in the crisp morning air.  I stopped, stood dead still, hearing only my breath and the faint rustle of the wind.  I saw the trees arching into the infinite blue sky.  I took a breath and everything fell away.

I remember seeing her standing in my office doorway, so many years ago.   The way she stood, her dark hair and luminous brown eyes.  Her arresting and vulnerable beauty.  I knew we would be together, I knew.

In the intervening years, I have often returned to the Rothko, walked those woods countless times, and lived my life with the woman who stood that day in my doorway.   All familiar to me now.

But when I return to that painting, when I step into those woods, it is like the first time.  Filled with wonder, overcome with gratitude- undiminished.

We often think that these feelings- the feelings of the new- in time must leave us.  We imagine we must settle for the faint shadow of those intense first moments.  But those feelings don’t leave us- we walk away from them.

If we are open and ready, if we stop striving to recover something we think we lost, if we simply exist in our moment- before the art, amidst the woods, in the arms of our lover- the familiar is anew.

And so when she leaves me, I still watch her walk away, all these years later, hoping that she might turn around so that I could see her face once more- knowing I will feel again and again what I have always felt- from the beginning.

The Stone

January 20, 2013 § 35 Comments

A cold, blue sky winter day.  Sharp wind.  But even from the warm shelter of my kitchen, I am drawn to step out.  To take a few moments out there, outside.  Reconnect.

Many years ago we built a small patio off the kitchen.  A nook bordered with hemlocks, a floor of stone tiles.  I have spent many hours right there, reading, sometimes writing, but mostly just being.

Today I throw on the topcoat and step into that sanctuary.  And as I sit and feel the wind and the sun, the cold and the warm, I look down.  And there it is.

The stone.  Created so long ago, taken from its birthplace, cut into these shapes and brought here.  Etched by the wind and ice, tinted by the sun and rain and the green moss that fills the channels between.  A majestic work of art that its creator, God, Nature, the One, is still crafting, still shaping.

And as I lift my head, I see the trees, the sky, the light and shadows, the tumbling brown leaves.  Beauty, perfection, peace.

Beneath our feet, just outside our door, in the woods, the mountains, or the city street- each precious vista, each precious moment.  Waiting for us.

The beauty of this sacred world.

 

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Immortal

December 23, 2012 § 15 Comments

I step out into the early morning chill.  Air crisp and pure.  First snow of winter.   Fields of scattered sparkling diamonds.

These moments.  What words could really capture them?

Someday I will die and these moments will end.  But now and here, I am present, aware, alive in the fullest sense.  Here there is no ticking clock.   No plans.  No regrets.

Nothing but a communion with the cold air and the sparkling snow.

Immortal in the moment.

The Wind

December 18, 2012 § 29 Comments

Be like the forces of nature:

When it blows, there is only wind.

Tao te Ching, Chap. 23

It’s early evening.  The cold air moves in.  Storms approaching.  Staring into the woods, feeling the wind as it dances across my body.  Surprising in its shifts and gusts.  Speaking to me, a portent of the storm.

The wind comes in infinite variety.  I have tasted the salty wind coming off the ocean, stood against its force as it swept up and over a snowy mountain ridge, felt its faintest breeze across my moist skin on a steamy summer day.

God’s breath, Buddha’s touch.

Our existence is also infinitely varied.  Sometimes in solitude, sometimes in the multitude.  In motion or at rest.  Speaking or silent.  In one place or another.

But in all things, and in each moment, we should be like the wind.  Present, always.  Swirling around what stands in our way.  Occupying our space in a strong and natural way.

And letting everything else simply fall into place.

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