Friday, May 1, 2015

What are You Doing About the Weeds?

I received a text from a friend last night.  She asked what I was doing?  My reply was:  “Brooding!”  She replied that she was too and let me know that she was on her way over.  This life has its own type of perfection, when two gals clue into each other and end up spending a Thursday evening wrapped in a blankie, on the couch, lamenting about the vagaries of life and it’s many challenges.  

In the course of conversation she asked me:  “Why has everything become so intense?  It feels like someone has turned up the heat!” with no access to the thermostat.

I had no answer to give her, but the conversation reminded me of an image from an ancient story, that I have been contemplating of late.   It’s in the garden story, long after Eve emerged from an Adamic sleep, even after she herself had woken-up, from snacking on the “apple”,  offered to her by a particular kind of worm.  
In studying the image, I realized I was contemplating in my mind, the particular part of the story where Eve learns she’s stuck there now; entangled in the branches of the Tree of Knowledge.  That’s what we gals were brooding over.  That pesky underpinning, we can't seem to grasp that keeps us grappling.  She was asking me (for probably the ten-thousandth time): “How do I just be happy?  How do I break free from the pain?”
Though I didn’t share it last night, her question reminded me of one of my favorite excerpts from William Wordsworth’s “Prelude”, written in 1888:

"Two miles I had to walk along the fields
before I reached my home. Magnificent
The morning was, a memorable pomp,
More glorious than I ever had beheld,
The sea was laughing at a distance; all
The solid mountains were as bright as clouds…
And in the meadows and the lower grounds
Was all the sweetness of a common dawn,
Dews, vapors, and the melody of birds,
And Laborers going forth with the fields.
Ah! need I say, dear friend, but to the brim
My heart was full: I made no vows, but 
vows were made for me; bond unknown to me
was given, that I should be, else sinning greatly,
a dedicated Spirit, and on I walked
in blessedness, which even yet remains..."

My friend's lament, my own brooding over those vows that “were made for" us, that “bond unknown" to us given and the image (pictured above by J. Kirk Richards), they all had something in common for me.  These old stories that lay before me, like a manuscript to be deciphered, the challenges current in life; the hidden answers that seem to come somewhere between the literal dogma and metaphoric-spiritual evolution they offer.
In the garden story, Eve makes a choice, prior to the possibility of knowledge.  Such a paradox and reminds me of Wordsworth’s morning walk, of those “vows that were made” prior to understanding the promise, yet the promise remains, and the bond that regardless of anything, there is blessedness that restores itself, as we search their meaning for us.

I love that after Eve took the apple, her Divine parents directed her to the Tree of Life, where placed there to guard her from moving too fast, were Cherubim (not one cherub with a heart-shaped arrow), but plural guardians.  I’m sure it she felt like someone standing behind her had just struck LOUD symbols together and the reverberation rattled her vision from one to three.  I love that J. Kirk Richards painted three guardians, because it was like a little confirmation of something I have suspected since I was quite young: 

If I were to use this image as a map into the metaphor, I would say that the guardians placed around the Tree of Life are the cherubim of our own body, mind and spirit, separated out for us to learn to work through.
Prior to taking a bite out of mortality, none of them were really possible in the realms of the un-manifest.  But here, well here it is a different story, here we get to work with them, without the emergence of congruent ongoing union.
Sometimes I work or play in my body, sometimes in my mind and sometimes in my spirit, yet what happens to one, reverberates through the others.  The reverberation can feel gross or incredibly intricate.  Sometimes it feels like my very agency pits them against each other and like quarreling sisters, it can feel like they’re mutual affinity, also has the capacity to create my own worst enemy and they become the very guardians to entering into full-happiness.  This, I think is what was going on last night 

On my path, as a yogi, I have experienced a communion of these three more often than a gal deserves. I know what it is, but if I really sustained it, like standing in God’s presence it would burn me up, from my head to toe.  It is not meant to fully blossom in this place, while also remaining the gate to the next. This place is not the place to fully embrace it, but to glimpse it, to cultivate it, to train these guardians to grow as one…not unlike the garden She came from, yet far beyond its borders.

Something I can say, is that when the three cherubim, body, mind and spirit are yoked as one, the Tree of Life is not a metaphor, and the map of lasting happiness begins to reveal itself through me more soulfully, for the moment. 
Sometimes that map leads me to my knees, where I kneel before the three of them and the flaming sword that keeps my happiness at bay feels like my own head, with a that old familiar heat that piercing down my spine.  I am the flaming sword, that’s me, body, mind and spirit, as I am now.  My work here, is the very juicing of apples (hopefully worm-free).

The only way I know to truly sin greatly in this life, is to hide from being a dedicated spirit; to live divided, body-mind-spirit; to go through the day with each one choosing for itself, as though the others don't exist at all.   So I find that, one night in good company, helped us enjoy the brooding and the weeding, as much as we enjoy the garden itself.
I had an experience of such weeding, just this past week.  My garden is in the back yard, in the form of a walking labyrinth.  And while I have been distracted by watching the grass in the center fountain and flourish, with no water source (indicating the immense flow of Spirit that pours into this life), the soft-rich soil had begun spouting weeds.
I was a wee bit puzzled, as several weeks passed, that I had no desire to drop to my knees and go to work on it.   A few days ago, however, following a recent rain, I noticed the soil was soft, the air was moist and felt sweet on my tongue, through my breath.   The time felt “ripe” for weeding, so I dropped to my knees and went to work.  Brooding or not, the process felt like a privilege. 

The pictures here really need none of these words above, other than to dedicate them to Karen and to Wordsworth, and Mary Oliver (of course) and to anyone else who knows what a blessing weeding can be, when it comes to this process called life, and to the intricate practice of yoking body, mind and soul.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

One Step Forward, Two Steps Back

My sister said lately that she felt like she was taking one step forward and two steps back.   This morning I woke to taking one of those steps forward out into the backyard and wondered if that counted as the same thing.  As my Saint Valentine's Day treat, I thought I would begin my day with a walking meditation through the Labyrinth.  Valentine's tends to be true to its roots in my circles.  Though not widely recognized, when tasting those chocolate covered strawberries, this day is dedicated to Martyrdom in the name of love.  

Recently, I've been integrating a 7-month old puppy (Nala) with my older, high-strung Belgian Mallinois, Bailey.  Given my current doggie-oddesy, I seem to have relationship harmony (and disharmony) on my mind.  In fact, this entire 2015 is turning out to be a series of relationship themes streaming though every aspect of my life.  

As this year starts to show it's personality, I'm spending quite a bit of my time mulling over dynamics, with son, sisters, family, friends and clients, ahem...and dogs.
This was all mulling in my mind, when I got out of bed.  I bundled myself up in my bathrobe, furry scarf and favorite knitted snow hat (the kind that has braided tassels down the sides).  I am sure I was quite the picture.  It wasn't extremely cold this morning, but I knew the gossamer hints of frost would quickly distract my body from the warmth that meditation offers the soul.

Stepping into the path, beginning the turns to the light flip of my adidas sandals (I forgot to mention that part).  These sandals have spa soles, a bunch of little acupressure points that help the arthritis in my feet relax, so I can walk in the morning when I get out of bed.

As I looked down and studied the stones that bordered the outer path, I thought of the approaching New Moon next week. 
I thought of the four quadrants of my backyard "Lab" as a metaphor for the four lunar cycles of each month.  These cycles rebirth past culminations (both good and bad) into fresh potentials each new Moon.  Next week will be a "blue moon", happening only so often and I am looking forward to sending some fresh intentions out into the ethos.  

My mind continued on the path with her usual chatter, rolling through conversations with others in recent weeks. I could hear myself speaking my peace (that usually comes to mind long after the discussion has ended).  It's an innocuous, yet very therapeutic, way that I give myself a good talking through, on a regular basis.   

I cycled through thoughts of how to stay authentic, while being more loving in my relationships with loved-ones, without loosing sight of what's true in me.  How to send my son off into the world, with a willingness to see him as a man-in-process, rather than my little-boy.   How to keep my own energy in a good place as I help these two dogs, in ways that feel harmonizing for all three of our very big hearts? 
 I looked down at my choice of clothing and wondered if maybe I've reached that crone stage?  What would one think, if you were to peek into my backyard and see such a scene: A woman bundled up in all sorts of mixed garb, walking in circles through some sort of weird path, mumbling to herself...Maybe I don't even need to ask.  Some questions answer themselves.  

I have been thinking lately that I feel like I'm ready for a face like Mary Oliver's, but for now I'm just looking like a gal who's definitely not young any more, but not old enough that my wrinkles and loosening chin are considered weathered-character yet.
Regardless, I kept winding along the path's greater curves.   Meandering through the four quadrants of Healing, Enlightenment, Prosperity and Peace.  It was helping me let go of the surface self-awarensses and embrace a deeper breathing pattern in my body.  Through the bridge of my nose, I could feel the sweet, pre-dawn air, spiral crispness deep into my heart, gently opening the tender folds of my lungs.  

Before I realized it's approach I was standing still, ready to enter the center.  Looking down at the meditation chair, I felt a unique sensation.  My heart could see two presences.  I stood faces to face with my past and future self.   There I was, a guest between them both; who I have been and who I will be...They stood potently before me, both beckoning and challenging me, to step in and take my place in-between them.  I did.  It was deep.  One of those meditation experiences where everything and nothing happened simultaneously, as I sat between my past experiences and my future potentials. 
Seated there, I up looked up toward the entrance, where I started my meditation.  From my vantage point, sitting in the center of the Labyrinth, I contemplated the "Alpha and Omega" section.  It's a middle point between the center and outside border of the path.  It guides you, turning in at the beginning of your journey and out from the center, at the end.  Sometimes when you glance it on your walk, you can't remember if you're moving toward or away from the middle.  I mused at how often it seems impossible to tell the two apart; whether I'm at the end of something, or just the start.

When ready, I began my pilgrimage back out.  I could still feel the two presences, my past and future selves, ready to merge more fully into who I am right now.  I felt encouraged by these two as they both became who I have always been and who I will always be.  

On the way out, I was chatter-free.  I took my first curves back through the healing quadrant and mused on my past perspectives as I heard the reminder from my past self say: "It's already been taken care of Sister, I've got your back".   

Wending through more curves outward into my day through the Peace quadrant, I heard again, that same message so clearly, from where I am going and who I will be: "It's already taken care of, you're already where you're trying to go".
As I completed this morning's pilgrimage, I reflected on my sister's recent comment and realized that those two steps back and one step forward are a really great teacher for learning to walk the middle way.  

So on this day originally set aside for a Martyred Saint (a totally relatable metaphor where such high expectations of chocolate and love abound), my hope for now is that when I feel those pesky minions of inner-martyrdom, that I will remember it's time to treat myself to a little centering.  After this morning's walk, I'm a wee bit more resolved to allow both my beginnings and my endings to take care of themselves.