For years now, too many years to count, I’ve walked in the woods opening up to spiritual teachings. Ordinary thoughts go silent as the feet crunch dried leaves. An expanse opens, an inner reflection sometimes begins.
Like a dream this inner voice speaks its truth.
It shares just at the edge of what is known or sensed. It doesn’t feel like it’s coming from the ordinary chatty mind. It’s like an overlay deepening and expanding. It feels like a truth rooted in ponds and stumps and late summer wildflowers.
Quite often I have used this blog to give expression to this voiceless voice. It doesn’t mean I’ve mastered living what it shares. It just comes forth as a forest teaching for you to rest with, digest and allow to sink below ordinary knowing. Like you, I try and allow it to filter past ego, limitation and separation.
Two years ago before our daughter’s wedding in Italy she asked me to take a picture of her maid-of-honor fixing her hair.
“Sure,” I replied and grabbed my old android TracFone and snapped a photo of the precious moment.
“Let me see,” she insisted.
I showed her the picture.
Her bride-to-be nose wrinkled with disdain. Assuredly she was anxious on her wedding day–who can blame her? but her next words became legend in this family: “What a sh*t phone! Can anyone else take a picture, please?”
Yesterday I walked up your road noticing your sweet fall wild aster, brown dying ferns, gravel stones beneath these feet.
You showed yourself as a snake lying in the dirt. Perhaps hit by a fast-moving truck. Your head looked muddy, but your wee garter-snake tongue forked out.
I felt fear. So scared of this snake, of its slither energy. A primal deep-in-the-belly incomprehensible fear. A fear passed on from generation to generation, a reptilian fear of…what?
An inner voice suggested, “Pick it up and take it off the road so it doesn’t get hit.”
But I couldn’t touch it. I just couldn’t. My Self wanted to do it–but the fear loomed too large, too luminous.
Please don’t make me touch it. Please. I simply Can’t.
I walked forward, leaving the snake on the road to be perhaps struck and killed by the next fast-moving truck. Step, step, step…
I am slowly, so slowly, learning to love the fear as much as the sweet fall wild aster, brown dying ferns, gravel stones beneath feet.
So I breathed and imaged a nest around this inner fear. Softened the heart around the primal reptilian fear. Felt the abysmal ache in the caverns of belly. Let the scaredy-cat be. Saw the fear as holy, holy, holy. Lord God almighty, heaven and earth are full of your glory. Saw the fear as not just mine–but a wound belonging to all of us.
Fear, stay as long as you want.
Fear, show your little palpitating heart any time. We’re old friends, you and I, ancient friends, aren’t we? And I have pushed you away too many times to count.
Then the feet turned around toward the snake. I couldn’t touch it, but I found a rock and nudged it toward the ditch. At first it wouldn’t move. Then it slithered, just a little. I inched it forward with the rock. It slithered more.
C’mon little fella. I’m scared, you’re scared, but there’s something larger than our fear. Off the road, dear one. Off the road into the tall grasses where you will live or die but a love beyond both of us prevails, doesn’t it?
Off he slithered. My scared-beating heart and I continued our walk.
Breathe, breathe, breathe.
Thank you Holy for sharing the way.
Then–how strange–I’ve barely seen a snake all this summer–here is a second one, a small dead red copper bellied snake lying in the road.
I walk on by, musing at the oddness, when an inner knowing prompts, “You can pick this one up.”
I turn back to this dear precious red bellied six inch snake and cautiously reach out and touch its belly. It is still warm. It feels soft and beautiful, not scary at all.
You can do it. You can pick it up and move it off the road.
And I do.
Thank you for the snake lessons today, all of them.
I’m in downstate eastern Michigan lounging alone on my mom’s flowered pastel couch with the deep aroma of coffee beckoning. The tattered book “Wild Mind” by Natalie Goldberg peers up from the round glass table.
Write, write, write, Natalie urges as her life mission. Write the chattering monkey mind, let it swing free through the jungle of its sense and craziness, don’t stop to edit, okay sip your coffee, but let the typing IPad finger never stop.
One fun exercise, she says, is let the monkey mind say what it wants and then write “What I really want to say…” and let the deeper stuff come up.
What I really want to say is how annoying smart washing machines can be. Have you ever used one? My brother and his wife put one in mom’s basement (they sometimes live here now that my mom dwells in assisted living) and I’m not smart enough to figure out how to outsmart it. Twice now I’ve washed the sheets and towels in preparation for departure and the load gets unbalanced and the machine misbehaves so terribly.
In fact I must quit typing, Natalie, and tend the naughty creature. Sip of coffee first! Oh Natalie, it’s impossible. We must sometimes divert.
Okay, back upstairs with clothes in the smart dryer, eating granola with sliced bananas, chia seeds and soy milk while typing with one finger and chewing. They say we really can’t multi-task as well as we think.
What I really want to say is that life seems to be this dance of challenge and joy. And that there’s some part of us that wants to get rid of the challenge part. Begone, all you troublesome problems that make us fret! Let’s just keep the happy parts, pretty please with cream and sugar on top.
It just hurts so damn much sometimes. This business of living.
This business of feeling.
This business of rainstorms and thunderstorms and tornados and hurricanes and wildfires and heat waves and viruses and cancer and heart attacks and war and arguments and differing viewpoints and divorce and…I could type for a long time. Couldn’t you?
Then there’s the precious joys, the sweet moments. Cappuccino ice cream with your 88 year old mom who couldn’t walk two years ago and now drives to the blueberry farm to surprise friends with fat juicy Michigan blueberries. Sitting on the sand and watching your adult children swim into frolicking waves. Morning friendly chats with a brother who lets you stay at his northern cabins on the way home to the shores of Lake Superior.
I could type for a long time. Couldn’t you?
It’s getting late. What did I really want to say that’s been left unsaid? I just want to capture a preciousness of life. The way it’s possible to pay attention to it all, the way tears can signal joy and sorrow. To say that it’s not just about laughter. It’s about tending ALL of us. All of life.
Hugging what hurts. Rejoicing when we’re happy. Learning to live with the fullness of it all, the confounding wholeness of it all, with the broken crack and the bell that still rings, inviting us into the next sacred moment.
Good morning, dear multi-colored and multi-faceted starfish! I have missed you as you shine your light over and under water. I hope these late spring days (we call it summer here in the short season of the Upper Peninsula) find you less constrained and more hopeful than in the past year or so.
This morning, sipping hot coffee on the couch, I announced to Barry, “The Winter King kissed us with snow again last night.”
He eyed me above his coffee mug, raising his eyebrows only slightly.
“What–are you taking some online poetry class now?” he asked.
“Hmmmphhh!” I replied. “Nah, I wrote a blog about the Winter King last week, and am just continuing the theme. I didn’t tell you about it because I didn’t think you would be interested in poetry and metaphor and analogy and such.”
“Thank you,” said he, and I did not dump his coffee on his lap inadvertently because, well, you just know what interests a person after forty-some years of sipping coffee on the couch. And poetic ramblings are not his thing, even though his wife swoons–yes, swoons–to dream deep into fairytales where intangible things become reality, thank you, Stacy, very much for those magic words.
Last night in the heart of February, the Winter King dreamed of pussy willows. He dreamed of them sitting atop red buds in the lair of his woods. He dreamed them fresh with life and song and laughter. But, because he’s the Winter King, he can’t truly feel Spring so he dreamed the pussy willows out of snow droplets.
Some of you may have seen them this morning.
The Winter King, as many of you know, wears icicles in his beard. He carries a staff carved with reindeer and moose and sassy elk. I think he wears a long midnight-blue cloak that sparkles with stars and cold moons. If you reached your hands into his infinite pockets you can touch the North Pole. His cheeks gleam frosty over his tangled white beard and he’s wise, wiser than you and me, wiser than his summer sister with all her beautiful green dresses woven with wildflowers and sunshine.
I apologize in advance for the times of silence on this blog. For quitting reading your posts. For just going quiet and seemingly disappearing into thin air. Poof! Just like that…gone.
This time, during the 75 day spiritual blogging commitment, I earnestly vowed not to do this again. NOT to disappear. To at least stay active reading and commenting on your blogs, because, truly, many of you have been faithful friends this past decade and beyond. And I love hearing what’s going on in your neck of the woods.
But vowing is one thing. Listening to what wants to happen is another. And what wants to happen in these times is silence. Quiet. Just being.
Engaging in blogging or social media feels like pulling teeth these days. And that’s an owie almost impossible to override.
It’s a frigid January morning here in our little house in the woods. The propane furnace motor hummed during the night trying to keep us warm, and this morning at 6 a.m. I started a roaring fire in the wood stove for today’s heat.
It’s cozy now, and I sip coffee and breathe. Listen to the silence, the noisy thoughts, the wood stove, the subtle hum of life.
Barry’s off to work and I don’t need to help out with school accounting today. Actually, I could sign in remotely and try to fix a $480 journal entry connected with payroll liabilities but, hey, that’s for another morning.
It’s been a peaceful spell here–except for the day of the capitol riots–where we sat glued to the computer while Barry worked on plumbing pipes in the basement. My heart is still heavy thinking of it, but we’ve on to hopefully happier times and I don’t want to talk about that any more right now.
It took about ten days to relax and shift gears after my 75 day spiritual daily blogging. Then, like clockwork, it all settled again into a new rhythm. Now am just waiting for inspiration to arise, with no need to write or not write.