Our Lady is on Fire

 

 

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I entered the Silent Tomb;

the Mosque felt

devoid of Presence.

We wandered through

a myriad of glorious arched rooms,

ornately carved woodwork –

soft carpeted floors.

Removing our shoes

we spoke softly

in deference to

Something ineffable?

Each tiled courtyard,

Mute, yet

starred in

cobalt blue.

Opaque light streamed

through precisely cut

geometric shapes,

domed ceilings

cracked the heavenly stream

into patterned shards.

Outside,

unattended,

High mud walls

kept Creation

at bay.

Fruit trees

twisted by bitter west winds

ragged junipers

sagging in sorrow

rendered invisible

by those who choose

not to see…

I wept for the casually discarded

living breathing

Beings –

Pulsing with Light.

 

Beyond white sand walls

the stark white capped

Mountains cried out in torment

“Here we are!”

“Sangre de Christos” –

It is our body, our blood

that has been shed

not just his.

Stretching north –

Ridged, ribbed serpents

split the continent in two,

valley gorges meandered far below

arroyos flooded Rio Grande

and all the colors of

the rainbow streamed

out of mud and stone.

 

I picked a fragrant branch

on my way out –

a blushing apple blossom.

Re – attaching myself

to Her through a plant,

to what is tangibly real

helped me to breathe…

I felt the split

between mind and body

heal the artificial division

that I had just experienced

beneath words –

Inside and outside

remain perpetually at war

for so many.

 

I stared –

Transfixed by a miraculous painting –

bewildering beauty

stretched around me

from horizon to horizon

I bloomed with the usual awe.

Turning back I gazed at

the graceful rounded lines

of a “holy place”

where Nature was kept at bay

by stark walls,

lack of windows,

cold shadowy halls.

 

Why is it that humans

can no longer see

that the ‘holy’

may manifest

in man made structures

but containment

requires situating

oneself in the Whole?

 

At home

When I placed the

budded branch in water

I recalled another

holy place engulfed by flames.

“Our Lady” is on Fire

during this week of

crucifixion

as once again

body is severed from

the spirit to which it belongs.

 

 

Working Notes:

 

Yesterday I spent more than two hours with a friend exploring a huge and empty Mosque situated just down the road from me… this beautiful structure was situated high on the Mesa with the snow covered Sangre de Christo mountains (Rockies) in the distance – other mesas and volcanic mountains stretched in every direction. The whole landscape was draped in pale spring green. A deep blue sky held a white star in her arms…

Once inside the enormous structure all light was diffused and entered only from ABOVE – mostly covered by some kind of translucent material or plastic… Each magnificent courtyard was enclosed – stone, tile adobe, star patterns carved into ornate wooden doors – The arched doorways and niches were astonishing to behold.

And yet, my body felt heavy – “de -pressed” in some fundamental way. It wasn’t until I was outside the compound that I realized that what I had experienced was a brutal and mind – body split as I was FORCIBLY separated from Nature’s beauty while wandering about inside this extraordinary building…

From my point of view this compound reflected in a concrete way how religions force us to make a choice between loving natural beauty and “worshiping” in man made structures. Churches etc. separate us from wholeness, creating a split that damages not only humans and all non human beings, but allows us to discard this beloved planet that is our home.

How in such a magnificent setting could people separate themselves from their landscape as effectively as this place had?

Then I thought of Notre Dame burning…. “Our Lady” is going up in flames.

I do not believe in coincidence. The message implicit in the burning down of the cathedral in France during the Christian holy week also speaks to what we are doing to the Earth.

Indeed this is the week of Earth’s Crucifixion even as Christians and Jews celebrate resurrection – freedom from the body, slavery, and redemption.

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A Cactus made of Rainbows…

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(Author’s newest rainbow cactus garden – the stones are pieces of chert that were found nearby -note the tiny nubbins on the sides of these cactus that will soon burst into bloom)

 

Raspberry spines

prick my skin

but do not harm me

as I gently dislodge

you from stones

and soil,

praying out loud

for permission.

 

You thrive here

as the Bears do

under tall red pines

and lichened boulders.

Aspens, Spruce, Juniper

all murmur

love songs

on Changing Woman’s mountain.

 

Is that why they call you

a Rainbow cactus?

Were you there

when She was born

under soft deerskin

pulsing with a whole

spectrum of Light?

Did the Bears watch you

From swaying tree tops

offer generous blessings

for the gift of your life?

 

I step so carefully,

so as not to crush

your little village

thriving under my feet.

I gather you as

a small family, believing

you need to grow together

to thrive.

Your roots are shallow

hugging jagged rocks

at odd angles.

I feel amazement –

Such tenacity.

 

I note your need for protection

from merciless west wind and sun.

Yet you thrive with so little –

a blessing from the Cloud People and you

burst miniscule roses from thorny skin.

I imagine a waxing frog moon

overflowing with pride.

 

I found a bear paw

not far from where you lay –

White flint worked

by those who once

tread lightly

on sacred ground,

soul heart and body

bound to each rock

and tree.

(Bears still leave

their marks on smooth

white aspen bark).

 

The People

spoke in tongues

most can no longer hear.

Oh, my grateful heart

sings praises for this

precious body that

vibrates

ancient strumming sound…

Your collective Voices

vie for my attention

as I move effortlessly

through the veil,

bowing my head

to acknowledge your

Bountiful

Grace.

 

Time gathers herself around me

False lines and boundaries

disappear.

I am so easily comforted by Now.

If only I could stay here…

 

When I wend my way

down the mountain

with a prickly clump

of your people,

I am filled with Light.

Perhaps Changing Woman

was right –

Her children’s father

was a round rainbow cactus

after all.

 

Working notes:

 

Yesterday I visited the mountain that once called me to this place, although I couldn’t name her then… three years later I am drawn back again and again to this Mesa forged in Light to gather stones made of the flint that was traded throughout the Americas by the pre – Puebloan peoples.

 

The Powers of Place embrace me again and again as I climb, hearing voices, and I am  permeated with wonder…

 

In Navajo mythology Changing Woman – she who grows old and young again but never dies – was born under a rainbow of light created by a myriad of colors – orange, gold, gray smoke, ebony, pink and burnt orange – of the stone called chert that is found in a single band that stretches around this mountain. This flint was worked into tools that were traded throughout the continent…

 

Changing Woman (parthogentically) birthed two boys who left her. When they asked about who their father was she retorted that maybe he was a round cactus! (a tongue and cheek response?) Their grandmother later told them their father was the sun but my guess is that their real father was a prickly round rainbow cactus that grows close to the ground on the slopes of Changing Woman’s beloved mountain, the mountain where she was born.

 

This marriage was one woven from Light, tenderness, thorns, and tenacity.

Crucifixion

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When I saw

the mist rising

over the veil

of red willows

I heard Her cry out.

I had to heed the call.

 

I stood at the river’s edge,

a silent witness for

My Lady

of Sorrows –

La Llarona,

the Mother that Mourns.

 

I did not know

that today

was the beginning

of Her Dying;

Body severed from Spirit.

 

A 2000 year old story

lives on

through each heart-centered cell

year after year

regardless of personal

awareness or intent.

 

I must choose to join

Her as she rises,

for her grief

mirrors my own.

 

Not to acknowledge

the dark veil she must wear

is to deny the loss of her son,

the loss of my sons,

the Great Dying of

Earth’s plants and animals.

 

What can I tell her

this Lady who watches over

the Living Waters,

this Woman Who Weeps?

 

Only that I witness

Her anguish

with heartfelt compassion,

and commit to Presence

amidst the Great Dying

loss of children

and the death of one

whose benign and beneficent spirit

some continue to call a god?

 

 

Working Notes:

 

This morning I awakened to a hard frost, and a deep blue pre- dawn sky. When the heavy mist beyond the field caught my attention I felt compelled to walk to the river. I wasn’t thinking about the story of La Llorona, the mythical Southwestern woman who haunts the river’s edge, one who mourns the loss of her children … What I experienced instead was the Presence of My Lady as a Spirit of the River, a spirit who watches over the Living Waters, and one who mourns the loss of so many animals and plants. I feel a great kinship with this figure because I am a dedicated Naturalist who walks with the Great Dying as a way of life.

 

It wasn’t until I returned to the house that I realized that today is Psalm Sunday, the beginning of holy week according to the Christian tradition. Although I am not a Christian, I have Judeo- Christian roots and for some reason I seem to have to live this story each spring whether I want to or not.

 

So, I was not really surprised to learn that my first spring meander to the river included an encounter with the Mother who mourns the loss of her son, although I wasn’t yet consciously aware of this aspect while I stood at the river’s edge gazing into the mist…

 

What’s different for me is the focus of this week’s story. I identify and align myself with the Woman Who Weeps not only for lost children but for all the losses the Earth is presently enduring.

Seeds of Change

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The Desert Mothers

peer out of pale pink apple

blossoms, fringed chamisa

clumps of gray green

asters…

A glittering diamond frost

coats dark red ground.

Redwing and Dove songs

celebrate new life

in the Round.

 

My Visions

repeat the warning:

Slow down.

It’s not time

for too much

raw Sap to rise.

Scorching tender roots

is a grave mistake.

Roots need Earth space,

to drift and dream,

delve ever deeper

into meaning

before spring fire

bursts into golden splendor,

embodying September’s Grace.

 

The Desert Mothers know

that timing is all –

that rooting requires patience,

heartfelt attention

and dedication.

Heeding signs

from rain clouds

unfolds forgiving

blue

wings around us.*

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*( Just after completing this poem I go outdoors and am stunned to see a circle of blue open under heavy gray skies – this kind of sign appearing so soon after writing the above sentence reveals the profound interconnection between every human being and this beloved Earth we call home – Later a second synchronicity – I am re -reading poem and although it is absolutely still the door opens by itself – Someone is speaking and I am listening)

 

I imagine tender roots

twining around each other.

Seasons turn.

Together,

embracing possibilities,

changes

of perspective,

the weather of uncertainty,

they thrive.

Well nourished

by Love that tolerates Separation

one day – root tendrils become robust.

Passion can now be unleashed

to climb through

the Desert Mother’s Hair

torching an evening sky,

with Wild Flames

from a Noonday Star.

Letting Go

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For a moment

a blazing star

astonished a mountain

warming

a heart from within.

But stars are made

of rings of fire.

Flaming Light

torches

Evening sky,

as fierce

and deadly sparks

tumble through

thin air,

burn to cinder,

black ash –

Night Sky Bear

implodes –

strikes frozen ground.

The Garden Wall

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A pile of shattered rock

rose up like a ragged mountain

in the driveway.

How was I going to construct

a garden wall out of

fat hunks of stone?

 

A month of

boundary violations

crumbled poor ground.

The stones of

indifference,

non existent loyalty,

betrayal,

too much light,

heat from the son,

even cows who

rammed

thick bodies

thru barbed wire

seemed intent

on blocking.

 

Attention and Intention.

Both.

 

“Just do it”

a voice said.

And I did –

stone by stone,

crafting

a half moon circle

to rest upon a straight line.

 

Roaring March winds

tangled hair into knots

nipples stood erect on my breast.

The sun burned my

shoulders as a

dream flooded my

imagination,

creating form

from visual clarity.

 

As I worked

I saw Lizards

who would

hide in the cracks,

flaming scarlet

beans

and burnt orange

nasturtiums

climbing skyward

or cascading over

ungainly stone,

bean trees or

waterfalls

vining their way

Earthward

to creep along

the desert floor.

 

I finished the wall

with an odd sense

of completion.

Through this work

I had taken

a stand against

indifference,

dismissal,

violation,

invasion

and self doubt.

 

I hoped my actions

would be enough

to fracture an old pattern.

 

Being taken over by others

obliterates the power of

this Child – Woman’s Light.

Seed Bearer

Yesterday old eyes

stung –

fierce white

heat –

blurred vision.

 

Singing love songs,

I scattered seeds

in furrows

raked smooth,

tucked tufts

under stone…

 

Imagining

a Wildflower riot!

Bittersweet orange,

blue and gold

winding through

rice grass –

sage scrub,

vining over

wave -like gopher mounds.

 

I curb wild imaginings.

High Desert

discerns

what springs

to life – who

will bear flowers

or fruit –

not me.

 

I am Seed Bearer,

Earth’s Daughter –

a woman who

honors her Mother

by aligning herself with

Her Will.

 

Seedcasting

opens the door

to Ancient Story –

Original Memory is

restored.

 

“Mother’s day”

occurs just

as the snow

recedes,

on the cusp

of dark wings

who flash crimson

in the heat of the

son.

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(Cattails dispersing seeds just as I do…)

Working Notes:

I wrote this poem on March 25th without the conscious awareness that I was participating (for the first time this year) in the most ancient practice of seed sowing while honoring that first mother’s day with seed songs…

Because women’s stories live through me it no longer matters what my conscious intention may or may not be. My mind – heart body knows what to do and just when to do it.

Originally, ‘mother’s day’ was a celebration of the Earth Mother whose early spring stirrings begin in the northern hemisphere in late March. Thirty years ago when I first discovered this information in a book of women’s mythology I was struck by the feeling sense of discovering a profound truth that has been buried by Patriarchy.

So it remains to this this day.