Morning Meditation in July…

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I have just returned from the brook where I offered up my Toad Moon prayers early this 4th of July morning to the song of the hermit thrush and to the rippling waters that slip over stone – first honoring my body with a poem written just for her, and then by repeating my hope/belief/intention that the search has ended and my house will get the structural help she needs without invasive machines scarring my beloved trees and land… I release my doubt – a plague that has incarcerated me for months.

 

I felt my body rooting into forested soil… I belong here; I am loved here.

 

Peace filtered through the green – trees, seedlings, lichens, mosses, grasses and the clear mountain waters. Silence, except for Thrush’s morning benediction.

 

A prayerful moment at the beginning of each day opens a spirit door – a portal into the beyond perhaps, but also a sacred portal into myself – though I have experienced this lifting of the veil throughout my life it wasn’t until this winter in a New Mexican Bosque that the trees taught me a lesson I needed to learn. I must create space to do this morning meditation intentionally every single day – for myself, as well as for the Earth adding a third element to ritual. My walks to the river and Bosque began as a survival mechanism to deal with unbearable heat and transformed into a focused morning meditation that I hope to continue for the rest of my life … I didn’t plan it; it happened, and the Bosque full of trees, roots, fungus and hyphae was the medium… S/he opened the door.

 

Now the challenge is to stay strong and true to what I know… a four year journey into the hero’s (?) maze was the way I learned that this particular earth ground needs and contains me… Would her house timbers have cracked if I hadn’t abandoned her? She needs me to love her too.

 

It feels almost miraculous to experience a full moon in a grounded way after my experiences in the desert with an empty sky bowl of thin blue air, mighty winds that stilled the songs of birds and polluted the air, and nights that were rarely dark because the moon rarely slept perching in the sky for two weeks out of each month.

 

Too much air, too much stone, too much wind, a glaring sun… a sky bereft of stars for too long each month, no green, and no water….

 

How grateful I am for home…

 

Seal Skin – Soul Skin

 

 

This body is

my holy altar

my bounded skin

my embodied soul

my closet kin.

The Song of the Forest

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When He comes

I forget who I am.

My story vanishes.

Boundaries dissolve.

Emerald green,

leaf filtered light,

clear mountain streams,

trees, lichens, moss –

become ‘all there is’.

In the still dawning

Animals speak.

 

Nature’s ultimate gift is that given the chance S/he dissolves the artificial socially constructed  boundaries that humans have erected to separate themselves from the Earth who is burning in the Fire, unable to breathe as many of us are struggling to do now.

We have a choice to re-establish interconnection – to become part of the  original family that birthed us 500 million years ago… regardless of outcome.

Developing an intimate connection with Nature allows us to disappear into the whole. Ironically, dissolution is where peace is found.

Spirit Bear

June bear

 

When the bears come the waters will rise / sweet rain will fill the barrels / and cardinals will whistle love songs. When the bears come my feet will touch the earth / and I will feel the branches of root light illuminating the dark / revealing a direction that has been blocked by disbelief. When the bears come joy will climb up my spine / and fireflies will gather in my hair/ my mind will clear/ pinpoints of flashing light will lead the way/ the mist that blankets the mountain will part / dew will fall under a waning moon / and I will hug a furry body until I sleep / burying my head in his chest / feeling his heartbeat as my own / whole / if only the bears will come…

Trusting what we have been given?

It is hard to

witness the drought

steal lime green

shrink maple leaves

distort wildflower buds.

When I stand under

the apple tree

white snow petals

drift

around me,

I long to stop time

until the rains come.

Vernal pools

are disappearing.

This scalding gift

kills wiggling tadpoles

by the millions –

froglets not to be –

Frantically, I scoop

a thousand or more,

race to the pond,

make an offering

of reprieve –

Time to Breathe.

Afterwards

I reflect.

Murder by a scorching sun

is part of the story

but not the Whole.

This frog holocaust

is also Nature’s way.

S/he births life,

allows death

to have its way.

 

Working notes: This piece was written in response to a prompt given by a friend/facilitator before we met collectively on zoom (hideous name) – writers who need to keep on questioning and learning… that day I had witnessed thousands of tadpoles struggling to survive as their vernal (temporary) pools disappeared in the terrifying 100 plus degree heat wave in a month when all life is just beginning – May – Unable to stand by when I knew that frogs are the most endangered species on earth, I scooped up about a thousand and released them in a nearby lake, in my vernal pool, and kept a few to watch in a fish bowl knowing that bringing these last few to adulthood will probably give them a chance to survive. Frogs don’t need a heat wave to kill them. As it is only four percent make it to adulthood under the best circumstances. In that one pool  alone thousands more perished under a relentless solstice sun.

Not surprisingly, I didn’t get much feedback from my “non – poem” someone called it -unfortunately even sensitive writers aren’t tuned in to the ways of Nature…at least not like I am. In the scheme of things frogs don’t matter – and yet here we are in the midst of a virus crisis that kills impersonally… I see an intimate relationship between the frogs and people who are dying…

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The Pear Tree

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She was more

than a sapling,

so robust.

One summer she

bowed

her tear shaped body,

offering

a hundred sweet pears

to any creature

that sought her gifts.

Did the deer remember?

Fruit that fermented became

fertilizer for hungry plants.

 

When they

girded her slender trunk

that winter

I felt betrayed

by the herd of graceful creatures

I fed…

 

She was dead.

Her sweet cambium

stripped away

under rough bark.

Unable to carry

nitrogen, water, nutrients

from trunk to twig

the tree succumbed.

 

I would have cut her down

but she was hidden

below the house

in the lower field,

out of sight.

So the tree still stood –

skeleton gray against

new green

and wheat.

 

I continued to visit her –

murmured endearments,

stroked the scarred

trunk

“re- membering”

her life,

the wholeness

she once embodied.

 

Every fall I cut the field

Each spring I walked the

Round.

 

It was during

a May meandering

that I drifted

towards the tree –

startled when

lime green

caught my eye.

A few stunted leaves

were unfurling…

How could this be?

 

Bearing witness

to the struggle,

I cried out,

laid my head against

her trunk, caressed

a branch or two.

 

Some life force

had not surrendered –

 

During the summer

more leaves appeared.

I honored her tenacity,

placed protective wire

around her girth

under Autumn’s chill.

The philosopher held

the inevitable question…

How?

 

When I approached her

this spring

plump buds had formed

on branches over my head.

The Red Winged Blackbird

courted us both

from one of Pear’s

blue sky limbs…

 

After the heat wave

I couldn’t wait

to see her again…

 

Strolling down

the pine scented path.

I peered into the field

walked towards her

gasping in amazement.

A brilliant White Earth Star

stood there before me

festooned in

Bridal blossoms.

Honey Bees hummed

from every pearl -like petal.

 

“How did you do that?”

I queried in wonder,

recalling suddenly,

that I knew –

all trees communicate

underground,

ask for help,

exchange information

through rootlets,

mycelial networks,

miles of fungi,

woven into a tapestry

from tree to tree.

Did nearby white pine

or crabapple

nurture her

roots and trunk

when all seemed lost?

 

Miracles occurred

with regularity.

 

Like this one.

 

I was standing next to

a blooming pear tree

who would one day

bear sweet fruit!

 

Life had triumphed

for a cosmic moment.

 

Woman and Tree

were both transformed

by relationship

running deep.

 

 

Working notes:

This piece of prose was generated by the question of how much difference my love for this tree might have had on her return to life. Obviously there were biological/ecological forces that helped the tree recover, but my sense is that my love for her also helped in some mysterious way.

 

Developing a relationship with a tree or lizard or dog seems to create a reciprocity that strengthens both participants. And trees and women have an ancient relationship that stretches back through mythological time.

 

When we “re – member” some part of us brings what appears to be the past and the present together – my sense is that there is a wholeness inherent in remembering that also blurs the boundaries between the living and the dead.

May Eve – A Time of Becoming

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(unfurling three lobed Trillium by Trillium Rock)

 

Returning home to Maine in April has allowed me to experience winter turning her ancient wisdom filled face towards the maiden of spring. Although the month has been chilly, and until two days ago snow covered tree stripped mountains still held white dust, all Nature is celebrating renewal.

 

In the woods the maples are turning a deep rose red. Here in the yard all my fruit trees are waiting for May’s rain and the warmth of a waxing solar sun to set fragrant bursting blossoms, as are the lilacs. Blood red cardinals sing love songs in my pine forest, whistling up the dawn. Wood frogs croak in the vernal pools, laying jellied egg masses, young foxes race through oak groves crackling leaves in their wake. The goose stands watch over his nesting mate at the pond, a loon does the same, haunting the sky with his song.

 

On this still soft cloudy morning I peer into the forest beyond the brook noting a palette of grays  – the tree people on stilts – some slender, others thick, all well rooted – the trunks of some trees like maples and beech are smooth, others like ash and white pine are deeply grooved. All are well nourished by those who have gone before. Bare branches will soon be covered in feathery lime green. Balsam, Hemlock, Spruce and Cedar scent the air with Pinenes, those powerful healing oils of the forest whose fragrant breath heals damaged lungs.

 

This year I am listening to the sounds of woodpeckers – Sapsuckers bring in the first hummingbirds, Pileated woodpeckers carve oval doors, Downy and Hairy perch on telephone polls pounding deadwood when I walk to the pond.

 

On January 1st the first bird I heard was a woodpecker –a drumming flicker in New Mexico. The first bird sighting of the year always carries a message for me, and that day I had a vision of holes.

 

Something was coming… Now that this country is struggling with a pandemic that we humans have brought upon ourselves with our selfishness and disregard of non – human species – both plant and animal – we are reaping the first harvest of that which we sowed… And yet, all nature in the northern hemisphere celebrates this turning of the wheel, despite human suffering. Life goes on; and being able to participate in this process is a joy without parallel.

 

This year I turn towards May Day with reverence.

 

Yesterday I spent hours on my knees working in my overgrown perennial flower garden with the awareness that the position of my body revealed the depth of that reverence – I was bowed in prayer…

 

I feel overflowing gratitude for being alive, for being able to sit by still pools of water. I give thanks for ears to hear spring singing. I listen to the brook flowing – water rounding granite stone – just below the house. I walk through the deciduous wooded parts of this patch of land marveling over the tenaciousness of life to re –create itself out of a fallen tree stump, a rotting log. I count eight kinds of moss and lichen on Trillium rock. Emerald green sphagnum moss permeates my soul in the bog.

 

It is enough.

 

I am grateful, oh ever so grateful, to Nature for teaching me to see, to hear, to taste, to dream, to learn, to seek truth, to reflect, to feel fear, anger and heartbreak, and still to say yes to Love.

Red Bird – The Edge of Hope

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papa last summer…

 

Two days ago I had a dream that I saw my beloved male cardinal in the snow. Cardinals have been my spirit birds in the North Country for 35 years.

 

On the trip from New Mexico to Maine I heard cardinal songs every evening and morning. Listening to their symphony helped me believe that I was being welcomed home to the east.

 

We have been here at my little log cabin for nine days and although other dear birds have visited the feeder, no cardinals have been in sight – until last night.

 

At dusk I opened the door to the sound of the male’s mating call – “Oh, I cried, you are back – I love you” – my whole body/mind was thrumming with impossible joy. I kept talking and he kept singing. Tears of gratitude stung my eyes.

 

Over the past years I have had so many squirrels that I have had to stop feeding my cardinals on the ground. But every morning and every evening the cardinals would begin to whistle and I would run out with seed to scatter below the feeder.

 

Last summer I witnessed the male cardinal teaching this strategy to his young son. the little fledgling had such a high pitched voice! I have yet to see my friend in the flesh this morning, but just knowing he is here brings me to the edge of hope once again.

 

Blessed be the birds that bind us…

Tree Meditation

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Today I hugged

a Cottonwood

heart to heart;

we heard each

others pulse.

S/he is more rotund

than I …

a seventeen foot

girth supports elephantine

trunks and branches

that call down

high desert rains.

Bleached surface roots

crack hard pan

in a horizontal run

scenting water

even as West Wind

roars – a thief

stealing precious

drops of moisture.

S/he must find water

to drink or die.

Deep below ground

taproot seeks

serene lakes,

tendrils

listen for ripples…

 

Golden buds swell

on bare ranches

sticky with clear sap.

It won’t be long

Before S/he Crowns…

Leaves like scalloped hearts

flutter in late spring

breezes,

butterflies cooling

tender leaves and

twigs below.

Fierce

white light

and fiery heat

still Tree’s heartbeat,

stifling Life’s Flow.

 

Postscript: Anyone who loves trees like I do finds comfort in them during times of distress…

I love this tree’s shaggy bark… I love her shape, I love the little junipers that have sprouted around her feet.

From a naturalist’s point of view I believe that junipers and cottonwoods have a symbiotic relationship, meaning that they exchange nutrients – sugar etc underground. Most research suggests that desert junipers ‘have an intolerance for shade’… I certainly don’t see this around here. I live down by the river and the healthiest looking junipers are interspersed with the cottonwoods who provide them with bountiful shade from intolerable 90 – 100 degree summer heat.

I also include a little story about this particular cottonwood… S/he belongs to my neighbor/friend Bruce. For four years I have asked him to please remove all the rocks, and other debris from around her base so that I could photograph her. Just a couple of weeks ago I went over one afternoon – and there was the tree totally divested of sticks, slabs of stone, and a table. Bruce had done this to surprise me….He also indulged me by taking the photograph of me hugging this old tree. He’s not much for tree hugging.

When I touch her I feel a sense of wonder that such a being exists. And I recall the stories of cultures past and present who have reverenced her…

Turning towards the Tree of Life during times of fear and uncertainty reminds us that all life is a gift…but also that the trees have been around for 400 million years and know how to live sustainably. Humans are suffering now because we have not yet learned…

 

 

The Healing Power of Ritual

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The few that read this blog know that I have been writing and celebrating ritual for half of my life. The equinoxes and solstices and the cross quarter days (May 1, August 1, All Hallows, and February 2) comprise the eight spokes of the year. What I have learned from my research is that virtually every Indigenous culture follows this calendar in a general way – What I have gleaned from personal experience is that during these ritual periods my body is opened to the Powers of Nature in very specific ways that can be positive or/and negative. Often I experience uncomfortable physical symptoms – feel an intense buzz, am struck by severe headaches, the feeling that I am walking on air without solid ground; I have unusual experiences with animals or plants; I am blind sided by radical insights in day life or through dreaming. I have come to expect that usually there will be some kind of sign and if there isn’t one my body/mind isn’t in tune ritually and something is amiss – either my intentions, or the letting go (death) of some aspect of myself. The older I become the more I attempt to move through these periods with increased awareness that I am a receiver and need to be paying even closer attention…

 

My rituals have become so fluid and usually write themselves through dreaming, my experiences in Nature, my animals and bird, and/or sometimes – less so now – by being triggered in a particular way by some mythological theme. Not this year.

 

The Spring Equinox is historically a difficult time for me; this year is no exception. I normally suffer from debilitating depression at this turning. But I don’t ever recall “celebrating” a spring equinox that had so much fear attached to it. The C/virus struck this month. I am not only facing the virus with emphysema, but also must travel home to Maine, first for my health, (I literally cannot breathe in New Mexico’s intolerable summer heat) and I must also return to begin the foundation work on my log cabin… I am in my mid seventies in the highest risk category.

 

My dreaming life has been most distressing reflecting day fears in graphic detail. One dream urged me to get going; another suggested reassessing motels in “Everytown.” I am also suffering from difficulty sleeping, a problem that I have every spring which has been exacerbated…With PTSD and a general anxiety disorder pressing me on, my ritual intentions were reduced to their lowest denominator. How to deal most effectively with fear. Death fears.

 

This Turning is the second and last of the two Water Festivals, and this year it rained the night before. Unusual, especially in this dry desert year and to me the rain seemed significant. I note that sometimes the element that is honored seems to cooperate in a peculiar way at a Turning that acknowledges its importance. And Water is about purifying, letting go, and flow… I was able to collect precious rain that the trees and cloud people brought to use for our Body Blessings (Lily b, Hope, Lucy and me – only one of us is human). Very special, that.

 

I lit a Balsam Fir Candle to honor the trees who are helping me to breathe easier.

 

When I called in the Four Directions I began with East asking my Spirit bird, the Sandhill Crane, to be present… The last of the cranes migrated north almost a month ago. When Lily b my dove picked up my words in a song that he repeated over and over I felt as if I had really been heard (he is normally asleep by dusk) – my beloved Cranes and Dove were with me…Lizard came next… When I got to the West and called in Bear I had a sudden clear image of wearing a warm coat of black bear fur. Since the bear is the most important Spirit Animal for me this spontaneous image was surprising and very comforting – East and West had both responded in a visceral way and I will be traveling from West to East…(this is the Good Red Road of the Indigenous Way but in reverse) Reverse in this case this probably benign.

 

When I finished with the North whose spirit animal is the deer I lit one candle to acknowledge my intention to deal with my fear, and a second to turn my face to spring, towards my difficulties not away from them…

 

Next I took the bowl of water and blessed my body and those of the two dogs. I sprayed a sleeping Lily b on his roost, briefly awakening him.

 

Just as I completed our body blessings for health and safety, it began to rain lightly. How strange; no wind. Rain without any wind in the desert is a priceless gift. I immediately opened the door, walked outside and stood in the rain asking for a second body blessing, breathing in my deepest gratitude.

 

Once back in the house the rain stopped immediately. Incredible timing. When something happens twice at one time it usually manifests on a physical plane… Certainly our water blessings had been acknowledged.

 

Finally, I offered up my prayers, thanked my Guardians, the Four Directions and opened the circle…leaving it unbroken.

 

Peace.

 

Postscript:

That night I dreamed that trees had hearts and the heart of the tree was what mattered. (I had just written an article on the fact that trees had a pulse – I believe trees have a heart that stretches throughout the tree’s body). I love all trees in a way that I cannot explain – Kinship.

The following day two doves exactly like mine fluttered together, mating on the garden wall. This coming together of male and female doves seemed hopeful.

There were negative happenings too. The day before in the pre-dawn hours I heard the calls of the great horned owl. For me this particular owl’s call was always a warning. Before my mother died the owl called 13 times… before and after I returned to the desert in 2017 g/h owls surrounded my house in Maine warning me that all would not be well. In Mexico people believe the g/h owl is an omen of death; I would have to agree. One animal sighting highlighted the Void. Dark dreams returned…

To conclude, I cannot read what’s ahead for me or the rest of the frightened species on this planet at this time, but acknowledging this turning helped me to articulate my fears and to find comfort in the palpable interconnection between Nature and myself and the dark green religion of hope.

Ritual keeps this door between us open.

I am profoundly grateful.

Equinox Lament

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We Could Have Listened

 

I made my way

to the river,

heard the song

of a starving body

barely rippling

over black stone.

Man’s* need to

control her flow

may win out this spring

as more ditches are gouged,

and she is flooded

(not in time for

the young cottonwoods

whose roots are too shallow,

but to grow human food

and graze destructive cattle

man must have to eat).

A plague sweeps

through poisoned air

infecting us

One by one…

 

As I round the Bosque

at daybreak

breathing in grasses

sweetened by last night’s rain

crystals hang from bare branches,

the decaying comfort

of moist cottonwood leaves

mutes all sounds

beneath my feet.

S/he* listens as

I give thanks,

witnesses my Lament…

 

We could have listened

to weeping trees,

screaming plants

dying animals

witnessed holes

in blue sky,

stopped poisoning

Earth’s precious ground.

 

Nature tried

to capture man’s

arrogant attention

as he built more walls

between self and other

ignoring mounting

evidence supporting what

Indigenous peoples

have known for millennia:

Interconnection

is Fundamental to Life –

Dead whales

and krill,

the slaughter of all

but three percent

of the Earth’s forests,

missing birds,

unbreathable air,

melting ice –

Some western

gods of science still

protest to no avail.

How many people

Have I heard say

“Oh, it’s sad –

too bad they’re are dying

by the millions”

as if humans were somehow

Exempt.

Unique.

Those of us that heard the cries

were ridiculed.

Branded “ Voice of Doom”.

 

We could have listened

to weeping trees,

screaming plants,

dying animals,

witnessed holes

in blue sky,

stopped poisoning

Earth’s precious ground.

 

Has Nature finally made

her point

with an invisible killer

transmitted by wind

that shrieks

a dire warning?

This rampant threat

will reduce human populations,

with the potential to

eliminate a species

by first destroying

those most vulnerable.

Millions may die

before business returns

to normal in

this Straw Man’s world

until the Next Time…

 

We could have listened.

to weeping trees,

screaming plants,

dying animals,

witnessed holes

in blue sky,

stopped poisoning

Earth’s precious ground.

 

 

 

  • “Man” is used to define the human species as he still defines himself… I wonder what happened to humankind?
  • “S/he” refers to Nature as being inclusive – male, female. transgender –

 

 

Postscript:

I have been witnessing with increasing horror and grief the willful refusal of people to accept that any species except our own is capable of developing awareness or consciousness, has its own teleology, its own reason for being. We use Nature as a commodity; as if every non human species was designed to meet our needs and those of no other.

For much of my life my experiences and my dreams have taught me that all non -human species have awareness and possess an intelligence equal to our own – although intelligence in particular is expressed differently in the rest of Nature. It is clear from a lifetime of observations that all living things lead meaningful lives that we know nothing about. I have endured ridicule and derision for my ideas throughout my life.

It wasn’t until this year that I was finally able to let go of trying to shift the trajectory that humans are on through my writing. Ironically it was my relationship with Nature that helped me understand that I had done what I could. Today most of my writing is focused on the fascinating aspects of Nature making my writing once again a joyful endeavor.

In this remarkable process I finally got it, realizing that I had it backwards.

Nature doesn’t need us; we need her.

It is humans that are in need of deep healing. Nature will survive as a whole although at present many species are already extinct and so many others are dying. The fact that S/he will survive brings me great joy, and for that knowing in my bones I feel deep gratitude.

The difference between me and most people is that I have known all my life how much I needed Nature to survive. It was this need that turned me into an advocate in the first place.

Sadly, we humans don’t seem capable of living sustainably. (The exception, of course, refers to Indigenous folk who developed a culture based on shared resources and sustainability; pockets remain) I am just as much a part of the problem as anyone else, although I do carry awareness of my complicity and grieve deeply.

There are many ways to look at the current pandemic. Many see it as the “enemy,” Nature at her worst – The “man against nature paradigm” is alive and well. Personally, it is as frightening to me as it is to others… I do not want to die from this virus and I am one of the people at the highest risk –

But I am also aware that Nature is ultimately focused on the big picture (although she also has a deeply personal aspect), and the human species is a failed experiment as of now. Nature exemplifies the necessity of Interconnection and Community. Humans have refused to hear her anguished cries…and so I see this pandemic as a “natural event” – a way to begin to redress the horrific imbalances that we have created as humans at the expense of all of Nature. Nothing is personal here. Human induced Climate Change will no doubt do the rest. How ironic. It’s only a matter of time.

Today in the northern hemisphere we celebrate the turning of the seasonal wheel into spring – the vernal equinox – normally a joyous time for many – but not this year. Instead, we are fearful and isolated in our homes … Outside my window the wind is howling and churning up so much dust that with emphysema I don’t dare go out. The raging wind also seems to be reminding me of the spread of this pandemic through polluted air, which fueled the writing of this prose and post. In this area BLM was supposed to begin its first of its seasonal controlled burns of New Mexico’s forests today – yet another irony. They will have to wait for the wind to go down to begin burning even more trees and spewing up more pollution. The lungs of the Earth are disappearing by the Billions.