Walking the Coyote Rim of Love

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“Spirited Coyote” courtesy of the artist: Gretchen Grunt. gretchengrunt.com

The other night, miming the glass-box in the middle of my own vortex, trying to find my way out, I was drawn to Coyote. A few years back, on a lonely, ship-wrecked night, his solitary howl mirrored my own sorrow so well, that I have never forgotten it, and have always been grateful to that mysterious trickster-prowler who paces under a curtain of stars ever since.

I find sometimes the centrifugal force of my own life pulls me into itself roundly and voraciously. It can even be benevolent things that cause this: deeply wanting to help someone I love who is in need, listening intently, attentively, and graciously to another, engaging myself in the life of someone who could use a companion, but somehow I find myself at the center, the vortex, nonetheless.

And then, I remember my friend, Coyote. Dear Coyote. Coyote who walks and wanders at the edges of things. Coyote, who laughs wholeheartedly from the outside rim. Coyote who howls with blood curdling empathy from the hills beyond. Coyote, who knows how to stay out of the center, but at the heart.

This is a good lesson for me. My contribution to life and to people can be meaningful, empathetic, and soul-felt, but also more from a place of holding, arms surrounding and circling, gently observing, edge-walking, rather than swirling inside the center, finding it hard to breathe. I don’t have to place myself in the middle of the drama. I can actually contribute more by being in that inside-outside space. That Coyote space, roaming the hills, looking for ways to help, empathize, assist, but also carving out space for myself, a place to hear the stars breathe, and know the pulse of my own heartbeat.

A New Year Heavy with Desire

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As I cross the threshold into 2014, I don’t want to heave across my shoulders a backpack full of resolutions, but a backpack heavy with desire. Let me explain. Resolutions, even good ones, like eating healthier, volunteering more, spending quality time with important people in our lives are just that: resolutions. “I resolve to do this!” But, in reality, I can resolve and resolve, but inevitably, as I learned this year, there are many things out of my control. I have quietly, in essence, resolved to fail in the things that wash unasked for and ephemerally out of my hands.

But desire is another thing. If my backpack is heavy with desire, it blushes with the things I truly want to accomplish, experience, and enjoy-  oozes with it even. And often it is double-heaped with twin deeper desires. For example, “I desire to write a memoir this year” becomes (deeper desire), “so that I can bring a little bit more healing into the world by giving hope through my own experiences.” Or, “I desire to eat healthier” becomes “I desire to learn more about my body and become a better caretaker of it so I can live my life more fully.” Working with the contents of your load can ripen the fruits you hold within.

So I’ve resolved this year (o.k., not resolved, but desired) to heap my bag full of desires. Which, I know from past experience, if not completely fulfilled, will often wonderfully transform into stepping stones, pathways, and bridges into broader envisionings of that initial heaviness- and become so sweet, so full-flavored, and eventually, so deeply satisfying.

Can you embrace your life right now?

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photo courtesy of Ginny Schneider

I’ve recently crossed the threshold of kidney surgery, wandering the strange and meandering road of recovery. Recovery sounds like such a positive word. You are recovering! You are getting better, and yet, it can be the most difficult part of the journey. Whether it’s in the physical realm, the soulful realm, the emotional realm, it’s where the shake-down happens. It’s where the questions arise. It’s where the open space of uncertainty and possibility remain open. It is where both pain and healing come to the surface. The whys, the wherefores, the what will happens are all out there wandering like lost children, bumping into each other, crying, crawling, and wondering when someone will pick them up and take them into that longed for lap of slow , motherly, rocking-chair solace.

In an act of spiritual direction toward myself, I asked myself a question this morning: “Can you embrace your life right now?”

I first had to think about what “embrace” might mean. I decided it doesn’t mean toying with myself and my situation at arms’ distance. It doesn’t mean  a quick peck on each cheek to make myself feel temporarily acknowledged. It means to hold myself during this time. To look outside my window and let life embrace me, too. For me, it’s a deep long, loving hug. It’s saying, “I fully hold you and love you at this time- hard as it is.” And I’m finding, as I embrace my life, life embraces me back.

It sounds a bit funny, but loving ourselves into the whole of our realities can be the very lap we’re looking for.

May you be deeply embraced today.

“Extraordinary” time in Ordinary Time

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photo by Ginny Schneider

I was diagnosed with a form of kidney cancer very recently. This turned this “ordinary time” of the year into “extraordinary time”, with new things to consider outside the arms of the hourly ticking clock. The prognosis looks good, but it still takes me to the edge of a threshold where I had not expected to go (which I’m sure is true for anybody gazing suddenly over a seeming precipice!)

Being “here” in this moment, at this time, brought me back to an exercise I had created several years back, appropriate for the now of “ordinary” time surrounded by the now of “extraordinary” time.

For those unfamiliar with the term, “milagros” are small pieces of metal, often shaped into parts of the body that serve as both a reminder, a desire for a healing of that place, and/or a token of gratitude after the fact. Fascinated with these little symbols mostly prevalent in the southwest, here is a threshold crossing exercise.

Milagros Exercise

Take some time to write on 5 slips of paper, 5 praises to the part of the body you choose. For example: “I cried out to my______ (hand) and my hand said, I ____ (write messages of stars, hold tiny fingers of bone and flesh, paint the world with colors).

Here are mine:

“I cried out to my kidney, and my kidney said, ‘I am the seat of wisdom, I purify, I hold streams of red life, flowering gifts like flame-flowers on the Red Road of Life.”

“I cried out to my legs, and my legs said, ‘I take you where you want to go, bark-less trunks of determination, bringers of new gifts of new experiences.”

“I cried out to my heart, and my heart said, ‘I bear all things, believe all things, hope all things, endure all things; when prophecy comes, it might fail, when words come, they may cease, but I endure forever, for I hold Love.”

“I cried out to my mind, and my mind said, ‘I take in the above and I take in the below; I am the great sifter of thought, the great dreamcatcher of wisdom. I will walk with you on this journey.”

I find that marking the places of hurt and of health, and honoring them, gives awareness and somehow resurrects gratitude, even though at times, the going is tough.

May all of your “parts” support you, and may you rise up and call them “blessed”.

Sipping the Nectar of “Ordinary” Days

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picture by Ginny Schneider

As I continue on my journey through the days of  the ordinary (which, by the way, is amidst some rather “unordinary” life circumstances), I am reminded, believe it or not, of the word, “nectar” . Besides the sweet, sticky, sugary substance which is lifeblood for pollinators, one of its other definitions is “the life-giving drink of the gods.” That brings to mind for me some sort of amazing golden liquid that both delights and sustains.

So as I think about it, taking in the sweet, the good, the beautiful, the “daily amazing” nectar of life is literally “life giving”. Sucking the marrow, drinking the nectar, tasting the ambrosia are not only pleasantries, or delicacies for special occasions, but are actual necessities. We can’t do without them.

They are like the free gifts tumbled out on our doorstep with a note and a giggle as the giver runs away. They can be as simple as the relishing of the taste of coffee mixed with cream and warmth at breakfast time. Or the re-reading of an email or an instant message that was just so nice that it had to be savored again.

I received one of those today:

“I prayed for you on the edge of Spot Pond thinking of the water carrying my prayers to you on your island. Blessings. Blessings. Blessings.”

Refreshing. Tasty. Nectar. And you can always go back and savor it again, as memory is its perfect gustatory accompaniment!

Happy daily ambrosia to you!