In Passing

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Just a couple of days ago, a dear friend crossed one of the two ultimate thresholds; in his case, death. I think one of the most refreshing things I have ever heard, came from him during his last days. So honest. He said, “I really don’t know how long this will go on, hours, days, weeks?” He was truly present for the unknowable threshold that was unfolding. We sat with him. Enjoyed some well chosen words, planned on returning the next day with some requested tulips and chocolate, and then he slipped into unconsciousness, ultimately moving on to his next adventure. I wrote a poem about this moment I would like to share with you.

 

It is here.

 

You always wondered how you would go.

At a gas station with heart in flames, the ticking stopped,

then down for the count, a quick and simple death.

 

Or outliving your spouse, wandering the lonely halls

of forest and bedroom, your own soul, wondering

how you would manage as you slowly trickled away.

 

I’m sure in childhood, like the rest of us, you were sitting

in a rocking chair, on a porch, in some soft form of robe

or blanket, slowly disappearing into a long, long sleep.

 

But here you are. And even on your death bed, you say,

“I really don’t know how this works, how long I will go on,

will it be hours or days or weeks?” And you smile as we offer

you a tomorrow of flowers and chocolates alongside a book to read.

 

“That sounds lovely”, you say, then words slowly slip

from your veins and you go very quiet; and life slowly

drips from you body and you go very still; and now the

soul slowly seeps from your self, and

 

it is here.

– by Gina Marie Mammano

Being here. That’s all we can truly ask for every moment. May we all be here right now, together.

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And This is Pure Truth, Pure Beauty

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The Art of Blessing The Day

by Marge Piercy

This is the blessing for rain after drought:
Come down, wash the air so it shimmers,
a perfumed shawl of lavender chiffon.
Let the parched leaves suckle and swell.
Enter my skin, wash me for the little
chrysalis of sleep rocked in your splashing.
In the morning the world is peeled to shining.

This is the blessing for sun after long rain:
Now everything shakes itself free and rises.
The trees are bright as pushcart ices.
Every last lily opens its satin thighs.
The bees dance and roll in pollen
and the cardinal at the top of the pine
sings at full throttle, fountaining.

This is the blessing for a ripe peach:
This is luck made round. Frost can nip
the blossom, kill the bee. It can drop,
a hard green useless nut. Brown fungus,
the burrowing worm that coils in rot can
blemish it and wind crush it on the ground.
Yet this peach fills my mouth with juicy sun.

This is the blessing for the first garden tomato:
Those green boxes of tasteless acid the store
sells in January, those red things with the savor
of wet chalk, they mock your fragrant name.
How fat and sweet you are weighing down my palm,
warm as the flank of a cow in the sun.
You are the savor of summer in a thin red skin.

This is the blessing for a political victory:
Although I shall not forget that things
work in increments and epicycles and sometime
leaps that half the time fall back down,
let’s not relinquish dancing while the music
fits into our hips and bounces our heels.
We must never forget, pleasure is real as pain.

The blessing for the return of a favorite cat,
the blessing for love returned, for friends’
return, for money received unexpected,
the blessing for the rising of the bread,
the sun, the oppressed. I am not sentimental
about old men mumbling the Hebrew by rote
with no more feeling than one says gesundheit.

But the discipline of blessings is to taste
each moment, the bitter, the sour, the sweet
and the salty, and be glad for what does not
hurt. The art is in compressing attention
to each little and big blossom of the tree
of life, to let the tongue sing each fruit,
its savor, its aroma and its use.

Attention is love, what we must give
children, mothers, fathers, pets,
our friends, the news, the woes of others.
What we want to change we curse and then
pick up a tool. Bless whatever you can
with eyes and hands and tongue. If you
can’t bless it, get ready to make it new.

Living in the Sea of “What Is”

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photo by Gina Marie Mammano

Today followed a yesterday of tears. A difficult diagnosis for someone very close. So, the slow, but sacred morning dictated a hearty bowl of oatmeal laced with blueberries and then a daylong fast to seek out clarity. And focus. Breath. “I do not want to live the drama of panic, fear, anxiety and life projected out months into the future; I do not want to live in the melancholy of wistfulness, regret, and sentimentality of the past. What does it mean to live in the gentle sorrow of today, and today only?”

I chose to begin my journey by hiking down a forested path that opens up to a beach at the bottom. I lay down on a large, toppled tree, and let the sun bleach the sand out of me, bleach the pearls out of me, bleach me raw. It felt good. Simple. To be in the body, and the heart, with nature as soul companion, a wise choice. I lay there, noticing the free flowing streams of tears moving down my face, the integrity of this, as well as the commitment to myself to not project into the future the worries and fears that might loom there. I realized that this is living in the sea of “what is”. I don’t know tomorrow. All I know is that I am here. And I am o.k. Sad, yes. Concerned. Yes. Warmed by the sun. Yes. But o.k. for today.

I ended the day finding some sweet peas. Smelling their aroma and admiring their colors. Taking a breath. Each day is filled with so many things.

The Golden Apple Dance

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Yesterday, I had the privilege of stumbling into a trio of sound- a fiddle player with fire in her fingers, a cellist with a voice dripping with tones of sweet deep molasses, and their sister, a fiddle player as well, who relished the moments of bow and string, blending in perfectly with her siblings.

The magic, though, occurred when the cellist strapped his instrument onto his front side and began playing “The Golden Apple Dance”. It was a simple song, but it drew the attention of a small boy, flaxen-haired, about 3 years old, with Down’s syndrome. As the sounds pulled him from the audience, he clapped and moved, fully engaged with the spirit of the dance. He did it  with such a joy and enthusiasm that the rest of us there couldn’t help but be completely taken in. His entire being was a gleam, shimmering with the immersion of the moment- himself joining the stage of our shared experience, unafraid.

This makes me think: what is my “golden apple dance” today? What causes my soul to shimmer? How can I dance it so exuberantly and unabashedly in the presence of my own being that others bask with me in all that joy?

As for me, today, I will be open to where the sun hits my spirit, and in that small spotlight, dance like the moment is golden.