Geode Held

purple geode art

I had this image of a purple geode- all hard and craggy and dull on the exterior, all twinkling and purple and crystal on the interior- somehow full of magic when it opens and the light hits it. And I asked myself, “what would it feel like to be held inside like a geode?” Hmm, “Well”, I thought, “I imagine it would feel like I’m surrounded in a bowl of love. A place where birth can take place. Encapsulated, but precious, with the spaces of potential freedom all around. Warm wafts ribboning around me from the inside. Held.” And then I asked myself, “What does this look like today? How can you feel out the practice of held-ness and freedom? What would you like held today? What disciplines could give you even more freedom?” And then I thought, “if each moment were a geode, how would it like to be held? How can I open it up with discipline and delight?”

(beautiful artwork by Sherri Stewart)

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The Gathering

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“Rothko Sunrise” by JohnTaylor Wildfeuer

Breakfast: a sip of blue and alpenglow, followed by a swath of mango-sky and mountain melt, then finished off with a sorbet of sunrise.

Mmmmm . . . couldn’t be better. To begin the celebration of midlife with this kind of smoothie seems the perfect antidote to the common middle-aged ideas of endings, closures, winding-downs, and finishings. This feels more like a great big beginning, with the natural world concocting some sort of eye tempting breakfast drink to start my day. To start my life. Before I gather with my co-conspirators in celebrating my second half, I will gather myself.

What have I collected in this body of mine over the past 50 years? This body of information, this body of experience, this body of work?

What poetry of life has been gathered into this one perfect being I call “myself”? (And I use “perfect” in the ever-complete-in-each-moment sense. Every moment is a chance to be once again perfect or complete. Anyway, I diverge).

What juicy phrases and phases, unique mixtures of life, love, work, wildness, and companionship have created this cocktail of me?

I will sip on this.

 

 

 

A Rite of Passage of My Own

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I’m feeling the anticipation of crossing a midlife threshold. THE midlife threshold. I’m sure in my hopscotch days I imagined this birth year moment to be gilded with starched antique lace, and celebrated with hands that pass around ribbons of candy that stick together, petrified, at the bottom of a glass bowl. 50? That’s sooo old. I know  back then since I even considered 40 nigh to the grave, 50 was for sure beyond the pale.

But here I am. And glad of it! Really. I’ve anticipated this moment for years. Because it’s now time for my rite of passage. The threshold events that I’ve lovingly crafted for the adolescent and the young adult will finally be pivoted in my direction. I’m ready to metaphor and simile my soul into some turning-the-corner memories that hopefully will loving me launch me into elderhood. No, really, it’s a positive thing!

Won’t you come along with me?

“Living Simply Through the Day”

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photo by Ginny Schneider

 

I’m reading Tilden Edwards’ book, “Living Simply Through the Day”, one of those “simple gift” kind of books we stumble upon unexpectedly. The author reminds me early on to have a “clear commitment to holy simplicity,” “a deep acceptance of ourselves”, and to “enter each day with a naked confidence”. I don’t know about you, but I feel washed by these clean and simple statements.

It’s funny, when I read “holy simplicity” I automatically think of priestly robes, glowing with embroidery and halos, or destitute monks ambling the streets of Assisi. But really, I think it means, set-apart simplicity- the simplicity that alludes us in the traffic jams of daily life. Another way to put it might be, a remembering; that life is a series of open moments, not a solid, unmoving, pre-determined wish list, or a clattering clutter of must-bes and regrets. Open moments. Possibility-moments. Clean air, winds of change, fresh breeze moments.

“A deep acceptance of ourselves” is a tough one for me, and maybe for you as well. Wow. A deep acceptance goes beyond tolerance or avoidance, it means actually loving and deeply caring for your own state of being, no matter what it is.

And “to enter the day with a naked confidence” just stretches me beyond anything I’ve ever known. It means I can confide in the day. Look at it as an intimate friend with all the joys and troubles it places in my lap. It means fear can be a forgotten tag-along, left sorrowing at the back gate. It means stepping out “con” “fide” with faith that the universe is my ally and life is my friend.

May you live beautifully, simply today.

The Eternal Gift Shop

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The very first episode of my very first self-hosted radio show aired last week. The show is on Whidbey Air and is called “Ear Candy (a piece of sound candy for your mind to suck on)” and the episode was called “The Eternal Gift Shop”. The scripting went something like this, and is purposely in sync with the season:

Welcome to the The Eternal Gift Shop.

What’s in this ethereal souvenir booth for tourists and wayfarers like you and me? Postcards from the edge”? Trinkets wrapped in soulful paper? Things that jingle, dangle, tinkle from the inside out? Surprises?

In childhood, there’s an expectation, an ideal; there’s magic to gifts- it’s that thing you’ve always wanted sparkling in your mind’s eye, rattling lifelike in the toy store of your imagination. . . and sometimes it’s that thing you’ve never ever wanted or never even thought of before, but it appears to you, as a gift from the world’s lost and found, something like Phil Harris found in his song “The Thing” (I’d recommend looking up the lyrics, it’s quite funny, and crescendos with ‘get outta here with that boom boom boom before I call the cops!’ A “gift” with some unpleasant twists for sure).

When it’s our turn to be the giver of gifts, we get to turn the twist around; we get to surprise others and hope their eyes will shine. Even if the gift is not worthy of what the receiver should receive, there is something so shiny and shimmery about the act of giving itself, the gift . . . of giving. I heard someone once say, “it only lives when you give it away,” (Bruce Cockburn).

Some gifts can truly surprise us, not wrapped in silver or slathered in pink frosting, but by themselves, naked, without paper or ribbons, sitting quietly under our feet or scented subtly under our noses; they are legacies, remnants of love from the people who love us; they are acts of service, acts of kindness.

Gifts can also be treasures disguised as hidden pennies at the root of a sycamore tree or the outlines of birds costumed as the outlines of our souls taken into pure magical flight. Mary Oliver once said in her poem, “The Uses of Sorrow”, that “Someone I loved once gave me a box full of darkness. It took me years to understand that this, too, was a gift.”

They come in so many shapes and sizes, don’t they?

What gift will you unwrap in the darkness or in the starlight or in the splendor of broad day?

What will you take away from the Eternal Gift Shop?

Thank you for “listening”.

Giving Thanks in the Diorama of the Day

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“We are each surrounded by an enormous silence that can be a blessing and a help to us, but from which we often turn away in dread and fear, a silence in which the skein of reality is knitted and unraveled to be knit again, in which the perspective of a work or a life or a relationship can be enlarged and enriched. Silence is like a cradle holding our endeavors, our will and our understanding in ways that allow them to grow and thrive; a cultivated and silent spaciousness sustains us and at the same time connects us to larger worlds that, in the busyness of our daily struggle to achieve, we have yet to investigate. Silence is fearful exactly because in its spacious depths lies both the soul’s sense of rest and its possible break for freedom.”

Taken from Adapted from Crossing the Unknown Sea:Work as a Pilgrimage of Identity by David Whyte

If I am carving out silence right now. I am enjoying the patterns of light creating joyful ghosts of illumination on the piano in my living room that the sun in companionship with the remnant storm are making. I am aware of a limited time set up to sit in this silent spaciousness. Awareness feels so important. So does gratitude. I am aware of the green statue sitting across from me- a long-haired lady also being touched by the sunlight, her candle holder glowing this time, not with fire, but with light. I am aware of the shimmering, sizzling shadows created by the shivering tree branches outside.

I am also aware of the potential. A guitar sitting in the corner. A notebook of songs. There is a sacredness here.in the silence. Is this what life is all about?

For this moment, yes. I guess each moment is crafted differently, in its own holiness. I am in the bowl of my living room. A hollow of holiness. It is a living sculpture where light can dance with shadow. It is a shadow box. It is a diorama. And I am in it. I am a living sculpture sitting and noticing the things that dance and play on this stage. Sometimes I will dance, and sometimes I will watch, eyes glowing, heart leaping in the audience. And yet, I still get to be a part of it all. Wherever I bring myself, there I am. The diorama of the day.

What does the Mandala of your soul look like?

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I am gazing at a picture of a beautiful mandala made entirely of stones. Each one is painted differently. Some with curly fronds, others with symmetrical floral knots, but all silhouettes of the natural world. The center is a lacy confection of white designs feathered onto a brown rock, reminiscent of gingerbread. I don’t usually think of mandalas this way. Rock and stone. Silhouettes and gingerbread. I usually see painted glowing swirls of geometrics, looking luminous and celestial on a shaving of paper or a sheet of canvas. But I look at this one and think, “why not?” What does the mandala of my soul look like? What illumination do the interiors create for me and others at this moment? Is it a gingerbread stone, bringing complexity and joy all at once to my own self, then fingering them out through gifts of awareness of beauty to those around me? Is mine a windy labyrinth where trust is illuminated only one footstep at a time, but you can hear the pulse and voice of birdsong over the twisting walls, radiating both toward and away from me? Is it a field of fallen leaves creating an overlapping pattern of both life and death, beginnings and endings, sugar maple red, and rich compost brown, delicately trailing paths of newness and rebirthing all around?

 

What is the mandala of your soul today?