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Archive for the ‘Peace’ Category

The sleeping dances with images of the Devil. The Tarot cards reveal what has not yet been fully understood. August light is hot and dense, usually—but this summer has been mild, with nights getting cool and we’ve been able to open windows. Insomnia is like this—a deep, dark devil that uncurls itself like smoke. Not invisible, it is seen by the naked eye and startles us as we drift off. This is part of the Dreamland.

 

Here is the part that floats—the burned part of the skin that becomes numb. This is from being hurt one too many times so that all the petals close tightly around the bud. There is still light. There is always light. We’ve learned this. Through weather and trees and autumn and summer and depression and grief. The light is always there.

 

We feel it in our thumbs, as we stretch out our hands after a long afternoon of writing. We visit the wild grasses in times of war. We know war in our bones, the way we know peace. The air is gray with anxiety and the clouds are heavy. The rain comes and lightning and thunder. For several hours in the morning, the sky is bright and baby blue, the color of an innocence that no longer exists in the human realm. But then we come back to the place where the soul starts, an overgrown path, thick with weeds and large, flat, round stones. We make our way through the tall and taller foliage, the leaves are glorious and lush and a shade of green from the time when the earth was just born. This is where the path starts. We hear the low moan of unknown animals.

 

This is the way the earth changes. The earth and the soul. The way the trees bow away from each other to let in viscous rays of sunlight. Honey-thick, they pour down through this newly discovered ancient forest as we get lost on the unmarked trails.

 

The war has ended in one place and begins in another. We are hopeful people. We begin again and again, in a state of peace. We continue to breathe as others cease. Their breaths become part of a blanket that is held between earth and sky, disintegrating into stars and blackness, the eternal dark spaces that hold death.

 

We open up into a noncorporeal form without form, just light. The light becomes brighter and brighter. We stay here, floating and emitting, for a while. Then we return to do our work on the earth.

 

There are three worlds, at least. There are many worlds. We live with our feet on the ground of the earth and our lungs breathing in the air of the heavens. The air of the atmosphere. We build things. We tear them down. We are our own history and everyone else’s. We share heritage and identity and we are our own heritage and identity. We come to a place where it is cold and no one is there. We light a fire on our own in the vast, horizonless tundra. It is 60 below. We have on a parka and the only part of our form that is visible is our eyes, full of warmth and humanity and sight. The fire is bright and warm. We connect with our own soul again.

 

We find a pattern in the snow, in the sand, in the dirt. We trace it with our fingers, with a stick, with a branch. We become fossils. We crumble into the earth. These are our graves. These are our graves, filling with dirt as the people above ground sing and pray. They will bring food they cooked to the house for a week. The family will look through a veil of grief that will then fall apart to let in some light. For a while, the curtains and shades will always be drawn. Then one day, someone will tie them back and pull the string to raise the olive green cloth into accordion pleats at the top of each window.

 

We find a way to hold death against the window as a silhouette, a paper doll taking the shape of the inanimate. The animate taking the form of the inanimate. Sleep taking the form of a kind of death, beating against the windows as rain, as tree branches, as wind. The dead communicating with the living. We drift off to sleep to the sound of cars on the streets outside, idling at the traffic light then engines starting up again, driving away in the direction that all sound moves, toward silence and the dimension that exists beyond human thought. The place where death and life are indistinguishable and we have a cup of coffee on the sandstone balcony overlooking all the cities that have ever been.

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We grow up with stories of what it is to be men and women. The illustrious goals of humans and sex and masculinity and femininity. I started writing this post the day the story hit about CNN’s coverage of the Steubenville case but couldn’t muster enough hope or light to finish in a way that wouldn’t be a total downer. There is enough evil and apathy (at direct opposition to empathy) in the world to sustain a lifelong despair and depression, so how do we move through this and still have hope? How can people behave this way, with such disregard for another person’s humanity? Why didn’t these boys know this was wrong?

 

 

This is just one of many exercises in how to deal with horror and horrific things that we don’t even understand, much less can incorporate into our worldview. There is balance somewhere in seeing the evil in the world, the ingrained social prejudices and hatreds and rampant misogyny and racism that dictate so many interactions and media and relationships, and living a life of social consciousness, kindness and, yes, hope. We have our own private and lonely despairs and miseries and then, out the window or on TV or at the restaurant, there is the despair and loneliness and alienation of the world. We waver between two poles in the sociogeography of time and place and childhood and adulthood and the stories we’ve been told, we’ve embodied, we’ve carried out—body, sensuality, stories and stories, cultural structures, office buildings, lampposts, subways, dinners, stoves, bathroom mirrors, kitchens, aprons—hope and despair, love and alienation, connection and isolation. The integrity of the needle of the compass attuned to empathy and compassion and the connection of all beings needs to be consciously maintained.

 

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We plummet hard into hell and live there, our own private holocausts and extinctions, not sleeping for years, living in consuming fear and staying there, not seeing a way out of our terror. How do we integrate what terror means, how do we deal with what we know exists in the world, into a life lived in relative peace and fortune? I have always wondered about that—that suspect tension between one life and another, the line that can so easily break, if one were to sneeze. It’s that fragile, the boundary between a free person and an imprisoned one. I have always felt this connection, as painful and debilitating as it sometimes is, where compassion and empathy descend into a hell in the body, something I feel in my bones, a consuming shiver under the skin that haunts the whole body from within, the reaching of the dead and buried and tortured and captive into my life, into my awareness, this awareness being a form of life itself, and it leaves bruises and memories and ghosts that follow me around on bright days and ask me to listen to them and to be with them and to somehow find healing and forgiveness and redemption.

 

There is something—translucent, indefinable, but I long to define it—that always pulls me out of this depression and despair. I am hoping that, in my own healing, I can help heal the world. Thich Nhat Hanh says that our own peace is the world’s peace. But first we have to find our own peace. If we are hopeless and despairing, there is something in us that is not looking at the world as it is. We are living in dark illusion. There is beauty and love and strength and compassion and empathy and kindness in the world. So we look at everything, which is hard to do when faced with horrors and injustices. To deal with our own terror and anguish, our own desolation, to face it with courage and openness, even if we feel it might consume us whole and we’ll never come up to see light again—to feel our hearts as they break, over and over again, and to allow ourselves to feel the connection we have to every living being in the world and universe, this is powerful, this conducts an electricity of change and creates a stronghold for true power to emerge into just and kind and fair actions. It starts with our hearts and our bodies and what we choose to think and say and do in each situation. Even in the midst of our own pain, we can be kind—to ourselves and to those around us. The simple, yet challenging act of noticing how we feel, consciously turning our awareness to our emotions, our body, how it feels, and letting our thoughts just be—not attaching to the stories we tell to both comfort and terrify ourselves—moves mountains. We must teach this and weave it into our social fabric, make it part of our curriculum and narrative.

 

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A note about these photographs—I took these self-portraits while thinking about all of this, so thought I’d post them here. I was thinking about the body and what the body knows and what emotion and empathy and story and moving through pain looks like and feels like.

 

 

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Where does peace begin?

I have been confronted with the loss and change of death more than a few times over the past few months and there is nothing to say. There is nothing to write that is an honest reflection of death. There is nothing to say that can describe or narrate a direct experience of death. There is the loss left to the living, the light and rhythm of a loved one’s presence in the world becoming a star or a field or a faint sound in the house. The presence of our love for the person who has died fills every room, every breath, every thought, and the hours are empty with longing and grief. Grief empties us, of our mundane concerns, our daily tasks. Sharp, it cuts through the mirage of time to compel our attention towards inevitable timelessness and unstructured eternity.

Thoughts have come like fireflies to a window, disappearing into their own flapping wings, vanishing into air, becoming something else, other entities. They leave soft residues on the windows. Companionship. So all I can do is take notes and be reverent. Following are fragments from my journal of what has been a melding of worlds, grieving, words able only to signal the invisible.

December

All

All we have lost, all who have lost us, this sun, the soul, there is all this left. Left to us to hinder and to distrust, but why, in all our constant, muttering fear, do we let the unsilent hum distract us from the table and the chair. Our madness is that we let fear hobble us, to shame and regret. Live in the Dharma, our deeper self says, and on days that light themselves on fire with the heat of what lives inside all of us, we do.

Ground

The dauntless ground.

What ample measure of death in kisses.

Dream

There is a dream of empathy in these deaths, in all death. A field where we wander, in longer or shorter grass, itching at our shins, until we slow into vanishing. We all think about this and call on our deepest courage, to breathe while we still can and to know freedom.

The dream comes as a sudden movement, as if the sun were suddenly four or five inches to the right. The dangerous sun penetrates our atmosphere like a tonic, swift curtain of light magically appearing out of the sun’s dark spots. The light emanating now from a different place in the sun’s core. This change is death. We are death, carrying it with us, it sings to us softly from shadows and smiles. Its song is silent, impenetrable, because we can never know it, never know the non-corporeal figure that shares our bed. It opens our hearts in friendliness, in bodhichitta.

Where is death? Everywhere. Where is life? Everywhere.

I’ve never taken anything for granted. This morning, when I sat in bed, waking up slowly, and drank my coffee, looked at both of my cats curled up and sleeping peacefully, I was overcome with a mixed sense of both gratitude and an almost desperate melancholy for the moment of contentment that was, in this very present time, passing.

Family

For as long as I can remember, I’ve been obsessed with the people closest to me dying. This morning, I look outside the kitchen window and at 8:18 am, there are diagonal bands of light and shadow moving downward and to the left across the white brick wall across the back yard. It’s now 8:19.

I feel both at peace, calm in my very bones, muscles relaxed, my breathing, when I concentrate on it, able to be deep and satisfying, and aware, at different points in time, of an underlying anxiety, almost terror. [An] underlying anxiety, the underlying anxiety, the defining it as always present, while peace seems fleeting. Inquiring more into this, these states of being, I determine, but more am aware, that the underlying truth is peace. But what a strange, hidden truth it is, under the burden of so much fear, tension, everyday worry. It is heavy, all this worrying, I feel like a mule but not as strong. I want to feel that strength of a mule, present, grounded, walking on the ground.

The Seven Healing Hands

The kiss, the kiss, and the dance

opens all the windows

and kisses and dances.

My field, where I rest and where I may die,

opens to all things.

What open measure of death

allows breath,

allows forest shadows to lengthen

into coupled figures

as we marry.

The week pulls on,

like a healthy ox.

Generous vessels.

Time to pull

sun and moon, palmed hands,

another earth.

Another Earth

Old radios, radio signals, beautiful photos of andromedae and supernovae. A childhood bedroom with mushroom lamps, god’s eyes, and macrame. Old records. Sky. Growing up in my attic bedroom with crayon drawings and magazine pictures on the wall. View from the little window.

Strange

It is strange to me that I didn’t know how happy I was. Even when I was very young, I carried a heavy burden of grief and the sweet, sickly perfume of nostalgia. I imagined being old. I imagined dying and death. This imaginary world was real to me, had emotional impact and weight so my heart didn’t know it wasn’t the real world. The real world, I discovered, doesn’t really exist.

Re: Another earth

We create so much havoc in our own minds and this becomes our reality. Doomed stars, floating planets, entire galaxies alienated, just in our brains’ neurotransmitters. Our thoughts are our world. I wish I had realized that and thought that I was happy. Because I was. I just didn’t think I was. I lived inside a thin layer of discontent and anxiety. So much fear, it took over my perception, my perceptive qualities gauged continually to remote, far absences of sound and light.

Christmas

In the week before Xmas everything just stops.

January

The peace of what is and knowing what is.

“What is life? It is the flash of a firefly in the night…the little shadow which runs across the grass and loses itself in the sunset.” —Chief Crowfoot of the Blackfoot Confederation, 1890. Quoted from “In Search of Darkness” by Holly Haworth in the new Spring 2012 issue, “Burning World” Parabola magazine.

February

When fear is a forest thick with trees, I look up and see if I can find the moon and the stars and the light of your love to guide me home to my courageous heart.

Death came visiting on little wings today. Not that I don’t often think of it. This winterless winter day and the windows flung wide open in February. There is so much in the world.

Death has come to visit so often lately and all I can do is make more coffee.

I almost burst into tears reading that. I feel grateful, full of love, loss, grieving, transformed by all of this. It’s like a piece of my childhood died.

Went to Philly for a service. I left on Thursday, in 60 degree weather, wearing only my light, bright red Brooklyn jacket, drove through a blinding blizzard on Saturday morning that lasted ten minutes, winds howled and cut Saturday night as I made my way to the train station. Heading back to New York, it was a different season, wind chill factor, freak blizzard that morning. Coming home both directions.

The straining of the strings of the moon—outmoded sites of presence and reality. They discovered black holes millions of times larger than the sun today. physics the framework for the engagement of popular reality.

Winter

It’s gotten cold here again and my energy has returned. I love the chill and there is more light in the winter.

I want to write an autobiography of the sun, of the Solar System, of Jupiter and Saturn, of a Field.

As Space becomes more haunted, we discover black holes ten million times larger than the Sun.

Strings of the moon strain—outmoding presence. They discovered black holes millions of times larger than the sun today.

I am alone with the reins. : : mirage of fortitude. not really happening.

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Breath as breath as breath.

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Happy Solstice!

Happy Saturnalia and happy Hanukah! Warm wishes to you and yours on this, the shortest day of the year, and entrance into winter. So many different traditions celebrate this day. It is a day to wish for what you truly want, focus on who and what you love, and bring magic to the everyday.

Peace Every Day.

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When we have hard mornings, hard nights, generating love and peace and goodwill may seem next to impossible. We read the news, stand in lines, have a harsh interaction with a coworker, argue with someone we love, and feel exhausted, tense, anxious and over it all. This is precisely when it is most needed to connect with the deep well of hope and peace every one of us has in infinite store. There is a backup generator in each of our psyches, patient, enduring, like an eternal light reminding us always that we have a choice in every moment to live with an open heart, one that generates light and peace and love. This is not an easy road some days, but in order for our world to heal, and for each of us, including animals, trees, mountains and deserts, to heal, it is the necessary way. From this well of infinite peace come the actions that will restore balance and health in ourselves, our lives and our world.

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First snow – before Halloween!

I stayed inside, at home, today, worked on photographs and writing. Washed dishes, swept the floor, didn’t make the bed. Cooked pasta and broccoli for dinner. Meditated. Grateful for every minute of this beautiful, mellow day. After a hectic week, this snow day hit the spot!

Resting, doing nothing, doing whatever you feel like doing for a day, an hour, even five minutes can expand your life in a miraculous way. Knowing you can rest in whatever you want to do in that moment can bring you immeasurable peace, in heart and mind. So rest. Make a choice, know that you have a choice to rest, give this peaceful and relaxing time to yourself. When is the last time you felt completely relaxed?

How do you take time out?

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