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Remembering & Forgetting

Winter holidays are occasions for the creation of memories that bond families, communities, and loved ones. Yet memory is a strange twilight, not real but sometimes more vivid than reality. Memory creates the context that makes meaning possible.

Notebook
Facebook offers up memories—what we were doing last year on this day, then two years ago or five, like an arctic core bore straight down of a single date over five years. But not much before because it depends on when you joined Facebook and, ultimately, on how long Facebook has existed. Read more

Hour of My Secrets

Inner Bomb Squad
Inner gaze. A friend asked what it was like, during the time of my surgeries, to close my eyes and look inside. I replied that a bomb had gone off in the house. I looked in and saw destruction and chaos. I saw my inner bomb squad. They told me to get out, they had a lot of work to do. So I withdrew. For two years. Now, I have been allowed to go back in. Read more

Finding an Evensong

Finding an Evensong
I have a well-established morning tea time—some call this a ritual, though I prefer the term Morning Tea. I have a lovely tea set—a pot to steep actual loose tea leaves, a beautiful china cup, a silver spoon to stir in the milk and stevia. I sip and write in my journal. I write whatever I need to write; drafts of blog pieces, screeds, notations of what I accomplished yesterday, notes on what I need to do today. Morning Tea is precious to me and I allow very little, save for an early air flight, to disrupt it. Read more

Solitude & Silence

Ravenrock is a ranch property in New Mexico where I teach retreat but also spend time in solitude. It is quiet, pristine canyon and rock rim land where I’ve put up a barn to work and be. 

September slips away unmarked by achievements or conversation. I’ve been at Ravenrock in solitude for ten days, growing more and more silent. The beginning was difficult. Now, suddenly, it isn’t. I do the projects I had set up to protect myself,  to soothe my fears and solace my grief, but more and more pass through the activity as if it was soft and edgeless as fog. The activities  protect but also, like fog, have hidden Earth and its high blue canopy. It isn’t the action of the activity––the lifting and putting and schlepping—which has been troubling me. It is the hooks inside that are bustling, driving, gibbering promises of reward and merit. Read more

Aftermath

The few days following an intensive retreat—this writing follows my annual Summer Movement Monastery at Ravenrock—is an especially potent passage. Day to day consciousness is returning since I am not longer practicing 6 hours a day with the community. Yet all that has happened inside me during the previous two weeks is unfolding. I remember these periods following Sufi Camp as well. 

 

Design ArabesqueAftermath at Ravenrock
I sit on the Porch watching the thronging hummingbirds and, in the far distance, Hermit’s Peak. 7:30 my phone tells me. I could wear my watch as I did during retreat, but it now sits roundly on a high shelf serving as a tiny, barely visible clock while I begin to once again forget time. It is only a few days since everyone left. The sessions are suspended until we next meet. The Barn is empty of bodies yet full of the grace we all spun. In the aftermath, I read Rumi who makes graceful sense. I sit in the field of the One, the Most Subtle Read more

What Really Makes a Daily Practice

Amanda wrote. She had been thinking of me, of Dancemeditation because she wanted to get going on a daily personal practice. This was not the first time she approached me. Her persistence is a good sign.  Many people seek me out expressing anything from an interest to a desperate need for a regular practice. In response, I have organized trainings bursting with techniques to deepen and relax, increase sensorial existence and calm overactive minds. I have made instructional DVDs and online courses to sustain practice at home. As well, I have written extensively about every aspect of practice. Considering this, I briefly wondered if I had done too much, fostering dependence, making the trudge appear more entertaining than it is. This time with Amanda’s request, a wave of clarity washed over me. I had never said the one, most important thing, possibly because it seemed too obvious. I don’t know. But I had not said this one thing… Read more

The End Days

Mary, our hospice nurse/counsellor, helps me feel tranquil about this period with my mother who is in a soft decline. Mom is fragile and may be swept off by a flu or cough or fall from which she cannot recover, or she may hover for months. She will probably sleep more more and then one day not wake. We cannot know. Read more

Alan Rickman

I saw Alan Rickman in a ‘civilian’ moment and have never forgotten it. Ten years ago in the lobby of the Minetta Lane Theatre, Greenwich Village, NYC during intermission at Martha Clarke’s “Garden of Earthly Delights” in the mill of buzzing strangers, there he was, a few feet from me. I poked Ric in the ribs and whispered frantically, “Snape!” Read more

Dark December in This House

On the New England coast, my childhood December in this house was music, music, music. Two years ago, December was Dad dying. A year ago, my newly replaced hips were mending. This December, the unseasonably warm world is magical. I walk along a foggy beach or in hidden woods, fallen leaves rustling under my feet. I visit Mom at her assisted living and, curled up on her bed, our arms around one another, we smile and sing in whispers like little sisters. I light evening fires in the fireplace, clean old dust out of closets, and toss the clutter my parents got too tired to oust. Lilies and white mums draped in ivy and spewing a frond of Norfolk Pine deck the mantle. I listen to the foghorn, the boat horn, the wind splattering rain on the south facing windows. I love being inside in the storm, wrapped in the house, like being in the womb, safe, not yet born. Read more

Spiritual Nostalgia

Outside the march of wide-eyed windows hovered a soft, gray dove of a day. People swathed in loose garb pooled on clumps of blankets. I knew them well. Seekers. Those with a faint curiosity rarely curve into my orbit. Seekers, often not understanding why they have driven or flown exhausting distances, come to struggle with frustrations that have been brewing for months or years. They settle on the pale wood floor which is harder and less reassuring than their comfortable couch at home, a home which may not feel like home anymore because obligations have filled every corner and pushed their souls out onto the back porch. Read more