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
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
A dervish turns in white garb. A beautiful performance, beautiful costume. The tall hat, special leather shoes, a long circular skirt hemmed with rope to pull the fabric into a disc is crafted to be seen. But for most turning hours, dervishes whirl in soft, old clothing, in the shadows, feet bare and hair ragged. It is not the look of it, but the true heart heating… Read more
My body strengthens and slowly begins to elongate. I trust her to find her way. I trust her to do as much as she needs and can. She returns to me as she can, and I feel the happiness of her mending in the wisdom of her own timing. A year after surgery, she gives me more than bits and spurts of energy. We have chunks of industriousness and verve. We move, wider, faster, longer, more happily. We are together again, my body and my head. Read more
A storm grumbles in the distance, plodding slowly across the canyon from behind the mountains. A wood pewee sings over and over and over again a clear plangent descending note. Sitting in the Ravenrock Barn, I grieve both parents. Until now, I haven’t had time, energy, or distance to grieve, my hip surgeries coming so soon after my father’s death. (My mother, still alive at an Assisted Living, seems permanently away at college, living in a dorm, having a happy life with not only no thoughts of me but no thoughts at all.) Here, where nothing but a few inherited rugs and pieces of china are associated with my past, I can look as one gazes at a valley from a summit, no longer seeing it from within in myopic fragments.
Art in the Sky
One reason I love the southwest is that I like good art. The sky here is good art. One has to like the predominance of blues and whites as well as the pinto pony patches sliding over the land’s crags and bumps. The magician plays the light, revealing and hiding, scuttling along the eternal, unmoving rockface. These variations change more swiftly than the languid seasonal flow of light. My surrounding in not a reliable sundial of elastic shades reaching and shrinking readably as a clock. Read more
What if you had no job, no school, what would you do? At Ravenrock where society doesn’t remind me of its mania, I construct a few rituals to keep me on even keel. Morning tea. Late afternoon meal and washing up. These frame what is otherwise an organic flow. I have creative and household projects lined-up as sanity guideposts in case I become overwhelmed with aimlessness and the terror of irrelevance, moody bluesy-ness that can disrupt my peace. But always in the front of my heart is the Fall of Flow. Read more
I’m taking a break from ‘Confessions’ with this vignette from bellydancer life.
I was at some party or other in Austin, TX. This was twenty years ago, and the hostess, one of my occasional students — she was perhaps in her early 50’s, attractive but riddled with concern for her appearance, probably a therapist, I don’t quite remember, and definitely living in a lush if not terribly tasteful fashion — introduced me to a couple, also in their 50’s. I was at the time a very young-looking and hip 40-year-old. She told me their names, then said, “This is my bellydance teacher, Dunya,” as if holding out a surprise prize bird. Read more
I ruminate loosely on illness and art because I burst with creativity after months of stillness, immobility, compression. For me there is no difference between art and mysticism; they are the faces of one another.
Last night, at dinner, my cousin told me I am profound. A great compliment. I didn’t feel bashful, however. No, I relaxed. I think this is true and it helped to hear it. This is who I am. Relax and be profound. Read more
Here is an excerpt from notes during my April trip to Ravenrock — a turning point away from the past two years of overwhelming crisis and toward a new period. One thing that changed in a quiet yet dramatic fashion was my deepening feelings toward Ric.
As the wind on the porch is too cold for sitting out, I tuck into the Croft’s window seat for tea. I remember two years ago. I was alone in the Rim Cabin. My alone-ness overwhelmed me. Now I am weaker, less capable, and intimate with helplessness which should make the rigors of Ravenrock fearful, but I burble with joy. I acknowledge the dangers. I acknowledge my frailty. Then I gaze out at the dancing Bowers and heart happiness subsumes me. Almost — I say this hesitantly — being anywhere but on an adventure is a waste of my remaining life.