The Spirit of snow
highlights the love of line
the loving grace of trees in winter
bare and spiritual
the horses a gift of color
in otherwise black and white
Feather trees whisper a blessed new year to you all!
the lowly weeds
the graceful trees
and sends peace
an observant cow
There’s been no photography nor poetry for months. Today in Harlem on the way home from a beautiful museum these cityscapes caught my eye. It is a beginning. Maybe.
I awaken to moonlight– it is at that particular slant that lights up the front yard at 3 AM. What really has awakened me is my husband’s breathing. It is labored like he has just run up a flight of stairs. At times I awaken because I do not hear his breath and some alarm goes off in my head to check him. And if I can not hear him breathing I put my hand lightly on his chest so as not to wake him to see if I can feel the his heart beating. Feeling it pulsing in my hand I am reassured once more. I am not alone in this. My sister-in-law confides in me that she wakes up at night to listen to my brother to see if he is still breathing. My first-grade friend says much the same. She does a breathing check on her husband. Our husbands are relatively well. They have diabetes, heavy smoking and drinking, a delicate frame among them, but they are not on death’s door so far as we know. And yet we are plagued by morbid fears.
In the wee hours of morning fears loom large. My husband’s heartbeat, a mere flutter, seems so delicate. I am reassured that it is beating just as I am reassured that he is breathing. But the breath itself is so fragile. It scares me awe-fully– the fragility of the breath, the fine line between breathing and cessation of breath.
I prowl the house. Through the skylight the stars beam brightly along with a shining half moon. A clear day tomorrow. But it is already tomorrow. It is so still my ears hum. My husband, who knows so many interesting things, tells me the humming I hear is the sound of the nervous system. Our bodies hold such mystery.
I look out the window, now hearing my neighbor’s dogs barking quietly. I look for coyote thinking that is what they are barking at, but see nothing. The moonlit grass on the lawn is whitish silver, looking almost as if it had snowed, and the water in the marsh sparkles in the moonlight. The deep woods behind are pitch dark, the home of many a creature. Nothing stirs. It is too early for the birds. The house across the way is always dark; it is up for sale. And in the other direction, at this hour, no lights shine in the driveway of the house down the road.
I am reminded of a line from a poem by Tagore “Faith is the bird that feels the light when the dawn is still dark.” I am at my most faithless at 3 AM.
Along with the supreme beauty of Tagore’s thoughts, a frivolous line from an old song runs through my head: “There ought to be a moonlight savings time…” and the line continues so there would be more time for loving. But moonlight in the middle of the night also brings with it intense dreads.
Now chilled I finally go back to bed. An owl hoots in the distance– a reassuring sound. My husband is breathing freely now. His body is warm in the bed and I am filled with love for him as he lays in a heap, so trustingly in the arms of sleep. Our marriage a wonder. Unexpected. An endless source of ever increasing love brimming not only with joy but also the dread of loss. Perhaps all wives check their husbands for breathing. Perhaps there is an army of women out there prowling the wee hours of the night, at times by moonlight, checking on their husbands, their children, their animals to see that they all have that breath of life flowing.
“There is one way of breathing that is shameful and constricted. Then, there’s another way: a breath of love that takes you all the way to infinity.” Rumi said that. And it is breath of love that I must master.
It’s been a long, hard time since I wrote. But unlike the bird above I was not alone, thank the Lord. Beloved husband was at my side. I have thought of many of you and wondered how you’re doing, if you’re still blogging. Kit, Running Elk, Bert, Paul, Michael, Sue, Palestine Rose, Joshi, Ashley, Didi, Val and so many others. I check my hundreds of blog emails unread and see you are. Have not only not been blogging but not reading the blogs either. Been sick, selling our barn, moving and withdrawing from a major benzodiazepine, Klonopin, a “benzo” as they are called. My doctor got me addicted to it. And, while selling the house I took extra because it was so stressful and I had to function no matter how sick I was. Now I am paying the price. Withdrawal is at a snail’s pace and fraught with physical and psychological symptoms. It seems futile to be angry with my doctor. He didn’t force it down my throat but he did dispense a very dangerous drug. This is one of the seldom talked about pitfalls of being mentally ill.
The house is finally sold and all the headaches with it. We will miss the nature and our home in the depths of it. I have lost my inspiration. My muse. Pictures were everywhere. Now in New York City there is so much stimulation I cannot even see images to capture. But in many ways it is good to be here. Although I remain sick and sick at heart with what is happening to our country, even so, my husband and I are blessed to have each other. But today, with the March for Our Lives, I finally have new hope. Perhaps the new generation can succeed at peace where we have failed. Perhaps the world can stop destroying itself.
And finally now, at last, I can find time now to look within. I continue to follow Sadhguru and his Inner Engineering. That is my priority now. So I don’t know if I can go back to blogging as I used to. Inspiration is at zero. But at least I hope to visit sites now and again. Let me take this opportunity to say hello and happy Spring to all of you!
December is my favorite time of year. In this month of darkness, in this the darkest month, the light of the human spirit shines forth in a fullness shown by so many, in so many ways. As the days grow shorter, houses and trees are decorated, and snow falls. In the hushed silence of the nights, lights shine in windows, and the beauty is shared by all. For this season of giving brings the festivals of lights: Hanukkah, Christmas, Kwanza. Each tradition incorporates light in its ceremonies and decorations.
In December’s darkness we light lights. For we are beings of light. A light glows within each one of us. And, at the most basic level, we are beings of light because we are made from stardust. Perhaps that is why the stars hold such majesty for us– we are made from star material.
Einstein said: “A human being is part of the whole, called by us the ‘Universe”– a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts, and feelings, as something separated from the rest– a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circles of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty.” We are all cut from the same cloth and our inner light unites us.
And in this holiday season we behold the night sky as shepherds did two thousand years ago on the birth of the holy infant, in a stable like the one down the road where my donkey friend lives. That night a star lit the whole sky to guide the shepherds, and on these deep, long, silent nights as we light our houses, our candles, our trees, let us look inside ourselves and find the glow that may guide us to The Light
A holy Hanukkah, a magical Christmas and the ecstasy of Sadhguru to all for the New Year! May we awaken from Maya and realize the wonders we are… for inside each of us burns the Sacred Light of the Universe.
on a flower petal bed
The perfume of love
in a plethora of hues
of the present
past in a blink
of the eye
or the flutter
of a butterfly wing.
Taking a break from blogging for awhile. Following a class with the famous yogi, Sadhguru, on Inner Engineering which is quite wonderful and I plan on spending lots of time on. A sample of his way of thinking is below.
(Turn speakers up high)
One chill morning
Of late spring
Beat the heat
To their creator
As they awaken
In a celebration
Spring sunset reflections
Of a late dusk
In the twilight of life
Happy Mother’s Day!
Love and pride in the mother’s eyes, complete trust in the infant’s sleep
and one lone color red
with fast floating
sunlit white clouds
hides the land
and in the vernal pool
in their hernaculum
while frogs lay
dormant in the mud
I sit in sleepy
glad to be
in our little hideaway
in the woods
of our young dreams
if we will all
to another Spring.
My husband and I sit in our living room with all the little still-intact dairy barn windows showing flakes falling as if we are on ship at sea in a snowfall. Except for the high ceiling the living room has the feeling of a ship cabin, our converted dairy barn, and I think it is most beautiful when the snow is falling.
The glass doors at the pentagon of the far end of the barn gives us perfect view of the suet bird feeder. The bird feeder in winter is our television. We watch male cardinals, bright red in the stark white, feed and contend with the beautiful, bullying blue jays. And the more modest and gentle little juncos and sparrows touch our hearts with their humility.
Like many barns, ours was built near the road so we do get some traffic noise. But in the meadow out back beyond the marsh and stream, we are far removed from the road and from all. And when it snows, it is so beautiful in the quiet, looking at the animal tracks and feeling the spirits in the nearby now-graveless graveyard. Our secret little piece of Paradise. And to stand there in the silence, in the virgin white, and see the abstract patterns of the snow on the surrounding hundreds of trees is Divine.
Every year what budded in autumn blossoms full blown in winter– my love affair with trees. Trees that were drop-dead gorgeous in their fall colors are now bare, with the exception of evergreens and a few stray deciduous trees that refuse to relinquish their leaves. Now the trees are stripped down to their souls and their souls sing a siren song to the universe.
The tops of trees lift my spirit; brushlike they paint the sky the baby pinks and blues of mornings, and the majestic magentas and violets of day’s end. Each tree has its signature shape against the sky, like a fingerprint or a snowflake, similar yet each unique. Some treetops in their bare state are shaped like a fancy coiffure; others look like wrought iron filigree. On distant mountains, against the snowy ground, some look like stubble on an old man’s unshaven face.
It is the colorful winter sky showing through, and showing off, the bare branches that woos me. The bare curvaceous branches are stark, dark lines against the bright of day and the inky sky of night. These resplendent creatures are living lines that explode. Branches tangle like the lines in a Jackson Pollock painting. Others curve in the sensuous lines of a Brancusi sculpture. Buxom tree trunks stand strong surrounded by their dead blossoms and their burgeoning offspring like a Renaissance Madonna. In truth these trees are not like art at all. Rather art imitates them– their beauty provides the timeless inspiration for artists, writers and poets of all ages and styles.
Trees not only inspire, they themselves are paragons of diversity. One look out of a car window while driving on the Taconic and one can see squat pines alongside towering majestic firs, birches interspersed with maple and oak. And together the different brown and tan barks interspersed with evergreens create not only a mosaic of contrasting colors, but display an example to inspire humans to live together in peaceful unity.
These beneficent beings carry the heavy, dark grey clouds of winter. When it snows the tree trunks become canvases for the abstract patterns of windblown-snow, while the serpentine branches are outlined in white. In ice storms their branches become chandeliers, each enveloped in glassine ice. While in the melancholy of a winter rain, the branches become oiled skins of snakes weeping to the ground below. And finally, in the night sky, the branches hold the stars in their arms, those with leaves holding them in their hands, as they nurse the moon.
All trees, no matter what their species, age or height, stand tall in proud humility, their arms reaching up to the Heavens to our Creator in prayer– soft-spoken beings of peace and tranquility towering over us, while the little creatures race around distractedly below.
“I think that I shall never see a poem lovely as a tree… a tree that looks at God all day and lifts her leafy arms to pray.” The opening lines of the poem,“Trees,” by Joyce Kilmer. Indigenous peoples through the ages have talked of tree spirits and trees as wise ones. Trees are striking as they permanently lift their arms to the Heavens in seeming prayer, day and night in communication with the Creator, their outstretched arms reaching for the stars.
Reaching for the stars. The image calls to mind a dance of the Kalahari Bushmen who were featured in the movie “The Gods They Must be Crazy.” The Kalahari, the last men born of the Stone Age culture according to Laurens Van Der Post, have no sense of individuality and so share all they have. They have a dance of gratitude which Van Der Post describes in his book entitled “A Mantis Carol”: “I never see their dancing without feeling deeply moved and utterly irreverent and blasphemous because of our own incapacity for acknowledging what life will give if only we will let it in.” And then there is their dance of the “great hunger,” a dance that says we do not live by bread alone, a dance at life’s end fraught with longing, with arms outstretched taughtly towards the Heavens as they reach for the stars.
My grandfather reached for the stars. He came to the United States, a 16-year-old peasant stonecutter from the mountains of Sicily, knowing no English. He wound up carving the Lincoln Gettysburg address at the Lincoln Memorial in DC. While working on the Gettysburg Address he studied English at night school. I remember him telling me how he was the laughing stock of his fellow stone cutters because, inspired by Lincoln’s words, he carved his initials at the top of the monument, “A.L.” for Anthony LaManna (and, of course, for Abraham Lincoln), followed by: “Attorney at Law.” Working his way through school, he actually did eventually become a VA lawyer. He reached for the stars and touched them without ever forgetting where he came from. And he was childlike as he took care of me, as we danced to records on the victrola or as he played the mandolin and sang to me. I always think of him with a tinge of sadness, for more than anyone, he taught me to reach for the stars.
Reach for the creator– that is what the trees say. At this time of year I yearn for the days of childhood in which God seemed close. This yearning fully ripens each year at Christmas/Hanukkah when the people brighten their houses with festive lights. It is a time of year in which we light up our hearts and look to the heavens and sing songs of love to a babe born not so very long ago, or in which we give thanks for the oil to light the lights of the temple for eight days. We are all really seeking the love that motivated the Kalahari Bushmen to do their dance. We are seeking a savior, and yearning for the Light in this overlit, commercialized, complicated world in which the inspiring simplicity of the Bushmen, the peasant, is rapidly disappearing. And the trees touch my heart in their upward reach for the Heavens. For at this time so many millions of them are sacrificed as they have become our Christmas trees and Hanukkah bushes, to be discarded after the holidays are over.
May we experience this holy season with a simpler yearning, not for presents and parties and hoopla, but with our hearts full of gratitude, taking lessons from the trees, from the Kalahari Bushmen, from our ancestors, and seek Love, in whatever form it takes in our souls.