Christmas and Winter Solstice blessings to all those who have visited Moonside and especially to those to whom I was unable to respond due to physical or mental illness, a HUGE THANK YOU!!
And to all… may you feel the joy of Christmas no matter what your circumstance, color, creed or faith and be blessed by health, happiness and peace in the New Year!
is my cathedral
A very diverse congregation…
to snails and turtles
Deer sometimes come round
Birds of every hue
All that’s missing is you
but you worship your own way
doing charity every day
more than I can say
Sitting in the sun, acclimating to the gentle June heat, swatting away an annoysome fly who keeps returning over and over, I know this swatting is definitely wrong—a stirring of the killer instinct. I remember naturalist artist and writer and turtle man, David M. Carroll, keeping his hand steady, while being bitten by hordes of mosquitoes, so as not to scare away the turtles as he paints them . Clearly he is a superior soul in his patient endurance of being bitten and as his, almost spiritual, beautifully poetic, writings and drawings reveal. I remember, too, the words of Pema Chodron, Buddhist teacher and nun, who teaches and preaches practicing compassion on little things, learning not to “bite the hook” of anger.
So I let the fly alight on my ankle and he seemingly happily stays on my leg and does not bite. I begin to try to image feeling kinship with this fly who likes my leg, fighting the idea that he is laying eggs in my skin. Pema Chodron has clearly inspired a city girl, afeared of bugs, to make friends with a fly as I watch the universe of insects beneath my feet. A Daddy Long legs crawls on my camera bag, hitches a ride to our bed when I go inside the house. I bring him back to his home outside.
This compassion things feels right, start small and grow big. As if to reinforce this point a butterfly lands on my chest when I return to my contemplation spot in our back yard. But all is not sweetness and light. Later the same fly (I swear it is) who landed on my leg now activates karma for my earlier murderous impulses towards him. He lands on my toe and bites me. A cautionary tale against getting too carried away with being virtuous. Still worse, later as I walk in the coolness of early evening, a bug lands on my arm and attempts a vigorous bite. In an instant, a reflexive smack smooches him dead.
So it would seem I have to start even smaller with my acts of compassion. How much smaller can one start? I wonder with daunting discouragement about the many, many more lives I will have to live to learn lessons of compassion and no anger. I contemplate the prospect of how many, many more films I will have to view in this movie house of Maya we call life. When, oh when, will I learn all my lessons? When, oh, when, will the sun set for good for me on this circle of life so I can exit the orbit and rest beyond the stars??
a rainy October morning
dry chilly warmth
in our little barn
you perusing the paper
me pumping poetry
on the metal roof
a tymphanic symphony
outside the window
a masterpiece of color
yellow walnut leaves
and red sugar maple
the steady drip-drop of water
what bliss is this
precious moments of Now
a heavenly haven
from a frightening, tipsy-turvy world
I wish to always be
in your aura of calm
and the beauteous bounty of Nature
death will come
please take us together
find us in each other’s arms
the everlasting Now
in the presence of God.
*German word meaning “coziness”.
My husband pronounces this a cow
standing among greens
well if it is a cow
don’t eat him
he is a sacred cow
as we all are sacred
I see him standing among the brush triumphant
for no one has turned him into hamburger
I say they are blue trees
filled with white blossoms
well if they are blossoms
don’t pick them
and extinguish their life of beauty
as if She were our own
meant to serve us
when She is there to teach us
about the Great Being
benevolent with His gifts
such as blue cows
or blue trees with white flowers
as Nature whispers in our ears
as She manifests the gifts of the Great Being
and we boorishly
cut them down
and put them in vases
(if I am right and they are blue trees with white flowers)
where in a day or so they die
having given their lives
for the mundane, bourgeois folly
of decorating our homes
(if my husband is right and they are cows)
we boorishly eat them
despite the disgust of eating flesh
at the expense of deaths by extreme cruelty
a travesty of justice
crimes against Nature
when She is to be untouched
just as She is
for She is the perfect
creation of our Heavenly Father.
September sunlight dances on drying leaves, sparkling like diamonds against a flowing stream, an azure sky. The plants of summer are dying. Flowers that have given such joy all summer long are now spurned by us as they shrivel into the paradoxical beauty of old age. The sun burns lightly on summer-drenched skin as clouds intrude intermittently into the almost- Autumn interlude– a gentle foretaste of the cold to come. The last butterflies of summer flit among the blossoming Goldenrod and browning Joe Pie Weed.
The beauty of Fall is the beauty of a dying season. It is the season of death– an alternative to the dew-like bloom of youth in Spring.
When I was very young, I felt death in nature. I could feel what it must feel like to be a tree or a flower—to just “be”—the Buddhist dictum which I cannot now master. In my late twenties, my mind broke into smithereens like shattered glass, and I had a choice to make between going on psych meds or going to hospital. I chose the former and have lived some 40 years more with that choice. I will not say it was a happy choice, at the risk of sounding ungrateful, because I have become driven into a fury of manic activity and self-seeking in stark contrast to the just “being” of my early youth. The psych meds have dispelled my “egolessness” which, in turn, makes me more able to “function”– at a price. For I no longer feel the waves of peace lapping at the shores of my mind and my religious feelings have, comparatively speaking, shriveled up like the summer flowers in the Fall. “It’s always a trade-off” I am told over and over again. My doc told me once that I am one of the lucky ones because for some people the meds don’t work at all. That shut me up and those words periodically pump gratitude into my system. I have remained med-compliant mainly because the meds have kept me out of hospital, DO allow me to function, and, most importantly, I have discovered that being able to function means allowing me to love.
And although more self-seeking, paradoxically this med-induced functionality allows me to give back to the world. My gift is to describe the “just- being” in nature that was imprinted indelibly on my mind when I was young. Death seemed beautiful to me then, a state of simply being at one with the soul of nature. Now I confess to a fear of dying, rather than a fear of death, but most of all, a fear of loss of the love of my life. For we are in the September of our lives and all is intensified now that we are more aware of our finiteness. Truth be told this was always potentially the case, but we lived, like most youth, in the inevitable delusion of immortality.
So I function now at the cost of loss of my revered altered states of consciousness. Perhaps I am in September mind, channeling words and images of the beauty of nature that flooded me long ago are a mere trickle now, as my time to “just be,” once more for this time round, approaches.
Tiny, twinkling stars
fall from the sky
and become fireflies,
flickering on and off
among the trees
calling for a mate,
lighting the night sky
and exciting vision
and flashing lights
and one is not sure
which is which
so bewitched are we
by the show of Light.
Last week my husband called me from the back yard. “Come quick, come see what I found.” I ran to the back door where he was, holding out his arm, and there in his hand sat a teeny green frog, about the size of a thumbnail. I oooed and aahhed over it and thanked him for calling me. The frog had jumped onto his arm while my husband was unrolling the garden hose, its temporary home. “How wonderful!” I said. And then I thought some more about it and I realized I was jealous. Jealous of the fact the frog had jumped on my husband’s arm and not mine. “Well, he deserves the frog more than I do,” I found myself thinking, as if any of us deserve such things.
Today I began to think more about this. I remembered when we had first moved in. My husband was at work and I saw a mound in the grass moving out the back door window. Upon closer examination I found to my utter delight it was a box turtle. This time it was my husband, an affirmed reptile lover, who was jealous and even admitted to being so. Okay, jealousy of such things is obvious and on the surface in children. Yet we were dealing with adults here who, it seems, covet visits from animals. We cherish an interchange with a creature. And why?
I remember the Sunday night a few years ago, apprehensive about a challenging week ahead, when I saw a stag in the woods behind our house. I called to my husband to come see him. He was stunning with huge antlers, an imposing presence. And suddenly I knew everything would be alright. Why? Because the stag in the distance– majestic, princely, beautiful was a sign.
And how thrilled we are to have a snapping turtle return every year to lay her eggs in our driveway. We feel privileged. Again, blessed. Or when, with delighted guests, we saw a giant luna moth flying in the porch light one night. And the countless times a butterfly lands on one’s body, on a shoulder or head, or a dragonfly visits an arm or a sleeve. And, the beautiful hummingbirds. We even had a hummingbird nest in our Black Birch. Such visits feel so special– to have these delicate, exquisite creatures land near us or live in the trees near our house. Even when my least favorite reptile makes an appearance out from under his home on our back deck, a tiny garter snake, the spirit soars.
Research has shown how having pets is therapeutic. We are blessed by animals who trust us utterly. We feel their trust and it is pure, unalloyed by human characteristics. We don’t deserve such trust and yet we receive it as a gift. We have made contact with a being of a different species who lives in a different world whose being synchronizes with different biological rhythms. The native Americans believed animals to be spiritual guides that have much to teach us. Psychology tells us Nature is a natural antidepressant. An animal can disarm the most defensive, enchant the most mentally ill, bring out the goodness in the criminal, and bring a smile to the face of the young, old and in-between.
And, yes, animals can be pests when they get into where they don’t belong or become aggressive or defensive in a bad way. But our world is a richer, more vibrant place because of them. Animals bring us out of ourselves and into the experience of awe. Their innocence lightens our loads, allowing us to share the “mystery of the other” with others, drawing us closer to our friends and family. We share the world with animals and they share their hearts with us. And their innocent interactions with us are blessings from God.
Grace flows through the limbs of a tree reaching skyward, its intricate patterns of branches pleasing the eye– just as grace flows through the orderly, spikey branches of frost on a window.
Patterns repeated ad infinitum in all creation.
A microcosm of the macrocosm and a macrocosm of the microcosm.
God’s breath breathes through all.