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Basho’s Back

Tuesday, April 10th, 2007

Last night, this email exchange with Ansie:

Me: Maybe I should go back and get him. But then what?

Ansie: Then you love him and feel his soft body against yours and listen to the sweet little noises he makes when he is asleep. And you decide what next when there is truly no time left for love. If it was me (and I know it isn’t), I would hold on to every little bit of love for as long as possible because in the end that is the only thing that really matters. [read on]

Doubting Everything

Monday, April 9th, 2007

The woman who has taken Basho says he’s not eating, he growls at her cat, he’s terrified of her dog. If she sits on the couch in the room where he hides, he will come out and sit near her; but he doesn’t trust her, runs if she moves toward him. Perhaps he just needs time to adjust, but I feel horrible for thrusting this difficulty on a being who only ever gave me joy and who was perfectly happy with life as it was. And I miss him. There are horrors taking place in the world, and by comparison with the results of global warming and what’s going on in Darfur, Myanmar, or Iraq, this is trivial. But every loss calls up every other loss. I live again the losses of my children, friends, lovers, animals, oceans, and places I have left behind in the quest. I take this moment, and Dave’s wise comment, to call into question everything in my life. [read on]

Taking it in

Friday, January 19th, 2007

This has been a week of astonishment. School began. An ice storm hit Texas. We mailed out the first edition of The Midnight Special. Manko landed two jobs (hooray for Manko!). Meanwhile (how is this possible? where do the hours come from?) I have been reading Nunca Mas, and tonight I just watched, paused and re-watched key moments, and watched yet again two films: La Historia Oficial(The Official Story), filmed in 1985, about the years immediately after the Argentine catastrophe; and Estela Bravo’s documentary, Fidel. Where have I been all my life? What have I been doing? The depth of my ignorance is stunning. [read on]

New Year’s Eve

Sunday, December 31st, 2006

I got all the papers graded. I’ve laid out five of the eight pages of The Midnight Special, I’ve realized that maybe the piece of writing due January 31st can be easier than I envisioned, and I can’t bear to think about the next round of classes. Instead, it’s New Year’s Eve, a time I love to reflect on the gifts of the passing year and to hold the whole planet in my heart with gratitude, compassion, and tenderness, so how could I not blog this day? [read on]

Rich with possibilities

Wednesday, October 11th, 2006

I have now received warm, welcoming, encouraging emails from HKF and Sravasti, and I also got info from the Chamber of Commerce in Spokane (60 miles south of Sravasti), which slighly allays my fears about the winters at Sravasti. Maybe the winters are less long and severe than those in Massachusetts. On paper it seems so. Every time I pick up a book, an essay, or a dharma talk by Thubten Chodron, who has built Sravasti from a vision to a solid place on the earth, I am drawn to the teacher and the teaching like hummingbirds are drawn to the blossoms in the hanging baskets on my balcony. Then I play one of Bo Lozoff’s tapes, and I lean back and smile with his easy, laughing wisdom. Then I think about Joan Halifax and her wonderful work for prisoners, for the planet, and for the dying, and I think Upaya, in Santa Fe, is a great place to toss my small energy into the mix. The least logical place, because the only thing I know they do is gardening, and I am no gardener, is Green Gulch, but I can’t get its beauty out of my heart. Is it not astonishing that there are four such places, that all of them might take me as part of their community, and that the world is completely lit with possibility! Oh brave world, that has such people in it. [read on]

Santiago de Compostela

Saturday, August 5th, 2006

This incredibly beautiful city is altogether too much to take in. Even if I had a week, a month, a year, I would still be taking it in. I bought a book about it to take home, and I am not even trying to take pictures. The most surprising thing so far is that when I got to the Cathedral, I staggered around for a few minutes, and then I began to cry. I didn´t mean to cry. Nobody else I saw, of all the hordes of people, was crying. In fact they were shooting pictures and videos, talking, chewing gum, whistling, cajoling their kids into paying attention, lining up to touch the Tree of Jesse or to see the relics, kissing, holding hands, helping their aged mothers and grannies, and doing all the things that people do. I was shocked at myself, sobbing. I couldn´t help it. My sense of privilege was overwhelming. My awe was overwhelming. My sense of history is overwhelming: I feel the energies of the many people who have come here on foot, on their knees, as penance or as praise, hundreds of thousands of people for more years than I can imagine, many of whom must have died on the way. This is where they were trying to get to. And here I am. Not even a Christian. Did not follow the golden arrows. Sobbing. I found myself gazing into the eyes of a beautiful little figure of Santa Nossa Señora Salome. Salome was made into a saint? Wasn´t she the one who asked for the head of John the Baptist on a silver platter? The one Oscar Wilde wrote about? They made her a saint? Well, no matter. Obviously it is not her legend that moved me, since I don´t really know what her legend is. It is her stillness. The statue has a great stillness and presence to it that moves me. I did take a picture of her. I could wrap my spirit around her. She was the one presence in that vast and unimaginably complex cathedral that I could wrap my spirit around, and I put my hand on one of her little feet for a while, till I felt grounded enough to move again. If anybody knows anything about how she became a saint or what her story is, do tell me. But more about Finisterre, and more about this place. [read on]

The way we learn

Wednesday, June 28th, 2006

Suddenly time, which flapped wetly about me for days, is speeding up. I’m teaching Manko to drive (but she won’t be ready before I go), doing back and leg exercises the physical therapist gave me, making hurricane plans for Manko and the animals, teaching this interminable course (we’re on Frederick Douglass and Harriet Jacobs now, much better, and on a roll headed for Whitman and Dickinson and final exams). I keep going back to Phil Cousineau’s wonderful instructions, from The Art of Pilgrimage, and today, his instructions (for pilgrimage, for life) and Manko’s driving lesson came together like a clash of cymbals (pun not intended, I groan), like a clash of Zildjians from Seth’s rock n roll drum kit, like a great crash. Here is the juxtaposition: [read on]