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Dreams, Omens, Birds, and San Francisco

Saturday, December 2nd, 2006

Last night, very weary, as I often am on Friday, I watched part of a DVD of the David Attenborough series, “The Life of Birds,” thought about how hard most birds work to feed themselves (nonsense the expression “free as a bird”), felt great compassion for the birds–working almost without rest every day of their lives. At 9 p.m. I gave in to my own exhaustion and huddled under the goose down for an early winter sleep. I woke suddenly from a dream that I met a mirror image of myself on a sunny path through the Marin hills by the Pacific and said to her, “This place has it all!” Awake, momentarily confused by the goosedown and the shadows in my Texas bedroom, I didn’t know where I was. I saw the clock: 1:59 a.m. Then the music started in my head: “If you’re going to San Francisco, you better wear some flowers in your hair….” So maybe it’s going to work out for me to live at Green Gulch. [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]

Beginning again.

Sunday, September 24th, 2006

OK. Now I see. All my blog-entries between August 17 and September 22 were lost in cyberspace when WordPress had a server crash. Blogs, like meditation, may begin with good intentions, drift away, wander, get lost, and begin again. I begin again today, with a new blog-look and a fresh intention. No more illusion that cyberspace is a safe place to store things. Great lesson for a Buddhist. Everything is impermanent. [read on]

Birth, death, and the inbetween

Sunday, September 24th, 2006

This week was Seth’s birthday! Happy birthday, Seth! He’s thirty-three. Wonderful number, wonderful age. He was an enormous fat Buddha of a baby, nearly ten pounds at birth, who came to light in New Orleans with an air of wisdom and wonder. He didn’t cry when he was born. I did LaMaze, so he wasn’t drugged, and the doctor didn’t slap him on the bottom because he was so large and well-developed at birth, he just took a big breath, opened his eyes wide, and was fully present before the cord was even cut. His mouth made a perfect O, and he gasped and waved his arms in the air as if to say, “Oh, wow! Lights! Colors! Action! Look at this!” [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]

Braga! Public dancing, bed bugs, Bom Jesus

Saturday, July 22nd, 2006

Christopher´s reply on bed bugs is very helpful. I did some research on the internet myself yesterday and was reminded of a few helpful things. First, the bugs are visible (and I remember what they look like from Africa), so I inspected everything I own and didn´t see any, which is good, although as Manko can tell you, my vision sucks, even with glasses. Second, they lay eggs which hatch in two weeks, and I almost certainly have eggs in the backpack, my journal, etc., so all that stuff will have to go just before the two-week mark unless I can find a reliable insecticide that will kill the eggs (unlikely). Third, clothing can be salvaged if washed and then dried at high heat. Given that I may encounter still more bed bugs before the trip is over, I have decided to keep everything for two weeks. I walked two miles to the university area this morning and found a coin op laundromat and washed & dried (hot) everything I own except what I had on. I discovered that very hot, almost scalding water, applied to the bites, helps more than the ointment I bought at the farmacia yesterday. I didn´t yet have the right word for the bugs (thanks Christopher), but I called them insectos de cama, and that got the point across. Otherwise, this is the best part of the trip, with song, dance, and great joy. [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]