a story of a story (part 2)

There’s a way of living in rhythm with the sacred,
where all that goes on is a dance of meaning and relationship.

Where everything that happens, is all just the steps in the dance.

Where it’s not about good or bad

          “Should I worry?”

where it’s not about being okay or not okay

                            “is it going to be okay?”

where it’s not about a judgement about what will happen next

                                       “what does this mean?”

                                      the gentle curious participation in the dance itself.

Meaning isn’t an assessment about what happens,
         meaning is the movement of unfolding
                           Meaning is the movement of story itself.

Here’s what I mean.

             Here’s part 2 of the pas-de-deux.

the story of the story


The original story
     was a tale
          of a chicken and a snake
              and a dog
                 and a woman
                 in a circle of consequence
                              and death.
                                         At the heart, a little one died
                                      and a mother was bereaved.

Taking the story as a message
does not mean taking it personally.

             For example, here are some ways one could take it
                    which miss the message.

“Oh, what a terrible chicken-mama I am, that I let a chick die!
How horrible!
We’ve gotta do something about that terrible snake!
I feel so guilty, I feel so sad, look at that poor hen, I want to wail in grief for her, I feel so guilty, I must be such a horrible person that this happened! Am I okay?”

                                                    Claiming guilt is a projection
                                                        and projecting pain is an illusion.

Guilt and projection are simply distractions into drama.
                                                                      (And drama is the surest way to miss the message.)

“Wow, how sad and scary!
That’s gotta be a bad omen, right?
Should I worry?”

                                                  It is neither good nor bad.
                                                       Nor is it even an omen.

It is a message and an invitation.

“Things like this don’t just happen out of the blue, it’s such a powerful little thing to have happened, it can’t be just random, it’s gotta mean something, right? What does it mean?”

                                                   It doesn’t “mean” anything in that sense of it.
                                                       Meaning isn’t an assessment of what happened,
                                                       or what will happen.

      Meaning is
                           dance itself.

   The meaning to be made
         is the message to be heard
and the message to be heard
      is that the dance itself is going on


                                            below the surface of apparent events.

We are


                                            invited into the dance.

             The meaning itself is the message
        the message itself is the invitation
   the invitation itself is the dance.

Another way to miss the message
   is to look too closely,
in a psychological kind of way,
      at decoding it.

“Am I the chick? Is something in my life dying?”
“Am I the hen? Is something precious to me being killed?”
“Am I the snake? Am I killing something?”
“Am I the other hens? Am I rejecting something lonely and vulnerable?”
“Am I the missing rooster? Not there to protect what should be protected?”
“Am I the dog? Am I an unpredictable threat?”

                                                         Any or all of those may in fact be accurate,
                                                         and even useful things to see.
                                                         The psychological dimensions are not untrue,
                                                              but they are irrelevant to the larger message.

       The whole of the story is a message,
              the tale which the story itself tells.

                                    And the tale must be told


                                           to understand into the message
                                       to catch into the rhythm
                                   to join into the dance.

What are the themes of the story told whole?
                                   predator and prey
                                   death and transformation
                                   fierce and intimate life at the edge of darkness
                                        and the circles and cycles of care
                                        under the shadows
                                              of motherhood failed
                                        motherhood rejected
                                   and motherhood lost.

          How does the story end?
                                   In death

Those themes are the steps of the dance
and of course they have been the themes in my life;
             motherhood and death and life.

                                     but the steps are not the dance itself.

                    The dance itself
                         simply dances.

It does not care what the specific steps are.
It simply makes use of what is there
what is needful.

How then, join into the dance?
How receive the message and accept the invitation?

Always choose to welcome.

Not in a pollyannish way, where everything is by definition “good”.
                           There is no good or bad.

(Sometimes the message can be
life-shatteringly painful to receive.
In those times
to call it “good” is an oversimplification at best
and a soul-searing insult at worst.
In those times
fear, rage, and grief
cannot be diminished or dismissed,
they can only be moved through in their own time
and their own storying unfoldment,
and only in and through that movement, transformed.)

              Welcome it anyway.

         When we choose
     against    the     fear,       the         rage,          the            grief,
                                                                                                    we                     stop          the   dance.

             Choose welcome.               Choose the transformative dance.

         The universe always tends towards growth
              the universe always flows.

                                          We can move in alliance with that growth and that flow,
                                                                                                                                    or not.

           We can say yes
                       or we can say no.

                                                                                                   (Free will is inexorable.)

Yes tends towards evolution. Increased complexity. Life.
No tends towards devolution. Increased entropy. Death.

We, in our fierce and intimately lived dance,
are always a mix of both.
Some things are dying,
relinquishing down into ashes.
Other things are being born,
sparking up in fire and blood.


     Pain     is              inescapable.
                                                                 So             is     joy.

Be fierce with both your pain and your joy.
        Choose into the flow.
   Let it break you,
                                let it make you,
                                                               let it dance you
                                                                                                into and through

Choose welcome.

                           Welcome to the chick
                    welcome to the snake
                                  welcome to the dog
                           welcome to the death
                                         welcome to the life
                                   welcome to the fierce and intimate transformation 

                                         welcome to the whole of the story.

Crucially, listen.

                              Listen with care
                      so you can hear
                                     the rhythm and the message
                              instead of the noise.

                                              Listen with discernment
                                      so you can know
                                                      the meaning and the dance
                                              instead of the drama.
                                                             Extend your circles and cycles of care
                                                                     extend an invitation
                                                                             to those in your charge.

Don’t go for the lure of the drama
don’t go for the distractions of the details.

              Extend your care
                              extend your arms
                      extend your healing
              extend your love

                      in an invitation
                                      to dance into the rhythm
                              to join into the dance.

                              My love is not for the chickens
                              as cherished as they are to me.
                      My love is not for the snake
                      as joyfully as I take up that challenge.
              My love is not for the chicken-killing neighbor’s dog
              (nor even for my own old and beloved dog,
                      whose presence whispers behind these posts
                      as his fierce and intimate life nears the edge of his own darkness…)

My love is for you.

sitting there in front of your computer
                opening to the web beyond,
        reading this story
and storying this reading,
                and thinking about those beloved who are in your charge,

                                                        an invitation to those beloved who are in mine.

        Why story this tell?
why dance this tale?

        For the sake of inviting you into the meaning
                for the sake of dancing you into the rhythm
                       for the sake of

                                        the heart

                                                             the heart

                                                   the heart

                                                                              of receiving you into the message
                                                                                      of welcoming you into the transformation

                                                                          of joining you into
                                                                                      this fierce
                                                                              and intimate
                                                                      dying and living

For the heart of storying you into the dance.

Things die.                
Grief rises.        
Like the snake shedding its skin
the rhythm of transformation continues.                


just like in the story itself
we are safe
in fierce and intimate life
        on the edge of darkness.


        That’s the message.
That’s the story of the story.

                That’s the storying dance.

Posted in pathwork | 2 Comments

all heart, all love

for Jacque

A friend of mine adopted a dog earlier this year.

Mason was rescued, with a group of other dogs, from the fire in Bastrop this past Labor Day weekend. It turned out, however, that Mason had not been a family’s pet. Clearly she had been a stray, on her own for some time.

My friend took her in, cared for her, discovered the sweetness of this particular dog’s soul, and fell in love with her. And Mason slowly but strongly returned the love, and she thrived.

   Dogs are bridges in their very being.

Ever straddling the divide between animal and human, somehow dogs give of themselves to us, in a way no other animal does. A dog without other dogs in its life is a lonely and sad thing, but a dog who does not love a human is also forever hampered from the full expression of its soul’s purpose.

Think about it. What other animal does something as beautiful and tragic as inviting another species, forever alien, to lodge so firmly within their own hearts? From a dog’s point of view, we must be so clueless. Can’t hunt, can’t really properly run, certainly can’t smell worth a damn, always hauling them back from the most delicious garbage or dead birds… yet still they love us.

In Hebrew the word for dog is kelev – כלב. There is a folk-etymology which says the word kelev is actually combined from two other words: kol lev – כל לב – all heart.

                                  Dogs are all heart.

And they give us their heart. Us humans, us alien stupid beings who never seem to get it.
Unceasingly, unreasonably, they cross the species bridge, give of themselves to belong to us unlike any other animal does, and they love us.

For so long, Mason had no one to love.
And then she did.

But Mason’s health was very poor, from having been feral for so long. And she was 15 years old. My friend pursued as much veterinary care as she could, and Mason thrived for a time, but her health was fragile, and her kidneys were weak, and eventually nothing further could be done.

Mason died yesterday.

“Sometimes hearts break to the roar of a wrecking ball.
Sometimes hearts break silently,
with pieces falling to Earth like snowflakes.”

My friend. All heart.

And I weep for my friend, and for her heart.

From a shamanic point of view, there is no such thing as time.

          There is just now.

And from a dog’s point of view as well,
there is just now.

The present can genuinely heal the past, in fullness.

I weep, so grateful that Mason did not leave this world abandoned and alone.
I weep, so glad that Mason left in love.
I weep, so sad but so grateful for my friend’s broken heart,
because that means Mason mattered.

The story of Mason’s life, if dogs think in such a way, was surely a hard one, a broken one.
So are many of our own.
But her story ultimately was a good one.

        Cherished. Known. Loved.

The present can genuinely heal the past, in fullness.

We all matter. Every thing, every being, every sparrow.

When a sparrow dies, it falls to the rich being-ground of Earth.
The story of its life is a lovestory told to the soil, the trees, the sky.
The sparrow matters.
The heartstory is complete.

But the heartstory, the bridgestory, of the mattering of a dog
is inextricably bound up with humans.
Without the human story, the dog story is not complete.
Without my friend,
Mason’s heart would not have been complete.
And she would have died, abandoned, alone.

But no matter what,
the combined heartstory that is the dog-and-human story
is in its very being a tragic story, a broken story.

They take us into their hearts, you see,
and we take them into our own.
Different species,
evolutionary partners,
forever speaking, at best imperfectly, across an evolutionary divide,
unlike our relationship with any other animal.

The story of that heart is forever divided.

The story that is the heart of the dog+human bond
a bridge thrown across that evolutionary divide
in its very being
is forever a story of broken-heartedness.

There is no way around it.

And whether Mason had died yesterday or had lived for another 5 years,
whenever Mason’s story would have reached its completion
still my friend would have stepped forward
into the grief.

And my friend absolutely knew it too, well in advance,
when she opened her heart to this dog.

Still, she opened her heart.
In spite of pain
bound up with love.
And Mason opened her own
and they joined in story, together.

In spite of pain
bound up with love
still we open our heart.

If the essential tragedy of a dog’s life is that we alien humans
are a part of their forever-divided, forever-open
forever-bridged, forever-broken heartstory…
…the essential tragedy of our own
is that we alien humans
can close our hearts.

All heart,
dogs cannot close theirs.

We are all heart too.
And yet we can close our hearts
burn the bridges,
cripple the stories uncompleted.

We do not have to turn to each other.
We do not have to reach out in love.

We can close down, turn away, kill love.
And we can die abandoned, alone.

                      It is a choice, for us.

The present does genuinely heal the past, in fullness
but only if we walk the bridge
only if we open our heart.
And when we do, our heartstories will become broken stories too.
There is no way around it.

We will hurt
we will grieve
we will love.

There is no way around it.

Our heartstories will be hard stories
broken stories
but like Mason, her story completed in love,
our own stories will ultimately be good ones too.

And we absolutely know this too, well in advance
when we open our heart.

So the grieving is love
and the love is grieving
there is no way around it
in the mattering of each other’s hearts,
in the bridging of each other’s stories

inextricably bound up together
forever brokenhearted, forever wholehearted
in love.

Posted in heartwork | 4 Comments

tangibleness and love

I am participating in a year-long course in shamanic herbalism.

                        The experience is like nothing I have ever done before.

                                                      (hmm, a thought arises as I write those words; interestingly,
                                                           the only thing that seems at all akin to this, was studying music.
                                                 That was also like nothing I had ever done before.
                                                                That also tapped wholly new domains of being and aliveness within myself.
                                                           That also changed my life.)

       This is the path of the Plant Beings.
            The Rooted Ones
    the Green Ones
             the Sprouting Ones.

         Their tangibility and their generosity take my breath away.

Plants are the givingest beings in the world.

           The songs they sing
       and the music that thrums in their veins

                               are suffused with tangibleness and love.
There is a painting by Mary Cassatt which I have loved for many years.


   I have spent hours       
looking into
  the bowl of water
      in the painting;

  the mother’s hand
     the child’s feet

   and I have delighted
in the artist’s hand
      making water

     making love


              Love is so often invisible.

It’s something felt more than seen.
     Evanescent more than tangible.

The plants aren’t like that.
     The plants are entirely tangible.

They exist in a solidly thisworldly sense

         as hard as tripping over a tree root
      as profound as saving a life.

As real as the water in Mary Cassatt’s hand.

Last week my husband came down with a scratchy sore throat.
   I made him up a batch of homemade Elder berry syrup.

Elder is an ally of the body’s immune system
                    especially for colds
                respiratory infections
                        sore mucus membranes.

   She soothes and eases and strengthens
with a gentleness sufficient for even a child.

                                                 a child
                                                              bare feet
                                                          in the water …

I made up the syrup and gave it to my husband
      his scratchy throat never developed into anything worse
   it went away after a few days.
I also took it myself, to protect myself against his bug.

This morning, while my stepdaughter and her boyfriend were still with us for the holidays, I spoke about my studies in herbalism. Shared with them some of my delight in it. Shared with them some of the Elder berry syrup.

…and Elderberry syrup is in fact, truly delicious…

And then it suddenly occurred to me,
      that I could give them my syrup to take home with them.
   So they could use to protect themselves this winter
      so they could use it to lighten the impact of any colds they might catch.

   It was a wholly new thought
a wholly different way of seeing what I’m doing with the herbs.

      Not just something pulling deep at my soul inexorably to explore
      and experiment with on myself and my husband

the herbs were suddenly a gift that I could already give others as well.
   Give with the same tangible thisworldly givingness
a rooted and sprouting generosity
      as given by the plants to me,
   so that I in turn could give again on, to others.

     Love made visible.

In the painting, the love we see is not just the love of the mother for her child.
We also see Mary Cassatt’s love for the mother.
     For the way she holds her child on her lap, heavy and awkward,
                                                                full of quiet patience.
     For the way she is unconcerned that her dress may get wet.
     For the words that pass between her and her child.

Full of ordinary visible love.

The love the herbs give us is
           the love of a mother
        for other mothers.

The love of a caregiver
       for the other care givers themselves
   rather than the recipients of the care, as precious as they may be.

The love with which the plants shower us
   the love which the Earth herself drenches us
a bathing in liquid love from which we never truly dry
        itself is the givingness, the sacred tangibleness in these acts of care.

   Music of the heart
a song of the tangible beingness of life.

                   Thank you, Elder.
                      Yours is a gift of rich and hushed honor
               to be given on again, to those whom I love.

                                                          Thank you.

Posted in heartwork, learning earth | Leave a comment

graceful, awkward, real


             I am afraid of awkwardness




   I am afraid of being   
      awkward   and     gawky and    ugly
          the kind of awkwardness
      that is so uncomfortable in my own skin
                      that it makes other people
                                                 just to watch.
                                        Sometimes I am that kind of awkward.

      I love it when I am in grace


     When my words and my actions
   flow with a simple soft elegance

             when what I offer to the world
       is so natural and perfect

         that no other option
             no other way of being

       seems like it would be possible.
   I cherish the compliments I receive from moments of being in grace
      times I am thanked for my graciousness.
   I hold them to myself in self-comforting reassurance,
      after the giver has long-forgotten what they told me.

                    I remember the times of being painfully awkward long afterwards as well.

                                        I wince in long-held memory.


               When the question of me-in-my-own-skin
                          feels so self-same
                                        that no other way of being is even imaginable.

         When I know who I am with such matter-of-fact synchrony
     and my trust in my essence is so anchored
                     in   the     Now

                           that simply breathing     feels like        blessing
                                simply sensing touch on my skin     feels like          truth.



   Sometimes the moments of apparent being-in-grace are not real.

      Sometimes I’m only imitating myself
      acting a part called Me.

          Sometimes the moments of apparent
                                         are also not real.

            Sometimes out of self-consciousness
                 I simply temporarily founder and forget my own flow

              and struggle as if slightly out-of-synch with my own existence.


   And    sometimes,


the awkwardness is, itself, a sign of truth.

   the wincing away from my own being

        hides the truth that the awkwardness is simply a sign of newness
          a mark of learning
             a demonstration
                     that I am still   finding     my rhythm.


   it’s simply




                I get frustrated sometimes

                              at     other   people’s       awkwardness.

The way they seem

  to fumble


      their days.


                                   I wonder sometimes


   how they manage to keep from creating
      calamity and catastrophe around them
          like Pigpen from The Peanuts
   debris from unhandled consequences
      dragging along behind them.



                       or how they manage to keep from
                          killing themselves
                                by tilting at windmills
                                       like Don Quixote
                                             out of sheer cluelessness
                                      at what the real danger is.


                                                                                                                          (Not particularly gracious things for me to think.)


                                             Is this just my own self-doubt I see



                                                                 back to me?



                             If I were to relax
                                                     on pushing this awkwardness away from me

if I were to forgive       
my own awkwardness               



                                                      relinquish the scars
                                                                from my own Quixote battles of cluelessness
                                                                       with windmills

redeem the debts                       
from my own Pigpen consequences     
behind me              



                      If I were to

                  trust myself

                             a little more

                              it would probably be easier to be graceful

                                         it would definitely be easier to be real…

…if I were to                                           
trust the awkwardness                                  

and simply                 

keep dancing…


                         …where are you graceless?
                                           …when are you real?
                                      …how do you keep dancing?

                              …share your thoughts in the comments
                                       may we all help each other in finding our rhythm…

With gratitude to Edgar Degas and the following sources and photographers for dancing with me:
Images from www.Edgar-Degas.org

Ballet Rehearsal by Edgar Degas
Two Dancers on a Stage
Wikipedia provided the following:

The following photographs are by Quinn Dombrowski, on Flickr.

Disconnected hands

Posted in feet trusting path | 6 Comments

sailing the signals

The other day I saw them

            radio towers at sunset  




tall ships on an electronic sea.


This is a place I drive past on my way to and from work
I see these radio towers almost every day

                           and yet I do not see them
                               I did not see them at all

   until they were as masts to me

                                tall ships

tacking and jibing with the web
buoyed by ties and tides
running windward on seas of information
on the world wide waves.

A daily messenger
coming with information

     It’s less my seeing the radio antennas

               more the instant unbidden meaning I took
               the image my listening deeper-self gave to my mind

                                                             of tall ships at sea.


I must go down to the seas again, to the lonely sea and the sky    
And all I ask is a tall ship and a star to steer her by    

The shamanic practice of

                                          the daily messenger

is to notice
     every day

               at least once

something in the world around you that you notice.

                        It’s a noticing of what you notice
                        what catches your attention

                an animal
             a bird
          a picture on the side of a truck on the highway
       an overheard song

or radio towers at sunset.

       Everything can be your messenger.

       Then welcoming that as your messenger
    letting it speak to your listening,
  let it echo into your depths, let your deeper-self rise up in answer.

I must go down to the seas again, to the lonely sea and the sky


must go down to the seas again     
the lonely sea          


the sky               

The John Masefield poem came to my mind as well, rising in echo response

I must go down to the seas again to the lonely sea and the sky
And all I ask is a tall ship and a star to steer her by,
And the wheel’s kick and the wind’s song and the white sail’s shaking,
And a grey mist on the sea’s face, and a grey dawn breaking.

       as did a fragment of an Adrienne Rich poem

       I have been standing all my life in the
       direct path of a battery of signals
       the most accurately transmitted most
       untranslatable language in the universe

                          I am a galactic cloud so deep      so invo-
                          luted that a light wave could take 15
                          years to travel through me       And has
                          taken                   I am an instrument in the shape of a woman

translating pulsations into images
for the relief of the body
the reconstruction of the mind


This is the dream.

This is the waking dream

the sunset sky with the radio towers
     my deepmind image of tall ship masts against the sunset sea
          the two poems 

(and then the gifts from the photographers of Flickr,
these photos I find, exquisite with resonant perfection…)

This is the waking dream.

go down to the seas again

          the direct path of a battery of signals
                    the most accurately transmitted
                 most untranslatable

                        down to the
                            down to the seas

       So notice what you notice.

    Take it as a dream.
           And listen, then. Listen.
              As to a dream.

                     down to the seas again
                                 the tall ships
                               the sky
                listen in
                listen down
                                down to the seas
                                          and the sky



Don’t worry about translating it.
Don’t worry about what it means.

most accurately transmitted
most untranslatable

Allow it simply to sit in your being              unfolding

                 allow the transmitted signal to settle, silent in resonant echo

          not for how it translates to your rational mind
          but for how it engages with your listening heart.

Because the world is always speaking to us.

   Tumbling over itself, giving to us, drawing us ever more into sacred resonance
   drawing us into the conversation

                       the world is always speaking to us.

    The deeper we are listening,
    the more we are engaged in the conversation

mind trusting heart          

feet trusting path                        

              the easier it is for us to hear           our own heart

                                 and know        our own path

     The daily messenger is a practice in listening
         a practice in noticing

                         a training in resonant alignment.

     The gifts it gives are seeds that settle into our own being
and rise up in answer only after the planting.

And then with those rising answerings, the process has the same flavor.

     Notice what you notice.
     Listen to what catches your attention

          without translating
          without worrying what it all means

               simply allowing the alignment to resonate

                         over time.

In my own case,

   radio towers at sunset

I notice:
     my website is like the signals transmitted across world wide waves.

          I notice:
               the ship I sail though unknown waters in what I am creating here.

     I notice:
          my need to go down, into it, into the seas again, the lonely sea and the sky.

I notice:
     myself as the instrument in the shape of a woman
     in the direct path of the signals      accurately transmitted

          I notice:
               this blog post as a resonant response

     my gift of gratitude back to the Sacred.

          My gift out into the sea,
               out through the webbed waves of information,
               out into the lonely electronic sea in the sky.

And I notice
      I know
   my own longing need to set out
go down to the seas again
   no matter how long this travel may take
      sailing 15 years through a galactic cloud   so    deep     so       invo        luted
           through lonely seas and sky

my need to let myself be drawn into sacred resonance right here right now
             to sail my own signals

                       out into the web.


I also notice how perfectly Bruno Girin‘s Flickr photos resonate in alignment with my own signals. Thank you.
Radich at Anchor
Radich in the Bay

Posted in listening: daily messsenger | 3 Comments

a story of a story (part 1)

There’s a way of living in rhythm with the Sacred,
where all that goes on is a dance of meaning and relationship.

Where everything that happens, is all just the steps in the dance.

Where it’s not about good or bad

          “Should I worry?”

where it’s not about being okay or not okay

                             “is it going to be okay?”

where it’s not about a judgement about what will happen next

                                            “what does this mean?”

                                      the gentle curious participation in the dance itself.

Meaning isn’t an assessment about what happens,
         meaning is the movement of unfolding happening.
                           Meaning is the movement of story itself.

Here’s what I mean.

             Here’s one pas-de-deux as it unfolded in my life.

the story


We have two hens, a tiny backyard flock. Charlotte and Scrappy are not brooders – they lay for us, delicious eggs, but they have never sat a clutch.


One of our neighbor’s hens began to hang around our yard too. A little white hen.    


The roosters come over sometimes, too, cruisin’ the girls. Young turks, strutting about. While our two hens gladly dallied with the roosters, a little slap and tickle, a little peck and flirt, they’ve been girlishly uninterested in tying the knot, slipping coquettishly away from the oh-so-boring task of brooding a clutch.


The little white hen, a more serious-minded gal, less interested in flirting and more interested in brooding, has gotten down to business with them a time or two.

With Sam The Rooster, a gorgeous gray bird, she hatched a single white chick.

Our neighbor’s hens will bring to hatch 6 or 8 or sometimes more. I don’t know why all she could manage was one.

But she showered her attention on the little chickling, busily pecking and scraping our yard, showing it how to hunt for bugs.

Then one day we noticed her chick was gone. Sadly, little ones like that are tasty prey for predators. We never knew what got it, and our yard is not truly set up to be predator-proof, especially for chicks. We’d need to build a whole coop, covered in hardware cloth, rather than letting the girls simply free-range where they choose, and we have not done this.

The white hen decided to make her permanent home in our yard.
My husband and I never named her.

Our hens have little patience for this lonely hard-working girl. When she comes near their food, they rush at her, all self-important huff, and run her off. She contents herself with their leavings, consoled perhaps by the dreams of a family her tormenters don’t even know to yearn for.
The predator problem has another dimension. The neighbor’s dog has discovered how tasty home-grown chicken can be, and he has killed a number of birds, including both Sam T. Rooster and Young Turk.

To protect the girls from him, I doubled the livestock fence that surrounds our back yard with a layer of chicken wire.

Chickens are homebodies, they wouldn’t actually have any interest in leaving home for good, but they are curious birds, and before the chicken-killing dog had entered the scene, Charlotte and Scrappy had eagerly hopped through the chicken-sized mesh of the livestock fence to see what newer possibilities and juicier bugs might lie beyond.


But the doubled fencing has kept them in the yard, and kept the dog out. The roosters, more daring flyers than the hens, had braved the World Beyond The Fence and paid the price for it, but our hens have been safe. The fence has more-or-less kept the peace for months.


We noticed recently that the white hen had hatched another single chick. Some other rooster must have come a-callin’, flashin’ big promises. The chick was gray with an incipient little black mohawk. I hoped she’d be more successful at raising this little one, reward and recompense for her loneliness.


Then one day, nearing dusk, our girls were not around, and I noticed that the white hen, wise to an opportunity, had taken her chick into the hutch our girls usually sleep in.


Oho, I think, aware of the social confrontation to come, and look around for Charlotte and Scrappy.

Ah, it seems they have made a break for freedom, they have somehow gotten through the chicken wire, and are in front of our house where the neighbor’s dog can get to them.

I go out front, aware of the dog in sight, and try to persuade our hens to come home. They will have none of it, greener pastures are much more interesting than our backyard, even though it is nearing dusk and they should be wanting to come home to roost.

I know they are thoughtless and rash, and will peremptorilly sell their grand plans for freedom short for a handful of chicken feed, but I’m reluctant to go in to get it while the dog is watching.


Suddenly from the back yard I hear loud agitated squawking and scrabbling against the hutch.
     Something bad is happening with the white hen.


I glance at the dog and run in, get the chicken feed and run back out.
Fortunately he has not attacked them in those few moments.


I lure our hens back into the backyard, and once they’re safe,
I go back to see what’s wrong with the white hen.
     There is a snake in the hutch
       …and I can see it has the chick in its mouth.


The mother hen is racing around the hutch from the outside, squawking and occasionally trying a run in at the snake.

This is one of the downsides of single-motherhood in the chicken world, because roosters do watch out for predators, and will attack in defense of their hens, but this poor ostracized hen has no one but herself,

     and she’s already lost this battle for her child.

But my eyes now are for the snake. In this circulating story of predator and prey, the terms suddenly shift because I am worried that this is a rattlesnake. It’s a little too shadowy inside the hutch for me to tell, but I do see it vibrate its tail-tip and I get scared for myself.


I run up to the back porch, well out of reach of the snake, and think what can I do. I am afraid to try to kill it, because it’s still in the hutch and I doubt I can get in there to successfully kill it without risking it biting me. I can close the door of the hutch from here, safely, from 6 feet away, using a long-handled garden cultivator, and maybe the snake will be too wide to get through the mesh of the door, and at least it’ll be trapped, and maybe we can kill it later.
But I’m also not sure what to do about the chickens, who will be instinctively wanting to roost in the hutch for the night, and I don’t want to let them in while the snake is there. As prey they are too large for the snake, but it still hardly seems a healthy idea.



And my heart is turning over for the sake of the poor distraught mother, still running around the hutch from the outside, still, hopelessly, trying too late, to save her chick.

So then I do what any self-respecting hen would do. I squawk to my rooster for help. I call my husband, who is still at work (and would be 30 minutes away, even if he were to leave at that moment), as if he could somehow make it all right.

While I’m on the phone with him, the snake suddenly appears out from the hutch, and takes off down-slope, away from the house, into the dusk. Ah, well, not trapped after all. I can see, also, that it’s not a rattlesnake. Its color is all wrong for a rattlesnake, it’s a light almost-yellowish brown; it’s thinner, longer and more tapered than a rattlesnake, and in my mind’s eye memory, I realize when I saw it vibrate its tail-end, it was just a thin-tapered tail, silent, with no rattle. And I have seen rattlesnakes before, I do know what they look and sound like. This is not a rattlesnake. And it’s gone, now, anyway.

I open the hutch door for the hens to roost for the night, and go inside to ask for help from a different authority, a less atavistic impulse than calling my husband for rescue; I google for pictures of the Texas Rat Snake. Yes, sure enough, that’s what it was, even down to it vibrating its tail, that’s also something rat snakes do. And rat snakes (also colloquially called chicken snakes) are good predators to have around, I know. They will not hurt people, and they will keep the rat population down. And I would much rather have a rat snake outside around the house anyway, than rats in my kitchen.



There we have the story.

     stay tuned for part 2, the story about the story

Posted in feet trusting path | 2 Comments

queen of the sun (a love song)

     They dance

                    from sun to earth

               and back to sun again

                                      a choreography of flower

in the


          and                                 of

     courtship                       soil





                    to meet sky,



                                                                      to bud and blossom

          earth sex-energy rises

          where      nectar




        The splendid honeybees.

    Bees are the legs of plants,      Michael Pollan tells us


       are the very


                  of this

                   courtship dance     


       in this    g

                                                               of      flower
                                                                            and           flower

                 soil and sun

                                                       and seed.

Feeding on photosynthesis

                           nectar-of-light distilled into life

     they themselves                  are the essential partnership…    

                     they themselves                     are the bridge…

           they themselves                          are the link…

               of plant and animal
                                    of soil and sky.

They transform


                                             into sun’s light,


            for sweetness’s sake.


                                          For the sake of the sweetness

                               and the sake of the sting,

                                                                              For the sake of the form

                                                              and the sake of the transform,

           For the sake of the hive
                 and the sake of the womb.
For the sake of the soil   

      and the sake of the sky.

For the sake of the




             For the sake of the life                      and the sake of the light

         their dance of the nectar

                                is transformed

                         into the nectar of their dance

                                         — this dance of life’s partnering, this courtship dance of life —

                  ( this dance
                    the gift
                    of such sweetness….         )

         without the honeybee there could not honey-be

                                    any such sweetness

                           nor any such dance.

      Over 40% of our food
4 out of every 10 bites that humans eat
(let alone what the rest of the planet eats)
                    is pollinated by the honeybees.


  They dance the whole living world together.

                               to insects
                                                                                                    to birds
                                                                  to mammals
                           in network

                                   in dance

                                               in life.


     I had been waiting

          to see this      



          Queen of the Sun:
                    What are the Bees Telling Us?

I wept for most of the film

                honey-melted by love
                                  for these strange and intimate beings.

                                                                   Weeping not in grief or fear for the threats to them

                                                                                 but in awe for their great gift
                                                                                       and gratitude for their sweet life

               and moved deeply by the beloved bond of



                                                  and bee.

With deep gratitude to the following Flickr photographers for their gorgeous photos:


Posted in learning earth | 7 Comments

eagle birth, American becoming

Mother Eagle broods
               her child is America
     the wind whistles
     she calls to the sky
                         her child is America.

                                                                                                                                     (live feed here)

               Who are we becoming?
               What will be born?

                         schoolchildren are fed chemicals disguised as food
                         our old ones are left to die alone

                    while a quiet camera sits hidden
                    in a nest of waiting.

                                                  Mother Eagle broods.
                                                  The child is America.

     The forms of our country
               so familiar as to be invisible
          the way we talk
                         about who we are

               What are we becoming?
                    Who will be born?

          Our country knows so much
                                   and so little.

          Eagle’s calm fierce shelter
                                             warm breast
                                                  deadly talons

                                             the forms so familiar as to be invisible

          The tones missing from our country’s talk
               call out to me
                    like the Eagle’s cry
               my ear searches for them
                              my ear sounds deep for the timbre she seeks

          Mother Eagle calls out
                    her chick nestled under her warm breast
                                                                                               her child is America.

          The tasks we take on each morning
                                             when we go to our livelihood
                                                  and take home our sustenance

                         the forms so familiar as to be inaudible

                    I hear                  I hear
                                                  a different chord being struck
                                                       a different tone being sounded

               the forms are changing


          receding waves

               receding waves are pulling back
                    receding waves are pulling forward

          the land is being reshaped by these waves

                                                       in permanent ways.

     Who are we becoming?
     What is being born?

               The tasks of our livelihoods
          the expectation of our sustenance
                              familiar forms reshaped.

                                                       Mother Eagle broods
                                                            the child is reshaped.

     More jobs have been lost
          in these receding waves
               more so than in any other receding
          since the mid-century war.

daily livelihood


          This is a structural reshaping
               these receding waves are sculpting the shores of a permanent change.

     In the economic balance of our hopes
          in the price and purchase of our expectations

                                        there are tones missing from our country’s talk
                                                                                     about who we are.

So much is missing.

My ear searches for the timbre
          like the basenote missing from a four-part harmony
     like the open-space ground behind the figure
my ear searches for what is missing:

Eagle’s calm fierce shelter.

               While in the reverse-shadow
          of the negative-space ground
     against the figure of incessant talk that we are given
                                   (my ears are numbed by the noise)

          we are told
     we are given official numbers:

                                             “Jobs are up!

But, as Umair Haque of the Harvard Business Review tells us:

          @umairh: Media says: awesome jobs report!! I’d suggest: subsidies aside,
               biggest growth (again) in “admin & waste services”.
                         We are all janitors now.

                    @umairh: Second biggest growth category?
                         “Food services and drinking places”.
                                   We’re (literally) turning real jobs into McJobs.

               @umairh: Note: these aren’t short run phenomena.
                    It’s the 4th or maybe 5th month in a row the same dynamics
                              have been at work.

@umairh: My conclusion? We’re broken.
     When we do create jobs, they’re low quality, no-future McJobs.
               It’s not a positive jobs report–a terrible one.

                                        Who we are becoming
                                             what is being born

Mother Eagle broods
     a highway runs past behind the nest in the camera
          the roar of a car sometimes comes through the microphone

                    a dog barks
                         a horse whinnies

     Her mate brings her a rabbit
she tears at the flesh to feed her young

     morsels given with care to the unsteady youngling.

               Her child is America.

     What are we becoming?
          What is being borne           by our disappointments?
                                                  by our dreams?

               I listen to the sounds of the talk of who we are
                    so many tones that are missing in our public discourse

               I do not offer the tsk tsk of disapproval or blame
          I do not speak of presidents or pundits
     I do not wring my hands with concern over what will happen
I do not demand that “they” rescue “us”
                                             I do not think this can be fixed.

               I have no interest in “politics”
               I have no outrage
                    I have no fear.
                         I have no hope.

     I am listening
               with passionately engaged care

                         to what we are becoming
                                   how we are changing
                                                  where we will go.

               I do not think it is possible to go back
          to what we were
                         I think we can only go forward
                                   into transformation

                                                       into a new becoming.

               Mother Eagle broods.
          Her child is America.

Posted in creative chaos | Leave a comment

what muscle knows

A tale of hints
     and fertile dreams from beneath the soil

          from a month of rocks and briars…

I work at a computer all day, for my dayjob.
My vision happens to be slightly better with my left eye than with my right eye.
I often unconsciously face the monitor with my head slightly turned to the right.
When I do my dayjob work at home, which is about half the time,
with admittedly poor ergonomics,
I often sit curled in my favorite big cushy armchair
legs pulled up to the side under me
laptop in my lap
sitting on my left hip
head slightly turned to the right.

     My left side was cramped.
               It hurt to turn my head to face left
               to stretch my left arm up and behind me
               to twist my left hip.

                              I know, I know.
                              It’s really poor ergonomics.

                                                       I went for a massage.

There is a place in town, a lovely sanctuary of light, that I used to go to frequently.
     When you walk in, there is a tangible sense of haven


               and the many angels
          who grace the work of this center.

               I had not been there, for too long.

          They offer massages there.

     A short woman of earthy strength
          and sky-lit kindness
     wise with the ways of the body.
               I have known of her for years
          but had never danced this flow of gentle muscle with her.

Together we moved through the familiar opening ritual
     the consultation
          the moment of privacy to undress
               the first touch of skin and skin.

     Then        awareness meets hands at the horizon of muscle

               the pink and yellow-peach dawn
          of skin

               muscle opening into itself

     tendons yawning into morning

          bones stretching
                    greeting each other anew
               bowing with kindness and welcome.

          body speaks

          spells out words with sensation
               phrases sentences of emotion
     constructs paragraphs
          of image.

                    from flesh.

          My left gluteus and hip           know pregnant secrets
                                                       ice-crusted soil
                                                  dark winter
                                             sweet anticipation of seed.

          My right trapezius                is a shield
                         and my right hand, I realize, habitually holds an invisible shape
                                                       the handle of the shield.

I realize this “sidedness”
     (achy constricted left
     habitually tense right)
               is a stance of being which I carry in the world
                    it’s more than just the computer.

     She tells me that the right side           gives

               that the left side                receives

The icy earth of my left side
               winter-frozen and constricted

     is simply waiting to receive


          the soil is simply waiting to thaw and shift


          water waiting to quench
     seed waiting to root

          the sweet muscle ache
               is a calm thirst

          of openness
               the comfortable expectancy

                              of welcome.

     The habitual shield of my right side
     is an ancient lesson.

               That the way
               to give
               to take it.

               The way
               to love
               is to protect
                    the way a shield takes blows.

                         Stiff and unyielding
                         taking it

     This is backwards, of course.

My right side is trying to do the work of my left
          which means neither work ever really occurs —

                              I am not giving
                              nor am I receiving

                              I am stiff.

                                        — and this has been true of my life in general.

          …and there on the table
               in that quiet room
                         of meeting
                                   of body and hand
                              I begin to understand a visceral knowing…

          The appropriate role
               of protection and shield

                         of receiving a blow
                                   with the wisdom of the left

               is by absorbing the impact all the way.
                    Like an infinitely-deep

     (…I am translating this visceral realization into words)

               imagine hitting a real-life cushion
               the cushion gives somewhat
               then when the impact reaches the bottom of the give
                         all the give that the cushion has
               the energy of the impact is transferred abruptly to the chair beneath the cushion.
               The blow doesn’t land until that moment.
               It isn’t a hit until the end.

                    now imagine that the cushion has no end
                    absolutely all of the energy of any impact
                    is completely absorbed.
                    Nothing transfers,
                    nothing rebounds.

Infinite receptivity.

                                        The blow never lands.

                              An entirely different kind of protection,
                              an entirely different kind of shield.

There will still be a process here,
                                        I know.
               Ice crystals will still need to thaw
                    the dark soil will still need to warm up
                         seeds of possibility are yet to glimmer forth.

     but the dark quiet knowing
          is already

                    and on the right?
               How might giving be different too?

     I don’t know yet

                         when she massages my right foot
                    it speaks up in the language of muscle and bone
                         my feet want to dance
                         on the rocky ground of my home.

          …a hint,
                    in a month of unfolding
               of what is to come…

Posted in creative chaos | Leave a comment