Waterlogged in Washington

path through the wetlandsI’m soaked. The dog is soaked. The cat goes out for a moment, and comes in soaked, and with an indignant meow, he looks at me accusingly as if to say…. what’s with that door?  Where’s the dry land?

This is Washington State, where (I am told) it rarely rains. Really.  It does not rain.  It pours, it showers, it drizzles, it mists….. but rarely does it rain.  Which begs the question… what exactly is rain?  To that, I have no answer.  All I know is that its wet.  Soggy.  Dreary and damp.

My hands are chronically cold.  They might be permanently numb if it weren’t for those microwavable heat packs that I can wrap around them once in a while.  And it’s not that the temperatures are all that low… it’s just that this constant damp is so bone chilling deep.  I’ve been warmer in single digit temperatures, with snow on the ground.

The other thing about a gray climate: I am never quite sure when morning arrives.  Shouldn’t the  morning sun be a cue to get dressed and begin the day? But here, there is not a clear sunrise. Instead, the sky shifts gradually from pre-dawn rainy black to subtly lighter shades of gray.  Suddenly, you look at the clock and realize its noon, and you haven’t had your morning shower and breakfast because you are still waiting for the sun to come up.

Alright, so maybe I exaggerate a little, but really, this constant rainy gray is tough to get used to.  We are doing what we can to invite the sun –  We placed hanging crystals in all the windows to add a bit of color, and bunches of daffodil buds placed inside the house are opening to a brilliant yellow.   I find myself wanting to wear bright colors, and to throw bright-colored blankets over anything gray or brown. 

It’s not all drab and dreary, however.  Nearby is the watershed area, and mossy treethere are beautiful trails that dip down into the earth and wander through fluorescent green moss and ferns. The trees embrace the wet moss and reach high up into the sky, and  the birds are abundant here. At night:  a beautiful chorus of frogs and crickets.  Yesterday, while out walking, I heard the sweet sound of red-winged blackbirds, and my spirit soared with their song.

An encounter on the rainy trail this morning:  An old man in a red plaid shirt, blue jeans, and brown muddy rain boots, carrying an old ragged umbrella greeted me with a bright good morning.  “I’m wondering when the rain might stop!” he said cheerfully.  “But then, when you’ve lived here as long as I have, you never mind it and you just live your life anyway!”

That seems like sage advice.  To just be in the moment, to appreciate what is, to live my life anyway – this is wisdom.  Regardless of what is happening on the outside, this moment IS my life.   Whining is useless.  It is much more practical, not to mention pleasant to seek the beauty, to live the love, to be with what is.  When I notice that the rain brings amazing gifts I am thankful,  and the doldrums fall away pretty quickly.

And in all fairness, there have been a few sun breaks in the past week or so (my sister tells me that this is the only area where tholympics from capital baye weather casters actually use ‘sun breaks’ as a technical term). When the sky is blue and the air clear, we can see across the bay to the Olympic Mountain ranges.  Really, the area is so incredibly beautiful.

My father, who lived here most of his life, always said that there is no place more beautiful than Washington State.  After long trips, he relished being home where the land is green and fertile, and the salty smell of the Pacific Ocean drifts through open windows and nestles around damp corners.  I think of him often here: I feel his spirit, and invoke his love of the area to keep me sane in all of this gray.

I do know that spring will arrive here eventually (it is only March, after all) and that one day soon the rain will stop, the sun will shine, and there will be the great outdoors of the Pacific Northwest to appreciate.

For now, we take it all day-to-day:  living, loving, laughing where we can.

Life Simply Is.
May you appreciate your moments in all that you do.
~Namaste~
roots

Rain in Summer – A Poem by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

How beautiful is the rain!
After the dust and heat,
In the broad and fiery street,
In the narrow lane,
How beautiful is the rain! 

How it clatters along the roofs,
Like the tramp of hoofs
How it gushes and struggles out
From the throat of the overflowing spout!

Across the window-pane
It pours and pours;
And swift and wide,
With a muddy tide,
Like a river down the gutter roars
The rain, the welcome rain!

The sick man from his chamber looks
At the twisted brooks;
He can feel the cool
Breath of each little pool;
His fevered brain
Grows calm again,
And he breathes a blessing on the rain.

From the neighboring school
Come the boys,
With more than their wonted noise
And commotion;
And down the wet streets
Sail their mimic fleets,
Till the treacherous pool
Ingulfs them in its whirling
And turbulent ocean.

In the country, on every side,
Where far and wide,
Like a leopard’s tawny and spotted hide,
Stretches the plain,
To the dry grass and the drier grain
How welcome is the rain!

In the furrowed land
The toilsome and patient oxen stand;
Lifting the yoke encumbered head,
With their dilated nostrils spread,
They silently inhale
The clover-scented gale,
And the vapors that arise
From the well-watered and smoking soil.
For this rest in the furrow after toil
Their large and lustrous eyes
Seem to thank the Lord,
More than man’s spoken word.

Near at hand,
From under the sheltering trees,
The farmer sees
His pastures, and his fields of grain,
As they bend their tops
To the numberless beating drops
Of the incessant rain.
He counts it as no sin
That he sees therein
Only his own thrift and gain.

These, and far more than these,
The Poet sees!
He can behold
Aquarius old
Walking the fenceless fields of air;
And from each ample fold
Of the clouds about him rolled
Scattering everywhere
The showery rain,
As the farmer scatters his grain.

He can behold
Things manifold
That have not yet been wholly told,–
Have not been wholly sung nor said.
For his thought, that never stops,
Follows the water-drops
Down to the graves of the dead,
Down through chasms and gulfs profound,
To the dreary fountain-head
Of lakes and rivers under ground;
And sees them, when the rain is done,
On the bridge of colors seven
Climbing up once more to heaven,
Opposite the setting sun.

Thus the Seer,
With vision clear,
Sees forms appear and disappear,
In the perpetual round of strange,
Mysterious change
From birth to death, from death to birth,
From earth to heaven, from heaven to earth;
Till glimpses more sublime
Of things, unseen before,
Unto his wondering eyes reveal
The Universe, as an immeasurable wheel
Turning forevermore
In the rapid and rushing river of Time.

Welcoming Life

“Remember what it is that makes yoga different than exercise ~ for it to truly be yoga, there must be the mindfulness, the awareness, the willingness to feel and explore everything in your body, without judgment.  It takes courage to stay with what you feel….  ”

These words came from Angela, my yoga teacher, upon my return to her marvelous class.  As I listened, I wished for a moment that I were still teaching, so that I could pass the wisdom on….  and then I let that go, and came into the sensations in my body, discovering impatience and resistance, along with the joy of mindful presence.

I was recently introduced to a practice that comes from the contemplative Christian tradition, as taught by Father Thomas Keating and the Rev. Cynthia Bourgeault.  This practice, while coming from a Christian perspective echoes what I have learned over the years in yoga – that the willingness to feel exactly what is going on in your body without resisting it, and as Rumi says to “be grateful for whoever comes” – can lead you into a kind of surrender that allows for a deeper appreciation of life.

In this practice, called the Welcoming Prayer, you scan the body, noticing whatever is there …. pain, or numbness, or resistance…  any sensation.   If you find nothing to focus on, you simply become aware of the body itself, where it is in space, on the chair, etc.  Focus on the sensation, feeling it completely, sinking in to it,  and then say this word:

Welcome.

Welcome.  Welcome.  Welcome.

Then let go.  Let go of the need to change it, let go of the desire for this moment and this sensation to be anything other than what is.

What??  Welcome the pain?  Welcome the anger?  Welcome that annoying irritability?  OH NOOO!
But Yes…. perhaps I can welcome even the resistance to the welcoming…

This is what we work with all the time in yoga.  Feeling that edge of the pose that says “no more ” – feeling the impatience that comes up, or the wanting to quit, or the resistance to the practice itself….. and if we are truly doing yoga, we notice this, and notice how it plays out in our lives.  In practice, we learn to stay present with that anger until it moves into laughter, or not.  We learn to stay present with the uncomfortable sensations, feeling the freedom that comes when we let go of  resistance, noticing how we can use these tools in our life: in traffic, at work, with family.  We learn, if we are willing, compassion as well as mindfulness.

How many of us really want to feel our pain?  I’m not thrilled about welcoming the discomfort of being unable to breathe in an asthma attack after a hike up a mountain.  I don’t really want to welcome the irritability that comes up when reckoning with impatience as I struggle with a pose, or more practically learn how to live in a small space.  And I certainly don’t want to welcome the helplessness I feel when I see the pain my loved ones are in, and can do nothing.

Learning to stay present, however, opens us.  To stay present with pain can break open our hearts, deepen our understanding, teach us to be more compassionate, and grateful.  We can’t see with the bigger picture of All That Is. We can only know our own small piece of current being-ness. If we can stay with that little piece, maybe we will find that Rumi’s words are real… that whatever this is “may be clearing you out for some new delight.”

It does take courage. But then, living takes courage.  Whether we choose yoga as our path, or a Buddhist meditation practice, or the welcoming  and centering prayers found in the Christian contemplative tradition … or some other tradition….or no tradition at all…  it doesn’t matter.

What matters is our willingness to open, to welcome What Is in this life that we are living.  Call it the indwelling Christ, or the God I AM, or the Universal Presence, or simply Life….   Here we all are.  Can we live this moment, this now, as it is?    THIS is our experience.  And simply the fact of having this experience means that we are Here.

We are here, we are alive, this is good.

Today… Be in love with Life in all of its craziness.  Know that this is your experience, and because it is yours it is sacred and beautiful.

Published in: on November 23, 2010 at 08:50  Comments (2)  
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The Guest House

Rumi spoke to me this morning ~ these words showing up unexpectedly, yet with precision.  Thought I would share their beauty….

The Guest House

This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.

A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor.

Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they’re a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still, treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out
for some new delight.

The dark thought, the shame, the malice,
meet them at the door laughing,
and invite them in.

Be grateful for whoever comes,
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.

~ Rumi ~

Published in: on November 14, 2010 at 08:15  Comments (1)  
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Blessings

Feels like winter arrived in Humlebaek while we were down in Copenhagen.  Most definitely Autumn, anyway.  This morning, early, I could see my breath.  The sun is out now, and it has warmed up some, but the air still carries the promise of a cold winter.

tanza and the water devasIt’s not home, and it is not a perfect place to be, yet I am grateful for this clinic, for the sea, for the opportunities that continue to come our way.  Blessings abound, and it is important to be aware of them.

A dear friend recently shared some words about the nature of blessings, and how offering a blessing can create an opening for feelings to shift. It is good to recognize the blessings that are bestowed upon us, but maybe it is just as important to be the bestower of blessings.  Life is full of situations that we think of as “good” and “bad” – what if we can let go of the judgement, let go of the definition, and simply recognize “What Is” and in that recognition, offer a blessing?  Could that blessing, offered in purity, create an opening to shift from pain into freedom?

Bless this moment, bless this pain, bless these people who are witness to the pain… and suddenly I can more easily drop in to gratitude, and feel the bigness of All That Is.  Within a blessing, there is an element of surrender, of letting go.  Surrender does not mean giving up, or denying pain.  It simply means that we can recognize this moment as it is.  To be in resistance to the moment creates an incredible amount of “stuck-ness” and resistance in the body.  We cannot see clearly when we resist what is.

Maybe a  blessing momentarily frees up energy, lifts us out of the details, so that we can see more clearly the choreographed dance that is life.   It is hard to see the big picture when we get stuck in the details.

“The pain,  the illness in the body is the healing,”  I heard someone say, and perhaps he is right. Perhaps pain is the gift that can crack us wide open, the process that allows us to see that healing already Is.  If we bless every moment, and open to gratitude for life, then maybe we can see that we are already whole, that healing has already happened, does in fact, happen in an instant.

And maybe too, these are just words, spoken by a witness to pain.  In the dark depths of agony, none of these words matter, they are just philosophy, just ideas.   In the depths of pain, we can’t know anything for sure.

Which is why we all need a witness to our pain, someone who can step back and bless the moment, feel the gratitude, be there.

We need each other to heal.  In the presence of suffering, in the presence of pain, we want to fix it, to make it all better, easier.  When that is not possible, the best we can do for each other is to stay present. Be willing to stay, be the witness, allow the pain to crack us open.

All that is necessary is our presence.

~~

I am grateful today for the blessing of friends, for the love of family, for the generosity of people I have never met. I am grateful for the doors that open, and for those that close; for the obstacles that rise up guiding us in different directions, and for the unexpected removal of obstacles that allow us to see more clearly.

Today, I am grateful for this Life.


~~
May the long time sun shine upon you
All love surround you
and may the pure light within you
guide your way on.

~

Sat Nam
light

Published in: on August 30, 2010 at 01:35  Comments (3)  
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