how many invisible people?

how many invisible people are present when i sip my cup of
dark roasted coffee & nibble at a slice of frosted chocolate cake?
i know that i am not alone as i sit here at the kitchen table.

who grows the coffee beans & how many thousands of people are involved
to plant, cultivate, harvest & transport them to market where i buy them?
they have come to me by truck, train & ship: how many people does that take?
they have to package the coffee beans, load & unload them several times.
official documents have to be provided, money has to change hands,
hence governments & corporations are actively participating.

who provides ingredients for the chocolate cake? how many people
are concerned with planting & harvesting the wheat, taking it to the mill?
where are the cacao beans grown & how do they make it to the market?
where does the sugar cane originate? who cultivates & harvests it
& how many are needed to transform it to granulated sugar?
where do the eggs, milk & butter originate for the chocolate cake?

endlessly it continues: an extensive network of countless tens of
thousands of people are invisibly surrounding me in the kitchen.
each ingredient in the chocolate cake, every bean of the coffee,
requires an immense cooperative network to manifest, market
& transport it. i am not alone, never even for a brief moment!
legions of people in global synergy are required in order to
bring about that cup of hot coffee & slice of frosted chocolate cake
sitting in front of me on the table as if i myself had made them!

how many people made the table, my coffee cup, the clothes that i wear?
i am up to my eyeballs in miracles of global cooperative
endeavor & enterprise! (yet it is the wars that are counted on the
fingertips & in the headlines in a strange collective delirium!)
just as we are blind to the numberless myriads of people involved
in manifesting coffee & chocolate cake, thus also are we blind
to the underlying human solidarity allowing us to
exist together on this planet at all. let us now open our eyes!

Shiva, You have put it all vivid & clear in front of my face: how
much we need one another, that we are bound together in a flow of
mutual creativity & beneficial energy exchange.

so just how many invisible people are surrounding me today
as i drink dark roasted coffee & peacefully eat my chocolate cake?
may a burst of gratitude radiate to bless the thousands, the millions,
of people upon whose backs i am humbly drinking this coffee, Shiva!

the temple of the green sun

a rowdy pack of dogs goads a herd of cows through the rugged woods,
where the cows take asylum in the fallow corn field by our house.
during the weeks they are here they graze the field clear & they open
a pathway down to shelter valley by the creek. here the cows rest
safely beneath the great hemlock tree whom i call mother because
of her broad, thick & wide-stretched open arms that guard & secure
the cool protected cave-like chamber beneath this sentinel tree.

it is a sanctuary for the cows & later, for me, my
haven where i meditate, self-review & become absorbed in
the ancient energies of the mountain, valley & free-flowing
streams of water bordering toward the east & the west of this
secluded nature preserve & branch-cloistered nurturing retreat.

i call the auspicious spacious chamber beneath mother hemlock
the temple of the green sun. sunlight filters through the green hemlock
needles, casting an undersea glow because the branches sweep the
earth around the tree & the feeling is of a sanctified place.
my chair leans against her trunk as sunlight streams in long shifting bands
of swirling dusty light all around & arching high overhead.
for years we commune daily, the mother hemlock & i, in all
kinds of weather, both inside my head & touching on the outer.

then it happens: the plague of wooly adelgids arrives at the
 blue ridge mountains & the mother hemlock falls a victim to it.
the invasive insects slowly vampirize the tree, drinking her
juices. her needles fall, branches becoming bare in a few years,
her power & glory sucked away, her dark bones starkly showing.
i am watching a loved one slowly die during these years, for there's
no cure or help for the mother hemlock. we are all powerless
in the face of this fierce invading pestilence that ravages.

the temple of the green sun is gone. it's now a somber graveyard,
a tomb marking the death of a local goddess, & i am but
memorializing her & the peaceful shelter she furnished.
now she is a skeleton, bare & dark against the empty sky.
goodbye, mother hemlock, farewell & my gratitude goes with you.
i also no longer flourish & thrive, though it's better for me
than for you, yet you are always in my memory: teacher, friend
& dear companion for long, wonderful country-time years down the
curvy backroads of the blue ridge mountains of north carolina.

ah Shiva! growing as a tree, You show me blessings & teach me
patience, acceptance & detachment. I thank You for giving this
insight, for showing me You can change form yet ever reappear
as the consummate teacher & companion. You are woven like
a heartening red thread patterned throughout my whole life, revealing
Yourself to be the heart & soul of every blessing & every
challenge, connecting the varied myriad parts as one, having
a single intent. You make of me a better person so that
my personality may serve the world. You show me that i also,
in essence, extend far beyond form, merging myself into You
at deepest core & fundament, eluding words altogether.

You are the dogs, the cows, the hemlock tree, wooly adelgids too.
just because i cannot comprehend the whole pattern does not mean
a thing & i know that fact well! i have taken refuge in You,
Shiva, so let the drama play out; it's beyond my concern now.
all i need is You, my Beloved, & You know that very well:
You have been lighting the way ceaselessly since time & space burst forth.
 OM NAMAH SHIVAYAH!

the eggs of a strange bird

some blessings are so amazing that i don't recognize them
as blessings for years, sometimes even decades. they are like the
mystic eggs of a strange bird, bound to hatch in their own time, placed
in the nest of me, knowing not what may come from them or when.

i have seen blessings change into challenges overnight &
challenges throw off their concealment to emerge as blessings.
therefore i will rejoice in the gifts of the moment, holding
them lightly that they may fly when they are called by destiny.
You teach me to regard blessing & challenge with equal eyes,
Shiva: as opportunity in disguise, to be esteemed.
i cannot court one without bowing to the other also.

we are all golden beneath the dust, deeply imprinted with
the urge to evolve into wholeness. there is no turning back,
no refusal to be what i yearn to be & am at heart.
i will protect these strange eggs, Shiva, & will accept what may
come from them with gentle respect for their divine origin.

the open door of my waiting heart

i welcome You, Beloved, to the open door of my waiting heart.
all has been cleaned & blessed, Shiva. the air is scented with sandalwood
& flowers are heaped in woven baskets: gardenias & hyacinths,
roses & violets, honeysuckle & wisteria. i am
drunk with the celebration of flowers, their laughter like tiny bells,
their presence honoring You, Beloved who lives deep within. You are
the raw living fire of consciousness, burning me sweetly, lifting me
gently. i am Yours to consume utterly, to imbibe & savor.

in this way i return to You, origin & source, who give me life
even before time begins, bringing gifts of flowers & love that has
no beginning or end but swallows us all fully into itself.
here i am again, Beloved! let's dance this dance where two become one
without a second & all melts into love scented with sandalwood.
i welcome You, Beloved, to the open door of my waiting heart.
 

the river

it happens once that a river bids me to come & lie on its 
long water-smoothed swathes of stone beach & touch its fossil runes &
time-sculpted stone poetry. the wisdom of the heart informs my
fingertips & i am enraptured by the river: its limestone
bluffs, meandering expanses of tactile river-refined stones.

they tell aeonic-long tales of the survival & ascension
of creatures from another geological age than this one.
they move me to my deepest heart & core. here at the core i find
my sincere root connection to this life, this realm wherein i now
find this body. it is embedded in the moment just as the
fossil beings are embedded in stone. i am not separate
from all that surrounds & supports me. i too am an expression
of Shiva here. what a grand dance this truly is: the minerals
in these bones & the dust on the moon, all one big cosmic event!

i tell this to the river as we lie on the stones in the sun,
blessed by the touch of warmth right down to our boulders, pebbles & bones.
i share my last dream, in which the river blesses me with a stone
imprinted with the stylized shape of an eye. this is the potent
dream--my invitation--that brings me here today, down the long rough
country road to the hidden winding path toward the swift river.
this Shiva-blessed river is kin to the great Ganges springing
from snow-melt in the far Himalayan heights half a world away.
i tell this to the river as we lie side by side in the sun.

once again i feel time & space shift & blend inexplicably,
a fresh fossil moment showing its story to be seen & known,
not hidden any more. we have no secrets, stripped down to essence,
to the wholeness of all existence. the river & i, under
the sun & sky: we lie together on the bedrock of it all
& Shiva holds us in the fullness of His pure eternal love.
He is another sun, hidden behind the one we see, concealed
within the mystery of the secret chamber within the heart.

the river knows this mystery too & is smiling in the way
that rivers can: with a thousand thousand bright shining glints of light.
now at my feet i see revealed the sacred stone of my deep dream,
emerging to be my talisman & companion wherever
Shiva sends us, graced with helpful dreams & miracles as we go.
this stone is known as "Shiva's eye," a guardian on my altar.
the river is the buffalo, the first national river park,
protected from development for all its wooded winding length.

Shiva holds us close to Him, me & the buffalo river stone.
we dream together of lessons learned & goodness to be revealed,
& the river flows clear & i rejoice: OM NAMAH SHIVAYA!