dear feet: i owe you a tremendous debt of gratitude for eight long
decades of patient service. you are the farthest distance away from
my center of attention, yet you're as faithful & true as the sun
& the moon are in their service. you bear the weight of the whole body,
so strong & resilient you are; enduring & undemanding.
thank you, dear feet for holding me to my path for all these many years.
dear hands: i love your skill at fitting objects together & making
something useful from them. i appreciate your determination
to be practical, yet somehow to create beauty out of simple
necessity. thank you for holding tight to the really important
core values & blessings. i am equally grateful that you can let
go with grace & ease when the time does come around at last for release.
thank you, dear hands, for holding on tight to love & for not letting go.
dear brain: playground, toolbox & haven of the mind, hammering out the
learned synapses of thoughts, habits & proven survival strategies.
you wear the crown of responsibility for integrating the
parts into a responsive whole. thank you for continuing with your
synthesis of varied patterns into a meaningful picture. dear
brain/mind: thank you for helping me see the divine at work in my life
as it plays happily & innocently with beauty & wonder.
dear Shiva: i am humbly grateful to You for making Your presence
in my life known. You are the living gateway & channel for deeper
awareness of the subtle forces that move in & through me. the brain,
hands & feet owe everything to You, for You are their determining
master now that i have taken refuge in You & have my home &
true identity in You. thank You, Shiva, for reaching out to me
in my need when i was sinking under the dense weight of maya. i
hold fast to You, Shiva, through the magnetism of the holy heart,
the strongest of all the subtle forces, & the most healing by far.
You have made many cameo appearances in my life, Shiva, brief sightings to reassure my fragile human self of Your presence. You have given wonders & miracles to wake me up somewhat. i am grateful. i wish that i could remain awakened, but dullness & weariness grip the body, & my initiative has slowly congealed & become stiff, encumbering me & slowing me down more.
i am old & i am not a hero: i simply continue to endure. sometimes i feel this must surely qualify as heroic: just to keep on going! oh Shiva! is it time now for another cameo appearance? or maybe even a small wonder? i will wait here for You, alert & observant, continuing to endure, chanting Your mantra day after day & writing these poems to You.
You play a long game, Shiva, so i'm often looking for signs
of You, to get an idea of what You have planned for me this
time. You keep me alert, curious, & i feel lively when
You are near. Your energies make me tingle & giggle like
a shy young schoolgirl. i need more of this for the secret doors
of my heart to slowly work themselves open. that is where the
overflow of silliness dwells, pacing behind the closed doors.
now the doors fly open! & the most arcane silliness of
all comes forth, prancing & skipping & dancing through the biggest
doorway, laughing & flirting as it comes up to me. i hold
out my arms & it leaps gladly up to be cuddled & stroked
& tickled on its little soft fuzzy belly, snuggling close.
"let's play dress-up," i whisper in its eager ear. "come see all
my costumes," i say as i carry this silliness with me.
i have some long game costumes like mountain & ocean & tree.
my favorites are the stars, & that's also what my rescued
silliness wants: to fly swiftly through the sky like a star. it
won't believe me when i say that stars don't actually fly.
"you just haven't paid enough attention," my silliness snorts.
"you watch me now!" it gives a really big, mighty, mammoth jump
that totally breaks free of gravity's ties, & it goes up,
soaring across the sky with a huge grin shining on its face.
it doesn't burn up either, it just puts on a wild dance show
that leaves all the other star systems gasping in awe, & with
the urgent desire to let their own silliness roam free &
wild. all silliness is good at finding the wells of healing.
in this way, the silliness got set free to be in our lives.
so is this Your long game, Shiva? bringing us more laughter &
ridiculousness? loosening us up to free our vision
from the hard grip of the tight & narrow patterns that we had
become entangled within? what a holy blessing! thank You,
Shiva, for holding my world together from the inside out;
for filling me with Your presence & touching me with Your love.
the rhythm of Your dance echoes in my jubilant heartbeat.
the things that we see & touch in this world are the shiny mirror-blurry
reflections of beauty from anotherWhere, so familiar! we know that
dear realm from the hot sweet-swift throb of recognition deep within the heart.
we yearn for that original purity, & we chase after the things
of this world hoping to reclaim it, yet it disappears in the grasping.
the music we hear that moves us to the core is a faint intimation
of that glorious music of anotherWhere. we hope to follow it
back home to our place of original purity, yet we have become
heavy, dense & cumbersome in bodies of warm meat & blood. we know
somehow that we are so much more than this, & we quest after that which is
still beyond our ability to register. yet this journey comes to
us all eventually. it is what happens when we can finally
struggle & shrug our way out of our protective yet restraining cocoon
or chrysalis. Shiva silently oversees this inevitable
timely transformation. He gives us the push & the lift to open our
wings & soar finally into the purity of that embracing space
of endless enfolding love that we can never quite forget. even our
new wings are made of shimmering light & music now that we return to
our root origin. it is our home, & we are here bearing the gifts of
our various wanderings, ending our exile in moist meat & dense bone,
as we return again to the living light of the soul's divine abode.
time is not a commodity that we can cook & store in jars
for later use. we cannot condense space into a small cube for
eventual expansion, neither can we press smiles between the
pages of a book to set free at our whim, like butterflies from
a cage. we are essentially helpless, yet with sincere intent
to live kindly in this peopled world. we feed & cuddle our high
aspirations every day, & they snuggle up to us at night.
i am awaiting Your instructions, Shiva, holding out my hand
to You to guide me inward to the heart & onward to beyond.
i came to You late, Shiva, at age seventy five. although You came
early to me when i was thirteen, i didn't know who You were, & i
drifted elsewhere. i didn't know how to cultivate the connection, &
maya simply blew me away. You came again when i was fourteen.
the out of body journey that You took me on became a living
seed planted deep within my memory to continue informing
me as an adult. You showed me the holiness of this existence.
You encouraged me with the vision of my true divine potential.
You wrapped me in love. but for years i was like a blind person in a
strange new room, feeling my way through unknown mysterious obstacles
on my way to an equally cryptic & obscure destination.
finally, when my old life is dead & gone & i huddle amidst
the wreckage & the shards of the remaining scraps, finally, You come.
You come in response to the collapse of my beleaguered walls, roof &
foundation. You come because at last i am wide open & asking
for You, calling out, even though i don't yet know Your name. my heart calls
out the loudest of all, for the heart knows far more than the head alone.
& behold! events transpire that bring me to You at last, & You send
a helper with Your everlasting mantra: Om Namah Shivaya.
gradually the blinders fall away as my sadhana deepens,
& i take refuge in You via Your mantra: in You, my chosen
Deity who also chose me, & did so before i knew Your name.
i immerse myself in You, I throw myself off the cliff of the world
into the limitless ocean of You. i paint pictures of You, write
heartfelt poems to You, sing freely to You & i chant Your mantras.
my room looks like a museum honoring You, & even more like
a temple in full swing of celebrating Your sweet sacred presence.
in fact, Shiva, You genuinely do reside here now with me &
in me. You are living through me & i am drawn by You to all that
can assist me to come even closer to You. actually, You
take me to the consummation of my long journey to You, Shiva.
now that i know Your name, we cannot be separated. we are one
life & i am Your expression in the human world, as are others.
it's a mystery & i only have training wheels for exploring
such arcane wonders. it's all Your body anyway, just as i too
am Your body. because i don't know what else to do, i throw myself
upon You to know myself as one with You, vividly & purely.
i won't let go. i won't stop & i won't be sidetracked. You, Shiva, are
my swadharma, my destiny & fulfillment. blessed is Your name,
given as medicine for all. blessed is Om Namah Shivaya.
i do not know how tightly i guard the borders of the body until
an attentive & curious little spider demonstrates it to me.
i am so intently aware of her that i feel like i'm vibrating.
the net of the mind is held tight over one alert spider: we study
one another for long intense intervals over the day & a half
that she is here. she takes periodic rest breaks & retires into the
dark havens of shadows & i maintain vigilance about where i place
these large human feet when i walk. i examine my whole environment
carefully so i won't inadvertently harm her. i am akin to
a guitar string pulled really tight for the span of the spider's visit.
only after she takes leave & departs do i realize how very
powerful & concentrated the energy has been during her stay.
i am not at ease with insects or spiders at all, so i had been in
emergency alert mode for the entire time my visitor is here.
as days pass by & the energies mellow, i realize at last that
the little spider who stayed & studied me had left a barren place in
my life. it is rather like the silence of an empty house after the
beloved guest has gone. i miss the presence that had brought me such focus.
she is more to me than merely a spider. she is a visitor who
has come through Shiva to teach me. my sadhana is to pay attention.
i love how miraculous life is! she had only a walk-on role, yet
she made a very deep impression on me & has left me pondering.
i know that everything is of value in the divine ecology.
Shiva, all of us serve a vital function as part of a vast wholeness.
since we all are important, i can't know if a spider is an angel,
an arachnid or an alien, so i am grateful for all beings.
beyond the surface appearance: we are holy, we are blessed, we are one.
it is as if i have been granted access to a dimension
previously unknown to me. evening enfolds, & the other
residents are in bed as the mind's silence now invites peace to
embrace. i relax in my recliner, contemplating the soft
surrounding space stretching above me & all around. my eyes lose
their concrete focus & widen into the shifting shadow &
light of the dancing air. it is as if the focus of my eyes
has adjusted to a more rarified realm. i can no longer
separate the vision of the physical eye from the mind's eye.
gradually i become aware of two vague beings on either
side of me. i slowly understand that they are benefactors,
healers, & that i am one of their charges. we communicate
wordlessly as they share their healing energy, which i accept,
leaning back in my recliner. i come to understand that this
interpenetrating higher dimension is always present,
freely offering access to uplifting energies. my own
vibratory rate has apparently quickened enough now to
allow contact. this information flows into me to comfort
with pure intent. all is warmly radiant with the light of truth
& the fragrance of cosmic love interpenetrates everything.
i relax into the healing blessing of this new frequency.
awareness has deepened & expanded to include so much more!
even after the passage of time back here in this world of flesh,
blood & bone, i can feel the benevolent subtle presence of
this more refined vibratory realm, a place of healing indeed!
thank you for the warm encouragement, Shiva! i am heartened &
energized to continue on, for i have now experienced
that which was previously known through the intellect alone. though
that is is not my goal, Shiva, it stands as a marker on the path
of return to You, who are the focus of my attention.
You alone dwell in my heart, which now sings Om Namah Shivaya!
fifty years ago--when studying the spiritual tarot--
i used to contemplate the sun's reflection in glass & metal.
at the center of the scintillating bright orb thus revealed, i
would see a dark dancing figure in swift moving exultation.
i would rejoice that a divine being was graciously present,
which my heart would tell me by the warmth of its joyous quickening.
now i know that it was You, Shiva, touching my heart yet again,
keeping in touch. in this way, small events & insights were building
a foundation deep within me, preparing me for You, as the
bride is prepared for the auspicious advent of her wedding day.
much time, preparation & cultivation has gone by since then.
i have honored You in my heart for years now. my wedding dress hangs
ready in the closet & i await You, Shiva, every day.
the heart is filled with longing & the mind echoes with Your mantra.
OM NAMAH SHIVAYA
once i was a convenience & a commodity, addressed by the title of the social role i fulfilled--but no more! that old yoke was lifted & i walked away, turned my back on it all & moved deeper into the vast mystery. it had been calling to me for most of my life & now i am free to go, for i am done with the world's work.
only the limitations of my own abilities restrain me now. my actions are no longer shaped to please the expectations & demands of others. they come spontaneously in natural response to circumstances & i observe without interference, seeing that events come & go, rise & fall, cycling repeatedly.
You alone remain constant in this lifetime, Shiva. Your name flows smooth like pure nectar on the tongue & the heart opens the door wide into borderless love. sweetness arises warm within. this is the medicine needed now for the healing of this wounded human world, to soothe the weary people crying out in wordless supplication for Your grace.
the unseen holy power of the mantra can usher in that grace. Shiva, Your name repeated over time forms a strong protective field & the nectar of Your name flows like a slow infusion of Your love. there is no cure for the pain of the world but there is an anodyne: OM NAMAH SHIVAYA!
Shiva, You reach out to me through everything: through the high blue sky &
through a sudden breath of ambient air, warmer than the surroundings.
You stroke my cheek & my brow with gentle caressing intimacy &
thus i know--oh, i do know!--that You are here with me now, tenderly
murmuring "I love you" in the sweet subtle language You have taught me.
You are the sky pressing softly against me & the wind is Your breath.
You whisper to me that the body is a sacred vessel & that
the personality is loved just as much as a tiny kitten
is loved by mother in spite of its silly antics & accidents.
You lift me up in ways i can't describe & You wrap me safe within
the sky of You as if i am a gift offered to the storied world.
i am a gift: a virgin, holy mother & visionary crone.
i am Yours. All the roles & parts we humans play, we ultimately
give to You, for the gift & the giver are actually one in fact,
just as the deep blue sky is both space & atmosphere. Thank You, Shiva,
for respecting who i am inclusive of this fleeting human form.
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.
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!