the awakening soul

the field with edges crisp & clear by day becomes a blur at night.
i find my way by feel alone & not by focussed searching sight.

edges dim as colors shift into hidden subtle camouflage.
elusive spirits are inspired to dance & play as if on stage.

the dark sky rolls its mysteries out as i stand entranced to see
moving shapes turning to me for my attention in silent plea.

i have no eyes for shifting things, no heart for fading fleeting forms.
i'm here for the love of Lord Shiva who gives to me his welcome.

the field, spread out beneath the stars that swim within the darkling deep,
is now become a welcome mat to cushion Shiva's holy feet.

He rises through the ready earth, descends down from the pregnant sky,
unfolds His presence everywhere: He dwells in my heart, deep inside.

the field is a holy temple now, filled with Shiva's radiance.
i am the awakening soul who's here for Shiva's famous dance.

we steadily repeat this theme of separation & reunion,
as we have done since time's begun as blessing & benediction.


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 SHIVAYA

shared in the light

after the festive gala celebration comes the thorough clean-up.
after the inmost insight comes steady determined application.
after the fall from grace & light comes the humility to struggle
from the shattered scattered rubble & resolutely rise up again:
what is learned from the darkness is to be gathered & shared in the light.

after the sincere sadhana comes the fading of maya's mirage
in Shiva's pervasive light. He is kneading the soul as if it is
bread being carefully prepared for baking. He is working His light
deep into the cells that i may also be a light unto the world.

wherever i am, Shiva declares it a temple & i bow humbly.
i pray for the trees & the birds & for the young of all who are born
to bless this sad besieged world with the nectar of their sweet purity.
this is the time when abundant blessings are needed everywhere, for
what is learned from the darkness is to be gathered & shared in the light.

we will not stop our singing

i saw the timeworn tumbled stones of a great temple where
once the mother goddess prevailed in peaceful times long gone.
the mountain had another name then. we all had truer
names & spoke in warm clear vowels that blessed the trees leaning
toward us in the sweet communion of celebration.

now our names are clipped short & our words clash & clatter sharp
against the stone, like bullets ricochetting upon the
broken temple walls. the stones weep. i hear them late at night
when the owls call into the darkness that has crept across
the land & over our minds. this night we lean toward the
promise of dawn, toward the morning song of the wood thrush.
the hands of the heart reach out in tender supplication.

like the old scattered temple stones, we wait for another
era, a coming time, a milder season, & we give
new names of soft syllables to the old things. we lift our
hopeful eyes to the mountain top & the sky & sing. we sing.

can You hear us, Shiva? we will not stop our singing, we
will not close up our throats again, but loud & strong we will
ever sing of beauty & wholeness that never ceases
pushing toward the light. hear us, Shiva! we call You now,
laying out the breadcrumbs of our invocation, lighting
the path with our love & urgent need as we voice our song.

the mountain calls out through us to You, Shiva, offering
itself as Your temple in these times that beg our response.
we will build a new temple from these tumbled mother-stones
& sing in calm flowing syllables nestled in silence.