an innocent, dry-eyed, whole-hearted presence

[Although this little piece was written a month ago, circumstances around internet access have delayed its posting.  I’m three weeks late, but how relevant is time when it comes to love?]

Last month, on January 29, my mother Miriam would have celebrated her 100th birthday.

Looking back I find something quite remarkable:  I don’t EVER remember seeing her cry. *

I remember asking her about this; wondering if she’d intentionally decided to never again cry, as some do who have seen more than their fair share of life’s hard knocks.  She said that on the death of her little sister, Bessie, her grief was so enormous she thought it would kill her, but that by some kind of Grace she’d discovered a way of shifting the weight of her personal sorrow.  She would have hardly been in her teens at the time.

Her simple secret was to stop and look for something unexpectedly good about the apparently tragic, sad or crazy situation life was dishing up.  It was years before I understood the value of this – at first I saw it as an evasion of reality, a Pollyanna prescription, mere ‘positive thinking’.  During my years as a card-carrying member of the Thought Police I accused her of simply replacing one thought with another.  She’d never waste her energy in argument though; she seemed to quietly trust that eventually I’d come to understand the dynamics of thinking and figure it out for myself.  Compassion!

And I did.  I came to understand that thinking is always dual – polarized – and that you can’t simply turn a negative one into a positive one to any effect.  Pitting thought against thought is not an effective remedy for the relief of suffering.  Mum knew better than that.  She had found out for herself, however, that if you look for the opposite of the ‘bad’ in the news – playing a kind of game with your mind to release its death-grip on the certainty of tragedy – you eventually reach a space where the polarities cancel each other out, and given time, it becomes second-nature to abide in that spacious equanimity.  Note that the same dynamic applies to thoughts that insist on the ‘goodness’ of any news.

Mum’s natural response was seldom to comment from her own position.  She reflexively put on the moccasins of the ‘other’.  Here’s an example.  My Dad passed away just ten minutes before she arrived at the hospice.  I went to the door to tell her the news, expecting her to be sad that she had missed his last moments.  (They had, after all, been married for 73 years.)  She broke into the sweetest smile, raised her arms and said, “He’s free at last!”

Mum’s wisdom was not about right versus wrong or about passive complacency; it embraced an energized equanimity that lies on the other side of thoughts altogether.  She mightn’t have done much crying, but her heart was always poised at-the-ready to meet whatever life dished up.  Her quiet presence was often all the comfort a suffering soul needed:  her innocent, dry-eyed, whole-hearted presence.

Earth Mother

This Earth Mother image – scanned from a greeting card years ago – bears an uncanny facial resemblance to Miriam. And the symbolism couldn’t be more perfectly aligned with her virtues – from my perspective anyway!

On the 100th anniversary of her birth I’m taking a leaf out of her book and looking for the ‘good things’ about her departure.

  1. Like Dad a year earlier, she was “free at last” from her frail, weary, broken body.  Ninety six orbits of the sun were quite enough.
  2. I learned that I could carry forward the immense love and compassion she had for the world, and that I could slowly, with no little agony and humility, grow into her gracious wisdom.
  3. Thanks to her departure, this blog was born.  And that’s a very good thing because it honors and celebrates a great soul who, uneducated and without any personal need to promote her wisdom, left almost no trace in this world.

~

*  Although … when I first left home at 19, bound for Sydney (crying all the way across the Tasman Sea) she wrote that she had roamed the empty house weeping all day at the shock of my absence.  We were joined at the hip, Mum and I, and as she reminded me in the last hours of her life – “It never ends!”

~

Image: Scanned from a greeting card years ago. I vaguely remember that the artist was a New Zealand woman, living in Australia. If you know more, please advise me – I’d love to give credit.

~

love and joy, thanks and celebration

Sitting in my rainforest sanctuary on Christmas Day, alone and at peace, listening to the forest sing its hymns of praise, wondering when the mercury will stop climbing and the mozzies munching – noticing a little urge to send my thoughts of love and joy, thanks and celebration, to all the beloveds who join me on this wee patch of cyberspace.  I’ve shared my delight of the art and writing of Michael Leunig in other posts; this is his beautiful Christmas prayer.

Christmas.

Dear God, it is timely that we give thanks for the lives of all prophets,
teachers, healers and revolutionaries, living and dead, acclaimed or obscure,
who have rebelled, worked and suffered for the cause of love and joy.

We also celebrate that part of us, that part within ourselves,
which has rebelled, worked and suffered for the cause of love and joy.

We give thanks and celebrate.

Amen

Michael Leunig - Bush Christmas

Huge clouds of brown butterflies swirl up into the dazzling light, parrots swoop to grassy earth, honeyeaters ravish the sweet flowers of the bottlebrush, echidnas trundle steadily in search of each other, lizards dart among ants and ancient rocks, the fine branchlets of the manna gums quiver to the mating growls of koalas, ibises stroll and feast on grasshoppers and gleaming Christmas beetles hang from eucalyptus leaves like small green baubles. The birds sing gloriously and not a wrong note is heard. This is Christmas in the [Australian] bush.

For joy and meaning [let us] turn to our natural country and witness miracles of vitality and new life, of inspiration and profound beauty; all in some humble, quiet and improbable place.

I’m happy to confess that I am holed up in a “humble, quiet and improbable place.”  But whatever and wherever your place may be, I pray that your holy-days are a source of the miraculous, the vital, the beautiful and the sacred.

Quoted text from www.theage.com.au
Artwork by Michael Leunig

grounded by love

This post is reblogged with gratitude from Pema Deane’s The Vibrant Heart.

Pema’s posts often have an uncanny serendipitous resonance with the unfoldings happening here.  I love her deep wideawake expression.  It gifts us that rare mix of savage wisdom and heart-full compassion.

Many of us in this extremely challenging and beautiful time of Self-realization go through periods where the experience of having a vital and energetic body is a distant memory.  And every attempt to restore wellness eventually comes back to ground zero.  We are left in ‘nothing works’ and ‘no control’.  Grounded by Love.

This is the time to let all ruminations about fixing go and simply receive the offering of the aches and pains of a broken body.  This is the time to see that every ache is like a kiss from the Beloved saying “Not here, love.  Not here.”  The answer is not here in the body.  Not only is the answer not in fixing it, it is nowhere near the body at all.

It is found in the seeing that a well body and a broken body are one in kind, they are both illusion.  That a clear, light body has no more value than a body filled with energy that is purging and releasing – they are both imagined into existence.

It is cultivated in the gentle, firm and knowing ‘so what’ and ‘nothing matters’ arising in the face of unwellness.

The body’s welfare is pre-ordained, the script already written.  Can we walk through the play holding its hand, letting the newly-shining truth of its unreality and ‘not mattering’ open the heart to great mercy and tenderness for all that is not real.  Mercy for the unresolvable issue in our lives, whatever that may be, for how in its unwavering relentlessness it is waking us up out of the heart of misidentification;  its tugs on our attention losing their strength through the sheer exhaustion of their known ineffectuality.

We rise up as true Self in the midst of the unfixable.  This is its job and this is its grace.  The rising up of the internal Real that sheds light on the unreality of all that is temporal.

~ Pema Deane

love’s the ultimate sly squatter

how could it come to pass that halfway
through my sixty-eighth orbit of the sun
Love
would find me?

how, when I was without need
or hunger or even a shy dream that
Love
might find me?

perhaps Love, like me, is a homeless vagrant;
like a mysterious night moth,
It seeks out the empty, glowing
innocent heart
and quietly moves in

emelle says:
Love’s the ultimate sly squatter

.
~ miriam louisa

.

light will someday split you open

 

Light
will someday split you open;
even if your life is now a cage …

Love
will surely burst you wide open
into an unfettered,
blooming new galaxy.

– Hafiz

 

– Tatiana Plakhova

complexitygraphics.com

 

I want to die comforting someone

Mags Deane has kindly given me permission to repost this jewel – which touched me to the quick – from her blog.  In the post, called Tenderized Heart, she writes:

This is one of my favorite pieces of writing, from Jeannie Zandi.

I like to come to it when my heart is looking for some softening.

May we live for this dear hearts.

There is nothing between you and I.  My heart is tenderized to the extent that when your pain rises, I feel it in my chest, and there’s simply this love that doesn’t have a two.  Because that extra one, that “me” and “mine”, is over, it went when the will was broken by life’s refusal to do it “my” way.  So there’s no longer anything between us.

In that, this love rises that knows the beauty and the heartbreak of our shared humanness, the heights we can soar to, the depths we can sink to, the heartbreak that we must bear because we often cannot embody what our hearts wish to embody in all its beauty and perfection, the love that we are and have the potential to express.  We long to be love in every cell and we fail so miserably, and it hurts us to the core.  We’re so beautiful, and so brave, and so screwed.  We can’t get away from the unconscious aspects of ourselves and we can’t commit ourselves entirely to the dungeon.  We are all crucified on that cross of humanness.

And for this there is such a rising of compassion and mercy in the empty heart that has taken that crucifixion to the end, such a sweetness and a desire to give whatever kindness or assistance one can to these brave and beautiful creatures – you as a servant are born.  And then God moves us deeply to see that everyone is not only Her creation for me to give myself to, everyone is actually Her.  The feeling rises that says anything I have I will give you, oh brave children of God, oh sweet faces of Her.

I could never repay the debt I have to the Beloved for the gift of being allowed to see Her face, to see that everyone has always been Her, and that I’ve spent years treating them and myself, which is Her, as objects or enemies, or merely walked by so many in need or failed to look upon Her face with the love that is so obviously due Her.  What was I doing?  What was I thinking? As Donovan sang in Brother Sun, Sister Moon, “preoccupied with selfish misery”.  That’s what I was doing.

And an awareness of every moment of this selfish obliviousness is there, alongside the clear sight that all are so worthy of our love and kindness.  We know there just aren’t enough years to praise Her name, to love Her tender face in the faces of our brothers and sisters.  There is no bad guy!  There is only the embodiment of Her, on the cross of heaven and earth, angel and creature, struggling to live up to Her heavenly gift under the weight of this unconscious conflict and self-hate.  There is nothing so compelling as that and to offer whatever we have to that.

This is something that rises when you get broken.  There’s this wealth of gratitude, this feeling that the debt can never be repaid for the beauty of Her in every being.  I couldn’t possibly give any of you enough to serve the liberation of the love that is hidden in your heart.  Ammachi says I want to die comforting someone – she’s hugging herself to death and it’s her joy, because everything in her says I am here to be given to You who I am as well.  That is the feeling when we’re emptied out. It’s what we are underneath the conflict.

And it keeps getting deeper.  We keep getting more sensitive, more transparent.  Pretty soon we might as well sit inside everybody’s pants, it’s so intimate.  You have a feeling across the room and I feel you.  And it’s my joy to have you guys fill my body with your angst.  I’m dying to help you with that.  I’ll meet anything you have.  You have a cold?  Give it to me.  I can’t even imagine the joy Christ must have felt to die for his God in the form of his brothers and sisters.  What else can I give?  All I’ve got is my life, sure.  What a joy it is to love you, to be this love, to know you as love, to break the bread of love with each other, to give you, my most precious, whatever it is I have to give, which is never enough to glorify your beauty and Her name, and to liberate the dove of gorgeous tender love that lives in your heart.

And guess what?  All the while She is loving Herself through you.  THROUGH you.  So you get loved as it moves through your body.  Your entire body is radiated by God’s love as you apparently love.  There’s only Her radiant love.

So, yes, that’s the only thing worth longing for.  If you have the longing for this love, yeah!  Stoke that fire, burn in that place where you want it so bad.  Don’t calm that down!  It’s worth it.

~ Jeannie Zandi

goneness, grief and grace

to truly grieve
is to, somehow

(by Grace?)

find the guts
to welcome
goneness

 
Grief and sadness are often mistakenly thought to be the same. They aren’t. Sadness will have its time and place – usually in the immediate aftermath of a loss. But sadness isn’t good company for those whose work is to grieve.

Sadness, as Byron Katie so succinctly put it, is “a hissy fit”. Sadness looks backwards and wants the what-is to still be the what-was.

Grief meets the what-is with no agenda other than to be 100% present, nakedly nowful.

The astonishing gift of grief and grieving is that it opens us to a love beyond anything we have ever known.

Rashani Réa, in her quietly, powerfully, honest book Beyond Brokenness says she has never met anyone who isn’t unconsciously holding grief.

I decided to take a look, and yes. There it was, patiently awaiting the impartial light of awareing. A little list of gonenesses, each one a treasure, an irreplaceable chapter in the story of a Life.

As this unlit light beams them into presence they come into full bloom, they mature and scatter their seeds of wisdom. Then – they vanish.

The only residue is the wetness on my cheeks.

And this love!

This sweet, helpless, holy love; it is love to die for.

Might you have a goneness list in hiding?

Go for it beloved.
 

Whoever finds love
beneath hurt and grief,
disappears into emptiness
with a thousand new guises
~ Rumi