And All of a Sudden, Miracle Birds! (A Dream)

My daughters and I are sitting on the front steps of our bungalow house on Lincoln Street, but not that exact house in the slightly warped way of dreams. We are bathed in daylight. All of a sudden, a shadow passes overhead: a flock of birds. As they fly closer to us, it’s clear they are not of this world. They carry dusk on their scapulars and their underwings flash the silver of moonlight. Time seems to pause as one of the birds separates itself from the flock.  

Then she dives straight for Eva, Shilo, and me, hovering inches above our heads. She is gray, with striking black outlines on her face like a hood and chinstrap. Her head is unusually angular. As we watch in awe, she transforms into a glowing sinewy tangle of electric green, then red, then blue. Then the floating globe separates into three–one of each color. They look like ornaments on fire, and they slowly float over and nestle into the bush next to us.

The girls laugh in delight and I start to cry, greatly humbled by the miraculous secret that was just revealed to us out of nowhere.

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unintentionally abandoned

A moment of carelessness,
and I found myself without
my favorite sweater
left behind in a Houston airport, me
30,000 feet above midamerica
helpless to retrieve her.

At first I was cavalier about it,
even giddy with the thought
of finally replacing the well-worn softness
with something new–
an exciting prospect
at first.

Then the sweater
took up a whole new dimension in my thoughts:
this plain mainstay
of my everyday existence
began to take on a life of her own.

I saw her lying, crumpled
in the corner airport chair
next to the window,
forlornly waiting
for familiar hands to grasp
for familiar arms to slip through 
lonely, hollow folds

I felt sadness settle
and the cold, canned air of the plane,
neither of which I could stave off
without my loyal knitted companion. 



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What Nirvana meant to me

yes, anyone who cares about nirvana knows the significance of this date. 20 years. jesus. i’ve read a lot of articles today…a lot of careless minutiae. including this blowhard: it’s easy to be too hip to care and to dismiss people’s emotions to the art. good on you mate. you are a cut above feeling um, maybe anything at all. But i do see the point in people expounding on the loss of an icon, of disregarding the personal tragedy, the family tragedy in the context of “where were you when you heard he died.” that’s not my business, not my concern. but what i am doing on this day is letting the music wash over me again. Again. A reminder that someone got it for a second and that we were there to hear it. Love him or hate him, he made a goddamn difference.

What did Nirvana mean to me? It meant solidarity. It meant uniting with people who know there is another way other than complete conformity. Even in my adult life I know there are people who can question the 2.2 child lifestyle of mom and dad and buddy and sis. and i know that i am not alone. and the music matters. love him or hate him. he made a difference. 

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Walking the Labyrinth

This past Friday I was locked in at the Unitarian Universalist church as part of the Coming of Age program that brought adult mentors (me being one) together with their high school youth to be together for an all-night spiritual and communal experience. I have to say it was unforgettable.

We ate dinner together and then moved on into different workshops. The youth I’m mentoring has similar tastes to mine so we had no trouble choosing our workshops: spiritual journaling, then mandala making. Both truly wonderful experiences, but the highlight of my night was walking the labyrinth.

The intent was for mentor and mentee to walk the labyrinth together yet alone. By circumstance, my youth and I made our journey late at night. While everyone else was upstairs getting ready to sleep, we found ourselves alone in the sanctuary. Rain drummed the ceiling of our church and the Earth outside–a rhythmic noise that helped still my mind and slow my pace.

There are 3 parts to the labyrinth: The journey toward the center, the releasing; the time you spend in the center, the receiving; and the journey back to realm outside the labyrinth, the returning.  

I found the labyrinth practice to be soothing and centering. From the beginning of the journey, it gave me comfort to let go and walk the path clearly defined–heading toward a safe destination. It allowed my mind freedom to deeply explore what my intentions could be. 

I didn’t discover what my intentions were until I reached the center and meditated. My mentee arrived there shortly after I did and we sat together in silence. Sacred. As I breathed slowly and deeply to the thrum of heavy rain, I formed my intentions. 1.  Narrow my focus, with love, to the things always present in my heart–family and friends; making music; writing; doing good. 2. Live by the one law of love 3. Do no harm. 

The last part of the journey was the returning–to slowly rise from the center and make my way back to the everyday pace of life. I did this slowly, purposefully holding my intentions like precious gems in my heart and in my folded hands. 

As I walked, I passed the occasional stain on the carpet: some small, some wicked large ones too (what makes that sort of stain in a church sanctuary?). They became symbols of imperfection in the sublime–the imperfections that make whole the sublime.

I reached the end, at peace with my intentions and the release of all I can’t carry with me. I poured a cup of tea and sat, breathing and writing and sipping in turn until I felt ready to reintegrate with the larger world.

What is the relationship between this sacred experience and the regular rhythm of my life? I feel my daily mind often is racing to prepare for the next scheduled commitment. I have to figure out each step along the path, and it’s a complicated dance that includes my partner and 2 young daughters. The majority of the time, I am not intentional or deep with my thoughts like I was during the walk. It’s clear that I need this ritual to help me free my mind to plunge deeper and be more aware of the way of thinking that moves me forward–toward something sublime. And so the journey is sublime too. Stains and all.

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the new hope

It’s Emily Dickinson’s birthday. What a contemplative soul. What a complementary celebration of lives and deaths today in remembering ED and Nelson Mandela. I’ve read this poem over and over today.

“Hope” is the thing with feathers–
That perches in the soul–
And sings the tune without the words–
And never stops–at all–

And sweetest–in the Gale –is heard
And sore must be the storm–
that could abash the little Birdthat kep so many warm–

I’ve heard it in the chillest land–
And on the strangest sea–
Yet never, in Extremity,
it asked a crumb of Me.

So now I ask in a wondrous way…what if we responded to this tune …hope…what if we responded with words that have yet to have a tune…or no…i know they have had a tune….strong and sure, and perhaps forgotten. what if those words sounded out now, forming a deconstructed/reassembled song. culminating in all the dissonance becoming harmonies becoming sines and cosines, peaks and troughs. let’s deconstruct the tune and reshape it because

what choice do we have?

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life on the road (in short)

Sitting in the hotel room, paralyzed briefly by indecision, I finally mobilize out into air that presses close, beloved, like a trace of a dream I’ve had many times. I race the sunset to the ‘next adventure under the skies.’ I do this all alone.

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Unrealized Potential

a perfect orange
waiting on the shelf
patiently, but
for too long
me in perpetual rush
too busy to enjoy
her sweetness
and tucked away, silently,
without warning,
she sours
unused, she
her goodness

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