Breaching The Divide

o is for open

 

Simple-song
Marge Piercy

When we are going toward someone we say
you are just like me
your thoughts are my brothers and sisters
word matches word how easy to be together.

When we are leaving someone we say
how strange you are
we cannot communicate
we can never agree
how hard, hard and weary to be together.

We are not different nor alike
but each strange in our leather bodies
sealed in skin and reaching out clumsy hands
and loving is an act
that cannot outlive
the open hand
the open eye
the door in the chest standing open.

 

 

This poem drew me into meditation this morning and I have strolled through its many nuances throughout the day. We allow the other’s difference to grow a wedge between us because we don’t understand it, and we can’t control what we don’t understand. We would rather muck around in the divide than risk the outstretched hand and the open door in the chest.

In their book, Blindspot: Hidden Biases of Good People, Mahzarin R. Banaji and Anthony G. Greewald describe their study which concluded that every human being fills in what we don’t know with what we think we know. In observing myself, I see that it is my ego that fills in what I don’t know, rather than the self that lives in divine presence. This self is strong enough to welcome that which is strange in the other, that which reaches out with clumsy hands.

My spiritual practice comes in the form of a pause. I pause before I judge. I breathe in respect and release fear. I breathe in love and release judgment. Once in a while it works. Our human instinct is to protect our ego, but the pause interrupts the knee-jerk impulse to insert it into the strange, unknown spaces of the other. The pause lets in the Spirit who places clumsy hand in clumsy hand.

 

Photo Credit: Photopin.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

photo credit: Michael W. May <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/14609664@N06/5376777351″>o is for open</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a&gt; <a href=”https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/”>(license)</a&gt;

Winter Doldrums

pexels-photo-235615

 

Really, I am truly grateful for Seattle rain, especially as I see reports about places where people are suffering from much more adverse weather conditions; however, winter can wear thin, can’t it?

This lovely poem from Marge Piercy picked me up.  I hope it does the same for you today.

 

The butt of winter

The city lies grey and sopping like a dead rat
under the slow oily rain.
Between the lower east side tenements
the sky is a snotty handkerchief.
The garbage of poor living slimes the streets.
You lie on your bed and think soon it will be hot and violent,
then it will be cold and mean.
You say you feel as empty as a popbottle in the street.
You say you feel full of cold water standing like an old horse trough.
The clock ticks, somewhat wrong, the walls crack their dry knuckles.
Work is only other rooms where people cough,
only the typewriter clucking like a wrong clock.
Nobody will turn the soiled water into wine,
nobody will shout cold Lazarus alive but you.

You are your own magician.

Stretch out your hand, stretch out your hand and look:
each finger is a snake of energy, a gaggle of craning necks.
Each electric finger conducts the world.
Each finger is a bud’s eye opening.
Each finger is a vulnerable weapon.
The sun is floating in your belly like a fish.
Light creaks in your bones.
You are sleeping with your tail in your mouth.
Unclench your hands and look.
Nothing is given us but each other.
We have nothing to give but ourselves.
We have nothing to take but the time that drips,
drips anyhow leaving a brown stain.
Open your eyes and your belly.
Let the sun rise into your chest and burn your throat,
stretch out your hands and tear the gauzy rain
that your world can be born from you
screaming and red.

by Marge Piercy in Circles on the Water

 

Photo Source: https://www.pexels.com/u/pixabay/

“Unclench Yourself”: A Guided Meditation

Underwater Garden 34628416992_f03d5bba42_n

 

 

Unclench Yourself:  Guided Meditation

Listen to this gift from Marge Piercy.  Find the rhythm in your breathing as you take in the essence of her words.  Let feelings rise as they will.

Unclench yourself

Open, love, open.
I tell you we are able
I tell you we are able
now and then gently
with hands and feet
cold even as fish
to curl into a tangle
and grow a single hide,
slowly to unknit all other skin
and rest in flesh
and rest in flesh entire

Come all the way in, love,
it is a river
with a strong current
but its brown waters
will not drown you.

Let go.
Do not hold out your head.
The current knows the bottom
better than your feet can.
You will find
that in this river
we can breathe
we can breathe
and under water see
small gardens and bright fish
too tender
too tender
for the air.

Marge Piercy

Meditation

You are content to lie on the surface of the cobalt Maui ocean, cocooned in the embrace of warm trade winds, buoyant and safe. Relax and enjoy the carefree feeling of being carried aloft. Continue to synchronize your breathing with winds and waves.  In out in out.  Feel the warmth of the sun kiss your skin.  Breathe in out in out.

Now let your mind wander to regions below the ocean’s surface, to places less placid where fear warns you away.  Take some time now to explore those fears which threaten to take your breath away.  Name each one as you breathe in and let out the fear on the wave of your breath. In out in out.

You have now dared to leave the surface.  How is it for you down there?  What small gardens and bright fish do you see? Your breathing becomes deeper and flows evenly throughout every cell of your body.  You are the ocean.  As the fish is in the sea and the sea is in the fish, you are in the ocean and the ocean is in you.

Ever so gently now, let your body slowly float up to the surface as you continue to breathe. Breathing in I am whole.  Breathing out I release all fear.  Breathing in I am peace.  Breathing out I offer peace.

May it be so.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Photo credit: Marine Explorer <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/71925535@N03/34628416992″>Red sea fan #marineexplorer</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a&gt; <a href=”https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/”>(license)</a&gt;

A Companion to the Women’s Marches

 

womens-march-on-washington-huffpost

huffingtonpost.com

 

 

For Strong Women

A strong woman is a woman who is straining
A strong woman is a woman standing
on tiptoe and lifting a barbel
while trying to sing “Boris Godunov.”
A strong woman is a woman at work
cleaning out the cesspool of the ages,
and while she shovels, she talks about
how she doesn’t mind crying, it opens
the ducts of the eyes, and throwing up
develops the stomach muscles, and
she goes on shoveling with tears in her nose.
A strong woman is a woman in whose head
a voice is repeating, I told you so,
ugly, bad girl, bitch, nag, shrill, witch,
ballbuster, nobody will ever love you back,
why aren’t you feminine, why aren’t
you soft, why aren’t you quiet, why aren’t you dead?
A strong woman is a woman determined
to do something others are determined
not be done. She is pushing up on the bottom
of a lead coffin lid. She is trying to raise
a manhole cover with her head, she is trying
to butt her way through a steel wall.
Her head hurts. People waiting for the hole
to be made say, hurry, you’re so strong.
A strong woman is a woman bleeding
inside. A strong woman is a woman making
herself strong every morning while her teeth
loosen and her back throbs. Every baby,
a tooth, midwives used to say, and now
every battle a scar. A strong woman
is a mass of scar tissue that aches
when it rains and wounds that bleed
when you bump them and memories that get up
in the night and pace in boots to and fro.
A strong woman is a woman who craves love
like oxygen or she turns blue choking.
A strong woman is a woman who loves
strongly and weeps strongly and is strongly
terrified and has strong needs. A strong woman is strong
in words, in action, in connection, in feeling;
she is not strong as a stone but as a wolf
suckling her young. Strength is not in her, but she
enacts it as the wind fills a sail.
What comforts her is others loving
her equally for the strength and for the weakness
from which it issues, lightning from a cloud.
Lightning stuns. In rain, the clouds disperse.
Only water of connection remains,
flowing through us. Strong is what we make
each other. Until we are all strong together,
a strong woman is a woman strongly afraid.

– Marge Piercy in Circles on the Water

Words

Ouroboros of Words

 

The Spiritual Practice of Eating Our Words

 

 A little scandal
by Marge Piercy in CIRCLES ON THE WATER

 

The eyes of others
measure and condemn.
The eyes of others are watches
ticking no.
My friend hates you.
Between you I turn and turn
holding my arm as if it were
broken.
The air is iron shavings
polarized.
Faces blink on and off.
Words are heavy.
I carry them back and forth in
my skirt.
They pile up in front of the
chairs.
Words are bricks that seal the
doors and windows.
Words are shutters on the eyes
and lead gloves on the hands.
The air is a solid block.
We cannot move.

 

Silence
by Rita H. Kowats

 

I hear my rapid thought-fire
Ricochet off your heart,
Creating a wall of words to
Keep me safe.

Wait.
Wait for the space
Between the thoughts
Between the words.

Wait.
God lives
In the Space Between.

The Spring of Conscience

The Spring of Conscience original

 “Breaking Camp”

The grey Canadian geese like
arrowheads are pulled north
beating their powerful wings
over the long valleys…

Our people are moving and we
must choose and follow
through all the ragged cycles of
build and collapse,
epicycles on our long journey
guided
by the north star and the
magnetic pole of conscience”

Circles on the Water by Piercy, Marge
http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00E2RXIEC

The Spring of Conscience

Photo Credit:  Deborah Koff-Chapin has created  a technique she calls “touch drawing.”  She calls them “SOULCARDS.” They  come in two decks of 60 images and can be used alone or with others as reflection tools.  They have enriched my meditation for years and have helped those I companion with.  You can learn more at Deborah’s webpage www.soulcards.com

Not In My Name

Edward_Hicks_-_Peaceable_Kingdom The Peaceable Kingdom A Painting by Edward Hicks, 1780– 1849, hung in the Brooklyn Museum

Marge Piercy in Circles on the Water

Creamcheese babies square and downy as bolsters
in nursery clothing nestle among curly lions and lowing cattle,
a wolf of scythe and ashes, a bear smiling in sleep
The paw of a leopard with eyes of headlights
rests near calf and vanilla child.
In the background under the yellow autumn tree
Indians and settlers sign a fair treaty.
The mist of dream cools the lake.

 

On the first floor of the museum Indian remains
are artfully displayed. Today is August sixth, Hiroshima
Man eats man with sauces of newsprint.
The vision of that kingdom of satisfaction
where all bellies are round with sweet grasses
blows on my face pleasantly
though I have eaten five of those animals.

 

All the rich flat black land,
the wide swirlmarked browngreen rivers,
leafy wheat baking tawny, corns silky spikes,
sun bright kettles of steel and crackling wires, turn into
infinite shining weapons that scorch the earth.
The pride of our hive
packed into hoards of murderous sleek bombs.

 

We glitter and spark righteousness.
We are blinding as a new car in the sunshine.
Gasoline rains from our fluffy clouds
Everywhere our evil froths polluting the waters-
in what stream on what mountain do you miss
the telltale brown sludge and rim of suds?

 

Peace: the word lies like a smooth turd
on the tongues of politicians ordering
the sweet flesh seared on the staring bone.
Guilt is added to the municipal water
guilt is deposited in the marrow and teeth.
In my name they are stealing from people with nothing
their slim bodies. When did I hire these assassins?  

My mild friend no longer paints mysteries of doors and mirrors.
On her walls the screams of burning children coagulate.
The mathematician with his webspangled language
of shadow and substance half spun
sits in an attic playing the flute all summer.
for fear of his own brain, for fear that the baroque
arabesque of his joy will be turned to a weapon.
Three A.M. in Brooklyn: night all over my country.
Watch the smoke of guilt drift out of dreams.

 

When did I hire these killers? one day in anger,
in seaslime hatred at the duplicity of flesh?
Eating steak in a suave restaurant, did I give the sign?
Sweating like a melon in bed, did I murmur consent?
Did I contract it in Indiana for a teaching job?
Was it something I signed for a passport or a loan?
Now in my name blood burns like oil day and night.

 

This nation is founded on blood like a city on swamps
yet its dream has been beautiful and sometimes just
that now grows brutal and heavy as a burned out star

Photo Credit:  The Peaceable Kingdom by Edward Hicks in Widipedia

 

Intersect: Marge Piercy and Meister Eckhart

intersect

Unclench yourself

Open, love, open.
I tell you we are able
I tell you we are able
now and then gently
with hands and feet
cold even as fish
to curl into a tangle
and grow a single hide,
slowly to unknit all other skin
and rest in flesh
and rest in flesh entire
Come all the way in, love,
it is a river
with a strong current
but its brown waters
will not drown you.
Let go.
Do not hold out
your head.
The current knows the bottom
better than your feet can.
You will find
that in this river
we can breathe
we can breathe
and under water see
small gardens and bright fish
too tender
too tender
for the air.

Marge Piercy 

intersect opposites

A human being has so many skins inside, covering the depths of the heart.
We know so many things, but we don’t know ourselves!  Why thirty or forty
skins or hides, as thick and hard as an ox’s or bear’s, cover the soul.  Go into your
own ground and learn to know yourself there.   Meister Eckhart