If you find yourself in a heateddiscussionwith your ego off on a crash flight, try imagining your grounding cord planted in the earth with Gaia swinging from it. Not only will the image return you to presence, but if you dress her quite outlandishly, the chuckle it evokes may change your mood!
Grab on Gaia
To the grounding cord
Of my being.
Hold fast, swinging in circles
That pull me
Rooting me in the fertile compost
Of your faithful mystery.
The word nautílos literally means “sailor”, as paper nautiluses were thought to use two of their arms as sails. (Wikipedia.org)
Inspired by the enigmatic nautilus, I feel like a soul sailor adrift on an impetuous sea, one time a raging wall of waves, another time a calm oasis. It’s a noble life, these ups and downs, ins and outs.
As the nautilus matures the shell creates new and larger chambers to accommodate its growth, beginning with four and reaching up to thirty or more chambers as an adult. Like the nautilus, we create many chambers in our life journey, coming full circle again and again and again. We follow our innate call to return to the genes of our souls, where we become at last who we always were. Happy travels to us all.
“Therefore, tell me: What will engage you? What will open the dark fields of your mind, like a lover at first touching?”
This brilliant poem by Mary Oliver burrowed into my soul this morning, promising rich nourishment in the week ahead. May it offer you the same. Life, death, resurrection … Fitting for this Eastertide.
By Mary Oliver
Welcome to the silly, comforting poem.
It is not the sunrise,
which is a red rinse,
which is flaring all over the eastern sky;
it is not the rain falling out of the purse of God;
it is not the blue helmet of the sky afterward,
or the trees, or the beetle burrowing into the earth;
it is not the mockingbird who, in his own cadence,
will go on sizzling and clapping
from the branches of the catalpa that are thick with blossoms,
that are billowing and shining,
that are shaking in the wind.
You still recall, sometimes, the old barn on your
great-grandfather's farm, a place you visited once,
and went into, all alone, while the grownups sat and
talked in the house.
It was empty, or almost. Wisps of hay covered the floor,
and some wasps sang at the windows, and maybe there was
a strange fluttering bird high above, disturbed, hoo-ing
a little and staring down from a messy ledge with wild,
Mostly, though, it smelled of milk, and the patience of
animals; the give-offs of the body were still in the air,
a vague ammonia, not unpleasant.
Mostly, though, it was restful and secret, the roof high
up and arched, the boards unpainted and plain.
You could have stayed there forever, a small child in a corner,
on the last raft of hay, dazzled by so much space that seemed
empty, but wasn't.
Then--you still remember--you felt the rap of hunger--it was
noon--and you turned from that twilight dream and hurried back
to the house, where the table was set, where an uncle patted you
on the shoulder for welcome, and there was your place at the table.
There is a graveyard where everything I am talking about is,
I stood there once, on the green grass, scattering flowers.
Nothing is so delicate or so finely hinged as the wings
of the green moth
against the lantern
against its heat
against the beak of the crow
in the early morning.
Yet the moth has trim, and feistiness, and not a drop
Not in this world.
was the blue wisteria,
was the mossy stream out behind the house,
my mother, alas, alas,
did not always love her life,
heavier than iron it was
as she carried it in her arms, from room to room,
I bury her
in a box
in the earth
and turn away.
was a demon of frustrated dreams,
was a breaker of trust,
was a poor, thin boy with bad luck.
He followed God, there being no one else
he could talk to;
he swaggered before God, there being no one else
who would listen.
this was his life.
I bury it in the earth.
I sweep the closets.
I leave the house.
I mention them now,
I will not mention them again.
It is not lack of love
nor lack of sorrow.
But the iron thing they carried, I will not carry.
I give them--one, two, three, four--the kiss of courtesy,
of sweet thanks,
of anger, of good luck in the deep earth.
May they sleep well. May they soften.
But I will not give them the kiss of complicity.
I will not give them the responsibility for my life.
Did you know that the ant has a tongue
with which to gather in all that it can
Did you know that?
The poem is not the world.
It isn't even the first page of the world.
But the poem wants to flower, like a flower.
It knows that much.
It wants to open itself,
like the door of a little temple,
so that you might step inside and be cooled and refreshed,
and less yourself than part of everything.
The voice of the child crying out of the mouth of the
is a misery and a disappointment.
The voice of the child howling out of the tall, bearded,
is a misery, and a terror.
Therefore, tell me:
what will engage you?
What will open the dark fields of your mind,
like a lover
at first touching?
there was no barn.
No child in the barn.
No uncle no table no kitchen.
Only a long lovely field full of bobolinks.
When loneliness comes stalking, go into the fields, consider
the orderliness of the world. Notice
something you have never noticed before,
like the tambourine sound of the snow-cricket
whose pale green body is no longer than your thumb.
Stare hard at the hummingbird, in the summer rain,
shaking the water-sparks from its wings.
Let grief be your sister, she will whether or no.
Rise up from the stump of sorrow, and be green also,
like the diligent leaves.
A lifetime isn't long enough for the beauty of this world
and the responsibilities of your life.
Scatter your flowers over the graves, and walk away.
Be good-natured and untidy in your exuberance.
In the glare of your mind, be modest.
And beholden to what is tactile, and thrilling.
Live with the beetle, and the wind.
This is the dark bread of the poem.
This is the dark and nourishing bread of the poem.
photo credit: Barn photo taken by Rebecca Staebler, formatted by Rita Kowats
The virtue of patience often eludes me. Today I am longing to return to the swimming pool in the worst way. The confines of covid don’t bother me, nor do long periods alone, because it is my intentional lifestyle. But my poor old body can barely wait to get back to the pool.
A meditation on I Ching 5 hexagram this morning is helpful, especially this line:
It is only through patience that you can
become the bridge between the fickle fish
and the eventual feast.
I send you the gift of graceful waiting today.
The Great Blue Heron Lurches from side to side Scouting succulent salmon Twitching in the tide. Settling on a spot in which to spy She turns her head sideways To see salmon swimming. And waits. And waits.
In my dotage I too lurch from leg to cane to leg, Longing for the feast, but missing it, Too intent upon ego offerings That clamor for attention. The wait is too long; “Succulent salmon, slither hither!”
Joy is exemplified by a group of friends playing, or a carefree young girl singing to herself while engaged in her work. The happiness is rising from within and spreading out into the world! Joy comes into the world through gentle means, but springs from a solid sense of self. The power of joy should never be underestimated.