Saturday, December 16, 2006

being a conduit

From Charity Focus' inspiration offering DailyGood quote of the day:

"Art condenses the experience we all have as human beings, and, by forming it, makes it significant. We all have an in-built need for harmony and the structures that create harmony. Basically, art is an affirmation of life."

From the artist's resume:

"I think about things that excite me: convoluted strata, the eroded and broken edges of cliffs, the constant interaction of the elements, the movement of boats on water…

I think about the object and its inner image; the activity of each and the play between the two and I try to be straightforward to remove unnecessary information.

For all the theorizing, formal and conceptual notions, the truth of the matter is that I see myself as a conduit. The titles come afterwards so that I don't impose myself on the work as it goes along. Then I leave it alone.

I have been saying the same thing all my working life. Just in different ways."

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

five micro stories

I was reading Chris' detailed, surprising and really interesting contribution to the "five things you might not know about me" story percolating around the blogworld. Then I got to the end and found that he'd handed me one of his five batons to carry on (though Chris, since you were tagged by Dan and two other friends, wouldn't you have 15 batons?) This is actually a combination of "you might not know" plus "I'm pretty sure you don't know" plus "maybe you do already know, I can't remember what I've said already":

1. My oldest boyfriend was (still is!) 30 years older than me. It was actually a pretty brief affair, and then we stayed friendly by letter. A few years later, after I was married, my husband and I got to visit with him and his lovely new wife when we were traveling through their part of the world. And then I got to reconnect with them again a couple of years ago after being out of touch for 15 years -- they are both still adorable.
One of the things I like best about being middle-aged is that there are friends you have loved for 20 or 30 or 40 years or more, and even if you have not seen them for many years there can still be such deep unchanged affection.

2. I have three sons, but usually I say that I have two, because our first little guy, Nadav, died at 12 weeks old of sudden infant death. While I am grateful to have had him for as long as we did, and am also grateful for my youngest who would not have been born without the loss of the first, and don't mind talking about him, I don't mention him much in public. My relationship with him continues in a very different form, a very interior form. His gradual appearance and swift disappearance from human form tenderized me forever and created the beginning of a gradual unfurling of the leaves of both my inner and outer life.

3. If it weren't poisonous, I would definitely be a smoker. I love the way smoke looks curling out of a cigarette, the drawing it in and blowing out. I don't actually even mind the smell so much, though my preferred cigarettes are filtered "kreteks" (Indonesian clove cigarettes) which have their own distinctive heavy-incense smell.

4. I have been to beautiful Indonesia, land of the kretek: after Robert and I got married we took almost all of our wedding gifts back to the stores, got money, and bought round-the-world tickets. We started in Los Angeles, spent a week in Hawaii, and then went to Asia for a year: Japan, China and Tibet, Hong Kong, Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, Burma, India and Nepal for from a few weeks to a few months in each country. Then about six more months spent partly on a kibbutz in the north of Israel, partly in Spain (my in-laws met us there for a whirlwind 4-star driving trip, so different from the way we'd been traveling! I hardly remember any of it, it was such a blur), then visiting friends in Paris and in London, and then back home.

5. The name I got from the Chinese side of my family (the other side being Japanese, by the way) is not our family's original name -- my grandfather bought the papers of someone named Lee to come to the US from China, but his family's name was really Kwan (or Quan depending on what system of transliteration you use). My husband's family changed their name, too, though only a generation before us -- his dad and uncles decided that "Eisikowitz" was too hard to spell (in fact I think I am spelling it wrong), and changed it to "Engel" (which hardly anyone spells correctly on the first try either!). If all that hadn't happened, instead of Lee-Engel, our last name would be Quan-Eisikowitz...has a different feel to it, doesn't it?

Here are some people I am very curious to know more about (curious, and not sure you will see this, so I am going to cheat and send you a note)(and please ignore this invitation if it doesn't sound fun to you):
Andy, Meredith, Thomas, Jon. And Doug, I am curious to see what aspects of you would come through your very poetic style. And I am definitely looking forward to reading what Ashley will write! (already tagged by Chris)

Friday, December 08, 2006

no less amazed

I so love it when I read my own vague thoughts and feelings expressed in someone else's simple, true, gently precise words:

Incomplete Knowledge
~Jeffrey Harrison

I am of those whose knowledge will always be
incomplete, who know something about the world
but not a whole lot, who will forever confuse
steeplebush and meadowsweet
but know at least by the shape of the flower
that it has to be one or the other.

Don't ask me the difference between
a pitch pine and a red, or even a Jeffrey,
though I know it's a pine, not a spruce or tamarack
(a.k.a. hackmatack, but what's a larch?).
The difference between a sycamore
and a plane tree? It's beyond me.

I've never had a real grip on
Japanese painting—the different periods and styles.
I don't even know that much about Dutch—
Vermeer of course, Rembrandt sure,
but could I distinguish a De Hooch from a Steen?
Do I even know how to pronounce their names?

I know next to nothing about what goes on
under the hood of a car, though I try to hide that fact
in the presence of mechanics. Herakleitus
(am I spelling that right?) said something
about how we hide our ignorance,
but I can't remember exactly what it was.

Birds, music, fishing, history, it's appalling
how limited my knowledge is.
I'm not even going to begin to list
all the books I haven't read.
I'm the antithesis of a Renaissance man,
spread so thin I hardly exist.

I have a friend who knows what seems like
close to everything. Certainly everything in the woods.
He was explaining to me the difference
between steeplebush and meadowsweet
(which I understood at the time but didn't retain,
as if it were the theory of relativity),

when I looked up and saw a jet whose trail
of fine white cloud kept disappearing, reappearing,
and disappearing again, and I asked why,
and, holding the meadowsweet in one hand
and the steeplebush in the other, he explained it.
And he wasn't bullshitting, either—he knew.

I'm not sure I even understand what it means
to know that much. Does all that knowledge
add up to some encompassing wisdom,
something beyond the sum of the names
and data, vast and unknowable? Unknowable
at least to me: I will never be like my friend.

I misplace facts as easily as my glasses,
so the world seems blurred for a while—
but then I find them, put them on, and go outside
to greet the ten thousand things (is that a Buddhist
or Taoist expression?), no less amazed
for my not being able to keep them straight.

(Today's selection at Poetry Daily)

Sunday, December 03, 2006

sleep and snow and melting into

I think that I got enough sleep last night for the first time in ages! I went to bed at 7:00 last night -- then around 7:30 the "Seattle Christmas Ship" docked at Matthews Beach (half a mile downhill from our house) and the Bellevue Chamber Chorus (through mighty loudspeakers) serenaded everyone for miles around with Christmas carols for 20 minutes before going on to their next stop along Lake Washington. So, I went to sleep at around 7:51, and didn't wake up till 8:30 this morning. Ahh! Satisfying my mammalian hibernation compulsion.

Plus, things have been very full lately. On Friday morning I went downtown to the "Building a WISER Sustainability Commons," which was inspiring and exciting & about which I will write later. Then went home for an hour, baked cookies for our office building's (the Seattle Healing Arts Center) holiday gala, and then with my 11-year old and his friend went to the fancy party which mixed tuxedos and string quartets and champagne with Cuban soul music and potluck desserts and little kids playing with surgical masks and an astrologer colleague dressed all in dazzing white including some kind of big ruff of snowy fur around his neck. Last year there were 400 guests, and I think this year there might have been more!

But I didn't stay too late because yesterday morning I had to get up early to catch the 9 am ferry to Whidbey Island, to join in a day-long workshop with poet David Whyte at the Whidbey Institute / Chinook Learning Center. Though last week's snow has pretty much disappeared from Seattle, there is still lots of snow and ice covering the fields and rooftops and driveways of South Whidbey, about a half an hour's drive and a 15 minute ferry ride away.

I am still mulling over the day's rich conversation, replete with stories and poetry and quiet time on that magnificent land, and will write more about that later, too.

In the meantime I'll just note that David Whyte has a beautiful new book of poetry out, called River Flow: New and Selected Poems 1984-2007. While I was paging through the book on the ferry ride home, I stopped at a favorite one, an unflinching and elemental poem called "Self-Portrait," from Fire in the Earth.

There is a very popular New Age-type poem that you can find quoted on coffee cups and greeting cards and such, called "The Invitation," that begins: "It doesn't interest me to know what you do for a living/ I want to know what you ache for/ and if you dare to dream of meeting your heart's longing..." I first saw it on a scrap of paper under the glass tabletop of the neighborhood teashop and liked it very much. A few years later I read David's poem and loved it very much, and was surprised to see the identical structure, so I looked for the website of the author of "The Invitation" and learned that she wrote it after a writing workshop with David where he gave them his poem as a writing exercise template. Here is the piercing original:

~David Whyte

It doesn't interest me if there is one God
or many gods.
I want to know if you belong or feel
if you can know despair or see it in others.
I want to know
if you are prepared to live in the world
with its harsh need
to change you. If you can look back
with firm eyes,
saying this is where I stand. I want to know
if you know
how to melt into that fierce heat of living,
falling toward
the center of your longing. I want to know
if you are willing
to live, day by day, with the consequence of love
and the bitter
unwanted passion of your sure defeat.

I have heard, in that fierce embrace, even
the gods speak of God.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

glowing from the inside out

Patti's writings at 37Days always glow, full of truth and humor and love and insight. This one glows with special fire, and offers up with deep and breathtaking tenderness the essence of love and community and thankfulness.
This photo is by Hamed Saber

Sunday, November 26, 2006

the full of life is infinite

(For Thomas, whose seat I sat in when his travel plans conflicted with his tickets to see the Butoh troupe Sankai Juku on Tuesday, and thank you dear Ashley for the invitation to sit there!)

Lotus Leaves
"Inspired by the meeting with Mr. Riho Senba, the headmaster of the "koryushooukai" school of Ikebana (the art of Japanese flower arrangement)"

~from the program notes of Kagemi: Beyond the Metaphors of Mirrors

The Kage of Kagemi is shadow
The light of contrast, the image in the mirror of water's surface
mi is seeing and being seen

Some say
Kagemi is the ancient origin of "mirror" (kagemi)

In light, the surface that reflects and is reflected, looked into and looking back

Surface beginning in the horizontal water plane and transforming to the perpendicular face

From an ambiguous and transient state to one clearly outlined

The right hand asks, the left hand answers

Once an imaginary sur-face is defined

~Amagatsu Ushio, Sankai Juku founder, Director, Choreographer and Designer.

The day after the performance, a friend who had also been there said that a difference between modern dance and butoh is that in modern dance the choreographer and dancer will observe a tree or water, and create movement that evokes tree or water; in butoh the dancer becomes tree, or water.

The act of watching becomes a visceral act. Being lulled by the endlessly slow drift of an arm or a leg. In trance and then restless as bodies shift in complex patterns, none of it comprehensible to the mind. So much happens in the lift of the eyelids, in the shapes of the fingers carried like upturned claws or tipped in blood-red paint, in the expressionless mask broken suddenly open in hilarity or howl (which? or both?). Even the faint white clouds arising as the powdered bodies of the dancers quickly cross the stage contribute to the stunning scene. The final image felt too like waves falling, rising: the luminous leaves lowered down to the stage again (where they were at the beginning hovering just above the floor), the dancers reclining on the floor between the descended stems, then lying down as the lights dim. The tiny spotlights on hands rising above the surface of the leaves, fingers alive like birds or blossoms breaking bud.

I Wind in the Water Depths
II MANEBI -- two mirrors
III Echoing of gaze and return gaze
IV In the light by the waterside
V Infinite dialogue
VI Empty / Full
VII CHIRAL / ACHIRAL, Agitation and Sedimentation

Then, on Sunday my 16 year old son and I went to see BODIES: The Exhibition (choosing to go at probably the most crowded time possible), which he has wanted to see since it opened.

Like the intensely expressive. perfectly formed, dancers' bodies, these bodies were amazing, too -- impeccably, exquisitely dissected human cadavers (not without controversy, see here), preserved with a kind of silicone polymer that arrests decay and hardens the tissues. A number of the bodies are posed in athletic gestures, diving to dig a volleyball or poised to shoot a basketball or arm stretched overhead to serve a tennis ball. Others are simply seated or standing to display something particular such as the layers of the spinal cord, or muscle and joint layers. The most mind-boggling to me (having spent many hours during the first year of medical school in dissection lab and knowing how easy it is to do an awful job of it) were the entirely dissected-out, lifted from the rest of the body, nervous system and circulatory systems (arteries and veins). There are also displays of organs both healthy and diseased (no matter how many times I see it, it is always shocking to see lungs that are black from years of smoking, compared with normal lungs that are greyish pink with spots of black from pollution -- spots we've all got, so that "normal" and "healthy" might not be exactly the same thing...)

The choices of what to remove and what to leave were a little curious, I thought -- faces were dissected to remove most of the skin and connective tissue, but eyelids and lips and ears were left, and sometimes fingertips and genitalia, so that you did have a sense of the someone who wore this body at one time. By leaving those features, the bodies definitely looked like people, not just like generalized human specimens.

It is interesting to me that these actual viscera didn't have a visceral effect on me, fathoms away from the internal movement stirred by the living, moving butoh dancers' bodies.

Also interesting to me is that all of these bodies are Asian bodies like mine (except that all of the dancers and most of the cadaver specimens are male), so that the surface of what I was seeing was maybe a little bit more mirror-like for me than it might have been. At one point I heard a woman in the Bodies exhibition say something like, "well, he still looks like the chinaman that he was" and I turned around to stare, surprised to hear a term I haven't heard for decades, but I couldn't tell who had said it (it really was crowded there!). The warmth of the crowd and the buzz of conversation and exclamations, as we milled around the exhibits in our own self-organized choreography, generated a current of liveliness that both encompassed and contrasted with the formerly-alive. My son and I noticed and sometimes shared people's reactions of fascination, wonder, revulsion, wistfulness, reverence, and even a resistance to being amazed ("they're just dead bodies, what's the big deal?" ~overheard while standing in the line to get in)

Sankai Juku's Amagatsu-san points to: the surface that reflects and is reflected, looked into and looking back
"Kagemi" explores what happens behind mirrors, said founder and artistic director Ushio Amagatsu, speaking in Japanese through an interpreter by phone from Tokyo. The performance begins by using the surface of water as a mirror, he said. "It's real, but not real."

Seven scenes contrast life and death, ash and blood, sand and water. Knowing about death allows you to realize what kind of life you can live, Amagatsu said. "If you think about yourself, there's a beginning and an end, but the full of life is infinite." In other words, individual lives emerge and disappear, but human life is continuous.
~The Seattle Times
Not only human life, but just life, the one life, pouring through the exquisiteness of all of these individual forms; the more forms we see, the more we may see our self, looking back at us.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Building a WISER Commons, Dec 1, 2006

My friends Jon and Tova Ramer of The Interra Project, along with WiserEarth and WiserBusiness (projects of the Natural Capital Institute) invite us all to a half day session on Friday, December 1st, 2006, to be kicked off with a presentation by Paul Hawken. The doors will open at 8:30 AM at Town Hall at 1119 8th Avenue, Seattle, 98101. The event is downstairs -- use the Seneca Street entrance.

Little update: here is the related SustainabilityCommons Wiki

- We are more together - (and you can see who else is attending here)
We are cooperating to create a Sustainability Commons. The Commons is a network of cooperators creating a common-pool resource of sustainability focused information and tools. The Commons is a "control-free zone" in which participants agree to create Public Goods used by all members of society. Paul Hawken will participate and present the WISER (World Index for Social and Environmental Responsibility) framework for connecting the civil society, private and public sectors.

A Commons is not about forming one big umbrella. We are using enabling technologies to connect our umbrellas to enhance what each of us offers our constituencies; and to extend the reach of the information we are sharing.

Measurable outcomes include the quality, usefulness, and completeness of the information that each of us has access to and increasing the numbers of people viewing our shared information.

- We are open -
This half day session is strategic and will not focus on the technical details. Whatever technologies we utilize will be open and use a "creative commons license" or "copyleft" approach and be maintained for the public good.

Our goal for the session is to build upon the momentum to bring a Commons into form.

We will demonstrate WISER, an open source platform that enables private sector, civil society, and government to collaboratively address and solve social, economic and environmental problems.

"The world changes when networks of relationships form among people who share a common cause and vision of what's possible."

- We think it is time and hope you can join us -
We recognize and appreciate the work you are doing and invite you to consider joining with us. Coming to the session does not commit you to any further participation. Table space will be provided so you can promote your work.

$10.00 covers the cost of Town Hall (& no one will be turned away)

- Please RSVP so we can prepare -
You can purchase tickets online at

If you plan to purchase a ticket at the door or if you have any questions please contact:
Jon Ramer ( (206) 972-7356
or Habib Rose (

If you have a laptop bring it!

- The Interra Project -
The Interra Project’s mission is to empower a community based movement of citizen consumers by providing tools for a direct alignment between daily economic activities and our deepest human values.

- Wiser -
Wiser’s mission is to create a common language, collaborative tools, and a comprehensive, freely accessible, and transparent body of knowledge, enabling a transformation to a restorative economy. This powerful tool for social change encompasses the sister sites WiserEarth — connecting social and environmentally focused non-profits worldwide, and WiserBusiness — guiding companies of all sizes toward responsible business practices.

The Interra Project and WiserBusiness are working to cohesively tie together networks in a way that makes conscious consumption and responsible business easily accessible and a systemic part of everyday life.

Friday, November 17, 2006

encounter with non-violence

"Encounter Point is an 85-minute feature documentary film that follows a former Israeli settler, a Palestinian ex-prisoner, a bereaved Israeli mother and a wounded Palestinian bereaved brother who risk their lives and public standing to promote a nonviolent end to the conflict. Their journeys lead them to the unlikeliest places to confront hatred within their communities. The film explores what drives them and thousands of other like-minded civilians to overcome anger and grief to work for grassroots solutions. It is a film about the everyday leaders in our midst."

Opening in selected cities in North America and the Middle East over the next few weeks, Encounter Point was made by a production team of young Israeli, Palestinian, North American and Brazilian women: Ronit Avni, Julia Bacha (co-writer and editor of Control Room, the award-winning documentary about Al-Jazeera), Nahanni Rous, and Joline Maklouf. Their production company, Just Vision, is a non-profit that works to "widen the influence of Palestinian and Israeli grassroots peace activists."

Encounter Point will screen here in Seattle at the Northwest Film Forum, December 5 at 7 pm and December 6 and 7 at 7 pm and 9 pm, at Cinema 1, 1515 12th Ave between Pike and Pine streets. Tickets available through

Monday, November 13, 2006

hanging out with awakened beings

"In ancient times, and probably today in a few places, the Taoist priest was called in if there was a problem in the village...he would trot off from his hermitage and go to the town and say something like, 'Give me a quiet place, give me a cabin, and leave me alone.' There he would sit down and open himself to the chi of the environment, to the energy. Now that's great compassion because when you open yourself to the environment, if it's out-of-kilter, you are going to feel the out-of-kilter in your own being. It's all going to happen inside just as it's happening outside. But if you have enough stability, if you have enough insight, nothing in you is going to be worried about that. It's not going to be a problem. It's not even going to make you suffer, but it will just happen: turbulence. Only when you've fully realized yourself, do you have the fearlessness to do that. Otherwise, if you open yourself up, you get totally lost.

"The Taoist priest would sit there in the cabin and just open himself to the chi, or the energy of the environment--feel it, experience it, and then open the chi to the light of his own consciousness...and the energy would start to rectify itself. The people in the village would start to feel better and get along for awhile.

"That's why scriptures have advised us to hang out with awakened beings. The awakened one could be a human being, a tree being, a street-corner being. Expose yourself to them. Don't worship them and put them on a pedestal. But expose yourself and this rectification happens; this harmonization happens because of their state of consciousness.

"But don't become dependent. You wake yourself up."

Adyashanti, emptiness dancing, pp 30-31
photo originally uploaded by *Micki*

"The traditional or tribal shaman, I came to discern, acts as an intermediary between the human community and the larger ecological field, ensuring that there is an appropriate flow of nourishment, not just from the landscape to the human inhabitants, but from the human community back to the local earth...To some extent every adult in the community is engaged in this process of listening and attuning to the other presences that surround and influence daily life. But the shaman or sorcerer is the exemplary voyager in the intermediate realm between the human and the more-than-human worlds, the primary strategist and negotiator in any dealings with the Others.

And it is only as a result of her continual engagement with the animate powers that dwell beyond the human community that the traditional magician is able to alleviate many individual illnesses that arise within that community. The sorcerer derives her ability to cure ailments from her more continuous practice of "healing" or balancing the community's relation to the surrounding land...Only those persons who, by their everyday practice, are involved in monitoring and maintaining the relations between the human village and the animate landscape are able to appropriately diagnose, treat, and ultimately relieve personal ailments and illnesses arising within the village...The medicine person's primary allegiance, then, is not to the human commmunity, but to the earthly web of relations in which that community is embedded..."

David Abram, The Spell of the Sensuous
, pp 7-8
photo originally uploaded by David Pham/shapeshift

Friday, November 10, 2006

in the look in your eyes

Today's Word for the Day from"To treat every human being as a shrine of God is to fulfill all religion."
~Bowl of Saki
Pir-O-Murshid Hazrat Inayat Khan
founder of the Sufi Order International

The Sufis also say:
"There are as many paths to God as there are breaths"
"When you look for God, God is in the look in your eyes"

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

steeped in the cups with the moon and the stars

Meredith pours three cups of tea so fresh and clear that you can see the stars inside looking back at you:

"The iris pond has flowered
Before the old temple;
I sell tea this evening
By the water's edge...

"People go looking far and wide
for the Buddha's enlightenment
but I just sip my tea
and my tea swallows me...

"Wakefully we drink tea
sipping from simple cups
holding the moon
and galaxies of stars...

And today mamster wrote about a new teahouse
in town, called Remedy Teas ("Tea For Life"), which stocks close to 150 varieties of organic tea.

It's tea time right now! And pretty much all the time that you are not asleep.

Lovely photo above of Dragon Pearl jasmine tea and rooibos "redbush" tea
by Selva Morales under a Creative Commons License

Saturday, November 04, 2006

precious metal is the mother of water

Autumn is Metal:
"If you're really listening, if you're awake to the poignant beauty of the world, your heart breaks regularly. In fact, your heart is made to break; its purpose is to burst open again and again so that it can hold ever-more wonders."

Andrew Harvey, The Return of the Mother

And Winter is Water:
"This mind of endless effortless movement is what we strive to emulate in Aikido. Joining with, absorbing, surrounding, and protecting all that we encounter, regardless of the perceived adversity. Through our practice we come to embody the emotional understanding that we are very much the same as all of life. Each of us engaged in the inevitable journey back to the center of the universe, to die and be born again."

Senta Yamada sensei
founder of Kikusui Kai Aikido

Springtime is Wood:
"Too often we focus exclusively on the objectives, reacting to the failure of its immediacy with frustration and impatience. One wonders if the apple seed, too, experiences this frustration and sense of dashed hopes as it grows into a wooden stick that in no way resembles the apple it was promised it would become."

Rabbi Gerson Winkler

Summer is Fire:
"I am the joy of the desiring flesh
The days of my living
are summer days
The nights of my glory
outshine the blazing wavecaps of the heavens
at their floodtide
Mine is the confident hand shaping this world."

Kenneth Patchen

And this is Earth, sometimes called the season in-between the seasons, sometimes called Indian Summer, sometimes called the center and axis of the wheel as it turns:

"I can never be what I ought to be until you are what you ought to be. This is the interrelated structure of reality."

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Friday, November 03, 2006

make their skin wake up

I've posted a few of my rough notes from the Bioneers at the Easily Amazed Forum Schoolhouse, and it has been re-inspiring and re-stirring to read them over (except for the frustrating parts that I can't make out! I actually used to have very nice handwriting, before I spent a few too many years in school).

So far I've written up my notes from Paul Hawken's plenary address and James Hillman's, both of which are available as audio downloads from the Bioneers store. My latest addition, though, hasn't been available--I'm not sure if it didn't get taped, or it's just not listed yet in the store--but if it's "disappeared into thin air," or rather, resonating and reverberating still in the living air without its signal having been captured in electronic form, it might be appropriate...

So here are just a few para-phrases from that talk, which was a panel discussion between cultural ecologist and magician David Abram (author of the profoundly stirring The Spell of the Sensuous: Perception and Language in a More-Than-Human World) and feminist thinker, poet and activist Susan Griffin on Changing the Language of Environmentalism (also, see Amy Lenzo's great notes, at The Beauty Dialogues):
Griffin: We need language that holds the grief of this moment--need to take back 'right to life/right to live'

Abram: We all have to be speak "as creatures luring people back into their bodies and making their skin wake up."
The Air is the Mystery for every oral culture--where the meaning is, where the voices of the ancestors still hang out.
Sometimes he spells it "E A I R T H" to remember that the air is part of the Earth, not separate from it.

Friday, October 27, 2006

multilayered multitasking

I don't multitask so much anymore--well, at least not when one of the things I'm doing (or supposed to be doing) involves listening to someone. Unless we're walking while talking. Or unless I'm taking notes, while listening. Anyway, during most of my waking hours, my doings do tend to be layered on top of each other in time. This became particularly obvious to me this morning when while in the shower I was 1) doing lunges (our shower is in a pretty long bathtub, and I have very short legs) 2) brushing my teeth and 3) singing my morning prayers very loudly (it seemed like good enunciation practice to have something shaped like a stick in my mouth while singing, and it was definitely entertaining) 4) too bad I didn't think to also put something delicious into the oven to bake!

Last weekend, my days were multilayered with a minumum of intention on my part--that synchronicity thing. I had decided to attend the Bioneers conference at the Marin Civic Center, in the San Francisco Bay Area, which is just up the highway from where I grew up and where my mom still lives. I've been considering attending the conference for years, since first reading about it in the Utne Reader, especially since I could combine it with a visit home. What finally tipped me into actually registering was the presence this year of Archeypal psychologist and writer James Hillman as one of the plenary speakers. Then a week or two after making my travel arrangements, I received a message inviting me to my 30th high school
reunion, and of course it was scheduled for the same weekend when I was going to be there already. Both events were extraordinarily fun (the reunion surprisingly so) and my mind is still swimming with all of the conversations and presentations and the pleasure of time with family and friends.

Actually, I did do some advance planning so I could meet Beauty Dialogues blogger (and friend-o-Ashley) Amy Lenzo, who lives in the Bay Area and as it turned out was also attending the conference. We shared a wonderfully wide-ranging and breezy lunch hour under a willow studded with crows next to the lagoon at the conference. Amy's thoughtful and insightful comments on some of the Bioneers presentations are at her blog. I am going to transcribe some of my rough and lengthy notes at the Easily Amazed community forum, since I think they will be easier to organize and access there.

I am sorry that plans to meet up with Jeff Aitken fell through, so I have that to look forward to next visit!

Thursday, October 19, 2006

word temple

I am sorry that I missed hearing about this poetry reading in Seattle earlier in the month. But I am very glad that Joe Riley, who created and administers the Panhala poetry subscription list, was there and since then has posted several poems by acclaimed and revered Palestinian poet Taha Muhammed Ali.

Ali's newest book, So What: New and Selected Poems (with a story) 1971-2005, was recently published by Copper Canyon Press in Port Townsend, WA. I love Copper Canyon's logo, which is composed of the Chinese characters for "word" and "temple".

~ Taha Muhammad Ali ~

At times ... I wish
I could meet in a duel
the man who killed my father
and razed our home,
expelling me
into a narrow country.
And if he killed me,
I'd rest at last
and if I were ready -
I would take my revenge!

But if it came to light,
when my rival appeared,
that he had a mother
waiting for him,
or a father who'd put
his right hand over
the heart's place in his chest
whenever his son was late
even by just a quarter-hour
for a meeting they'd set -
then I would not kill him,
even if I could.

Likewise ... I
would not murder him
if it were soon made clear
that he had a brother or sisters
who loved him and constantly longed to see him.
Or if he had a wife to greet him
and children who
couldn't bear his absence
and who his presents thrilled.

Or if he had
friends or companions,
neighbors he knew
or allies from prison
or a hospital room,
or classmates from his school...
asking about him
and sending him regards.

But if he turned
out to be on his own -
cut off like a branch from a tree -
without mother or father,
with neither a brother nor sister,
wifeless, without a child,
and without kin or neighbors or friends,
colleagues or companions,
then I'd add not a thing to his pain
within that aloneness -
nor the torment of death,
and not the sorrow of passing away.
Instead I'd be content
to ignore him when I passed him by
on the street - as I
convinced myself
that paying him no attention
in itself was a kind of revenge.

(Read by Taha Muhammad Ali and translated by Peter Cole,
St. Mark's Cathedral, Seattle, October 7, 2006)

Copper Canyon's logo

Sunday, October 15, 2006

new sky

My practice partners and I have a new website,, and a new weblog to go along with it, here.

Our deep appreciation to my friend Jana Mochkatel and her team at Net-time who designed our site and logo.

Our great appreciation too, to Fred First of Fragments from Floyd, who so generously gave us permission to use his gorgeous photo, Transparent Green of Spring (at left, but see it enlarged here and in context, here) on our site.

We began our medical and health care practice a little over 6 years ago, as a not-for-profit called One Sky Medicine (which we now call "Old Sky.") In our idealism and naivete we made numerous excessively expensive business choices that compounded over time, and by the end of 2004 we decided to acknowledge all of the good intentions, hard work, tremendous struggle and tremendous contributions by so many (hundreds of) people (staff, administrators, board members, colleagues, our wonderful patients and community supporters), and to ask the board to cut our losses and go out of business.

A seed group of practitioners and staff, our bonds forged in that kind of heat that comes of hours and months and years of working together, playing and eating (a lot) together, living through difficulty, and becoming like familly to one another, decided after long discussions that we would stay in business together. Our form now is of independent practices joined in partnership, our overhead is much less than half of what it was, we're steadily paying off the debts, and most of our patients came along with us when we moved. We're grateful to all that has sustained us and brought us this far. It feels as if our transplanted roots have had a chance over this past 18 months or so to settle in and grow, and so now we have more energy to reach from the inside out and extend our tender stems & leaves into the wider world.

cross-posted at one sky wellness

Sunday, September 24, 2006

loops, links, and thanks

The first weblog I heard about and started to read regularly was Chris Corrigan's parking lot. I am pretty sure that I found the way there via the flurry of connection and information that came out of the Practice of Peace conference in 2003, but it's a post of his in 2004 that I remember as one of my first "ways in" to the what blogs were about. That post referenced the (short and excellent) book Art and Fear by David Bayles and Ted Orland which is now one of the dog-eared books on my bedstand. Chris has continued to be my favorite source for a huge array of great and diverse music, contemplation, books, articles, provoking questions & conversation, weblogs, and other stuff he finds or makes, and shares.

Some months ago, Chris added 37days ("what would you be doing today if you had 37 days to live?"), written by Patti Digh in Asheville, NC, to his recommended reads. Always beautiful, inspiring, surprising, always poignant, and so often hilarious, it's become one of my favorites, too. So, last month, Patti wrote that she would be coming here to Seattle to do some work with her business partner David Robinson, would be attending a poetry reading by David's friend Sam Magill, and invited any 37days readers in the area to come say hi and listen to Sam read from his new book "Fully Human."
Reading that post, written from 3000 miles away cluing me in to something just up the road from me, I realized that Sam is the same Sam that my friends David Matteson and Dan Leahy often talk about, the Sam who headed up the Fetzer Relationship-Centered Care project and who has been much influenced by the 5-Element philosophy he learned through Tai Sophia (which is where several of my mentor teachers were trained). Sam and I have a number of other mutual friends, but I had never gotten to meet him before.

I was so pleased for the opportunity to meet Patti, who is as funny and charming and generous as her writing, and to meet Sam, whose poetry is insightful and kind and wise, as well to meet more in their overlapping circles of friends and relations. And, to finally meet David M's wife Debbie, who, like David is full to the brim with very bright, very clear qi. It felt like when you are standing in a circle holding hands with people and then your circle opens up to join with other circles of people (or as David says, "cousins who haven't met yet").

So, Chris: I am sure I am not the only person whose mind and heart and web of relationships has been spectacularly expanded by your continual and open-handed sharing--it would be fascinating to see a map of your wide and deep connectedness (and if it were a map that could light up--it'd be blinding!) Big, on-going thanks, my friend.

And by the way--Patti often recommends the book Art and Fear, too.
each flower containing reflections of all the others
Clematis Drops
by Steve Wall

Saturday, September 23, 2006

reaching in three directions

Rabbi Tsurah August, a wonderful Renewal rabbi here in Seattle, sends this quote with her wishes for a sweet and good new year:


A person reaches in three directions:
Inward, to oneself
Up, to the Eternal
Out, to others

The miracle of life
Is that in truly reaching
in any one direction,
one embraces all three.

by Hassidic master Rebbe Nachman of Bratzlov

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

days of awe and forgiveness

Below is an excerpt from this week's edition of Rob Breszny's Free Will Astrology Newsletter, always packed with nuggets of insight and delight. The message fits perfectly with the energies of this time, during the Jewish Days of Awe (the Yamim Noraim): forgiveness (S'lichot), creation (Rosh HaShanah), and atonement (Yom Kippur)):


"Experiments and exercises in becoming a rebelliously kind, affably unpredictable, insanely poised Master of Supernal Mischief.

"Declare amnesty for the part of you that you don't love very well. Forgive that poor sucker. Hold its hand and take it out to dinner and a movie. Tactfully offer it a chance to make amends for the dumb things it has done.

"And then do a dramatic reading of this proclamation by the playwright Theodore Rubin: 'I must learn to love the fool in me—the one who feels too much, talks too much, takes too many chances, wins sometimes and loses often, lacks self-control, loves and hates, hurts and gets hurt, promises and breaks promises, laughs and cries. It alone protects me against that utterly self-controlled, masterful tyrant whom I also harbor and who would rob me of human aliveness, humility, and dignity but for my fool.'"

Monday, September 18, 2006

touch the angel's hand

Letter to a Friend

~Fra Giovanni Giocondo

I am your friend and my love for you goes deep.
There is nothing I can give you which you have not got, but there is much, very much, that, while I cannot give it, you can take.

No heaven can come to us unless our hearts find rest in today. Take heaven!

No peace lies in the future which is not hidden in this present little instant. Take peace!

The gloom of the world is but a shadow. Behind it, yet within our reach is joy. There is radiance and glory in the darkness could we but see - and to see we have only to look. I beseech you to look!

Life is so generous a giver, but we, judging its gifts by the covering, cast them away as ugly, or heavy or hard. Remove the covering and you will find beneath it a living splendor, woven of love, by wisdom, with power.

Welcome it, grasp it, touch the angel's hand that brings it to you. Everything we call a trial, a sorrow, or a duty, believe me, that angel's hand is there, the gift is there, and the wonder of an overshadowing presence. Our joys, too, be not content with them as joys. They, too, conceal diviner gifts.

Life is so full of meaning and purpose, so full of beauty - beneath its covering - that you will find earth but cloaks your heaven.

Courage, then, to claim it, that is all. But courage you have, and the knowledge that we are all pilgrims together, wending through unknown country, home.

And so, at this time, I greet you. Not quite as the world sends greetings, but with profound esteem and with the prayer that for you now and forever, the day breaks, and the shadows flee away.

~written by Fra Giovanni Giocondo, priest and architect, to the Countess Allagio Aldobrandeschi in 1513