Sunday, October 21, 2007

snowball dancing

And singing!

Snowball the cockatoo has been featured in national newspapers and on network news. He lives at Bird Lovers Only Rescue sanctuary in Indiana.

Saturday, October 06, 2007

monastery nights

I love this long poem...but as I read it on the Poetry Foundation website (one of a list of "ten religious poems worth knowing") and reached the bottom where it said that it was printed with permission of the publisher, I realized that I never get the permission of any publishers. Oops.

In lieu of having permission, here is the publisher's website, along with my opinion that it is well-worth visiting.

Monastery Nights ~ Chase Twichell

(from Dog Language)

I like to think about the monastery
as I’m falling asleep, so that it comes
and goes in my mind like a screen saver.
I conjure the lake of the zendo,
rows of dark boats still unless
someone coughs or otherwise
ripples the calm.
I can hear the four AM slipperiness
of sleeping bags as people turn over
in their bunks. The ancient bells.

When I was first falling in love with Zen,
I burned incense called Kyonishiki,
“Kyoto Autumn Leaves,”
made by the Shoyeido Incense Company,
Kyoto, Japan. To me it smelled like
earnestness and ether, and I tried to imagine
a consciousness ignorant of me.
I just now lit a stick of it. I had to run downstairs
for some rice to hold it upright in its bowl,
which had been empty for a while,
a raku bowl with two fingerprints
in the clay. It calls up the monastery gate,
the massive door demanding I recommit myself
in the moments of both its opening
and its closing, its weight now mine,
I wanted to know what I was,
and thought I could find the truth
where the floor hurts the knee.

I understand no one I consider to be religious.
I have no idea what’s meant when someone says
they’ve been intimate with a higher power.
I seem to have been born without a god receptor.
I have fervor but seem to lack
even the basic instincts of the many seekers,
mostly men, I knew in the monastery,
sitting zazen all night,
wearing their robes to near-rags
boy-stitched back together with unmatched thread,
smoothed over their laps and tucked under,
unmoving in the long silence,
the field of grain ripening, heavy tasseled,
field of sentient beings turned toward candles,
flowers, the Buddha gleaming
like a vivid little sports car from his niche.

What is the mind that precedes
any sense we could possibly have
of ourselves, the mind of self-ignorance?
I thought that the divestiture of self
could be likened to the divestiture
of words, but I was wrong.
It’s not the same work.
One’s a transparency
and one’s an emptiness.

Kyonishiki.... Today I’m painting what Mom
calls no-colors, grays and browns,
evergreens: what’s left of the woods
when autumn’s come and gone.
And though he died, Dad’s here,
still forgetting he’s no longer
married to Annie,
that his own mother is dead,
that he no longer owns a car.
I told them not to make any trouble
or I’d send them both home.
Surprise half inch of snow.
What good are words?

And what about birches in moonlight,
Russell handing me the year’s
first chanterelle—
Shouldn’t God feel like that?

I aspire to “a self-forgetful,
perfectly useless concentration,”
as Elizabeth Bishop put it.
So who shall I say I am?
I’m a prism, an expressive temporary
sentience, a pinecone falling.
I can hear my teacher saying, No.
That misses it.
Buddha goes on sitting through the century,
leaving me alone in the front hall,
which has just been cleaned and smells of pine.

Monday, October 01, 2007

autumn garden

Well! I wasn't "here" very much over the summer. A lot of my word energy over the past few months went into plain old talking, and all my writing energy has been going into taking notes in meetings and study groups and seminars, email letters and online conversations, curriculum creation and work projects, and the rare teeny tiny comment here or there or elsewhere.

But now it is autumn (here is a longer piece on autumn, which also includes some beautiful quotations I gathered from various places), and it's time to sort through what's been harvested from the seasons of overflowing abundance, culling and polishing that which is worth keeping, and letting go the rest. Autumn in the Taoist 5-Phases perspective is the season of beauty, and inspiration, of grief and letting go, and appreciation of what's precious.

Today I'm moved back into the blog realm to commemorate the passing a week ago of a sweet friend and colleague, Steve Habib Rose, who was a dear friend to hundreds of people around here, and all over the world.

Habib was also a devoted and masterful networker and neighbor. In January, some of his close friends convened a gathering to celebrate and honor Habib in a unique way -- by discussing in council our experiences of Habib's gifts and talents, as a way of helping him to discern next steps in finding his own right livelihood. Around 50 people came together for a potluck meal in the community center that evening, and then sat in a big circle to hear and share experiences of Habib's work in the world. So many people related stories of Habib helping them to find work or housing or community by listening to them with with exquisite kindness and attention over tea or lunch, and then introducing them to just the right person or organization, or giving them information or a place to sleep or some other valuable thing. In one story, Habib gave a friend a camera so that the friend could document his peace-mission trip to Iraq. Habib and his beloved wife Elaine got to sit and receive all the stories and appreciation. Then we broke into smaller groups to brainstorm and collate more connections and possibilities and suggestions for Habib's job search. I think that as a job search modality it was clarifying and affirming and somewhat helpful, but certainly the greater value of the evening was the opportunity to lovingly and fully celebrate a friend who has given so generously to so many people. Many of us saw friends that night whom we hadn't realized also knew Habib, he moved in so many circles.

There are many reflections being posted at WISERearth, in the discussion group called "Habib's Garden."

Habib grew up Jewish and then converted to being a Sufi Muslim as an adult (and his wife is Buddhist). He received the perfect Sufi name from his teacher: "Habib" means "friend" in Arabic.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

micro this and micro that

Lots of references lately to "micro" things (I was going to write this whole post in tiny font but it was TOO SMALL:

In reference to micro-credit (for which work Dr. Muhammad Yunus and Grameen Bank won the 2006 Nobel Peace Prize) and other small but powerful actions, Gabriel Shirley and participants in one of his sessions at the recent Storyfield conference talked about needing a "metaphor for how small changes that individuals make have a larger collective impact (beyond the one about a butterfly, since that metaphor doesn't appeal to masculine and/or other cultures)"

In the Seattle Times today there was a feature about doctors who are opting for what are called "micropractices" -- solo (or very small group) practices with really low overhead combined with high-tech scheduling, billing and record management tools, that allow practitioners to make a good living while still allowing 30 to 60 minutes per patient visit. One therapist says, "
It’'s an updating of a successful old model of a doctor working out of a limited space, giving people the time they need, answering phone calls personally and offering quick appointments to those who call. The way a contemporary micropractice differs is that it uses 21st century technology to eliminate all or most staff, and to cut through the paperwork that caused most doctors to leave solo practice. As a result the overhead is low. This allows you to spend more time with people and less time on administration" and it is a trend that seems to be catching on.

Speaking of trends: a couple of days ago the newest issue of ChangeThis included the manifesto Just 1%: The Power of Microtrends which talks about how "we can no longer understand the world in terms of a few megaforces sweeping us all along. Rather, society is being pushed and pulled by "microtrends" -- small, under-the-radar forces that can involve as little as 1% of the population. In fact by the time a trend hits 1 percent, it is ready to spawn a hit movie, create a political movement, even start a war."

During the last part of August some lanes of the main freeway that goes through Seattle were closed for repair, and terrible traffic jams were predicted by most people, but not by mathematician Oliver Downs of Inrix. Using a process called quantum tunneling (whatever that is -- but it sounds likes something both tiny and vast), they blend huge amounts of traffic data with an analysis of drivers' behavior in the past. Because of the "fifty thousand little things," -- the many and various choices made by people all over the region -- the gridlock that was predicted didn't happen. (My experience, making my own somewhat contrary little choice to drive on that stretch of road, was that the traffic was indeed very light)

I am intrigued by the desire of Gabriel & his colleagues to find an evocative image to describe the obvious power of accumulated small actions and decisions to create powerful and sometimes unexpected effects. What do you think?

above: tiny snail on a tiny blueberry that I plucked from the not-so-tiny, but underwatered, blueberry bush in my front yard.

Friday, August 03, 2007

where do I love you from?

Today is my 49th birthday! Or, as a friend puts it, the beginning of my 50th year. I like that.

I suppose that there are numerologically significant things about this, the completion of seven cycles of seven years...but instead of investigating that, I want to write down this story I heard from my friends Michelle and Joel Levey, a story that's been keeping me company all day today: Michelle and Joel described a sweet and poignant visit to their friend M., to wish her a happy birthday. M. is elderly, and has Alzheimer's disease, and is in a full-care facility. They talked with a number of the residents, many of whom told Joel and Michelle they'd like to 'go home' now.

Their friend doesn't remember who Michelle and Joel are, but she remembers that they love each other. Michelle says, "instead of 'where do I know you from?' it's like, 'where do I love you from?'" They gave M. a card with a picture of Green Tara, a Buddhist embodiment of compassion. She didn't remember who it was, but kissed the image over and over, saying 'beautiful lady!'

Michelle and Joel talked about the importance of sincerely practicing now, while we 'still have our marbles'.

I think of it like this: when our marbles have rolled away, we'll have laid down such a deep matrix of love and willing presence, we'll be able to fall back and rest on that, our home base -- we'll already and always be 'home'.

photo source

Thursday, July 12, 2007

conscious communion community of practice

My friend Anne is giving me the privilege and fun of co-hosting a potluck gathering at her home on Saturday afternoon, and you are invited! If you are in town, and you'd like to come, write to me at christy [at] oneskywellness [dot] com and I will send you directions.
Dear Fellow in the Journey of the Evolution of Consciousness:

We are initiating a community of practice focused on living in conscious communion. ..AKA radiant networking.

You are warmly invited to gather at Anne's house, Saturday July 14th from 4:00 PM to whenever...for a conversation/potluck meal...expressing all modalities of intelligence.

You are one of the many circlers that have been inquiring into the nature of consciousness, the practice of spirited living, communing with all forms of being and non-being, legacy practices, fluent communication, etc. AND we want to provide a time and place for face to face exploration of the questions and insights that you/we are receiving and are presencing (to use Otto Scharmer's new verb...which our Microsoft Word spell check doesn't accept as being accurate! :-)).

We will be living in conscious communion during these gatherings... in the practice of receiving and offering from guidance, allowing whatever wants to emerge and following the life force as it comes through each of us. It will be juicy.

This will be the first in a seasonal series of inquiries.

AND we are HOPING you will grace us with your presence!! Be sure to bring musical instruments, art supplies and/or whatever else you are inspired to bring. AND some optimal edible to share :-)

Please RSVP to one of us (see e-mail addresses below). AND feel free to invite fellow journeyers...just let one of us know.
If you can't make it this time, but want to come to another gathering, please let us know.

Love in action!

Anne, Mark, Candi, Christy

Monday, June 25, 2007

leaving the holding space

This little passage from Otto Scharmer's new book, Theory U: Leading from the Future as it Emerges reminds me of a sensation I have often had when leaving a time/space of communion (a kind of space which I like to use the word "conversation" to describe):
"When operating from that deeper presence of a future that wants to emerge, you connect to yet a deeper resource of listening and of intelligence that is available...

...What happens is that you leave that conversation as a different being -- a different person from the one who entered the conversation...You are no longer the same. You are (a tiny bit) more who you really are. Sometimes that tiny bit can be quite profound. I remember that in one instance I had a physical sensation of a wound when I left a particularly profound conversation. Why? Because that conversation created a generative social field that connected me with a deeper aspect of my journey and Self.

Leaving that holding space -- the social field -- discontinued that deeper connection, which I then experienced as an open wound." pg 186
I've usually described my version of that experience as feeling like my roots and their tiny delicate root hairs are being pulled apart from a deep entanglement with those of the person or people I've been with -- like Scharmer's "open wound," it can feel raw, and tender. Or, I feel it like I'm a piece of bread dough that's been stretched and stretched and then pulled apart from the other pieces, with the soft side exposed to the air. Two of the times lately when I've been aware of that sensation have been when leaving synagogue after a particularly sweet and deep Bet Alef service (which is, now that I think of it, all of them!); and today, when I got to congratulate the new naturopathic doctors who graduated from Bastyr, many of whom I got to meet years ago when they first started medical school. Although some of them will stay in the area, and some will relocate but will keep in touch, all of them have stepped over the threshhold of this particular "holding space," into somewhere new and vast and maybe far away from here. It will take a little time for the roots to readjust and settle, to remember that hearts and minds and breaths once mingled can never again be entirely separate, that "the deeper connection" is actually impossible to "discontinue."

Sunday, June 17, 2007

taking good care of the name

"We live in a world of theophanies. Holiness comes wrapped in the ordinary. There are burning bushes all around you. Every tree is full of angels. Hidden beauty is waiting in every crumb. Life wants to lead you from crumbs to angels, but this can happen only if you are willing to unwrap the ordinary by staying with it long enough to harvest its treasure." 
Macrina Wiederkehr

I have felt lately as if I'm walking on the bottom of the river, with all the words and images up on the surface in the light where I can see them but not quite reach them. From the surface, they seem to be separate fragments, floating, and there so many of them--but from down here I feel the filaments trailing down from each one, criss-crossing into the deep of time and space and meaning.

((.)) Last week for a little while I held the hand of a colleague and friend who was just diagnosed with Creutzfeld-Jakob disease. Six weeks ago, she was still her radiant self: seeing clients, and writing, and immersed in her wide circle of friends and spiritual community, with no hint of disease. From the outside she seems like she is sleeping. On the inside, I know that her brain has filled with little holes, like a sponge. On the deeper inside, I know that in a day or few, perhaps by the Solstice, she will have completely dissolved back into her radiant Self.
A message just came from the website her family and friends have been keeping, to tell her many circles that our friend
"...left us just as the Solstice came to be this mid-morning. She is free now to move to another plane, her abiding spirit able to move to even greater heights. She had a smile on her face as she departed."

The last time we had coffee together was a few months ago, and we talked a lot about our mutual friend and teacher Bill, who died so all-of-a-suddenly in January.

((.)) Last month, I phoned a friend to see if I could join him for a "bird-sit" the next morning, a pre-dawn meditation in the woods that he and some other friends have been doing--just sitting outside and listening as the birds wake up in the morning. It turned out that he was in New York, called back because his twin brother had had some trouble breathing, been diagnosed with advanced lung cancer, and then had a stroke while in the hospital. My friend's brother died less than a week later. They had just turned 41 in February.

((.)) In March, a cheer-ful and energetic woman whom I got to know while we were in Israel in 2004, was diagnosed with cancer in the gallbladder and liver, after having had many months of stomach pain, and after having lived through breast cancer 9 years ago. After extensive surgery, she was set to undergo follow-up radiation treatment when a routine CT showed that the cancer had already come back and grown more tumors in her abdomen. She manages to be devastated, deeply accepting of whatever comes next, and entirely open to miracles, all at once. She was at services two Shabbats ago, and looked great; you couldn't tell what was going on inside (the surface of the inside) if you didn't already know.

The stories aren't connected, except that each one is so intense, and abrupt, so peculiar, so much going on under the quiet surface.

((.)) Jack Ricchiuto wrote, describing 
an abrupt near-death experience of his own, "When we are conscious, we love all the stories."

((.)) Last month was the holy day of Shavuot: the commemoration of R
evelation, the occasion of the people receiving the Ten Commandments (it turns out that a better translation might be the "Ten Utterances" or the "Ten Principles" or maybe the "Ten Things") at Mt. Sinai.

My sense these days of revelation: 
moments fished out from the stream of light, which seems so far away but which enters right into me when I remember to turn my face towards it.

Our rabbinic intern, Olivier, offered a traditional Shavuot night study session (though we didn't quite manage to stay up till the birds started singing) We talked a lot about the dance between Descent and Ascent. The Yin and the Yang of creation and awakening. In the story of Sinai, the people (who are the Eternal in manifest, multivarious form) go up the mountain to meet the Mystery; the unmanifest Eternal comes down the mountain to meet us. Olivier says, "The universe wants this to happen, and it steps forth: God comes down" and we (all of us aspects of God), we go up. "But there is only so high we can go, while we live in bodies -- God has to come down." In our tradition, we also come back down, we don't stay on the mountaintop. For as long as we live in human form, we come down and go up and come down. For our own selves, and for each other.

Much later in the study session, we each drew a number from 1 to 10, our "Utterance" (or "Thing") for the year, to contemplate till next Shavuot. I drew the number 3, which is the one that's translated "you shall not take the name of God in vain."

Olivier shared Rabbi Ted's teaching on the Thing #3:

It is only on the surface level that we would perceive this to mean something as small as, "don't say 'God' as a swear word or curse." 

Under the surface, on the inside, with a deeper imagination, we remember the Self-name of God, the name that rumbles from the blazing bush in response to Moses' wondering who was speaking to him: "Ehyeh asher Ehyeh ~~ I AM as I AM"

If the name of God is I AM,
then who am I?

How can I take good care of this name?
In what ways do I use the name I AM unconsciously and what consequences does that generate? How often do I channel it into narrow pathways by the thought-less identifications I choose? Can I imagine I AM without bounds, without separation, without any identification at all?

((.)) I Am moved to read Chris' post, and all the keen and tender comments, on "Going to War at the Art of Hosting on the Art of Hosting" -- about clarity and surrender and collective shadow, about "fierce commitment to defend the territory of the open heart" and "the responsibility of love...
never to push our adversary or interlocutor into a place they cannot go unless we are prepared and awake enough to go with them to guard their back."

((.)) In a workshop over Mother's Day weekend, 5-element practitioner and Sufi healer Thea Elijah guided a classroom full of people in a practice of opening the heart and mind and body to Whatever-it-is we conceive of as the source of it all (I Am), for the benefit of all of ourselves and each other: 

First, let yourself as much as you can trust the world to hold you as you sit or stand or lie upon it. It can help to widen your base (what Thea called "pyramid butt"). At the same time "open your throat to awe and wonder" --that place in the throat that gets tight when we feel moved and touched--and open your mind and the crown of the head up to the Mystery and the "I don't know." Opening to connection all the way Down, and all the way Up. 
With so much space going down and up, the center of the chest, the place of the heart, feels more spacious too. See what you notice at the level of personal heart, at the front of the chest, where emotions rise up. Then let your imagination turn towards your back, to the deep chambers of the heart, and to the spine, which is "our pillar of eternity, our connection to the Infinite." 
Then allow yourself to open past that, to fall back past eternity, and with the back body open ("we are prepared and awake enough to go with them to guard their back"), let yourself fill up from that source, which we can call by so many names ~ Allah ~ Elohim ~ Deep Love ~ I Am ~ until you overflow into the group heart, the collective being.

((.)) During a summery, flowery, lunch on her deck, my elder-mentor-friend Anne asked me to describe that practice to her again. She said that it reminds her of a sensation she often thinks of: when you are rafting down a river, with your feet pressed firmly at the front of the raft, and your arms lifted, chest open, feeling the current of the river through your back, holding you up, and carrying you on.

((.)) On Saturday I attended the bar mitzvah of a friend's son, who in her words is "growing up beautiful and strong," including having healed from a brain injury after being kicked in the head last year by a group of kids who thought he shouldn't be in their neighborhood. He was magnificent, charming, genuine, funny (as my friend also said about her shining son in her little speech, "stylistically, there isn't anything more Jewish than the combination of intensity and humor").

Included in his service booklet, for the period of silent meditation, was this Rumi verse:

...Lo, I am with you always, means when you look for God
God is in the look in your eyes
in the thought of looking, nearer to you than your self
or things that have happened to you,
There is no need to go outside.

Be melting snow
Wash yourself of yourself.

A white flower grows in the quietness.

Let your tongue become that flower. 

Right now I am as close as I will ever be to having a tongue of flowers, breakfasting on those inward-facing blossoms we call figs.
And right now, I am finding a similar ripe and secret sweetness down here at the bottom of this river. I think of my friends and the look in their eyes. Mysterious perfect flowers blooming in the quietness. 
And right now, I remember, so Am I.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

if you knew

The new catalogue from Copper Canyon Press has 50 pages of new poems, from new books, including this excerpt from The Human Line by Ellen Bass -- a good teaser that definitely makes me want to get this book, or check it out from the library, in order to read the rest:

from If You Knew
~Ellen Bass

What if you knew you'd be the last
to touch someone?
If you were taking tickets, for example,
at the theater, tearing them,
giving bock the ragged stubs,
you might take care to touch that palm
or press your fingertips
along the life line's crease.

When a man pulls his wheeled suitcase
too slowly through the airpot, when
the car in front of me doesn't signal,
when the clerk at the pharmacy
won't say thank you, I don't remember
they're going to die...

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

ancient paradise

"Some scholars believe the original Garden of Eden was where Iraq stands today. Though remnants of that ancient paradise survived into modern times, many were obliterated during the American war on Iraq in 2003. A Beauty and Truth Laboratory researcher who lives near the confluence of the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers kept us posted on the fate of the most famous remnant: the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. Until the invasion, it was a gnarled stump near Nasiriyah. But today it's gone; only a crater remains.

Let this serve as an evocative symbol for you as you demolish your old ideas about paradise, freeing you up to conjure a fresh vision of your ideal realm."

Saturday, June 02, 2007

Friday, May 25, 2007

bee people

This is from my friend and colleague, Karen Stocker:

Dear Human Cousins,

You worry we may be disappearing.

You wonder if we've died, become lost or run away.

We give thanks you wonder! We like it when you Human People wonder.

Please wonder!...about our lives, our days, our ways of flying out and all the way home on any available breeze; our yellow pollen fuzz leggings and blur of glascene wings; our ancient intimacy with blossoms; the precise hexagonal wax of our edible hives; the amazing, thick, sweet medicinal translucence of honey; our dance vibrations languages and questioning antennas, our irresistably magnetizing queen, and faithful tender attentions to each of our precious jewel-like sleeping unborn; our reason for being bees.

Please wonder!...what is flight like in a tangle of satellite signals, cell phone fequencies, exhaust and high voltage wires? What does Life feel like without Her, without Them? What meaning can be made from the taste of sugar water and 'pollen substitute'? Can we be shipped by the thousands, thousands of miles in the chaos and din of metal eighteen wheelers? How many times can we land on the open petals of ancestrally welcoming flowers to find the heart we enter sprayed or engineered hostile?

Wonder Human Cousins, could you live like this? Released, would you come back?

with Respect and Love to our Human Cousins,

Bee People

Bumblebee on bramble, originally uploaded by SouthbankSteve.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

ripening self

There are many names and quotes and terms I would normally make links for, in this post, but I want to publish it before sundown and the beginning of the holiday.

Today, for another few minutes, is the last day "in the wilderness" between freedom from enslavement (the story of Passover) and "revelation," stepping into the responsibility of freedom (tonight begins the holyday of Shavuot). It's the last day of "counting the omer," (didn't that seem like a long time?), counting the steps between two ways of being, making each day count.

Shavuot is the cyclical experience of standing at Sinai with all the children of Israel ("isra-el" meaning, "one who is wrestling with god") from all time, of hearing a voice which tradition says was/is outwardly silent, inwardly shattering. Rabbi Gerson Winkler of the Walkingstick Foundation writes about his experience, including this encounter with Miriam, the sister of Moses:
"...You want to explore the meaning of life? You want to achieve Nirvana? Go attend some self-discovery seminar, or read some bestselling paperback on how to attain enlightenment in six easy steps. You want to explore the will of God? Be ready for some seemingly mundane stuff about wholesome, conscientious relating with your ox or donkey, with your laborer, your housekeeper, your children, your partner. That's what God wanted to talk about directly, and chose to do it in a direct open major revelation so as to draw your attention to what is really important, not what you surmise is important; to get the point across loud and clear that the theme of this life is Relationship: relationship with self, other, earth, and with the mystery from which all emanates."

"Every Shavu'ot I recall my encounter, with God at the Mountain of Sinai; with Miriam at the Tent of Meeting. Every Shavu'ot I feel myself ripen, so much so that I trust enough to release my desperate grip on the Tree of Knowledge, and allow myself to fall onto the earth."

Following the energies of the Kabbalistic Tree of Life has brought us today to the Ground of the Ground, the day of the energy center called Malchut, in the week that also corresponds to Malchut. Rabbi Ted writes, "We are here, in this world of countless wonders. This is where we must realize the energies of the Tree. This is the space in which and for which we have responsibility."

Malchut is also called Shechinah, the in-dwelling, the filling up, the brimming over Presence.

Jay Michaelson writes,
"...There's a wise teaching that while the mind may know that all is one, the heart still experiences two. You and me; here and there; now and later — or before. And so the heart experiences a yearning which is sometimes sweet, oftentimes holy, and other times bitter and tinged with pain.

This yearning is also part of our reality. Our experience of separateness is part of our reality. And that which is present is not mere illusion: it is the Presence of the Divine, the shechinah, the tenth sefirah, also known as malchut, sovereignty...

...In Divine terms, malchut is the world that we experience, which is filled with the Shechinah, the Divine presence. Malchut is that aspect of the Divine which is totally immanent, absolutely here and now, closer to you even than your concept of "you."

Consequently, malchut is also that aspect of God which — as expressed poetically, and in ways that would horrify some rationalist philosophers — experiences what we experience. When we experience joy, malchut experiences joy; when we experience sadness, malchut experiences sadness. Most radically, when people are oppressed, enslaved, or even exterminated — this is malchut's experience as well."

A journey of only 50 days -- plenty long enough to be very challenging to my ability to sustain attention. Marking each step with a very brief ritual blessing was easy to remember almost every night; following along with the specific meditations was manageable for a few weeks out of the seven; making each day count, paying attention to how each moment is worth counting -- so much more challenging, so much more important.

George Por writes, "...a pattern that I sense as essential to our survival: for the new (temporary) states of collective consciousness to lead to the next stage of social evolution, they call for the sustained attention of groups in the tip of the wave to evolutionary dialogues, learning journeys into the future that wants to come into being through our loving attention to the 'magic in the middle,' as the late Finn Voldtofte used to talk about it."

I like to think that "the sustained attention of groups" can mean that the heart and mind and intention that I give to the groups that I care about, contributes to the habit and the practice of attention that calls forth "the future that wants to come into being" through us, and then that attention can remain steady and sustained and available to me and to all of us, even as some of the individuals in the group have their turn to lose focus (me, this week).

Rabbi Ted writes, on the threshold of awakening, "We are already the One we need to be."

Saturday, May 19, 2007

more luminous edge: "everyone was like, whoa!"

These spot-on reviews, from today's Seattle Times:

"When an internationally acclaimed performance-art festival is in Seattle, it only makes sense to ask Seattle-area children what they think of it.

"We sent out a troop of youngsters to catch some of the acts on stage during the first two days:

Emma Baron, 9, on "Luminous Edge," with juggler Thomas Arthur:

The most incredible thing I saw: The juggler. He was three characters and he was amazing. He made it look like the balls were coming out of nowhere. He made it look like he was twirling a piece of string. He was juggling and rolling balls through a tube and catching them while juggling. It was really amazing and it was really cool.

They asked us to be quiet but ... The one time it was really loud was when he was juggling glowing red balls. It was dark and the balls were glowing and showing in the dark. Everyone was like, "Whoa!"

Marni Lehman, 9, on "Luminous Edge," with juggler Thomas Arthur.

Where did all those balls come from? At the Children's Festival we saw Thomas the Juggler, and he was amazing! He made juggling look like the balls were coming out of nowhere. Thomas can juggle from under his legs to the top of his head. He can juggle very fast and makes it seem as if you see one ball but it is actually three.

Sound and visual effects: He tells a story as he goes on with the juggling. He makes a lot of noises that I can't make at all. He is three different people, characters such as a wizard. He has a screen that goes with what he is showing. The screen comes on right after or before a character. Thomas makes things on the screen look real. He will make his shadow go in the middle of the screen like walking through it. He makes special noises while he is juggling the balls. He also has a squiggly piece of metal that he moves hand-over-hand to make it look like it is coming up from the ground and never ends. He has a piece of wood that he can make look like a snake. He has rocks that he can make look like a snowman and has lots of stuff that he can make look real.

The show stopper: He can juggle in the dark with three glow-in-the-dark balls that are red. Thomas puts a ball in one way, and it comes out another. He makes one ball go all the way around in a circle. He makes three balls go around at the same time. He was juggling things behind his back and rolling them on his arm, and it was amazing!

photo of Saturn back lit by the sun, from the Cassini probe
photos above, Thomas and Ashley

Friday, May 18, 2007

luminous edge, inside out, upside down, and backwards

Chris sat still for a while, as everyone moseyed out to chat in the lobby following Thomas' performance of Luminous Edge last night at Seattle Center. When he could speak again, he said with sparks of wonder lighting up each word, "Have you ever seen someone make art of what you do?" I thought (out loud), "it's like seeing yourself inside - out up there."

Chris writes more here about the intimate patterned dance of chaos and order, and the "process artist" practices of uncovering and understanding and supporting the natural patterns of human conversation and relationship and organization, and the way that Thomas (and Ashley, who was a matrix-deep collaborator in the creation of the show) illuminated it all in a deep and beautiful weave of sound and story and movement and image.

Two nights ago, I got to sit next to Ashley and her dad, Paul, and my friends Chris and Rick, for a talk by Paul Hawken who is on the lecture circuit with his latest book, Blessed Unrest: How the Largest Movement in the World Came into Being and Why No One Saw It Coming, which I wrote a little about last month. You can read the beginning of the book in issue 43 of Ode magazine.

Paul Hawken speaks with warmth and a sweet sense of humor, and deep appreciation for all of the many ordinary (and the few celebrated and extraordinary) people who have been growing the roots and branches of this movement.

Since first hearing him speak at the bioneers conference in October, I have been thinking a lot about his conviction that
The environmental movement seems to have the upper leg because the house is burning down. Literally. So it is very easy for the environmental movement to turn to the social justice movement and say, yes I know how important your issues are, but the house is burning down. You should come and join us on the environmental bus. I think that it is upside down and backwards. Global warming is injustice. It is a type of colonialism. If we are going to be effective over the short time we have, we have to slow down, stop, and change the bus. I think the environmental movement has to get on the social justice bus.
Whatever we call that bus, I think the process artists have an important and useful role to play, perceiving and nourishing and connecting and integrating the deep patterns that are most restorative and regenerative and healthy for the human and more-than-human lifeworld.

Photos by Ashley and Thomas

Monday, May 07, 2007

work with the energy of joy and fire

Even if you have a lot of work to do,
if you think of it as wonderful,
and if you feel it as wonderful,
it will transform into the energy of joy and fire,
instead of becoming a burden.

Tulku Thondup Rinpoche
The Practice of Dzogchen

from Word for the Day

Sunday, April 29, 2007

halfway through the wilderness

Tonight begins not the 26th day and not the 28th day of the counting of the Omer. The movement through the wilderness that began with Passover (the beginning of freedom from enslavement) and will culminate on Shavuot (the revelation of the responsibilities of freedom) is counted as 49 days/steps, so we are now a little more than half way. At this point, I am aware that I am often saying the blessing as a quick thought- between- thoughts, and sometimes forgetting to say the blessing at all (I would forget many more nights except that I am on a daily "count the omer" email reminder list!) and that at a deeper level, haven't been consciously "making each day count" as fully as I want to.

Being a glass-half-full kind of gal, though, I can choose to receive this momentary waking up, already halfway through the wilderness, as a blessing -- I still have a little more than three weeks to participate ever more fully in this ritual counting of the days, in this ritual focus on the lifetime practice of making each day count.

Rabbi Ted writes this about the Day that begins tonight, the day of Yesod (Foundation) in Netzach (Victory/Vitality):
...Yesod, [is] the seat of ego, the place of our lesser "i," the identity with which we interact with our world. This is the Foundation from which our energies will reach out to our world.
Yesod brings this Foundation for expression into Netzach. From our physical sensations and perceptions comes our experience of the world. Netzach encourages our appreciation of that which is behind all specific forms of sensation; Yesod provides the avenue through which those energies will be able to act in the world.
Daily Focus:
My energies flow more freely now than every before. I honor the work I do in the world, and breathe new life into my being. I know the blessing of my lesser self that carries my energies out into the world for good. I am a center of energy expressing Life this day.
Artwork above "Ain Ode" (c) Avraham Lowenthal, Tzfat Gallery of Mystical Art

Friday, April 27, 2007

i've been waiting for this moment for all my life

Like "Pearls Before Breakfast", the Washington Post's article about an experiment to see what would happen when acclaimed violinist Joshua Bell performed anonymously as a busker in the Washington, DC Metro station during commute time (tiny video clip accompanies that article, and audio of the full performance is here), this video of art unfurling as a gift in a public space has been going around:

In an email conversation with some of the Beauty Dialoguers about the Washington Post article, Thomas wrote:
The curious relationship between time and beauty. . . How much nourishment of soul we lose when space and time are so deeply contracted around us.

The article brought up a memory of my own glorious street performing career. Mid-eighties in Seattle; I was without any money for a few weeks. Every day at lunch hour I'd go to an outdoor plaza at a downtown skyscraper. It was in front of a sweet little restaurant that had windows lining the courtyard where I would juggle for an hour. I remember it being really cold. I would wear fingerless gloves and just practice the hour away. I would make five or six bucks which I'd use for breakfast the next morning. After my fingers were frozen and my hour was up (and the lunchrush was over) someone from the restaurant would come out and invite me in where I would feast of the special of the day. The staff loved me. The folks on lunchbreak barely seemed to notice.
and Kara added:
As an artist, I am so grateful that our perception of when we allot time for beauty made its way into a mainstream newspaper.
There are people who seem to set a specific time for beauty, and assume that much money has to be spent for this appreciation to be valuable. I have had much luck selling humble prints in leisurely places where people are open to absorb as much beauty as they can, like on Hawaiian beaches (selling one print in the morning ensured my food for the day, so I could surf for the rest of it!;) or festivals.
I first saw this video of singing group Naturally7 (as well as the Joshua Bell article) at Patti Digh's 37Days, as part of her National Poetry Month Poemapalooza, and she got it from Sue Pelletier, (whose post includes another interesting video) and then a few days later I saw it again as the Video of the Week from KarmaTube. They accompanied it with these recommendations: "1) Experience your daily routine as if encountering it for the first time. What's new and different about today? 2) Send a note of gratitude to Naturally7, through the group's manager Birgit Kurth 3) Give way to joy."

I am grateful that I can benefit from other people's sensitive antennae, and being alerted to what they've noticed reminds me to practice stopping, and sinking in, and sensing this and every moment full of the exuberance of the world -- which we, as part of that outpouring of creation, are so perfectly attuned to recognize, our senses matching exquisitely what there is for us to sense.
"If you really want to hear with penetration and find its associated pleasures, you must imagine you are waking up over and over again -- waking on your feet, becoming aware 'in media res.' "(in the midst of things)
~ Stephen Kuusisto, Eavesdropping: A Memoir of Blindness and Listening
Thomas, by the way, is performing someplace warmer now -- in a few weeks he is presenting the world premiere of Luminous Edge, a show commissioned by the Seattle International Childrens Festival, tickets here.

Friday, April 20, 2007

humanity's immune system

A good chunk of Paul Hawken's stirring presentation to the Bioneers community annual conference has been transcribed on their site (and my own notes are here).

Paul's exploration of the phenomenon he discusses below has culminated in a new book called Blessed Unrest, coming out May 10, and to the construction of an internet platform called WiserEarth which "...serves the people who are transforming the world. It is an open source, community-editable international directory and networking forum that maps, links and empowers the largest movement in the world – the hundreds of thousands of organizations within civil society that address social justice, poverty, and the environment.

"WiserEarth provides the tools and a platform for non-profit organizations, funders, social entrepreneurs, students, organizers, academics, activists, scientists, and citizens to connect, collaborate, share resources and build alliances.

"WiserEarth is the first of three projects to be launched under
WISER (World Index for Social and Environmental Responsibility): WiserEarth will be followed by WiserBusiness and WiserGovernment respectively. Another WISER offshoot currently in development is the WiserCommons project."

WiserEarth is accessible to the public -- go, create a profile for yourself
. Check out the "visualize network" function!

The largest social movement the world has ever known is upon us
by Paul Hawken

The social justice movement, environmental movement and indigenous movements are intertwining and morphing, and are becoming the largest social movement in the history of the world. They are, in essence, humanity’s immune response to political corruption, economic disease, and ecological degradation.

It is the first time a movement understands that honoring the web of life is integral to addressing poverty, violence, and oppression. There are still separate movements, though. There is an environmental movement and there is a social justice movement. They are definitely coming closer, but they are not yet one. If they could truly become one movement, the transformation possible would be unimaginable. When a black child in Oakland winces at the thought of an ancient tree being cut down in northern California, and when an ex-logger in northern California winces at the thought of a black teenager being cut down on the streets of Oakland, we’ll know that day has arrived.

The environmental movement seems to have the upper leg because the house is burning down. Literally. So it is very easy for the environmental movement to turn to the social justice and say, yes I know how important your issues are, but the house is burning down. You should come and join us on the environmental bus. I think that it is upside down and backwards. Global warming is injustice. It is a type of colonialism. If we are going to be effective over the short time we have, we have to slow down, stop, and change the bus. I think the environmental movement has to get on the social justice bus.

There are one million organizations in this world that are here to transform the nightmares of empire and the disgrace of war upon the people and places on this Earth. We are the transgressors and we are the forgivers. We means all of us, everyone. There can be no green movement unless there’s a black, brown, and copper colored movement.

This movement is about ideas, not ideologies. We have to make those ideas better known to the world. This movement claims no special powers. It grows up in small ways, but now we have to become more powerful. Rather than control, it seeks connection and now we must become much better connected to each other. Rather than seeking dominance it strives to disperse concentrations of power, but now we have to aggregate our voices.

We have to make it known that this movement is about addressing the suffering on this planet and those who bear the suffering. Knowing its weakness, it creates innovative tactics to leverage itself. It forms, gathers, and dissipates without central leadership command or control. No one knows its size, especially those inside it. There is such fierceness here. There is no explanation for the raw courage and the heart seen over and again in the people who march, speak, create, resist, and build. It is the fierceness of what it means to know that we are human and want to survive.

To witness the worldwide breakdown of civility into camps and ideologies and meaningless wars, to watch the accelerating breakdown of our environmental systems is harrowing and dispiriting. I said this movement is an immune system. Well, immune systems fail too. This movement most certainly can fail. What stands before us, I think, is a gift of self-perception, the gift of seeing who we really are. We will either come together as one globalized people or we will disappear as a civilization.

Our minds were made to defend us, born of an immune system that brought us to this stage in development and evolution. We are so surfeited with the metaphors of war that when we hear the word defense, we think attack. But the defense of the world can only be accomplished by cooperation and compassion.

Science now knows that every child while still in diapers exhibits altruistic behavior. It’s hardwired. It’s in our genes. Concern for the well being of others is something we are born with. We become human by helping and working with others, and buried in our genes literally is faith and love. What it takes to arrest our descent into chaos is one person after another remembering who they are, where they are and joining together to save and restore life on Earth.

Paul Hawken is the author of numerous books, including the forthcoming
Blessed Unrest. Excerpted from “Biology, Resistance and Restoration: Sustainability as an Infinite Game,” Hawken’s 2006 Bioneers conference plenary, which is available for purchase on CD or DVD (or mp3 dowload, only $1.99) at the Bioneers Store.