Monday, July 15, 2013

What have you done with The Garden?

Whatever gets in the way 
of the connection to 
our own soul
 may need 
to go. 


The wind, one brilliant day, called
to my soul with an odor of jasmine.

“In return for this jasmine odor,
I’d like all the odor of your roses.”
“I have no roses; I have no flowers left now
in my garden… all are dead.”
“Then, I’ll take the waters of the fountains,
and the yellow leaves and the dried-up petals."
The wind left… I wept. I said to myself:
“What have you done with the garden entrusted to you?”

by Antonio Machado  (Robert Bly Translation)

Suddenly, this poem feels all too real. Standing on my porch, this morning--I heard my soul say the words out loud, at last:

  The garden, entrusted to me, is DEAD.

With deep heart-sorrow, I can no longer remain silent about what is happening. Dry, yellow weeds have replaced the lush lawn, and the verdant foliage. It was once a wonderland, inhabited by Life and Love. Now, this Entrusted Garden (of house and grounds), feels like a Wasteland. 

When we moved here 20 years ago--a hopeful young family of three--we were thrilled to find this lovely home 'For Sale' in the mountains. It would be our first home that wasn't a rental. Our son liked living on a dead-end street, with hiking trails that led up into the 'sand hills' (a very special ecosystem that once lay at the bottom of the ocean--back before some radical tectonic plate activity!). 

Now our son is a grown man; his father is planning to retire soon, and I have been retired for nearly a year now. Where did the time go? Somehow, there was never enough time 'left over' to tend to the Garden.

The yards, the infrastructure of house and decking, and the dynamic of interrelatedness itself--have all deteriorated. I've lived too long with my head in the sand and now its time to reckon with Reality.

Over the busy years of working, homeschooling our young son, then seeing him through high school and college, the fabric of Life--like any comfortable, old T-shirt, got ragged around the edges. Remaining sparks of old dreams, flickered out. Eventually, 'The Parents' had very little in common with each other. Our personal interests had diverged--but the one thing that the 3 of us have always done well together, is FAMILY!

The luster of dreams can so easily be swallowed up by tedious tasks, and inevitable misunderstandings. Struggling through a 35 year marriage, my husband and I tried various approaches. Being good friends who lived separately from time to time, seemed to work best for us, however financial need, keeps conspiring to bring us back under the same roof, in this house, that we are still 'mortgaged to'.

Our son lived on his own, after studying film in college. He and his roomates networked to share jobs and contacts for work in their field, until the ecomony collapsed and the free-lance job market dried up. Finally, he ended up back home, too--a camera man for local TV news, doing a scaled down version of the film work he studied for. Each one of us has our own separate living area, within the house. This way, we manage to coexist pretty well, while sharing a common space. I often hear of others, who are doing the same sort of thing now-a-days.

 You must be willing to give up 
the smallness of your story
 for the vastness of your true essence. 
Every moment you have a choice

Debbie Ford
 ~ ~ ~

An inner fountain flows at the heart of every growing thing, but when we ignore these living waters, and fail to tap into their bounty--then Life itself, tatters at the edges.

It's easy to lose heart, when our 'outer world' dis-integrates and transforms into something different. We can choose to shift with the energy, or resist it. It's not always easy. But, I find that shifting with change, does open new options. Time and circumstance have their own ideas. I have done my share of arguing with Life; lamenting outcomes, and resisting the pain that disappointment can bring.

I notice, however, that whenever I acknowledge pain, and meet it--rather than resisting--something softens. It becomes much easier to embrace disappointment, and open up to Life's Adventure. Doing so, presents the perpetual mystery of The Great Unknown!

Machado wrote this poem about Wind and Gardens, from a state of deep grief, upon the death of his new bride at the tender age of 18, from Tuberculosis. Bly points out that Machado's poem "...starts with his personal garden (small "g"), but at the end, he's speaking to his soul about a greater Spiritual  Garden (capital "G")."

There is a sense of stability I live by, which is always seeking to follow the river's course. My world is rich with natural wonders right outside our doorstep, a broad circle of fantastic friends whose own unique worlds overlap with mine, and a dynamic community of kindred spirits, whose vibrant energy brings precious joy

Once a week I volunteer to work at a spiritual organization, which actively supports acknowledging things 'AS THEY ARE'. I notice how doing this makes a beautiful difference for those who dare to drop the mindspin, and labels, we tend to add on top of whatever simply happens. This 'volunteer day' is the highlight of my week. As I drive 'over the hill', it feels ironic to be taking the very same commute I once took to my former workplace--at a large county hospital--before my retirement. But instead of arriving at a tense, demanding, high-tech environment, I enter into a calm, sweet atmosphere--filled with awesome individuals, who are becoming dear friends. 

So, the garden nourishes me, as I nourish it. It's a cycle that reciprocates. I did finally water the front yard last nite. I'll water the back yard today. But it will only mean having green weeds, instead of straw-colored weeds! I make continual choices about where my energy will go and what activities take the highest priority. The impetus for deciding is based upon Aliveness, and Meeting what LIFE presents, without abdicating my own authority.

Bly emphasizes that quite often, ". . . confessional poetry fails to achieve psychic weight (IF) it stays in the personal garden. Psychic weight does not require catastrophe. But it needs to point less to our ego and more to a cosmic sense of our true Self." 

What have you done with the garden entrusted to you?

 “It always seems impossible until it’s done."
~ Nelson Mandela ~ 

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Blue Shoes for the Wedding !!

Each Present was carefully wrapped
& tucked into the splashy bag
'Fresh Produce'
(love those lively colors!)
The wedding is still a few days away. My dear friend's son, & his girlfriend, will be married at a place called The Family Farm, in the hills of Woodside. It was such fun picking out their presents at the ZEN store in Capitola, then wrapping them in pinks & blues (with old-fashion crinkly paper ribbon that you curl with scissors). Layed out beside my clothes on the bed, are the perfect pair of matching shoes! I found them at "Bunny's" on Pacific Avenue!!

. . . time to tuck away . . . 
. . . this happy array . . . 
 . . . of fanfare . . . 
. . . go to bed . . . 
 . . . fall asleep at last . . . 
. . . dreaming . . .
. . . of lovely promise . . . 

What is it about weddings? Why do they offer such delight and hope? How do they tug at our heartstrings so strongly? Even if we have a hard time conjuring up images of truly happy couples (married or not), there is a sacred twinge that one feels at a wedding ceremony. Is it the refusal of our human spirit to give up dreaming? To hold onto hope and delight? To keep wanting to believe in something beautiful? No matter what . . .

I set out to find a 'classy', elegant yet simple, 'nice & normal', wedding present (preferably one single vase--or something like that). I found an elegant silver-shimmery picture frame but it wasn't enough. Then, a candle in a frosty jar with a thick glass lid, and a wax-like-seal on top (but made of silver). And three really important toys: a refrigerator magnet with something sappy for newly weds, a bottle of bubbles with the plastic bubble blower inside, and a jigsaw puzzle. 

But this puzzle is different. Instead of painted cardboard, it's made from one of those plastic pictures kids love to look at: that substance, which gives the impression of action or movement when you angle it, slightly from side to side in your hand: material that gives a sort of 'view-finder effect' changing the picture you see, as the angle shifts. What ARE those things called???

Weddings are all about angles: setting the stage for 'dreams come true'. Photographs. The right pose, stance, flowers, gown, hairstyle, vows, music, food, and feeling. About the guests (the audience/witnessing) and pumping energy into the happy couple. Dancing, celebrating. A ceremony to look back upon and show your friends and maybe your kids, someday.

Maybe that last irresistible 'gag' puzzle-gift, was actually the most significant of all. It is so hard for me to just do the 'proper simple thing'. Toys are extremely important. They keep us young. I can see the two of them at a table while it's raining, putting the jigsaw pieces in place TOGETHER 40 years from now. They just didn't have any vases that were good enough.

But its really all about the shoes!!! Blue shoes to match my new blue skirt. Did you notice them?