Stolen Memories

redlilylg

Red Lily – Australian Bush Flower

Gaia guides me, helps me value my memories and my Self — through Her kind and loving eyes I see the me of my story before memories and moments are stolen; She grounds me through the trees nodding in affirmation and recognition, and the path welcoming my footsteps, and the dogs looking to me for guidance and love. Full Circle. When I step into woods, I feel Her embrace and Her love holds my memories as sacred, as mine; my soul is nourished, our spirits are One. Gaia sees me as me. And She tells me to write into my own infinity …

If I don’t make the effort to tuck away my treasures, the essence of each moment’s quenching of thirst, the healing well, can be drained by those who presume to know what I meant … they steal the memory and put their own spin on it and I wonder if I’m crazy — ! Did I recall a fantasy, a story crated in my mind or was it real?

To write is my way of putting a lid* on the memory, to wrap it up with a ribbon so that I can say: this is what I felt, thought, sensed, knew. No matter what anyone else may say or think, the memory has become real — it is my memory, not someone else’s.

I have barely any memories of childhood, of being part of my family’s life, of my socially active early twenty-something years — all the people around me sucked my memories away and made them their own, and I wasn’t quick enough or mature enough to realize I needed to write it down, that I needed to be the scribe of my own life or it would appear that I was merely a footnote, an addition, an accessory to someone else’s life and memories. My wispy memories are of a solitary child playing in the barn with cats, of watching roly-polies for what seemed like hours, of twirling alone on the green grass in an old square dance dress until, dizzy, I drop to the ground in my Gypsy fantasy.

Later, the longer I lived alone, the more memories I have retained, through writing in my journal and scripting the story in my mind — consciously pausing to write my story before someone snatched it away and said “no, you aren’t remembering right — it happened this way.” The space, a pause, a few moments of solitude and stillness are needed to set my memories firm, to establish their home in me.

They didn’t intend to steal my memories, or my innocence, or my identity. They simply assimilated the events into their own story — like The Blob in that old horror movie — and I disappeared, became a mass of bone and flesh without a sense of Self. And I do own my part in giving away my self away. But who was I if my memories weren’t here? Most people set such store by the importance of past — of memory — and my past was someone else’s footnote.

Only a discipline – writing – within solitude’s grace, the solitude I again came to know as my long lost identifier in a deeply rooted core of being, only then were my recent and new memories allowed to remain with me — they weren’t stolen away by good intentions of control or a foreign persona of deception.

Write, write it down, write everything down before someone can abscond with my experiences and create their own version of my story, my life. I hear it revised and rewritten whenever I visit family, so hard to hold onto it. Who I am disappears into someone else’s memory of who I was and my young nieces don’t see or know me — they only know the person I was supposed to be or the me who disappointed authority. I disappear into someone else’s memory — I don’t recognize that person they talk about, that me in their memories. But since my memories of the early years are gone, I cannot contradict, I can only shrink a little further into the bubble of my dimming aura, contract in so that no more memories are extracted. If I don’t speak, my voice cannot be stolen. Write it down; become the story in the pages, preserved a little while longer than would happen if the fire blazing through vibrant personalities made me disintegrate.

Now in my fifth decade, when I am with other people, silence preserves my voice from being distorted … I listen, feel, think, and then later write into wholeness of Being. Not to be chained by ego, but to recover and know my own soul in the world.

Are there other people with stolen memories?

lilypondmaine

Lily Pad Pond in Maine

Without abundant water and earth, is is possible I fear the desert fire and air will try to steal my memory — my identity — if I let go of my resistance to its intensity? I nearly lost it once in the desert already …

The desert is another face of Gaia. I’ve always trusted Her loving presence. Maybe it’s time to have faith that even in Her most fierce form — the Fiery Desert — She will keep me growing, safe, whole. She has nurtured as the North Woods, She has inspired as the Rocky Mountains — what is Her gift to me as the Sonoran Desert? She’s never stolen my memory before, why would She do it now? Unless … would She do it to teach me that I am more than my memory?

_______________

*The portal for the above was Emily Dickinson’s poem (#1266), drawn at random:

When Memory is full

Put on the perfect Lid — 

This Morning’s finest syllable

Presumptuous Evening said — 

lilypadroomcave

Lily Pad Room, Onondaga Cave, Missouri

I have also been reading When Women Were Birds: Fifty-Four Variations on Voice by Terry Tempest Williams, and I know her essays influenced my direction toward contemplation of voice.

Deep Listening, Deep Seeing

DesertDawnSky081114Rainstorm! Thunder! Lightening!

Across the night sky my heart was beating and I heard it in Her voice at play among the clouds in our union. My body in bed relaxed into the moments; whisked away to the inky infinite I was at peace, serenity of mind and body attuned to the symphony held among the stars tossing themselves across the expanse as they danced in a lacy play of cosmological badminton.

A breezy, cool 70 degrees welcomed me on an early walk as the clouds created a soft batting above and I could look directly at the dawning sun — we beamed at each other while the hills were a splendor of rust and emerald, rock and plant. In the opposite distance, the western horizon was blinking itself awake with half-closed eyes in wrinkled pink and violet. 

The air was, and is still, heavy with suspended silken water that absorbs into my skin and, deeper, into my cells — I am fluid, flexible, bending like the slender hop seed branches. The Santa Cruz River is flowing, there are puddles in the Sonoran Desert, and I am full in our Oneness — a well-spring opened.

Solitary, I sit outside sipping chai — no dogs are with me for, being a weekend, they would bark at any noise in the neighborhood. This is part of my new practice of growing a deeper silence: a few moments of only background noise so that the space around me heals, my aura can feel itself gently pulsing, and I can feel me — alone. To grow, breathe, Be in a state of solitude and learn to relish this quiet separation that mysteriously creates total union with all life. A solitary bee is buzzing near my head, off on its own private adventure this morning while a bird flies overhead, cawing — not a crow, a gray bird who seems a little frantic, searching.

I didn’t even hold my usual indoor sadhana … this moment called for me to be in the outdoors, sitting, listening, Being. The thickened air holds scents more firmly and I know the plenitude of dogs in the area by smell as well as sound, one sense that normally doesn’t alert me to their presence since the usual aridness desiccates droppings rapidly. 

I lightly brush the soles of my feet upon the still-damp sandstone, feeling its softness, and wonder how far it traveled to be here; does it miss its first home? The sandstone — sandpaper-like against the calluses on my feet — breathes, I can imagine the space between the particles where the granules are splashing in puddles like happy grubby children and a subtle melody, a lullaby, whispers itself into existence unheard except by otherly realms found in fables. While walking earlier, my husband pointed out a rock formation upon a nearby hill — a giant turtle rock. The hills are a bounty of shapes and sizes; a little imagination goes a long way. 

My husband rescued (with permission) abandoned rocks from the shelves of the basement at his office, and they are excited to be out in the elements again, once more soaking up the rain and reflecting the sun and feeling the wind whip around their jagged faces. Liberation! 

RockFaceA rock face guards the agave, his solemn expression reminding me of Easter Island giants or totem pole alchemists shapeshifting. His chin is jade green, his lip line thin and stoic beneath a recessed granite nose, broad and sensing all that goes on around him. Green appears painted around deep-set eyes beneath his broad gray brow. His inner cheeks are rusty brown from too much sun as he holds the space around him in safety. What are the minerals called that he reveals in such solid presence?

I had felt the coyotes watching us during our morning walk; they were safely hidden among the wild buffer zone of mesquite and palo verde and cholla. Motionless, they were undetectable by weak human eyes so I only knew them through feeling their eyes upon us, that prickle on the back of the neck; one that could have been a vibration of past presence, who knows for sure. It doesn’t matter because at least I know they are out there, still stalking, breathing, Being. If I were to stand barefoot on the sand atop the packed earthen ‘concrete’ — the hard caliche of the desert floor — could I feel their paws trotting miles away? Does the dense earth of desert pavement carry their vibrations like the stampede of buffalo were heard miles away by placing one’s ear next to the plains grasses on ground that held the sounds of all life, all movement, back to the beginning of time? 

Is Gaia’s body a chamber of resonance across time and space? We talk of a Field “out there” somewhere, but what about the Field of pure awareness that holds the recordings of all manifest form archived within Her veins, cells, tissue and organs? 

Do our rescued rocks, now reconnected with the skin of Mother Earth, speak of their adventures and send their memories into the chamber of knowledge beneath my feet? 

3RocksEach rock has its own forgotten story of excavation, transport, experimentation, and entombment. A story that is a mere blink, but each one unique. In the palest of sage green coloring, a mere blush of elegant residue, the pyramid stone casts healing rays around the yard, its edges rough yet kind, an ancient symbol of masculine principle transformed into healing the wounds of patriarchal ignorance. Three huge guardians, each of different origin, bump shoulders in a corner: green, brown, gray … they anchor us here, determination and courage in their unearthed exposure reminding me that home is wherever I desire it to be, it’s where love is. To go visiting for nourishment and expansion is wonderful … but my human-rock, my Beloved, is here. He, like the boulders, anchors me in safety wherever I am. 

This is our story … rain, desert, rocks … all Beings.

Thinness of Self

handleafveilbwI had lain in bed at dawn, savoring the taste of silence, appreciating the moment of dark quiet with Widget snuggled against my side and Phoenix curled at my feet. This was a moment of sweet peace, relaxing, breathing in the silence that would sustain me during the rest of the day. A short while later, when I took the dogs outside and we stepped into the dove-gray softness of liminal light, a small bat was flitting back and forth above my head quite near but silent. Gaia’s Grace was tangible.

There is a line that I love in A Book of Silence: “the thinness of my sense of self” (p.17). When I read this, I felt I became intimate with the book’s author, Sara Maitland. I’ve never met her and probably never will, but with this comment, I felt we were kindred spirits. She is writing of how difficult it is for her to sit in silent meditation with others because she is so aware of them it intrudes upon her own sense of silence.

I nearly squealed in recognition of this sensation of “thinness of self” because I experience this when even one other person is in the house with me. I usually considered this due to my personal insecurity, or perhaps embarrassment or discomfiture that I was somehow being “judged” and could feel the judgment oozing through even a closed door. However, I also usually experienced this at Kripalu — though to a milder degree — in group meditation, where it was highly unlikely that others were judging me since they, too, were meditators. Nevertheless, I was often feeling a disturbance of energy in the room rather than my own peaceful silence or the group silence. I simply am not at ease in group meditation. And this went against (which added to my feeling of being an “outsider”) the teachings of all the benefits of meditating in groups to assist with maintaining and encouraging spiritual focus and energy. Occasionally, the meditation was long enough I could reach my own silent center and personal sacred space of nothingness, my core of being. But not often.

When I think it is my insecurity creating this inability to feel the silence in a group, I feel negative overtones. But what if this is a “thinness of self” that is naturally spiritual? What if it is the natural thinness that comes directly from one’s soul? Sara Maitland seems to worry, as do I, that this is some kind of “fault” in our character. But is it? Why would it necessarily be so? Why would we assume it is? Is it not simply a trait that is natural? Perhaps our discomfort or inability to rest in group silence is a judgment of our society, even a spiritual one like at Kripalu or a retreat center? A judgment that is more comfortable grouping everyone together and not comfortable with those who are solitaries in their silence? The only advantage I personally could see to a group meditation was that it provided a structure for the ritual, something that says it is to be done now, not put off, not shortened or skipped — group practice can create a sort of discipline if one has a hard time doing this alone. And yet, even if that aspect is helpful in the beginning, it is still adherence to someone else’s control of our path. At some point, will our spiritual path be important enough that we are disciplined by self?

Is it possible that this “thinness” of self goes further than imagined? That it is a gift allowing a permeability of spirit to more easily flow in and out of soul, and that solitude is needed for some of us to lower the barriers we maintain in any group? Is it this “thinness” that can sometimes be perceived by others as a “madness” or a form of dysfunction because it doesn’t adhere to the group mind? Or is it a source of creativity in some sense? At least for some of us? Clearly not for all of us because many people go deeply into meditation in groups or create marvelous works of art in the company of like-minded individuals or even strangers. But, for some of us, why do we automatically assume that this thinness is a fault, a flaw in our constitutional construction?

Some contrasts I feel here with Maitland are, for instance, that I’ve avoided groups my entire life; preferring one or two people at a time to crowds; even being uncomfortable at my own family’s dinner table at times. Whereas Maitland speaks of her joy in the bantering noise of discussions in family and other groups … that she didn’t begin to yearn for silence and/or solitude until later in life. Which shows her to be following a somewhat normal basic inclination — a healthy one — as described by Ayurveda, i.e., the Vata phase of life. Further, Maitland divorced — she began her journey into seeking silence while on her own, without a life-partner to consider, and this allowed her more freedom to fully engage with the Call of Spirit, to deepen her relationship with silence and solitude. I, however, have a beloved husband. Yet we, in our partnership, continue creating ways for my “thinness of self” to be nourished and encouraged.

Our partnership has been built, in part, upon early recognition of my need for solitude and silence. We didn’t call it “thinness of sense of self” though; an easier and more common term, though one just as socially unacceptable, is introversion. Confessedly, moving to Arizona has been a trial in this area, due to some confusion, loss, misunderstanding, and stumbling.

GatesPassHowever, come winter and cooler weather, I will be able to drive fifteen minutes into the desert, walk a short distance, and experience vast silence and that will, hopefully, induce a greater sense of solitude … one where my thinness can breathe more easily — if I can release my fear of the desert. As Maitland puts it, “the silence of the desert has a horror to it, as well as, born of the horror, a deep and joyful beauty. The desert is vast, cruel and very silent” (p. 128). Perhaps there is a way for me to replace my fear of the desert with love for the opportunity it provides in its unique manifestation of silence and solitude? To balance the environmental overwhelm I feel in this harsh landscape with a freedom of expansive space once the extreme heat recedes for the winter? In that silence, what will happen out of the thinness that is my self and the prominent desert elements of fire and air?

I seek a greater spiritual appreciation of the desert. I seek this so that even though my preference is cave and forest, where I feel safe (and, interestingly, another contrast is that Maitland does not feel safe in the forest), I can move into a state of gratitude for this opportunity of spiritual exploration through desert presence. After all, Maitland who lives in the United Kingdom had to travel to the Sinai Desert whereas my desert is all around me. Maybe my “thinness of self” will facilitate my becoming one with the desert silence, and, through that grace, find a deeper peace here?

May Bast guide our journeys to self through silence and solitude.

Dream Puzzles

from: Free Jigsaw Downloads

from: Free Jigsaw Downloads

We dream and wake with eyes still closed

imagining the world outwith the night

as mysterious and foreign

speaking a language unknown … yet it isn’t.

We think we are here

for the day’s newest pleasures and pains

but perhaps we are here for the dreams at night

so we can create other worlds

where there are beings similar to all we know

yet they stand a better chance than we —

evolving as we offer them our confusion to transmogrify

like a puzzle gifted in a box.

All the pieces are contained within,

each being removes a piece at a time

to examine and smell and touch

its rough edges or smooth long side or bumpy nodules

that fit somewhere unexpected by color or preconception.

The night is our real world perhaps,

our dreams the manifestation of a window

into a parallel universe where we watch

in awe as problems are sorted

like the blue puzzle pieces here to this side

and the yellow over there

and the straight-edged here,

becoming organized —

so that the image will emerge quickly

from our sorting and prompt recognition

that perception has its value.

Dreams are the world of possibility for us

yet real for those we walk with in the dead of night,

our footsteps silent near theirs,

they imagine us watching them

and glance over a shoulder … but we are the unseen.

Words Fly Free

3flowerswrittenFields of Forever beckon but I look away from those Fields to the garden of Home and breathe in Love. Blessings push up through the compacted soil, the sweat of my beloved’s effort sweetens and amends, filtering out the stark barren expanse so that green is unearthed and new life sprung through hair-like roots, see them wriggling? Three rows of agave curve around a corner, softening the drama and edge of sharpened perception. Little green plants poke up tall, finally in a place to spread their feet wide, spread arms out long and far away. One tree in, two to go, three in a row, all around they fall in line along the wall, to share color, texture, air — breathe in and out, we share life. I stay sane, they grow safely; we are protected and encouraged.

I no longer pretend to be someone I’m not, no longer hide the shadow that is part of my skin, but neither do I let it rule and make all the decisions. Time leans into place and I know an urgency building; I keep at my work, my efforts. It’s not “hard” or “easy” — it has become purpose and something I am meant to do. I don’t know why, I just am. Perhaps it is as simple as keeping me “here on earth,” to love and be loved, to care and be cared for, to provide the arc for someone else’s rainbow purpose and journey.

E.D. #613 (randomly selected) ~ Emily Dickinson Poetry as Portals

They shut me up in Prose — 

As when a little Girl

They put me in the Closet — 

Because they liked me “still” — 

Still! Could themself have peeped

And seen my Brain — go round

They might as wise have lodged a Bird

For Treason — in the Pound

Himself has but to will

And easy as a Star

Abolish his Captivity

And laugh — No more have I 

I, too, grew up with the hobble-phrase “children should be seen, not heard” though home was more often a boisterous household of chatter that by its very noisy nature held my tongue silent and my mind vocal, conversing with the people in books.

pathThe prose of story set me free, though, it didn’t restrict; stories were the adventure into which I happily shut myself, a diversity of experience without needing to leave my closet at all! A joyous adventure through words and worlds, where poetry was the puzzle, the mystery, where I didn’t fit. And now I welcome the freedom to write however I wish to, without limitation – ignoring “do not enter” – because the expectations are nearly invisible. I don’t care if I should write like so-and-so says, because I write like me. I could do the structure well if I chose … sometimes I do … I’d rather flow and when structure leans in the window frame, allow it to set a panel or hang a margin or plant a verb.

Me and my shadow enjoy the closet, the comfort of walls all around that allow few visitors. But prose is not a closet but a castle in the forest that tells me secrets and holds mine in its roots; my closet keeps me “still” but I like the stillness when mind expands and all the birds fly free!

When I am out, walking, connecting with the world, the voices are listening, gathering petals, leaves, acorns, twigs. I am not a captive; to be so is delusion and weakness — my open eyes see possibility to choose a path. The only captivity is imposed by Self — my mind is always free. And so I write. And even set my writing free … in blog, in book. There was a time when I wouldn’t have been able to let the letters fly; no more.

I honor the women who have been part of creating a world, a society I am blessed to live in, where my words can be let out and about. I honor, too, the women whose words are still confined to mind … by writing mine down.

And like these free words, I will travel for as long as I can — another freedom that has been hard for women to own as their right; not to be doled out like a long leash, but to sever the leather strap, the chains. My beloved partner understands that setting me free is the way to love … and why I return to him with love.

My independent spirit, though often terrified and insecure, nevertheless gets up and walks, travels, writes. I have to — when I haven’t, I felt dead. I am nothing yet everything because I am not the outer result but the inner growth that comes from earthing true in manifestation. I know myself in all my fear, pain, sorrow, insecurity, and I breathe in the courage to step into my Self. I breathe in the courage from all those women who lived before me, doing their best to live true. Little steps that might transform into courage. I keep on, believing. The stories I hear and see in my mind and heart, the ones written and unwritten, are powerful ways toward courage — encouragement.

path2For those of us who live in the caves, or at the edge of the valley where sunlight is scarce and shadow abundant, for us to know our nature as worthy and beautiful and powerful — this is a blessing. Not to be taught and restricted to be someone we aren’t but to instead harness our own ability and gifts, darkly elegant, often sensed and felt rather than seen through bright floodlight. We are the night, our actions held forth at dawn and dusk: gray, pastel, deep, soft, slow, quiet.

We are hard to picture, difficult to photograph or identify clearly…

Eternal night is a welcome friend that we hold at arm’s length, touching often, yearning for that kiss but knowing the sweetness of divine union must wait a little longer — for now, there is one more word, one more walk, one more loving embrace by an understanding physical partner. We live fully present, each moment a choice to be here now.

A Solitary Dancing Slipper

To admire the strong, the sturdy, the confident who grace the vast expanse of our experience and do not even notice when their time has past — is a wonder. Many flock to such a unique and gifted soul that does not hesitate to raise her face, high, chin tilted; tis her nature not her desire that carries her through that life, where mine is short or subtle cry escapes. She could no more be me, than I her, and if dwelling in her true nature she holds no bold proclamation of being “better than” for she bears a tremendous responsibility to all those who seek her out and beg of her essence in excessive quantities. To bee and butterfly she is Queen and her mantle could weigh heavily if she were not at ease in her own individuality, born to this, her duty, her vocation.

I do not want this, though I admire her qualities … her beauty, abundance, sweetness, praises sung to her that vibrate across the land. Look how long she has to live! Look how much she has to give! Devoted to those who bow in her presence as they redeem their devotions from her stores of energy.

Yes, she may grow earlier, stand stronger, give more, spread, be admired by all, living longer, and feel no defeat when felled in her own time. Yet, honest and praiseworthy though she may be, would be a shame if were no diversity.

singleLadySlipperSo let her spread in obvious profusion, and I in my hidden glen, a single stem of green wearing a pink slipper, shall dance unseen in dappled dim day and mellow moonlight while the air carries my essence, the rain and dew linger in my cup that allows a few in need to drink, a brief interlude I stand here swaying and then just as softly sink into the humus for another long, sweet sleep, thankful that a devotee held a chalice into which the unique essence of this moment and me could seep. I am become immortal, outside the bounds of time and space when in Gaia’s Grace, and known as both separate and One. Feel into Her — now. Do not wait, for my time, my nature, may not be the longest stranding or hardiest or sweetest, but I am vital if only to offer a solitary sip to a weary traveler in a hidden forest.

The poetry portal by Emily that led me into the above was:  Continue reading

Transformative Alchemy

CatalinaStateParkA traditional Pagan invocation that has been edited and adapted through the years has most often aligned Fire with Spirit as: By the Fire of Her Bright Spirit.

Since moving to the Sonoran Desert, I’ve been seeking other words aside from Spirit that resonate with my personal sense of Gaia’s Fire. Living in the desert is a unique opportunity to become more familiar with Fire, more familiar than I ever desired to be, and this closeness continues to work within me as a sometimes unnerving or overwhelming changeability.

Spirit is all the elements of Air, Fire, Water, Earth, and including Ether/Space. Spirit is Shakti; Spirit is everything we sense and do and are that is manifested through Soul Journey. Fire is another element in our Biospheric journey that metamorphoses, transmutes; it is not only the light but also the invisible firing of neurons and the digestion of food and experiences. Fire is our chemical processing; it is often a mysterious force but still elemental, not solely Spirit. All the elements are Spirit, are derived from and infused with Spirit, and to align Fire as Spirit’s representative feels out of context in my prayer to Mother Earth.

And so, for now, I feel more aligned with shifting my language toward this metamorphic energy that is Gaia’s element of Fire:

By the Air which is Her Breath

By the Fire of Her Transformative Alchemy

By the Waters of Her Living Womb

By the Earth which is Her Body

We are One

As Above, So Below

As Within, So Without