Friday, December 28, 2012

SUBVERTING THE NORM

The best way of subverting the norm in the world, is by subverting the norm in ourselves...the places we have become stuck that stand in the way of us being able to find those spaces of nourishment that opens up the human experience to a life lived in sync with the dream that brought us here.


One of the norms we get stuck in is the daily project of domestication. And in saying that, I'm not suggesting that it is possible to escape the realm of necessity. But what I am suggesting is that it is possible for us to break free of the routine that slowly, throughout a lifetime, drags us away from the wild mystery of being here. The mystery is way bigger than the act of waking, putting on your clothes, going to work, consuming, then back to sleep, only to rise again in the morning to do it again. There is way more here than that.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

LOOK AROUND...BREATHE IN

‎"When you are down so low
 you feel the imprint of the ground
 on your skin.
 Look around
 breathe in." ~~~ OTR

 The word humility comes from the latin word Humus...soil. Maybe that's why our best moments of clarity happen when we are down so low, close to the ground?

 And I admit, it's not a great posture if your agenda is still all tangled up in dominating, manipulating, and controlling others.

 Humility keeps ones feet planted on earth
...in the moment.

We came from soil and to soil
...we will return.

While here, we see with penumbral light
...only in part

There is no better place to look for help with the challenging task of earth travel, than to the one who entered this world powerless. The one who continues to refuse to pick up power moment to moment. 

Turns out humility isn't so powerless after all.

It's from where people of humble means/beauty emerge out of and into the gentle freedom of eternal life.

Friday, December 21, 2012

WIND RUMORS

"And so may a slow wind
work these words
of love around you,
an invisible cloak
to mind your life."




 WIND ARTIST....John O'Donohue

Among the kingdom of the winds,
Perhaps, there is one of elegant mind
Who has no need to intrude
On the solitude of single things.

A wind at ease with the depth
Of its own emptiness, who knows
How it was in the beginning,
Before silence became unbearable
And space rippled to dream things.

A wind who feels how an object strains
To be here, holding its darkness tight
Against the sever of air, ever eager
To enter, and with a swell of light
Dissolve the form in its breathing.

A wind from before memory
Whose patience will see things become
Passionate dust whorled into sighs
Of ghost-song on its wings.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

TURBULENCE

Fear has conditioned us to avoid the turbulence. To turn and run. When it comes to physical safety, that can make a lot of sense. But when it comes to our mind, running from the turbulence in a moment that is spilling over with the possibility of change, most often the running is a run away from our freedom. 

Sometimes the familiar pain becomes so intense, people will choose to press through just by shear will because the pain of staying the same has just come to feel more painful then the risk of stepping into some new space appears to be.

 But sometimes people need something else. Knowing/trusting/maybe even just hoping we belong to something grander, something too beautiful to describe with our limited language or see with our blurred vision, offers us something extra, just enough to where we choose to jump, even into what feels like darkness, even when we are not sure we will be caught.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

RETURNING TO HUMAN

I really do sense the picture is much bigger than we have known/been allowed to imagine. And when one is able to break free, with the displacing of old familiar fears and all their mistaken notions, and steps outside into the fresh air that is waiting outside the confining walls that have held them, new possibilities open up. Now the light of the heart and the mind that has been there all along becomes more discernible. Love and compassion begin to be seen through the eyes of the imagination and possibility instead of some old dead rules that had never represented them nor their transforming essence. The old space had us stuck, living in denial, accepting the excuses, settling, and carrying the frustrations, blinded essentially, unable to see what we have been given and the role we have been invited to live in. The role isn't a well defined path promising ease and all the comforts. It just promises an alive life, full of the kind of stuff that being human was meant to be.

Monday, December 17, 2012

FRAGILE



I do not have any feeling of this being the day that I won't get to see the end of. But it might be. Life is that fragile. Nor does living in that kind of uncertainty leave me in fear. What it does do though is, it helps me remember that I am not in control of life or death. And it helps me remember what it is I am in control of......how I am going to choose to live and love until that moment comes.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

UNMOORED



 It's easy to get lost in the noise of the modern world and caught up in the routine of surface affairs. When that happens, the deeper invisible quiet places are rarely if ever visited. And when life is just spent on the surface in its busyness/unsettledness, it's possible to become completely unaware of our loss. The night hours in the natural world becomes a perfect metaphor. Things become still. A silence settles in. Its a time of rest. Too often though, the pace of the daytime human world follows us into the night. The busy mind never finds a place to lay its head to rest. So the noise of the day even invades and overtakes the quiet of night; the kind of place where one is gifted the quiet needed to see and hear once again the echo in the soul reminding us of that which has been lost, it too is over run by the noise that slowly created the drift in our life in the first place....away from the only thing that can anchor us.

RECKLESS

There is a path defined by wild elegance. We each are invited to make our mark there. Too often though, the cultural frames that get constructed around us keep us exiled from the wild unique elegance we all are destined for. The cultural frames leave us thinking in ways that falsify the journey. The conformity sought by society leaves us believing that anything outside the accepted frames is reckless. When the reality is, life inside the frames is a life unlived. And that is the ultimate reckless expenditure of the gift that is life.

Monday, December 10, 2012

YOU DON'T HAVE TO GO ANYWHERE

I had a great conversation last week with a client who had asked his wife to come along so she could see my photos. They've lived their entire lives here in this same area I live. Most would call it very boring when it comes to scenery. What got this particular conversation going, a discussion about how we miss so much, was their surprise that almost all of my photos are taken in the most common of daily settings; my tiny garden, mine or my daughter's bedroom window, down the road a ways on a hilltop behind a local grocery store, my driveway, etc. etc. etc. They sat there mesmerized by it and in disbelief. A new photo would come up and they would ask, "Where was that one taken?" and I would tell them and they would respond with a "No way!!!"

 Back in 05 during a trip I took to Oregon, a local nursery owner from that area and I had spent two days driving the back roads of Mt Hood and the Columbia River Gorge area seeing the sights and spotting Oregon wildflower gems along the way. It was spring and the valleys and hillsides and road ditches where awash with color. To be there with another plant nut as the spring landscape was waking up is an experience I will never forget. I still so vividly remember the drive back towards Mt Hood as we were making our way back to his home after the drive along the Columbia River. It was while traveling through a valley of orchards, with the snowcapped peak of Mt Hood out in front of us, I noticed a quaint little farm house that would have offered beautiful views of Mt Hood from every window in the back of the house. I said to my friend Don, if the people who live there don't live in awe of that view everyday, they shouldn't be allowed to live there.

 I know it sounds harsh. But you must know also, that was in 05....I was about to enter a season I did not see coming. A season that transformed the former harshness out of me. I have no intentions of going around taking away the awesome views that surround us all, from the people who don't appreciate them. But I do feel compelled to spend my days in a way that might help others notice, like my two clients did last night, the healing beauty that is right there....out your back window, in a tiny garden, behind your local shopping center, or most certainly, even from your driveway.........and aren't you glad about that? Because most people can't afford to travel to what most think of when they think of exotic beautiful places. We really just need to have eyes to see what is right in front of us.

Thursday, December 06, 2012

RECOVERY AND HEALING

I like thinking of it all as a creative enterprise. We are all artists. But if we lose touch with who we are due to wandering into all kinds of false belonging (most of what the world offers by the way of politics, economies, religions, social orders, drag us there) the painting on the canvas becomes distorted because it has become forced. After awhile we become confused as to what beauty is, and fall out of touch with her anarchic/subversive presence. But if we are finding who we are, learning to live in that natural space, the longing inside us all that had become distorted, finds its natural rhythm again, and that is where longing and belonging get redefined, and recover.

Wednesday, December 05, 2012

LONGING READJUSTMENT

After some time outside under the starry sky and a little reading, it's time to call it a day.

I end it with some wisdom that can help us learn to live aware of the gravity that falsifies our longing, and a quiet trustable presence that can help refocus the longing and anchor it back to where it belongs. 

"Perhaps Nature senses the longing that is in us, the relentlessness that never lets us settle. She takes us into the tranquility of her stillness if we visit her. We slip into her quiet contemplation and inhabit for awhile the depth of her ancient belonging. Somehow we seem to become one with the rhythm of the universe. Our longing is purified, and we gain strength to come back to life refreshed and to refine our ways of belonging in the world. Nature calls us to tranquility and rhythm. When your heart is confused or heavy, a day outside in Nature's quiet eternity restores your lost tranquility." ~ Eternal Echoes

THE BIRTH OF THE INCARNATION IN YOU

I love the mystery of the incarnation that the world spends some time thinking on during this time of the year. And as grateful as I am for the incarnation....maybe we have neglected something as important as what the young Jewish girl did, as it is told in the story. That each of us also take seriously the invitation to give birth to God....within our own soul. Mary's story wasn't suppose to be a one time happening. The invitation is the same for us.

 Don't get lost in the consumerism of the season or in the noise of the dopy so called war on Christmas or on the season surrounding December 25. The Divine has many birth dates.

Tuesday, December 04, 2012

LOOKING FOR THE WRONG THINGS IN THE WRONG PLACES

It's tragic how easily humans fall out of touch with the reality of how close the Divine is with us at every moment. Part of that is due to religion leaving us thinking it all happens in the grandiose and 'pure'. Why wouldn't people then assume the Divine Presence is nowhere near since the happenings of their lives most often aren't grandiose and certainly don't seem to be pure.

It's a falsity of grandiose proportions.

The Divine Presence is with us always and especially in the most natural things. Learn to look for it there, and once you begin to sense it there, you will never feel alone again.


Epiphany....Richard Rohr

 "The last way of knowing and the one you'd think religion would prefer and encourage is "epiphanic knowing." An epiphany is a parting of the veil, a life-changing manifestation of meaning, the eureka of awareness of self and the Other. It is the radical grace, which you cannot manufacture or orchestrate. There are no formulas which ensure it's appearance. It is always a gift unearned and unexpected and larger than one's present life.

 It happens in most unusual settings, usually non-religious settings, often a needed sign that you didn't cause it yourself by devotion or morality. I have met very few people who have had their great conversions inside churches or during liturgies, for example. You cannot manufacture epiphanies. You can only ask for them, wait for them, expect them, know they are given, keep out of the way and thank Someone afterwards."

A CHANGE OF PERCEPTION

May this new day find you
Caught up with her
Adding your own splashes
Of unique unexpected beauty

  

It is a beautiful day here. By its feel, it's not the 4th day of December. I sit here, window open next to me, light spring feeling rain falling just beyond the roof that keeps me dry, I think more of April. The atmosphere seems confused. I sense, more than it being confused....it more than likely is trying to tell us something in hopes of freeing us from our confusion.

Sunday, December 02, 2012

TO KNOW SOMETHING SO DEEPLY

This morning the snow geese were all about efficiency and progress. I've had special moments with them through the years where that was not the case. I will link to an explanation of one such moment in the comment section. Since I was a little boy, moments of encountering large migrating flocks of birds have left me with a feeling of exhilaration. It still does to this day. Maybe all along it has been the freedom it represents? As a little boy, I certainly wasn't conscious of that. Today I am.

 After taking this photos of them passing over me this morning I realized the vibration control on my lens had been shut off. I was surprised to get any photos from the bunch that weren't just blur. All the close ups actually were. The wide angle ones turned out good enough to use here.


And I offer this observation from Kathleen Raine to set up the story in the post linked to below:

 "The strangest of all is the ease with which the vision is lost, consciousness contracts, we forget over and over again, until recollection is stirred by some icon of that beauty."

NO POSSIBILITY OF FORGETTING

Saturday, December 01, 2012

THE FEAR OF THE OTHER WHO IS DIFFERENT

We have got to be freed from this fear of people who are different than us. If you can get past it, you might just find that they have some gifts that you are in need of.

 I go among trees and sit still.
All my stirring becomes quiet
around me like circles on water.
My tasks lie in their places
where I left them, asleep like cattle.

Then what is afraid of me comes
and lives a while in my sight.
What it fears in me leaves me,
and the fear of me leaves it.
It sings, and I hear its song.

 Then what I am afraid of comes.
I live for a while in its sight.
What I fear in it leaves it,
and the fear of it leaves me.
It sings, and I hear its song.

 After days of labor,
mute in my consternations,
I hear my song at last,
 and I sing it. As we sing, the day turns, the trees move.
~ Wendell Berry

UNABLE TO SEE THE FOREST FOR THE TREES

If one can step outside all the domesticated roles, and all the systems of belonging, and conflicts; the things that we often derive meaning from, and see yourself standing on this round rock flying through the infinite distance of the universe, you might just get a glimpse of how strange it is to be here.

Friday, November 30, 2012

BEING PRESENT HERE IS SO MUCH

For all the talk, busyness and noise that people insist hanging onto and are encouraged to hang onto, the real change we are in need of seems to mostly happen in a place more defined by silence, stillness, and solitude. We spend so much time in the external and neglect the internal. All of our mess continues to cycle on because we neglect what we are in need of....beauty and love, and the order that exists in the Beautiful, where we belong, Divine Presence. It's an order that will not look like order at all to people caught up in the "order" of the external world humans have created. Real change seems to only emerge out of in-between-out-of-balance-moments that have a way of sending us into seasons/places of aloneness where few understand what we are going through. I like to think of it as sacred silence where the voice of God from within us can be heard. It's a difficult place for most people to go because most find themselves surrounded by people who are afraid and are hanging on for dear life to the external life they have been handed and given charge to defend...and that's a life that is sadly journeyed through completely asleep to what the true order of things in all their wild beauty are really like.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

A LOOK BACK AT SOME CHANGES

I try to make a post here every year at this time as the gardening season comes to a close, to briefly look back over the year. Nature is such a perfect picture of the natural rhythm of this transient life we all have been gifted with. Just as nature transitions from season to season, we humans too move along on a path from season to season. Nature does it more gracefully then do we, and I love living very close to nature for that reason. It helps me to remember that I too am more a part of nature than I am a part of this out of sync world humans have created out of fear and a need to attempt to control things. Staying close to the natural world and the cosmos I am a part of helps me transition along more gracefully and fluently. If we get lost in the machine world and the fast pace of the consumerist world of acquisition and achievement our lives will become toxic.

 The year began with me making an investment in a new camera. My former camera of several years broke. I feel the change made a significant improvement in the quality of the photos. My hope is that my love for the beauty of nature and my choice to share it here, serves as a help to others in awakening to the beauty around them and their need for it. We all need beauty as much as we need love. Beauty is one of those presences that has been so neglected and abused in this culture. I was surprised by the fact that my photos have been found by a wider audience this year. I have no idea at this time where that leads. But I am open to following it to see what might become of it. There is a chance I will be asked to do an exhibit next year for a gallery here in St Louis. It seems like a daunting challenge that would stretch me in new ways. I hope it happens.

 Another change happened this year in regards to my work as a hairstylist. The change I made back in March was just some more of the natural progression of a change that began to take shape several years ago with how I work. I moved my business to a private studio. I wanted that part of my life to fit more seamlessly with the rest of my life and I wanted it to become a sort of distraction for my clients. That move and the distraction intended is working out beautifully.

 The garden as it always does, changed in many ways this year. It is a living thing. By its very nature, there in no day out there that is the same as the one before. And this year made it very clear that even the seasons can pull some improvisation of their own. Spring began very early. Winter chose to take a leave of absence here in the Midwest. We were then visited by a guest that seemed to not want to leave. This area experienced the worst draught and heatwave in 50 years. You learn to hunker down and survive. Sometimes, we to, have to learn to improvise. I'm actually finding that to be a more healthy rhythm for life...learning to respond to whatever life is presenting. Responding is a way different way of being than is reacting. Mindful presence and a slower pace leads to a life of responding. When a scattered and frenetic life leaves us reacting. I so prefer the life of responding. It changes the experience drastically.

 The garden took on a more Zen-Like feel this year. The Asian influence has always been here, I just decided to add more of that to it. I just love the visible sign of harmony and peace that comes from Asian influenced landscapes. They represent visually an invisible inner quality of being that then shows itself externally in a more balanced life of peace and harmony and rest. And do we in the West ever need that reminder. Life here in many ways has never felt more problematic to me. The stress and anxiety and fear I sense in people has been on the rise in very visible ways over the past decade. That life almost caused a nervous breakdown in my life 7 years ago. Okay, some honesty here....I did suffer a breakdown. And it led me to a threshold I chose to cross over, and in the crossing, my life changed. The garden really is just an expression of that....and an oasis for me. A place to slip away to, a place to enter and to dwell deeply in order to recover and heal and discover more and more things I need to reconnect with. I hope it's an encouragement to others so they too might make some changes in their own lives, changes that turn out to lead to the development of some nurturing rituals of their own.

 My hope is that you too feel more alive. And that you feel full of hope for the future. And I've never been more aware of the reality that any future I might imagine beyond this moment is just an imagined uncertain one, and that it is best that I limit that activity. Today is enough. And today has enough grace. And the more I learn to live in the moment, the more possible it becomes to respond in a healthy way to myself and others and to what is happening all around me, the beauty and the pain, the harmony and the chaos. And it keeps my feet firmly grounded in the soil of the earth and better aware of what is happening around me, and in me. It has made me a much safer human for me to hang around with :-) as well as the other humans I share this sacred ground, this sacred beautiful space with. It all feels like an ever present invisible embrace to me now, and sounds like ever present eternal echoes....echoes that confirm to me that I/we belong to something bigger than myself/ourselves...and to something more trustable than we are and more lasting than any of the things we create...and even time itself.

The first 4 photos are from today, representing the end of another garden season.