It is a lazy Sunday morning for us. Chris is here, and we each seem to be in our own little cocoon of silence, as this day, so far, seems meant for introspection and reflection. There seems to be nothing yet tempting me to venture out of pajamas, and even, out of bed was a stretch. Ah, Chris is now up. The day begins.
My knees have been very tingly the last few days, or perhaps it is achiness, but I am choosing to believe I am being re-programmed to be a kangaroo, or a gazelle. I will leap with ease when this is done. Surely, this is so.
Parabola magazine this Spring is on "Coming to the Senses." I have turned down almost every page, and will probably be giving you quotes from half of it, as time goes on. You might look for it. The Spring 2006 Parabola. It is filled with articles on connecting bodies and breath.
Remember back when I thought it was great to have no hair, and to feel like a seal in the shower, and to have all that extra time. I thought hair was messy and unnecessary. Well, today, I am thinking it would be great fun to have some hair to play with, so I suggest that today, you might do something different with your hair. Play with it. Appreciate it. Add a ribbon or make a new part. It deserves some extra notice today. Think of it like a lawn of grass. It might be time to mow and trim, to plant a few flowers along the edge.
Some of you have pointed out that you are in a permanent state of very little or no hair. For you, I say, tap your heads, and feel the inner bounce. A head without hair is certainly sensitive to the movement of cranial bones, like continents, and the air moving in and out.
Joy, ease, and happiness to All!!
This morning, this poem, for me, perhaps, touches on all.
Hummingbird Pauses at the Trumpet Vine
Who doesn't love
roses, and who
doesn't love the lilies
of the black ponds
floating like flocks
of tiny swans,
and of course, the flaming
where the hummingbird comes
like a small green angel, to soak
his dark tongue
in happiness -
and who doesn't want
to live with the brisk
motor of his heart
like a Schubert
and his eyes
working and working like those days of rapture,
by Van Gogh in Arles?
Look! for most of the world
or remembering -
most of the world is time
when we're not here,
not born yet, or died -
a slow fire
under the earth with all
our dumb wild blind cousins
can't even remember anymore
their own happiness -
Look! and then we will be
like the pale cool
stones, that last almost
David Abram has written a wonderful book called "The Spell of the Sensuous" which I highly recommend. I am going to give a few paragraphs from his article "The Invisibles," in Parabola magazine this spring. I plunge right in, and hope you catch up. I apologize for dismantling his article this way.
"Only mistakenly, then, do we interpret the unseen "spirits" honored by indigenous, oral peoples as wholly disembodied, supernatural entities - immaterial phantasms conjured by a naive or primitive imagination. Are the streams and vortices in the invisible air disembodied? Is there no materiality to these jostling surges and subsidences that compose the fluid expanse in which we're immersed? Or to an unseen cloud of lichen spores riding those currents like a transparent silken cloth? Is the hidden sap rising within the trunk of a fir tree, or the infection spreading through the body of a young elk, supernatural? The "spirits" or "invisibles" spoken of by oral, indigenous peoples are not aphysical beings, but are a way of acknowledging the myriad dimensions of the sensuous that we cannot see at any moment - a way of honoring the manifold invisibilities moving within the visible landscape, and of keeping oneself and one's culture awake to such enigmatic aspects of the real. They are a way of holding our senses open to what is necessarily hidden from view, a way of staying in felt relation to the invisible tides in which we're immersed. As such, an acknowledgment of "the spirits" is part of the practice of humility. It is a a practice necessary to avoid endangering one's community - a simple and parsimonious way of remembering our ongoing dependence upon powers we did not create, and whose activities we cannot control."
Abrams speaks of how the leaves of a tree feel and absorb the sun, clouds, sky, and how the tree feels the sap rise within the trunk.
"If, I acknowledge that this wild-fluctuating sensibility I call "me" is supported by the air streaming in through my nostrils, and by the manifold sensibilities that move within me (by the keen responsiveness of the bacteria in my gut, for example, and the skittishness of each bundled neuron within my spine), then a new affinity with the sensuous world begins to blossom. For now the other bodies that I see around me, whether blackbirds or blades of grass, or the iridescent beetle currently crawling across my shirt, all give evidence of their own specific sentience. The emerald leaves dangling from the near branch of an aspen attest by their very hue to a kind of ongoing enjoyment along the fluttering periphery of the tree - an exhaltation of chlorophyll. As though one's breathing lungs were flattened out and spread across the smooth surface of one's skin and the day's warmth brought a tinging transmutation along that surface - one's outermost membranes being ravished by the rays, from dawn until dusk."
I pause here to remember yesterday when the rain had stopped, and each branch of the Redwood tree outside my window held clear, round balls, like Christmas tree ornaments. It was beautiful to see how the tree had not been able to let go of the rain and, thus, allowed it to cohere for a space of time. I think we do that sometimes with memories when we roll them on our tongue.
Abrams continues to write of how we feel empathy when we look at the green of the trees, of how there is "contact and a kind of blending" between us and the trees. There is a "reciprocity between our body and the earth enabled by a host of unseen yet subtly palpable patterns, fluid and often fleeting powers whose close-by presence we may feel or whose influence we can intuit yet whose precise contours remain unknown to us." Welcome the invisible, he says, whether alluded to as "spirits, or powers, or presences." He concludes with this paragraph.
"And it is by means of such subtle sensations that the living land tunes our bodies, coaxing our communities and our cultures into a dynamic, dancing alignment with the breathing earth. The spirits are not intangible; they are not of another world. They are the way the local earth speaks when we step back inside this world."
"How I pray is breathe," wrote Thomas Merton.
Roger Lipsey in his article on Thomas Merton in Parabola gives this quote from Merton's journal in the spring of 1961. "The great work of sunrise again today. The awful solemnity of it. The sacredness. Unbearable without prayer and worship. I mean unbearable if you really put everything else aside and see what is happening!"
See each day, "the great work of sunrise." "Put everything else aside and see what is happening."
That should solar power your day.