At four A.M. on Christmas eve, I was at Jeff and Jan's home and I was awake. Steve was to arrive early but I got a text he was sick, really sick. He drove himself to the E.R. and was immediately rushed into the hospital where he's been until now. We just got home.
Oddly, the beauty and love we shared this Christmas is the greatest gift of all. Family mobilized and all bases were covered, as Jeff still needed someone with him and Jan needed to be with her family on Christmas day.
Will this be our greatest Christmas ever? Perhaps. We are all alive, healthy, breathing, grateful, close, embracing, embraced, and touched. Those who staff a hospital at Christmas are beyond amazing. Nurse Alan worked 12 hour shifts five days in a row so people could be with their families. Two guards were there for a prisoner from San Quentin. It was agreed the shackles would be removed so he could have a shower on Christmas day.
This morning a little boy ran into the hospital screaming "I want my mommy." Tears come even now as it was so clear there was nothing any of us could do to comfort this little boy being. His father was running to keep up. I know two babies were born yesterday while Steve was in surgery because they play a lullaby through the hospital speaker system when a baby is born. I hope that is why this little boy's mother was in the hospital. They didn't come to our floor but his screams resounded through the halls and elevator doors. I am so touched by this little boy and his pain as he so clearly missed, wanted and needed his mother. There is no way to explain to a child and maybe we are all children and want to scream but we are trained to restrain. I know this little boy brought tears to all of us who were there and he continues to bring tears to me now.
I wonder if I could have been anywhere else where so much was happening, so much that matters, so much that strokes the very core, and perhaps especially at Christmas when there is a pause and one notices that carols fill the hospital air.
At one point, there were so many emergencies that Steve was "parked" in the hall as we waited for a room. We joked that there was no room at the inn, and somehow amidst it all, each person felt holy and lit as though we were bound in the fire and light of one supernova star we shared for a time.
Beautiful bonding - beautiful sharing - Marin General Hospital is along an inlet of the bay and the tidal water is filled with birds. I sat with ducks this morning, egrets, coots, and gulls. Steve is home and I am grateful. He'll have surgery next week, a simple procedure and in this moment, and perhaps all moments, all is right with the world. The sun is shining and the cats and I are grateful to have Steve home. The best Christmas ever - yes I think so. My heart is wide and gratitude swells deep.
I am in Menlo Park at my son and his wife's home. I went out early this morning to enjoy the crescent moon, stars, and possibly to see a meteor. My phone informs me it's possible, but airplanes are the modern version and I am entranced with the lights, the silent movement of lights and the vision of those so carried and happy to land.
My other son has surgery today so we are gathering together and then will step into celebrating the holidays down here. The stocking are in the car ready to be hung by the chimney with care. I suppose it feels like my son who will have surgery is the one in the manger for this holiday as we gather around the beauty and joy that he is.
Yesterday my daughter-in-law was hit by a car as she rode her bike. This morning her nose is swollen and her body aches. We were focused one way and now another. Life is so fragile. How do we balance on the knowing of that?
I saw a red-tail hawk yesterday sitting a quiet oval in a tree, seemingly looking out at the ocean, but then a dive for lunch and a return to the tree. I learned that a train used to run to Sutro Baths in San Francisco. I had no idea. I continue to round on the richness of this world I share. I am with this quote by Ram Dass.
Our whole spiritual transformation brings us to the point where we realize that in our own being, we are enough.
- Ram Dass
I’ve been in a holding pattern, waiting for the electoral college to pay attention to what has been further exposed since the election and do what I perceive as the right thing. Now, I need to step back into my life, fully back, more consciously back and into the celebration of darkness and the coming forth of light. It is the time of solstice. Solstice means “sun-standing”. It is a pause to feel a change in direction, a shift in the dance of day and night. Night hands the reins to light, and now light leads the passage of one year to the next.
I just read the book, The Underground Railroad, by Colson Whitehead. I hold it as a flag as to what the courageous and heart-centered can do to protect and help others, to be fully involved in life and what each of us is here to do.
The underground railroad is active again as we each ask ourselves how to activate our own way stations, and be our own conductors of passing on the wisdom of organization and connection that assimilates and spreads love and light.
Dr. Frederic Luskin, director of the Stanford University Forgiveness Project has written, “When we feel separate, there is no way to ensure our safety and the safety of those we love, so we fear. Separateness gives us a level of permission to judge - with distance, we can condemn.”
His research involved studying people when they were angry or upset. He concluded, what might seem obvious. “You’re going to feel better if you don’t hate people.” He developed a Forgiveness Practice because he realized that “without forgiveness we are defended and in the past. Forgiveness is simply to allow us to love.” Why would we want to love? We love because “we are healthier organisms when we live in love and openness, rather than fear and anger.”
We know that when a certain number of people meditate in a city, the crime rate goes down. Focusing on what is right with the world, we relax and blood flow to the cortex increases. We breathe more fully and there is peace.
Sir Laurens van der Post wrote that “The age of the leaders has come and gone. Every person must be their own leader now. You must remove the projection, and contain the spirit of the time in your own life and your own nature, because to go the old way and follow your leader is a form of psychological imprisonment.”
It is time to cultivate, develop and claim our own leadership skills as we lead our lives with full heart and trust that there is a collective gut that knows and honors this world we share.
I haven't posted here since the election. I was devastated, stunned. Each day I ingest what I can. What comes from Trump feels like poison, like toxins. I've been through chemotherapy. I know what it is to be ingested with poison. On the other hand, that poison allowed me to heal. I am here. How do we use the toxic poison of Trump to heal?
I sit in my home today, looking out on yellow leaves, leaves waiting for the call to drop. I am entranced as I always am this time of year with the softness of winter light. It is raining, raining tenderly. I am touched, invited into myself and my own need and curiosity to explore. What is here for me now?
I decide to open a locked file, one that contains journals of the past. It hasn't been opened in years. I have to search to find the key. It is in my grandmother's sugar bowl. I come to 2004, and something I'd written before my mother's passing in 2005, and before my treatment for cancer, though I suppose cancer must have been there at the time. I assume cancer takes time to develop, doesn't just pop out like a jack-in-the-box, or maybe it does.
Anyway, I put here what I wrote then. It seems appropriate. I altered it a bit to fit what we face now as we turn this world around like a globe small enough to hold in our hands and view with love, love of our planet, love of ourselves, love of those who surround and support us, love of those whom we embrace and who embrace us.
As Within, So Without
"We don't see things as they are. We see things as we are. The more accurate saying would be believing is seeing." Thomas Humphrey has overseen the creation of an exhibit at the Exploratorium in San Francisco to illuminate the truth of his words. The question of "How much freedom should we trade for our security," is an opportunity for each of us to step into a new awareness of how our beliefs influence what we see, and for me that is a step into beginning to understand the breath. The breath is a continuum of freedom and security that defines how we live. We need to feel secure in our breath, in our body, in our ability to receive and release, in order to feel secure. In the breath is trust.
Oxygen was once a toxin threatening life's future. Then, respiration came in to save. Now, fear is a toxin. Cruelty and unjust attacks are toxins. Again, respiration can save. How?
Breathing fully, breathing calmly into ourselves, and through that into the world, we can be Gandhi's change we want to see. The revolution is in the body. We cannot allow fear of Trump to allow us to constrict. We must breathe, breathe fully into our values of kindness, love and interconnection, and believe fully in the light we see and process in and out, as we live and love and breathe.
I choose how I process my breath. I choose how I give and receive. I choose how I see and I see love and peace.
I am home and come to this quote:
Emily Dickinson: I felt it shelter to speak to you.
Now I am even more home.
Much-needed rain is on the way. I will be on a retreat and away from the computer, for the most part, for four days. May we all be well against battering of all kinds. I look at two roses on my desk, one red, one white. Their petals open differently, and they share one vase. Peace!
I rarely review books on Amazon but W.S. Merwin's book, Unchopping a Tree, is a true gem.
I posted this, this morning on Amazon. I am stroked and touched by the leaves in this book that open me to the leanings and learnings of trees.
This book contains all we need to know. I am stroked by holding it in my hand, then, opening each page carefully, pages given by a tree, with words and drawings that reach inside, and take me apart and put me together again and again. This book is a treasure, and a wonderful gift for one’s self and others. I am held in the friendship and teachings of trees. I am moved to open and close with the breath of leaves, leaves of a book, leaves of trees.
I recommend this book. It will feed something you may not even know you need.
James Hillman: "I'm saying that we haven't thought about the idea of freedom enough. It needs to be internalized as an inner freedom from "demand" itself: the kind of freedom that comes when you're free from those compulsions to have and to own and to be someone. For example, there is the kind of freedom that Nelson Mandela must have experienced when he was imprisoned. He completely lost his freedom in the outer world, yet he found freedom within. That's an example that broadens our current limited idea of freedom: that I can do any goddamn thing I want on my property; that I am my own boss and don't want government interference; that I don't want anybody telling me what I can and can't do; that we've had too much regulation, and so on. This is the freedom of a teen-age boy.
From America on the Couch, Psychological Perspectives on American Politics and Culture by Pythia Peay.