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We are closer / We are here

1 We’re getting closer

We’re getting closer, almost there, as to the ocean
who has so many ways of letting us know
that she is close.
By the time we see her
dominating the horizon
she has already drawn us in
great mother that she is.
When we go to the ocean
it is because she summoned us.
We might walk or sit by the surf
in our own fashion
together or alone
and it doesn’t matter how present we are,
or what we are saying or thinking . . .
The ocean is saying,
It is time for me to see you
my little ducks,
it is time for me to count you.
It is that kind of love
to which we are drawing closer
whether we want to or not,
and we are almost there.

2 We are there

May I ask questions?

You may ask three questions.

Why is that man being prosecuted?

Because the authorities have produced evidence against him.

What has he done?

He was seen walking on water,
raising the dead and
interfering with an execution.

Why is that old forest being leveled?

To make way for the future
which is flat, wide and empty.

No more questions.

But why are all those rockets being launched?

To send people to the stars.

Do the stars need people?

No. People need stars.
They paid big money to go.

3 Sad Answers

These are sad answers. Where are they coming from?

Everywhere. They come from the four directions,
from above and below and from within.
They come on the wind from that over-climbed mountain,
they express the bitterness of the twice dead
who were dead in life and alive in death.
They testify for the bitter rocks of new deserts,
they deliver the judgment of toxic bones.

4 What happened?

What happened?

There were too many words.
The stories got confused.
Nobody knew which ones were true,
which ones to believe.

5 What can we do?

What can we do?

Go back, all the way back to:
In the beginning there was nothing but spirit
and spirit was lonely.

How do I get there?.

Ask raven.
Ask water.

No more questions.

6 Raven’s and Water’s answer

Grandfather, Grandmother,
How do I get back to the beginning
back to when creator was lonely?

Raven and Water:

You are there.
It is now.
It was always now.

Raven: No more questions.

Featured post

I didn’t die in Albuquerque

My friend and I had been driving half the night
On a pitch dark, straight desert highway
Listening to country radio,
Two zombies, half crazy.

We were young, driving your father’s jeep.
Now we needed coffee.
We needed food.
We needed gas.

The night was behind us
But dawn was a work in progress.
We were looking for a café
But would have settled for a bar

With a stained silex.
I was driving.
My eyes were open
But my brain was done.

I saw the tracks coming up but I didn’t see
The long black and white-striped arms swinging down
Until we were almost under them.
I gunned it.

We made it (obviously)
But what I want I say is
What happened was a miracle.
Our lives suddenly mattered

While at the same time nothing else mattered,
That is, I don’t remember what happened after that.
What I’m saying is
That freight train with our names on it?

Decided to let us grow old.

Featured post

Spirit of seeing

What is my life worth
If I don’t save a life if I can?

I was driving to an eye appointment in Middlebury.
Yes, curiously, in light of this tale,
I was picking up my new glasses.
I took the country way,
The back way.

I had been driving about 20 miles
Halfway
When a turtle appeared in my mind’s eye.
It was a medium sized turtle.
The image held like a fixed projection
For about thirty seconds
As if the projectionist just wanted
To make sure I got it
And then it faded.

Since I hadn’t been thinking about turtles
I started scanning ahead
Just in case it was a premonition,
A preview of the real thing.
But then, of course,
My rational mind stepped in,
Gingerly, but somewhat patronizing:
“What are the chances? (it mused).
You’re always seeing things.
There’s no turtle.
Enjoy the drive.
You’re not a psychic.”

But another part of me weighed in:
“Hold your horses!
Turtle time is different than people time.
Maybe this turtle hasn’t started
Across the road yet.
Maybe I saw something that hasn’t happened yet.”
This silenced my rational mind.
(I dare say it was intrigued!)

I arrived at my eye appointment on time.
Wearing my new prescription
I ordered a latte at the local cafe’,
Sat at a table, caught up on my emails,
Picked a few things up at the co-op
And headed home.

About halfway home,
I noticed the car ahead of me
Passed over a large object in the road.
It was the turtle I saw earlier!
I recognized it from about 300 feet away.
It was in my lane but closer to the double line. 

Because I had seen it before, I was primed
To know what to do.
The car behind me was a hundred feet back.
We were all moving about 50 Miles an hour.
I slowed down, steering to the left.
Straddling the double line and the turtle. 
I passed over the turtle and stopped.
I flicked my flashing lights on.
I opened my door and left it open.
I walked behind my car
And there it was,
A medium sized snapper,
About the size of a dinner plate.
I knew from previous experience
That it would try and bite me
As soon as I picked it up.
(If you pick up a snapper 
By gripping the back of its shell 
Behind its rear legs with both hands,
It can’t bite you,
But when it tries,
An ancient reflex kicks in
And you might drop it.
Also, it will try 
With its powerful clawed feet
To push your hands off.
With a snapper under, say, 4 or 5 pounds
You can pick it up by its tail. 
Any larger than that
You risk damaging its tail.) 

I carried the irate turtle across a small patch of field
To a soggy spot where the meadow transitioned to marsh
And released it.
Only when I turned around did I notice that
The car in front of mine had also stopped
And was waiting for me to return to my car.
They wanted to be part of the rescue,
Whereas the car behind me
Angrily passed my car and the lead car
Before I was back in my car.

I would like to conclude my little story
With a quote by David James Duncan
In his wonderful book, My Story as Told by Water:
“Life itself sometimes hangs by a thread
Made of nothing but the spirit
In which we see.”

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Someone’s birthday

Your story of course is very interesting
How when you were a young man 
You were advised to travel to India
With your spiritual questions 
That couldn’t be answered by science

When you arrive at the ashram
You are shown where to stay

It is early in the morning
You head for the big temple
And the great hall to wait for the others
And while you are waiting in zazen
You are picked up and flung through
Your entire life up to the moment

You entered a talent show
Becky Nevers is in the front row
You recite the first 175 digits of Pi
Then a middle schooler plays Johnny Be Good
On his sax 
And blows the audience away

There was the smell of your grandmother’s gingerbread

There were lots of smells

You said your first encounter with a snake
Was a smell

Cut to your trip to a forest in Alberta
You were on a vision quest 
You were seated on a mostly flat stone
Trying to meditate
And you felt yourself become weightless
First your arms began to float above your head
And some force took over 
And danced your body
For about half an hour

You went to Kiev
To meet with some Russian scientists
They were all waiting for you
When you arrived
Passing a bottle of vodka around
What happened in India? they wanted to know
When they heard they got all giggly

We’ve read about levitation 
It happens in meditation
But not in science You said
They all grew silent 

Not in Western science
Someone said 

And then they showed you their mystical library
With endless volumes on everything
From Absinth (The Green Fairy of Bohemian Paris) 
To the visions of Zosimos of Panopolis 

I wanted to talk about my experiences
That changed my life
But your eyes glazed over

Your eyes said:
You’re a poet
Poets are supposed to have visions
I’m a scientist, so it means more

I thought you were going to cry

And then someone said There is one more present!
It was some porcelain praying hands
Those will look great on the well-head
Someone said and got a laugh

Especially in the snow I thought, all pink

And when you wind up the little key
It plays Amazing Grace
How sweet the sound
That saved a wretch like me
I once was lost but now I’m found
Was blind but now I see 

So maybe it is just a big talent show after all
There is a standing ovation 
For the little kid playing Johnny Be Good

And then it all ends
With Michael Jackson leaving the arena
In Bucharest
Strapped into a rocket chair

And everyone goes home

…………………

Life, a talent show? If so, then Michael Jackson would have scored first place in 1992. But this poem is about a scientist questing for spiritual answers, not first place for his scientific achievements. What is real spirituality? It it something we might reasonably quest for, pilgrimage for? Vision quest for? That coterie of Russian scientists who fall silent and then wax all giggly when the subject of this poem relates his experience of levitation during meditation, can’t let it in to their world view, which is old-science-based. Instead they fall back on showing off their library which is tantamount to admitting that they are inmates of the frontal lobes of their scientific brains. The subject must resort to seeking solidarity with poets (such as myself) who are open to spiritual realities. For the poet, life is not a big talent show, but for those who are lost somewhere in the Darwinian universe, where the smartest and the strongest (and the most popular) prevail, maybe it is just that . . . a talent show.

Featured post

The end of normal is almost here

It is men who make war and it is men who believe war is normal.

“The condition of alienation,
of being asleep,
of being unconscious,
of being out of one’s mind,
is the condition of the normal man.

Society highly values its normal man.
It educates children
to lose themselves
and to become absurd,
and thus to be normal.

Normal men (continues Laing) have killed
perhaps 100,000,000
of their fellow normal men
in the last fifty years.
To imagine that God approves of this.

Is normal.”
To be elected you must be normal.
To be a teacher you must be normal
Unless you want to teach
against the grain,

Teach children to find themselves
And to value being taken seriously.
You must be conditioned
to be normal.
You must be brain-washed

To be so confused, so lost.
so absurd as to believe
that your life makes sense
when the world is being destroyed
by other normal people.

This body’s heart is simply
not big enough
to forgive the
cumulative inhumanity
of normalcy.

You don’t know what you’re doing!
And you certainly don’t know
what I am doing!
Do you see that long cloud
On the horizon?

That is not a normal cloud.
It is not
a cloud at all.
It is the end
of normal.

…………………….
I encountered the quote from R.D. Laing’s The Politics of Experience in John Hawkin’s OpEd post,“Save the Children — of America now.”

I didn’t post this poem right away but slept on it. The Laing quote is from 1967. I remember when that book came out. It was one I carried with me for a spell. It spoke to me, it helped me navigate a world that wanted to put my ass in a uniform and ship me off to Vietnam when I graduated in two years. On one level I was trying to figure out how I was going to deny them my ass, while on another level I was trying to figure out how to ask a girl to a dance. I knew that American-normal was broken and toxic, but it helped to have someone of Laing’s stature affirm that . . . But the big existential block-buster question for me was, what was I going to do about it with my pathetic abnormal life. (I was only 16.) I don’t recall if Laing answers that, and I don’t have the energy to revisit the book to find out. (It doesn’t matter.) Back to now: Is his quote still relevant? It’s almost like I had to blow dust off it. If I owned an original copy of Politics of Experience I’m sure the glue of the perfect-bound spine would crack upon opening. My contorting his language in the second half the poem wasn’t enough to sign off on a poem fashioned out of his quote. It felt cheap, like I was making balloon figures out of his meaning. It felt gimmicky. For me it is the last two stanzas that salvage the poem as a poem worth writing (and putting out there).

You don’t know what you’re doing!
And you certainly don’t know
what I am doing!
Do you see that long cloud
On the horizon?

That is not a normal cloud.
It is not
a cloud at all.
It is the end
of normal.

“You” is the normal man with whom I have lost patience and with whom I have lost touch. And I stand by my assertion that he doesn’t have a clue as to what I am doing! What I am doing, by writing these poems is doing something with my “pathetic abnormal life”, which, on a good day, isn’t pathetic after all.

What is the looming “end of normal” going to look like? Damned if I know.

Featured post

My life as a bridge: In memory of Frank

One time I was talking
With my friend Frank. 

I could be a bridge.

If you are a bridge I’ll be one too
Said Frank,
But what would we do? 

We would be 
Side-by-side bridges.
We would be a curiosity.
We wouldn’t have to do anything. 
People would weave stories around us.

Such as?

There were two friends, they would say.
One drowned
On his way to visit his friend.
And his friend built the bridge in his honor
And scattered his ashes on the bridge
So his soul would not be lost to the stream.

And, says Frank,
When I died
The village
Built a second bridge
To honor our friendship! 

And they (the villagers) might say:
It’s good luck to cross to the village on one
But make sure you only cross back on the other.

I would be made of stone
With an arch, with a keystone.
I would hold up the path 
For as long as I was needed,
Until nobody walked
To the market anymore . . .

Or until everyone had crossed.
Frank said, 
Imagining himself as  
A bridge that helps souls cross.

Perhaps I would forget
That I was ever not a bridge.
Good thing you are there
To remind me.

And visa versa, 
Sometimes I would forget
That I was once a person
And you would say,
Do you remember when
We were people? 

Really? Frank affected.

Yes, we always walked side by side?

Your steps weren’t quite as long as mine.
I always imagined I was walking in slow motion
When we walked together!

There was only one place,
(Do you remember that place?) 
Where the path skirts the ledge
And only one person can pass at a time?

Yes, when we got older
I couldn’t help but worry
About you because you weren’t steady.

I worried about you too,
When we were old.

. . . That this would be where we lose each other.
It would just take one false step.

Isn’t imagination amazing?

But maybe they aren’t stories.
Maybe they are memories.

That’s what happened 
When Frank and I got together.
(He was a writer of kid’s books
And I, the poet.) 

We would share a waking dream
Of the two bridges
And an hour goes by.

(And how would you know when to stop?)

Oh, maybe a boat would appear on the stream
Passing under the two bridges
With a fisherman 
In the stern
Guiding the boat with a pole
And as the boat passes beneath the bridges
They seem to be carrying on a conversation
And the fisherman rests and listens.

Or maybe it’s just the water
Talking to itself, 
Or to whoever will listen,
Which usually is nobody.
But this time someone is listening
And that makes the water very happy.

……………

This poem was not meant to be in the form of a conversation with my recently deceased friend, Frank. He just started talking and asking questions, like, if we were to become bridges, “what would we do?”. Excellent question, right? What do bridges do? Nothing and everything. They just are. Once they are built, their structural and design integrity becomes part of the landscape, beautiful or ugly, as the case may be, extending path or road through the air from solid ground to solid ground. When I started the poem, the image of two bridges crossing a stream, side by side, was in my imagination. But there was no context, no explanation. Sometimes we see two bridges crossing in the same place but usually one of the bridges is an old steel railroad bridge and the other is newer and is for cars. Here I am picturing two older bridges, roughly the same age and painted red, like something you might see in an old Chinese landscape. I begin with the simple statement, “One time I was talking / with my friend Frank.” Past tense. After that it’s like stepping out of a time machine into that “one time”, which is a distillation of many times that Frank and I would pool our imaginations to weave ourselves into a story.

I’m using punctuation in this poem, which is unusual. In real life there is no punctuation. Next time you have a conversation listen to how it goes. When you punctuate, the punctuation is a kind of a structural overlay. I would rather go for creating a mood or a feeling-tone. Maybe it’s the difference between line drawing and water-color. Punctuation is more appropriate in prose, but poetry is more about metaphor and imagination and feeling. So why did I used punctuation this time? I’m not completely sure. I think it’s because I wanted to make sure I didn’t lose the reader. But honestly, I don’t care if the order of the speakers is confusing or if I scramble the speakers in the middle. This poem is not about me or Frank, it is about two bridges that are curiously side by side and about a friendship that continues in spirit. It’s not about this friend and that friend but about a timeless relationship between two creative people or creative spirits, meeting in a poem, which is open ended and respectful of their autonomy. I see punctuation as a prop in this poem, helpful but not essential.

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Another unendurable age

To John Ashbery
The 1950s were the “unendurable age”
I agree
Boy, do I agree
But I was too young to know
How bad it was
Only in looking back . . .

Now here we are in another
Unendurable age
I’m not sure when it started
Or when it will end
Or if it will end in my lifetime

It’s not personal My car
works, for now Our garden
is coming up My clothes
are clean There is food
In the fridge, the pantry
And the basement Potable
well water from the tap
I like my neighbors well enough

Hey, let’s go fishing There we can talk by the river I don’t fish but if you fish that will be good enough I know a good spot It’s quiet and peaceful there

My father took me fishing
When I was little
He baited the hook for me
I didn’t want to hurt the worm
He caught a sunfish
Just to show me how easy it was
Silver-gold in the sun
He konked it on the head
Tossed it in the bucket
And rebaited the line
I said I want to go home
Defending my reason for not fishing
Was endurable
But that was just the tip of the iceberg
Killing seemed like a big part of life

Hey, let’s go fishing There we can talk By the river I don’t fish but if you fish that will be good enough I know a good spot It’s quiet and peaceful there

I had nightmares
Of the end of the world in the unendurable age
One day we went for a family outing
To look at bomb shelters
My father was most interested
In the hand-operated air exchanger
I asked,
Where is the bathroom?
I was seven
Bathrooms were important

I used to play in a place called Pink Ravine
It wasn’t pink
But it was my favorite place
To spend a summer afternoon
With friends
The farmer who owned the land
Had a stand-off with the cops
His son got drunk
And hurt someone
So the cops followed him home
They barricaded the door
There was an exchange of gunfire
No one got hurt
But my mother wouldn’t let me
Play in Pink Ravine any more

Hey, let’s go fishing There we can talk by the river I don’t fish but if you fish that will be good enough I know a good spot It’s quiet and peaceful there

The unendurable age was very much the world of
Roosevelt on the dime
That I was born into in 1951
Lincoln on the penny
And Washington on the quarter
Watching over everything
The little metal fathers
Trust in something bigger than
My tree house
And my key collection
Got me through the unendurable age
I believed in Howard Johnson’s
27 flavors
I believed in Roosevelt’s power
To buy me a candy bar
I believed in ocean liners

Hey, let’s go fishing There we can talk by the river I don’t fish but if you fish that will be good enough I know a good spot It’s quiet and peaceful there

………………………………

Sometimes serendipity is a good editor. I was posting this poem as a copy-and-paste and the italicized refrain “Hey, let’s go fishing . . .” (which was formatted like the rest of the poem, in stacked lines), came out as a laterally formatted narrative prose line. I like how it levels the phasing of the mantra-like repetition of the invitation (to the anonymous friend) to go fishing while reflecting the continuity of the stream. This recurring dreamlike invitation is offered as a kind of lifeline, a portal of escape, from the clutches of the “unendurable” age of the revisited 1950s and time-present.

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Happy trails

I

In Jung’s typology there are four functions:
Thinking, Feeling, Intuition and Sensation.
One of these functions is our Primary Function.
Most of us also have a Secondary Function, our fall-back,
And the opposite of our Primary Function
Is our Inferior Function which is mostly unconscious.
The opposite of Thinking is Feeling and visa versa.
The opposite of Intuition is Sensation and visa versa.
I am an Intuitive-Thinker.
Intuition is my primary function.
Thinking is my secondary function.

II

As I get older, I realize
That I’m not as smart as I thought,
Nor am I as smart as I used to be.
And I’m certainly not as quick
As I was when I was 30 or 40
Which is understandable.
But, as I age, my Intuition deepens.

III

There are people who know much more than me
And I rely upon their knowledge.
But many of these fine thinkers
Do not seem to appreciate that
There are other ways to process reality,
And that putting all of one’s eggs
In the Thinking basket
Can lead to loneliness,
As Thinking winds down.
I’m glad I’m not a thinker per say,
But being an Intuitive
Hasn’t made for an easy life.
How often do you see a job in paper
Calling for someone who is highly intuitive?

IV

Intuition is like riding a horse VS driving a car.
The logical mind can only get you so far.
Eventually you come to where the bridge is out.
That is where the horse of Intuition comes in handy.

V

I walk my horse downstream
To where the current is wide and shallow.
I let my horse drink and walk her across.
Then I climb back on.
Or maybe I decide to camp by the stream
For a while.
(My not being in a hurry
Has nothing to do with age.)
Meanwhile the person in the car of Thinking
Is looking for a detour
Wasting gas.

VI

Have you noticed
That there are more and more bridges out
These days?
(Happy trails.)

……………….

The last line in this poem is from the song that Roy Rogers sang at the end of his cowboy show. Roy was a childhood hero of mine, chronologically speaking, between Popeye and Green lantern. They were all so self-sufficient they didn’t need each other and could handle any situation alone. (Did you ever see Popeye look for help?) Popeye was my first guardian (good guy / champion). His super power was spinach. (canned) Pretty simple. (He didn’t need a can opener but would either squeeze the can open or use his pipe as an acetylene torch.) Then Roy. His super power was his horse, Bullet, his clean, handsome unruffled appearance, and his wholesome friendliness. (My mother approved of Roy and might have had a crush on him.) Then there was Green Lantern, whose super power was his ring, which focused his will. Green Lantern appeared on my radar when I was trying to navigate adolescence, trying to figure out who I was apart from my parents. When I was 9 – 11, the world was overwhelming, to say the least, and Green Lantern was the perfect embodiment of a strong, independent male. His super power was his green ring and his will and his ability to manifest things. The difference between Green Lantern and the other two was, I wanted to be Green Lantern. This became an obsession. I was desperate to find a green ring that could focus my will and my poor mother was assigned the task to find my ring. To her credit, she took me seriously and actually found one in a jewelry or gem store. It was a pale green jade in a sterling silver setting. I tried to make it work for me, (for her!), but it was just too feminine (although I wouldn’t have described it that way at the time). It held no power for me, and that was the end of my Green Lantern phase.

As I think of it, my super hero from age 24 – 50 was Jung. (His super power was the ability to interpret archetypes.) From roughly 54- 60, it was Rumi. (Rumi’s super power was his power to transcend the ego without losing himself in his spirituality. He achieved this by expanding his heart to accommodate forays into ecstatic states of mind.)

For the last decade of my life I have been winging it without a super hero. But, the point of this discussion is to conclude that it is helpful to either have a super hero or a super power until we develop our own powers. My super power right now is my intuition. It’s not quite as powerful and sexy as a green ring, but no complaints.

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I love our invasive plants

Some of my favorite invasive plants are:

Queen Anne’s Lace (Not really Queen Anne’s lace, just looks like it.)
Yarrow ( I rub it between my fingers, reminds me of my childhood.)
Hibiscus (Beautiful, extravagant, makes great tea.)
Bittersweet (A friend of mine went for a walk, came back with a basket he made from Bittersweet tendrils.)
Honeysuckle (Bees love honeysuckle, lullingly sweet surrounding fragrance.)
Touch-me-not (My mother introduced us. Touch the seed pod and it goes bonkers, makes children laugh.)
Watercress (Grows in the water, good in salads.)
Yellow dock (The Dakota, Blackfoot and Cheyenne tribes used the bruised fresh leaves as a poultice for wounds and rheumatic pains. You can too.)
Mullein (Fuzzy leaves like a deer’s ear, but be gentle, rips easily.)
Nightshade (This is a poison plant straight from a fairy tale.)
Knotweed (Hollow stems snap with a boink, used to treat Lyme.)
Lemon balm (Calming. A favorite of the faerie folk, you know, the little people.)
Garlic mustard (One of my favorites. I eat the leaves right off the plant, always expressing gratitude. Teaches solidarity. All Mustards flower at the same time, whether mature or two inches tall.)

I just learned that African women
Came to North America on slave ships
With hibiscus and ochre woven into their hair.

How invasive is that?

…………………….

This is something I have been wanting to write about for a long time. I feel that the new vogue offensive against invasive plants is the plant version of going after undocumented immigrants. It’s just a different form of xenophobia, disguised as environmental concern, but it’s a very low-grade, superficial concern. People who work with plants medicinally and energetically teach that the best path for benefiting from nature is to build a relationship with it. Get to know a tree, talk to a flower. Talk to an “invasive”! 10 years ago that would have sounded far-fetched and I might not have even bothered saying it, but I don’t think such advice is so easy to dismiss any more. If you have it in you to introduce yourself to a special plant, I would say, don’t wait. This is the time to take that step.

Xenophobia: an extreme, intense fear and dislike of customs, cultures, people (and plants) considered strange, unusual, or unknown. The term itself comes from Greek, where “phobos” means fear and “xenos” can mean stranger, foreigner, or outsider.

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21 dead and counting

Our president is an ancient plastic ghost.
Why am I thinking of this now?
Our democracy is a joke, our collective soul is lost.
Maybe it’s best that our leader is old Joe.
We need new blood. A new vibe. A new vision.
We know the old ways have to die.
What we need is demolition.
Not tearing buildings down but the lie.
The lie that says we’re better than this.
Maybe we really aren’t after all.
Were skirting a bottomless abyss
In a dark night of the American soul.
If we do make it through, two things are certain:
We’re on our own. There is no one behind the curtain.

………………………

This poem expresses a sense of shock and soul-weariness and world-weariness. This country is on a bad path. We are squandering resources on building a strong military and worrying about what other countries are doing while 45,000 people (an incredible number. . .I hardly believe it even as I type it!) die from gun-violence in America every year! Having an old impotent ghost for a president makes sense in a convoluted way. Because, we don’t know who we are. We don’t know how to make meaningful change, and we aren’t, as a people, doing the deep work, the soul-work, that we need to do, if we are to find ourselves before we let some maniac in Washington instigate the war to end all wars. I’m not writing this poem just to upset anyone. I’m really thrown off by this latest mass shooting. These 19 kids did not deserve to die. Every single one of them deserved to live in a world where they could go to school and feel safe. We do not seem capable of imagining, much less manifesting such a world. All of our problems are old, chronic problems that seem to be hard-wired into who we are. God, I wish we could prove me wrong!!!

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The great intervention

Have you dreamed of an animal
Trying to break into your home?
Trying to get to you?
Maybe you are hiding,
Or just worried that if the animal (or animals) move in
You will have to move out
Into the woods
Into a wilder Dreaming.

If you have had this dream
It is a big dream.
It means we are in big trouble.

It means the way we live
Has upset the balance
And the animals are taking action.

It means that soon
If the animals fail to turn us out,
Then the storm will try,
The wind and water
And the fire too,
They will all do their best
To flush us out,
To shake us out
To oust us from
The karmic backwater
Of our soured Dreaming.

The bandwidth of our mindset
Has become the world’s undoing.
It was always
their undoing.
It was always driving
A wedge between us,

Can we blame them for intervening?

The lion, the weed and the salamander,
The bug and the spider and the snake
Even the virus –
They got together and there was consensus:
Things have gotten out of hand.
Even the mountain said
Count me in!
If they need a volcano or an earthquake
To rouse them from their
Dreamless torpor
I will happily shake their buildings to rubble.
It would be a pleasure
To watch them run outside
Barefoot,
With their eyes wide open.

Then the barnacle spoke up:
Give Ocean a chance.
Ocean is sick of their abusive ways.
Let her send a cleansing wave
To do the job.
And everyone agreed, like I said,

The racoon and the butterfly,
The barnacle and the moss,
There was universal accord.

But someone said,
But who should go first?
Who will try to rouse them
Out of hiding
From this truth
That has brought us
To such a crossroad?

I will go, said bear,
I have power, I have medicine,
I have visited their dreaming
Through the ages.
They have hunted me since time immemorial,
Driven me into remote hiding,
Where mountain lion bides her time.
And out of remote hiding.
I will go.
When they see me in their streets
Or foraging in their garbage,
In their blood they will know
That I am there for a sacred reason.

Let me go, said cougar.
If they see me
They will stop whatever they are doing.
They will stare,
Just like when the ground shakes;
They will cower.
Let me be the omen
Of our intervention.

How about me? said deer.
It’s I who should go.
Let me be the one
To shatter their illusion.
I know you probably don’t think
I have it in me
To crash their party
But I can!
Because of them
I am always running these days.
I will shatter their dreamless bubble.
Let me be the catalyst of their awakening!
Even if I have to jump through their window
I will make the sacrifice.
I have nothing to lose.

And so it was.

Hummingbird, tic and bat,
They found their way in
To the wonder and chagrin
Of those can-fed deadbeats, dog and cat.

………………..

People I work with and friends, as well as family, have all recounted dreams in which animals are trying to get into their homes, and it is always unnerving, often threatening because unnatural: home is the place where we are supposed to feel safe from such threats and intrusions. It is similar to the classic nightmare of the intruder, but, when the intruder is an animal, the dream carries a very special meaning. It is not a shadow dream, which the dream of the human intruder is. What is of huge interest to me is how often this dream comes up. So far, my list of the creatures that are going out of their way to get into our private space includes snake, humming bird, bear, beaver, cougar. and deer. This poem is my attempt to shed some light on this very important dream-motif and have some fun in the process. The purpose of the jingle at the end of the poem is to conclude on a light note. Hopefully the poem invites us to venture out of our comfort zone, and maybe take our dreams more seriously. If the poem succeeds, the jingle is analogous to the finger-snapping of the hypnotist.

I used a jingle this way in one other poem, also at the end of the poem, “My mother’s path”. Since that poem predated this blog, I am quoting it here. Let it serve as a counterpoint to “The great intervention”. In “my mother’s path”, in following my mother’s directions, we are out of the house and require no intervention. The path through the old forest is inviting, endless and magical.

My mother’s path

My mother has often claimed

That the path that starts behind their house

Stretches all the way across the state.

(She also claims that the first people 

To wade across the Bering Strait 

Were a race of giants.

Her credibility,

Has been waning

Even as her love still holds us,

Wriggling, 

All together . . .)

. . . So, imagine our surprise 

When my son and I started out

On that same path 

On a sunny March day

And soon found ourselves passing through

A spacious forest of giant oaks

And the path kept leading us on and on

Until we were drunk and

Babbling 

About how the time has come for poets

To wander the earth again . . .

Let red-tailed hawk be first to know,

And rabbit be the last,

That those who speak their hearts will feast;

The rest may fast!

Featured post

The end of a world

Remember,
When I clap three times
You will awaken,
Is that all right?

Yes, when you clap 3 times
I will wake up.

OK.
I want to ask you what you are looking at.
Are you looking at anything?

It is a sun-bleached landscape.
Way in the distance there are mountains,
A big range of them very far away.
There is a lighthouse on a spit of land.
There is no water.
I am watching it.
I am wondering why is there a lighthouse
With no ocean?

Why are you watching it?

Because it is where I last saw her.
It was where I first saw her
And where I saw her last.
(He begins to sob.)

Do you want to keep going?

Yes.

Now where are you?

I’m in a sun porch.
There are some renters.
They just said, this isn’t what we wanted . . .

Do you know what house you are in?

It is the house where I was born.
Nobody is listening to them.
Everyone is sitting on the sun porch smoking and drinking. . .

When is this?

I am 6.

60 years ago.

This can’t be my memory.

Why?

Because I am seeing myself.
Right? This can’t be my memory.

It can be your memory.
Who else is there? Look around.

There is a tall man there.
He is by the door.

What does he look like?

He is very tall. He has a mustache and sideburns.

What is he doing?

He is looking over at the woman in the blue dress.

Is that all?

No. He is holding a book and a drink.

Do you know his name?

No.
Wait a second. There is a younger man shouting at him.
He is saying, Go to hell. Go to hell Fred.
But he is laughing. They are all laughing.
They are all drunk.

Go back to the first place.

Do I have to?

No, but I would like you to.

OK, there it is.

What do you see?

Same as before –
Mountains and a lighthouse.
I am very hot.
It’s hot. Everything is hot and bright.
The stones are hot and . . . glinting.
I think they have lots of mica in them.
The ground is hot.
I’m looking at the lighthouse.

OK I’m going to clap my hands three times
And you will wake up.
Clap!
Clap!

Wait a second! There she is! I see her!

Clap!

…………….

This is a strange poem, a haunting poem, in a good way. As with all poems that come from beyond my ken or intention, this one has an energy all its own. Call it an archetypal field, or, more prosaically, a case of a bigger story emerging within the cover story. What was my intention? To write a poem about a person who has traveled into the future and is being hypnotized to report what he saw there. After I finished the poem, I thought that I had more or less succeeded but I kept going back to the poem. Something wasn’t right. I changed just a few things, developing the sun room scene, because the poem wanted me to make it more real, like something that might have happened in the 50s or 60s. But the bigger problem was, it seemed less and less like a futuristic vision of the end of the world, but, more credibly, the end of “a” world. The way the poem reads in its current form, the time-traveler may or may not have seen a future that awaits all of us, but it might just be his future or the future of some of us! This is my take on the poem. Who is the hypnotist? It could be God . . .Great Spirit. And who is the woman he sees before the second and third clap? That is anybody’s guess. Will the subject remember the two scenes he saw under hypnosis? I would guess not.

Featured post

The crow at my feeder — An ongoing true story

Two years ago a crow came to our feeder
In December
Announcing himself
As if the absentee landlord
Had suddenly appeared
For the back rent.
He strode around under the feeder
Gorging on black oil sunflower seeds.
From then on
He was a regular.
Sometimes he would bring a friend.
Maybe a girlfriend.
Try these, I imagine he would say,
You might like them.
The friend would always
Turn up his or her bill
And fly off.
I imagined that he was different
From the others.
I imagined that he was older
Maybe smarter.
Maybe his interest in sunflowers
Was just the tip of the iceberg.
Sometimes he stayed on the branch
Loudly broadcasting his arrival
As if my attention was the main attraction.
I admit that I encouraged him.
His voice was strident, demanding.
Indeed, sometimes I felt manipulated,
Almost ashamed of my overeagerness
To make friends
With such a demanding character.
He took full advantage of my passivity.
Jumping to the second winter now,
In spite of his shortcomings,
I was initially overjoyed
By his reappearance.
I knew he felt he controlled me,
Even though we both knew
Who had the bigger brain,
He reminded me of Aladdin.
I was the genie of the lamp.
In fact that might have been
Why he brought his girlfriends
To the feeder,
To show off how he could conjure me.
Just watch now.
Be patient, I imagine him boasting.
I’m going to make the human appear.
And I would, with extra seeds
For his majesty.
In the spring of the second winter,
After the last snow
When the world was greening
And all the husks of 4 / 40-pound bags
Were waiting to be raked
And carted off to become compost,
He returned,
As if to say,
This is not all about feeding me.
So, I would go out
And say hello.
But conversation was strained.
What do you want from me?
We aren’t really friends,
And I am only willing to be your genie
In the winter.
I’m sorry.
I thought he would disappear
Until I started feeding the birds again.
But something happened.
There is a stone bowl
Way in the far back yard
Between two birdhouses
Where two pairs of bluebirds
Had just moved in.
One morning I saw my crow
Flying down to the stone bowl
But he wasn’t just getting a drink.
It was hard to see what he was doing.
I waited a few minutes
For him to fly off
And went down to investigate.
In the bowl was a dead garter snake
Or what was left of one,
Stripped of its scales
From its head to the tip of its tail.
I have never seen a snake
Without its skin.
The water in the stone bowl
Was red with blood.
I do not consider myself squeamish
But honestly I felt a wave of revulsion
Rising from my gut.
I decided not to interfere
But to let my crow
Finish his meal
Which he did shortly.
Then I washed out the bowl
And refilled it with clean water.
The next day,
The water was fouled
By the remnants of a mouse.
I felt like some line had been crossed.
I removed the stone bowl
(Which was quite a bit heavier than
It was when I placed it there originally,
When I was 6 years younger)
To a more secluded spot.
The crow has not returned.
Is it odd that I felt disrespected?
Is it strange that I felt offended
By this bird?
Do I only have myself to blame
For trying to be accommodating
To a creature
Whose agenda
I could never, in reality,
Begin to fathom?
I only hope he doesn’t
Devour the bluebirds
One by one as they
Try their fledgling wings.
And how will I feel about him
When he is back
Calling for sunflowers,
Summoning me from the house?
I don’t know.
I’ll keep you posted.

…………..

I just want to say, this is all true and accurate. I tried to be honest about how I anthropomorphized this crow, and how I paid for that when he showed his true colors, or should I say, his true nature. What threw me off was, he did have a strong personality and there was something different about him that set him off from his peers. Maybe there is another possible explanation for his behavior, his showing up by the feeder throughout the winter. Maybe he was an outcast and was lonely. I was put off by his using the stone bowl for his personal killing or butchering bowl, but “killing” and “butchering” are our words. What he was doing, in his world, was smart and resourceful. I think what got to me was that by filleting the snake in the stone bowl he had effectively set himself at cross-purposes with my agenda. He had crossed a line. Nothing else he did offended me. Quite the contrary, I found him, albeit, begrudgingly, amusing, and felt that he and I might actually forge some kind of weird friendship eventually . . . and we still might, if he doesn’t trespass over that line again. If I don’t catch him harassing the bluebirds, but just showing up and hanging out occasionally and gorging on sunflowers in the winter, our relationship might yet have a future. We’ll see.

Featured post

Rhubarb and the revolution

I stepped outside this morning and Bam!
I smelled the smell of green life!
(Of course it is more than a smell,
But a spirit and a spell.)
For a few moments
The green was breathing for me.

Don’t worry about breathing.
Just stand here,
I’ll take care of the rest.

My wife asks me to go down to the garden
And get 8 stalks of rhubarb.
I walk down in my slippers.
The grass is dewy-wet.
(I need to mow,
I need to get gas,
I need to stop thinking about mowing . . .)
I arrive at the rhubarb
Way at the back of the garden
And kneel.
I harvest 8 stalks,
All thick and scooped lengthwise
Tinted red on one side.

I remove a few tiny snails
From the leaves
Which are toxic to humans.
But the stems are very tasty,
Bittersweet.
More bitter than sweet
So my wife counters that
With just the right amount of maple syrup.

Where is the Matrix now?
This early chore has unplugged me.
I am an old Neo
Making my way back to the house.

Right now the algorithms of the fucked up universe
Cannot touch me with a ten foot pole.

I have a young friend, a father,
Who is raising two daughters, 5 and 7.
When it is time for them to clean up
He doesn’t tell them to put their things away,
He tells them to give their things away.

Perhaps the revolution has begun.

……………..

The first line in this poem is from an email I wrote to a friend who works with plants (especially certain plants) shamanically. What happened was just like I describe: As soon as I stepped outside and breathed, Bam!, I was caught up in a green spell, and was powerless to do anything but stand there and allow the green life force to enter my lungs and cells. So there I stood, powerless and grateful. This person that I emailed came to mind because I knew he would know what I was feeling. It was while I was standing outside and breathing that my wife called to me from the kitchen asking me to get some rhubarb. The “journey” of that errand into the green world of our back yard triggered the cascade of associations that contributed to the rest of the poem.

Featured post

Two realities

Bodies were lying for weeks in the streets.
We couldn’t bury dead people.
We tried not to watch them.
It was more important to save our minds.
Burying the dead equalled being killed.
The shelling was non-stop.
We all stayed in the basement.
We cooked food on a fire.
We lived off what we could find in the gardens.
When the food got low we decided to leave.
Everyone brought everything they had.
We all shared everything.
It helped us not to lose hope.
We waited for weeks for the weather to improve.
Today was the first nice day in May!
I watched my wife pull out every Lilly.
Now there is room for roses.
We tried to find new homes for the lilies.
We couldn’t just let them all die.
The work was nonstop.
We found the chicken wire in the basement.
We cut new poles.
We planted peas and beans.
One of the gardens is a shared garden.
The garlic is doing well as always.
We hope they deliver the compost soon.

……..

The first reality (lines 1-13) is based on a BBC News report, “We tried not to watch” by By Sophie Williams and Olga Pona.

I want to say something about the language of the first reality. It is tired language, pooling subject and object, collapsing syntax, as if someone had asked a physically / emotionally exhausted / maybe even traumatized  person a question and they answered reluctantly, with flat affect as if avoiding reliving anything they are recalling. (In fact this is the case.) For example, when the speaker says:  “Burying the dead equalled being killed.” there is sense that it is too upsetting to say more than this. Or take the  line “It helped us not to lose hope.” This makes a kind of blurry sense; obviously more could be said, but the speaker is incapable of saying more. 

I decided to accentuate the speaker’s lack of animation or affect by phrasing each thought as a clipped statement and having each statement be a line. I have used this technique of separating and simplifying (often over-simplifying) thoughts as a way of using a poem to tell a just-so, no frills story, the way a child might tell it. By simplifying the voice, or narrowing the bandwidth of the voice, there is a childlike or innocent quality that comes through. Less nuance, less hyperbole, less opportunity for linguistic trickery and sleight of hand, less metaphor! Using this style you can say something fantastic or incredible and it just sounds credible, or at least it sounds like the speaker isn’t just making something up.    

Just one more thought, regarding the Lilies of the Valley. My mother taught us this round when we were little and used to sing it with us:

“White coral bells upon a slender stall,

Lilies of the Valley deck my garden wall.

Oh don’t you wish that you could hear them ring!

That will only happen when the faeries sing.”

Featured post

Quitting controversy: How to grow an internal rainforest

“. . . loneliness is ‘as harmful to physical health as smoking 15 cigarettes a day.’ While no consensus emerged on an optimal number, Catherine Pearson (NYTimes) did find that more isn’t always better: “Spending time with friends you feel ambivalent about — because they’re unreliable, critical, competitive or any of the many reasons people get under our skin — can be bad for your health.”

What struck me about this quote was that it isn’t just just loneliness that can adversely affect our health but controversy and self-imposed isolation because our environment is energetically unhealthy. And I think that is just the tip of the iceberg of what many of us (Americans) are dealing with day after day, decade after decade.

This made me reflect back over the last few years of watching the United States devolve into nastiness and stalemate and sterile argumentation that has seeped into communities, social circles and friendships. I quit smoking when I was 22 (almost 50 years ago) but I never quit controversy. I never found any good reason to, but I never really stopped to think that all the times that I lost an argument or debate I was stuffing or internalizing the fight for survival! And I never considered that controversy might be addictive and that it might be slowly killing me.

What I’ve learned about health (because of Covid) over the last few years has reinforced what I knew intuitively for decades, that we get the kind of government and leadership, and even the kind of society and friendships we deserve. If we are fighting inside ourselves, at war internally, then how can we dream of manifesting a better world where we aren’t seeing everything in terms of dealing with enemies and engaging in battles – for health, for a better environment, for a just, fair and equitable society, even for peace.

I’ll get back to the opening quote, but first I want to share how, over the last few years, thanks to listening to certain health experts, my dimmer switch has been gradually, but steadily, turning clockwise. I’m going to stick my neck out and propose that what we all yearn for is some kind of awakening. Many of us are close but something always pulls us back when we are about to crawl out of our cocoon. Just when we’re about to unplug , like Neo, from the Matrix, something we read, or something someone says, or even something we eat returns us to the mother-program.

Several years ago I traveled to Peru with a small group, to a remote retreat in the rainforest to work with Ayahuasca. A few weeks prior to leaving Vermont, we were advised to ween ourselves off of technology, sugar, sex, caffeine and prescription drugs (if feasible). Once at the retreat we were put on a special diet of rice, plantain, and Native fish, and eventually a juice and water fast. We underwent ritual purges and sequestered ourselves from any extraverted activities. Only then were we administered certain herbal medicines, all leading up to our first of four ayahuasca ceremonies, which followed for the next week, each two days apart.

Before partaking of ayahuasca, we had one consultation with the master shaman. when we were supposed to tell him (via a translator) what was wrong, what we were hoping to heal. We were advised, rather than citing a specific problem, to say that we wanted to heal our core. Much of the preparation (the purges, the fasts, the special diet and the acclimation, even the long journey there) had to do with an energetic / emotional / you might even say, a karmic, detox.

I now see how, in order to heal our core, it behooved us to unplug from the Matrix-like program that we are all caught up in, in this part of the world. The more successful we were at doing that before inviting ayahuasca into our system, the easier it would be for ayahuasca to help us. We had to “unplug” just like Neo does in the movie. Through the shaman’s eyes we were toxic, walking time-bombs! . . . which is why many people who work with ayahuasca say that the first few sessions are equivalent to years of analysis / therapy.

But how many of us are going to journey to the rainforest to work with ayahuasca. Aren’t there other ways to unplug? Of course there are. They are just less dramatic and they are not concentrated into 12 days!

We can seed our lives with practices that are geared to awakening that slumbering or programmed part of us that might respond to a Tai Chi class or Tai Kwon Do, or a beginning yoga class that also teaches meditation. We can avoid friends who pull us into fruitless, bitter debate.

But what I recently discovered, just when the memory of my rainforest immersion with ayahuasca was becoming, well, just a memory, is that diet can also get us there — eliminating sugar, wheat, cutting back on dairy, eliminating red meat, eating organic, wild and fermented foods. Building up our microbiome changes us for the better. Our microbiome is our inner rainforest. In a healthy rainforest, all the creatures and life forms that exist there are not living by Darwin’s precept of survival of the fittest. The rainforest is about interdependent communities that thrive through coexistence. I realized that when I was down there. No one had to tell me. I sensed it. It was as plain as the nose on my face, that this was much more like paradise than Darwin’s war zone.

The same is true of a healthy gut. In a healthy gut hundreds of bacteria and micro-organisms get along just fine. When the gut is down to a few (10-20) bacteria, they compete and battle for supremacy, just like Darwin saw nature. When our gut is like that (dumbed-down), there is a ripple effect of tension, that ripples through our body, and we experience the world the same way — dog eat dog. Diversify your gut and you have your own internal rainforest.

Getting back to the opening quote. So, one way to unplug from the Matrix is first choose who we interact with. Avoid fruitless debate and controversy. It’s that paradigm that is wearing out our welcome on the living planet! Take charge of what you eat, start a practice that is geared to awakening the part of us that longs for a different kind of world. And good luck.

………….

A brief exchange with my brother, Dave Lindorff:

Dave: Pete Seeger lived to be 96 and never stopped fighting against war and social injustice. He was splitting wood for his wood stove the year before he died, using he old sledge and wedge system. Amazing. I believe the answer is to never lose hope if you can’t win an argument with an idiot. I believe if you have hope, you can keep on plugging and engaging in controversy in the name of a better world. Brother Dave

Me: I agree there are some people who can handle controversy, without losing their cool, but they might tend to be people who have a lot of other things going for them, and aren’t all about grinding the ax. When I think of Pete Seeger, since he is your example, I think of someone who is a force of nature, writing and singing songs that changed people’s minds and hearts. I would never see him as argumentative, but as someone who just knew what he believed and didn’t get caught up in trivial debate.

Featured post

71 and still doing dumb things

I attended a medicinal herb workshop
At my neighbor’s, a gifted herbalist.
The workshop was well attended.
About 20 people, spanning age 5 to 80.
After gathering in a circle,
Enjoying a mug of nettle-tulsi tea,
We walked to the big garden together
Where we were introduced to some herbs:
Yarrow, echinacea, chickweed, lavender, lemon balm and others.
We listened to stories about how these plants
Have helped people often in unexpected ways.
We were invited to smell and taste each one.
Later we were asked to pick an herb
And spend some time with it,
About 15 minutes,
Introducing yourself, just see what comes up.
Our teacher emphasized,
Don’t question whether you are just imagining something,
Then we will break into small groups
To share or just listen to each other.
And don’t say that nothing happened!
I decided to sit with lemon balm.
There was one clump that, our teacher explained,
needed to be transplanted
To another spot in the garden.
I sat beside this clump and introduced myself:
I am Gary, I said.
I chose you because
I am saddened by how badly
The human race has treated nature
During my life.
I want to apologize for that
But I would also like to ask if you might help me
By lightening my spirits.
First nothing happened. I just sat there
Next to this lemon balm,
And then something did happen.
There was a stirring around the leaves
And all these beautiful tiny faeries appeared,
Half hidden, but clearly anxious
To reveal their presence to me.
They were in constant motion,
Peeking out, emerging from the shadows between leaves,
Just long enough for me to see them,
And withdrawing, only to reappear shyly somewhere else.
Recalling our teacher’s admonition,
I fought back questioning whether I was making this up,
But I never succeeded 100%.
Funny thing is, the more I questioned myself,
The fainter they grew until
By the time we were being called back
They had completely vanished into the shadows between the leaves.
We broke into groups of three and four
And shared our experiences.
There was one woman who was in tears.
She had also chosen to sit with lemon balm
And was so moved by her interaction with the plant,
She couldn’t talk about it.
Later we were invited to dig up a plant or part of a plant
And bring it home with us.
Several people wanted some lemon balm
And the largest plant was the one with the faeries.
I was the one who was handed the spade.
The plant was to be divided into four.
That was when I realized my mistake,
Or rather, it was when I applied my weight
To the flat top of the blade and felt the plant resist
That I realized my mistake.
But by then I was focused on making the cut.
And another.
I was not the same person who had,
Less than half an hour ago,
Thrilled like a child
At the appearance of the faerie folk.
I was behaving just like humans have been behaving
Toward nature for hundreds of years:
For, as Thomas Hobbes, 1588 – 1679 wrote: “What is the heart, but
A spring, and the nerves, but so many strings. . .”
And Robert Boyle (1686) praised God for making
“So great and admirable an automaton as the world,
And the subordinate engines comprised in it.”
I still wonder if the faeries will appear
In my fourth of the clump
That I sat with, when I was so sad
And asked for it to uplift me.
For, I am certain, that if they aren’t there,
My “spring” will be even sadder than before.

………………

I consulted with a friend about the “dumb thing” I did, that is, to not stop myself when I was about to divide the plant into fourths with my spade, to lay the spade down and ask my friends to give me a few moments alone with the plant, to communicate with both the plant and the faeries (my new friends), to see how the plant felt about being quartered and transplanted, and how the faeries felt about the same upheaval. Here is how my friend (a shaman and teacher of Celtic [and pre-Celtic] shamanic practices) responded: “My gut feeling is that they are part of the land where the plant grew and probably stayed on the land.  However, you might discover that they went along for the ride to a new locale.”

I think the reason I was dumbed-down was, I was not listening to my gut or my heart, but only my head, which does not believe in faeries, but is quite good at plowing ahead.

Featured post

Thoughts on the difference between death and “passing” and what happens when we die:

I recently posted a poem: “Good-bye to a friend” about a good friend’s death. The poem (revisiting the evening I joined a few friends to serve vigil and see this man off with stories during the night of his passing via Zoom), made me think of my own death. I find that I can’t comfortably use the word “passing” because when someone dies, the person we knew is “dead” to us. That is the cruel reality, at least initially, of a loved one’s passing. We experience that they are utterly gone. 

I wish there was a word halfway between someone’s “passing” and someone’s “death”. Death is what we experience from our side of it and passing is what the dying experience. But what does it mean to say someone has “passed”?

Here is where I need to say, I do know that reincarnation is real, a reality. (Ever since what I refer to as my mirror experience, [see my memoir “Finding Myself in Time”], age 19?, 20?, reincarnation stopped being hypothetical or just an esoteric concept or belief. Echoing Jung’s statement, “I don’t need to believe, I know.”) . . . For 50 years I have known, beyond a doubt, that we are destined to encounter the same souls throughout the course of many lives. And yet there is still a kind of finality to someone’s passing / death. In fact there needs to be! When someone dies we have to fully experience their death and then we have to expand our awareness of how there is something inclusive and miraculous . . . a kind of greater love – that floods in, not to overwhelm but to contain the event of a loved one’s death. If we can, that is, if we are willing to let go of that person, to let them journey into that greater love, we find that they aren’t really lost to us because we are held by the exact same love that receives them. There is a great mystery to this: We want to hold onto the person, but we can’t. If we let the person go and concentrate our love on the essence of our loved one, we are participating in a profoundly healing mystery.

Let me unpack this mystery a little.

Let me repeat what I “know” . . . that every one of us is an incarnation of an infinitely loving or compassionate and soulful creation that has chosen to incarnate. But what happens to the signature “essence” of the person we loved when they die / pass?

Every death is an initiation, in the sense that death severs our intimate connection with the deceased, with the finality of a sword. When someone we love dies we must make a descent into grief. Our culture is not much help at this point, whereas some much older cultures are much better at spiritually preparing people to let go of the dead so they, the bereaved, can ascend from grief and prepare for the next stage of letting go of someone.

These older cultures do not claim that the person is resurrected somewhere but these wisdom cultures tell us that the essence of the person remains intact, and it is that essence that is reincarnated, the very essence that we love!

It is not helpful to imagine that a person is resurrected in an afterlife. That theology blocks us from coming around to a much more enlightened (I dare say, evolved) view, that the essence of the person we love actually does continue! We all know, in our hearts, that love is indestructible and eternal, but we need to take that one step further, planting that awareness of the immortality of love, in the compatible reality of a reincarnating soul-essence.