Gorilla eyes

The following is a one-page handwritten stream-of-consciousness writing without commas, periods or any other renegade punctuation.  I am typing it into this post in short fragments, like a poem, to make it easier for passersby to read.  Heaven knows where stream-of-consciousness writing comes from!

Posting it here, well, just because.

Dream

Restlessness oh the world

can not be fitted into stories and categories and definitions

oh no except if the stories shine open-ended and

do not point definitively

because it’s all so all so much and

I cannot make heads nor tails nor sense of

lapping waves changing skies and songbird chatter

let alone restlessness in the gut like an invisible piano player

hitting note after note on his duality instrument with

cigar smoke permeating the bar and wine running in the gutters as a

homeless man sobs and a wealthy duchess sips

and how much can a mere mind make sense of this and

yet the thoughts continue to line everything up like ducks in a row

in a carnival game and the man hoists his shooting iron from Turkey

and grins confidently at the laughing woman

on his arm and aims and

bang bang bang

down go those ducks and the carnival guy asks

what he wants and he points to a six foot gorilla and

he carries it to the laughing woman and the shooter goes out toward the

merry go round all bravado never suspecting

in ten months he’ll be dead by sniper’s bullet in Afghanistan and

the woman will weep but only for two nights

before donning her blue dress and sitting in Charley’s bar

trying to forget

those gorilla eyes

The gift of the United Lounge

From the buffet in the United Lounge in Chicago

From the buffet in the United Lounge in Chicago

May I share a little story this morning?  It’s about my airplane flight from Hancock to Chicago last month.  A fellow sat next to me.  A big guy.  Not overweight, simply big.  That’s fine.  Except he took over our armrest.  I had no place to rest my arm.   Shame on him!

The mind started imagining all sorts of stories.  The arrogance of that fellow!  The conceit!  Did he realize he was invading my personal space?  Plus, he didn’t even have the politeness to say hello.  Fie on him!

The thoughts fumed for a while.  I watched them fume.  I craftily asserted my arm space when he reached for a magazine.  We sat in silence.

Eventually, I rested in the silence between thoughts. You know, the heart space where we might suddenly remember this isn’t a sham of a human being.  He is a fellow traveler, just like you or me.  He probably hurts about something.  Who knows, maybe he’s not even aware that he’s taking up so much space.  Maybe he can’t help himself.  Maybe there’s something to learn here.

Ego makes room for spirit. Space opens up, large enough for all thoughts and feelings.

I settled in that heart space, breathing.  I included his large presence in my meditation.  My heart softened a bit more.  OK, maybe he was welcome in this space.  Maybe there is a part of me that’s not comfortable being big.  Maybe there is a part that wants to be bigger.  Maybe there’s a part that hasn’t learned to embrace its own perception of arrogance.

Two-thirds into the trip I ventured to ask him a question about his destination.  We chatted, back and forth, sharing rudimentary information.

He asked how long I had between flights.

“Almost two hours,” I said.

“Would you like to hang out in the United lounge?” he inquired.  “I will be with someone else, but would love to give you the opportunity.  There are free drinks and a nice buffet.  There is also wi-fi, comfy chairs and it’s quiet.  I would love for you to be my guest.”

I agreed. Smiled at what the Universe does when boundaries are stretched.  When dissonance is invited into meditation.  When something or someone disliked is included in the heart.  You never know what might happen then, do you?

Have you experienced a gift like this after spiritually opening your perception?

SLAP and pass the next story, please.

And how did that green line get in the stone, anyway?

And how did that green line get in the stone, anyway?

I told myself sixty stories before breakfast and maybe

you did, too.

about how I wanted toast with coconut oil, tomato and egg like my friend

created earlier this week.

But, no, brown rice rose from the refrigerator and spooned into this belly-furnace

with currants and bananas and slivered almonds instead and I told another

story about how healthy it is to chew, chew, chew brown rice and then swatted a mosquito with

yet another story about how the “I” doesn’t like mosquitoes and SLAP the skeeter quivered and died.

What storytellers we are!

“I” think “I” want a cup of coffee, or think coffee brews evil, or maybe it will allow you to live until 100,

someone said on the news last summer.

Coffee = good, bad, sweet, wonderful, terrible, disgusting, disease-infested, savior!

Who says you aren’t creative every waking moment?  Who says you don’t keep the plot going?

Who says you aren’t the heroine who decides what to do next?

When, in truth, if you strip away the story–what’s left?

When, in truth, if you never wrote a single poem about, say,

what you need to do next–what’s before that?  What’s before you think you decide?

When you look, say, outside the window, without juicy details about how Aunty Delores is really

just plain nuts, and how your mother is dying, and why it’s raining again today,

when you just look plainly, cleanly, innocently,

can you find the creator or created?

Can you separate them nicely into categories of self and not-self?

Isn’t it just this arising, and this arising, and this next arising

all swallowing itself completely here and gone in this eternal space

that never wavers, never even shimmers, never features a beginning chapter and an

ending conclusion?

Oh, but you want something more, you say, some meaning, some excitement.

I know.

Here comes the next mosquito, I’m sure he’s going to bite and my finger will swell and–

SLAP!

Next story, please.

 

St. Peter’s April Fools Joke

Life

Before birth–you remember now, don’t you?–we stood before St. Peter and his Big Book of Earthly Desires and we breathlessly declared our deepest wishes for this quickly passing lifetime.

Do you remember what you wanted so fervently?  I remember peeking in the Book and seeing the golden ink: “I want to help people who are suffering.” “I want to be a writer.”   “I desire to grow food for the hungry.” “Pete, this time I want to fix things for folks–how about a machine shop?” “Saint, sir, I would very much like to spiritually grow up.”

And St. Peter scribbled, scribbled away in his Book with his golden pen and golden ink, nodding, understanding, scribble, scribble, scribble, smiling into his soft beard, truly hearing the beatings of our heart-souls, our desires for creativity and expression on the blue and green spinning planet that whispered to us in slumbering in-between-life dreams.

Once the book closed, off we scurried into waiting wombs, growing hair and skin and patterned cells, a kidney here, a toe there, oh look, fingernails!  We floated in dream-fluid, turning, somersaulting, dreaming with Mama, that mysterious sharing space, that chord of desire.

The day arrived, or was it midnight?, when the moon beckoned beyond, and the Book of Desires flew up and we swam out toward a dim light which now shivered cold, oh-so-cold, oh-so-bright, swat!, breath-what is this?-did I ask for this?-no, send me back to that silver-finned underwater world-I didn’t understand–

And then the weeping, the squalling, the forgetting of dreams.

We grew upward toward the moon, then, our hidden desires bursting bigger, like seedlings pushing through dirt, like red sprouts on the maple tree blossoming open.

Our desires followed us, prodding us, like Daddy behind the bicycle just before he let go.

Into this unruly and chaotic patterned world we burst open, and we followed and preened and dove and surrounded and succumbed to that which our desires beckoned.  Oh how we created!  Oh how we loved!  Oh how we hurt, broke open, dissolved!  Oh how we struggled, didn’t we struggle?, do you remember how we struggled and how St. Peter once winked from the moon whispering, “But you wanted it–”

We wrote til our fingers bled, we painted until colors swirled in our brains, we raised sturdy children bleating like goats with their own desires, we repaired ancient cars, we studied law, we fed a hungry woman in Nigeria, we nursed sick babes toward hopeful health.

We created a thousand paths, no, a million!  We sang for our supper with our endless wants.  We watched a billion rainbows rise from a billion stormy skies.  We created ourselves over and over again.

Until one day, was it this lifetime?  Or the next?  the desires grew weary, tired, old.  Creation sighed and groaned, a limping woman with carved wooden cane.  We felt it all like a lung collapsing, a fish drowned in its own ocean, an erasing of hue, an empty ending.

That’s when St. Peter showed up on our doorsteps, maybe in the guise of a chickadee or slap on the face, maybe wearing rags or carrying a Gucci purse.

Maybe you were staring out the window, downhearted, or maybe you’d meditated since 1986, faithfully, trying to awaken beyond suffering.  Maybe it happened in church in between “Hail Marys” or maybe your husband hit you one too many times.  Maybe nothing happened at all–

Maybe one morning you looked out the window of your eyes and suddenly realized, as if awakening from a dream, that the joke was St. Peter’s April Fooling.  Those desires?  Oh weren’t they fun, weren’t they awful?  When all along we had everything we ever desired–and more–there was nothing to create which already wasn’t whole, perfect, silver, dancing, alive?

We saw, as the fog lifted, the dream of our desired self melting like the Wicked witch in the Wizard of Oz, like Dorothy clapping her red heels, like that man behind the magic curtain, the lovely witch, the land of Oz, the tornado, Aunt Em, the little girl watching television, the light glinting through the window, or was it rain?

Suddenly it’s gone, woof, empty, absent.  No TV, no movie, no viewer.

Nothing except that which never ends, never births, never dies, never dreamed up a St. Peter.

And that nothing is the biggest something, already fulfilled, already enough, already completely filled with every creation and desire your heart ever dreamed, ever imagined, ever grinned, ever exulted, ever hurt, ever wondered!

You turn around, bemused, almost a little embarrassed, wondering, oh yes, didn’t you wonder?–how you fit yourself into something so small as a single point of view when you were everything, the entire TV show, and even that is too small, too tiny to even mention!

Now you create again, but you’re not creating!  Now you dance again, but you’re not dancing!  Now you write again, but no one writes!  It’s a riddle, an April Fool’s joke, and everyone in the heavens laugh in delight, overjoyed, it was a joke, a grand joke, a hysterical joke and someone giggles.  You’re gone and you never really existed.  You were never born.  You never met St. Peter and you never, I swear, this is not an April Fool’s joke, you never read this blog.

A spiritual fairy tale with no happy ending

For all hearts who long to unite with the beloved divine

This morning I am going to tell you a fairy story with an unhappy ending.

Please do not continue to read if your heart longs only for happiness.

This fairy story is true.

Once upon a time there lived a fair maiden here in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.  She lived down near the southern shore and liked to gaze across the blue expanse of lake toward love and freedom and joy.

Unfortunately, she suffered from depression and a childhood of pain.  Unfortunately, her heart was broken like a jig-saw puzzle.  Unfortunately, she felt her heart throb with despair too many days, too many months, too many long years.

She wondered why she lived upon this blue and green spinning planet when it sent sparks of such despair.  She dove into spiritual books, seeking answers.  She attended dozens of spiritual workshops.  She sought God or the Holy Spirit or Jesus or the Great Spirit or Buddha or whatever divinity might hear the plea of her suffering.

Finally, one fine August morning, she met a man.  Not just any man.  She met a man who had flamed the spark of divinity within himself.  He was not a self-realized soul, but he was a charismatic soul who invited the sacred to reside on the inner couches of his love.  Our heroine saw this man and something inside her broke open.  Waters poured through the dry desert of her agony and she glimpsed Heaven.

Ahhh, and what joy existed in this heaven on earth!  Everything she desired shimmered in this new desire-less love.  She sang, she danced, she shined with a Union of the Beloved so sweet, so fulfilled, that she knew she would never want anything beside “this” in her entire existence.

For six months she exploded like an endless firework display.  For six months she felt pure love.  The man mattered not.  He was only the spark which kindled the inner fire. For six months she shined like the brightest star, the brightest sun, a campfire which refused to extinguish its Oneness.

Then, one fine winter morning she awoke.  Or you could say she fell asleep again.  She awoke and the feelings of awe and love and beauty were gone.  The elves stole in during the long night of the soul and retrieved all the joy which completed her.  Gone.

She told me this fairy tale as we walked along the streets of Escanaba, a long long time ago.  Her eyes still sparkled with memories of completion.  I didn’t know then how her heart still ached.

More years passed.  We heard she wasn’t doing well.  Her depression spiralled out of control.

And then, one fine June day, she took her life and ended it.

She didn’t reach the bottom of her despair and awaken enlightened on a park bench.  She didn’t fall to the pits of agony and awaken delighted admiring her toes, marveling that they were called “toes”.  She spiralled into the depths of herself and found only pain and more pain and she swallowed pill after pill after pill to obliterate the too-much-suffering made infinitely worse because she knew, truly knew, the joy of spiritual fulfillment.

She knew the joy of spiritual union and could not find it again.

Would it have been better if she never tasted this fruit?  Better if she never suckled at the breast of the divine?  Never knew holy succor?

Icarus flew too close to the sun and melting wax caused him to fall to his death.  The sun beckons us, but at our own peril.  If we’re mesmerized into Union before we’ve fashioned our entire foundation, we may die.

Then again, we may wake up on a park bench, and the Union remains with us, forever.

Every June I think of Bonnie and her story.  Her spiritual fairy tale with no happy ending.  But who am I to say?  Perhaps she’ll reincarnate with the gift of those six months to propel her closer to divinity.  Perhaps this time she’ll weave the ability to hold joy and sorrow together, inseparable.