Saturday, December 11, 2010

Through the Layers

Remembering Janine
December 16, 1950 - December 11, 2005


A torrential storm is forecast today. A river of tropical memories is headed for our coast. A surge of the sun's heavy lifting will be brought down to earth. Today's storm is a reminder to breathe between the long and silky streams of history.

Five years ago, heavy snow was tumbling past my city window. The world has melted since then. Five years now. And two hundred miles north your shining star was flickering, swirling in your final breaths, surrounded by your family... except me.

We shared the same
winter waves though.
A white crystal field awaited
your smoky eyes.
Now the smoke
of Pele's dreams rains
down on my field.

I feel you, Anam Cara,
between the raindrops,
here in the winter wandering.

Do you hear the same streaming
storm above your head too?
Or are you living somewhere else?

Here,
between these words,
the white and bleached opening
of a thousand memories,
of woodland and glade and
island songs, made into the vellum
in layers like snow.

I miss you.
I breathe deeper than before.
Life moves on through the layers.
I know deep love.
I still remember.

Thank you for teaching me how to find the poems that live everywhere.
Thank you for teaching me the joy, healing and finally the grief of love.

I will make my life a "YES!" today because of you.

RSS


(c) Rick Sievers 2010

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Together in the Tunnel

The Tunnel to the Sea at Oceanside, Oregon

"Always from a child's hand the sword
should be removed."
Francis of Assisi

I just sat there.

I heard the hateful talk, the jokes about "the others", the generalizations about sexual orientation and even race. I heard how America is founded on free speech and that people should do and say as they please... as long as the topic is not outside the norm of the shopping mall and the flickering trance of the television. I sat stunned with a grimace in the fainting form of a grin on my face. A knot in my stomach. I just let the dark words pass into me. I had little external reaction that was fierce, contrary or even reflective.

I was a pacifist in the in worst manner of the term. Me, the man who claims to be for inclusion, peace and respect. I was mute to the strains of hate that are in the spirit of our society. The worst part is that this talk was in my own home, at my dinner table. I sat there with a plastic face.

This isn't just a confessional. It is an object lesson on just how easy it is to confuse resignation and being nice with a true fierce kindness. It's also a lesson about how unloving ideas live and breed behind the most passive of facades.

Besides disappointment with myself I am left with questions.

Where does kindness and respect come into
the privilege of free speech?

What is my role in the coarseness of our society?

How do I behave as a free person
when I feel afraid much of the time?
Afraid to be visible.
Afraid to rock the boat.
Afraid to be myself.


Can silence also be a form of violence?

I have a soul sister and friend, who listened to my confession and pondering today. She talked about how we are all moving as a river, together, ineffable, and whole to the sea of the Great Spirit. We talked about the challenges and the gifts and teachings of simply being alive in such a dynamic time.

There were no conclusions made. But talking with her allowed me to not be dispirited. I felt a companion's hand in my hand as we moved through the dark tunnel of grief together.

I have many friends, of many colors and stripes. And I will stand up again and try to remind my little world how beautiful and important they are to me.

A closing quote from St. Francis:

"Can true humility and compassion exist in our words and eyes
unless we know we too are capable of
any act?"
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(c) Rick Sievers, 2010

Both quotes from Daniel Ladinsky's book:
Love Poems From God
Penguin Putnam, NY. 2002

Monday, November 1, 2010

Burning Leaves in a Wild Sky

Writing to you at my desk
while watching the field, and being loved by all that I see.

It's the leaves that hug the trunk closely that remain green for the longest time. The outer halo of the tree is exposed to burning frost and blazing sky. Our family tree smolders and quakes in the field.

I returned from my mother's home with more gray frosting my temples. Inside, right above my heart, I feel a fire, burning away illusions. My eyes watch all the mothers and fathers slowly change and fall. Life clings to the last sunny day of the season. A flicker of green remains for moments before becoming something more.


Above the woodland, Vs of geese are wheeling in an invisible roundabout. Then they veer toward an inner glimmering and disappear into the fog. Their wild cries echo on the way toward the wild blazing sun that they know waits for them.


An orange star falls. Yellow suns spin from the branches. Behind the bark, the sap oozes toward the dark center of the earth, chasing spring in slow motion. Liquid light is migrating inward as the rain begins to sweep across the field.


On this, the Day of the Dead, I feel the ones who have gone on before. I recall the fallen and the ones shimmering on the edges. They encircle me, watch me, nourish me. I am them. I am also leaning toward winter, blooming bright for the happy mists of Autumn before I become an ancestor too.


How do I want to live in this mist while blazing?

This one precious day is eternity.

How do I follow the winds that are
blowing in my eyes fluttering and bright?


I am circling the field of my being,

wild, happy and free, spiraling

toward home, circling all that ever was.


May the fire of the forest and

the bounty of the misty field be yours today.


May you rise, for moments,

within the sky that sings for you.


May you be wild and free today.


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Copyright Richard Sievers, 11-2020, All Rights Reserved.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

The Poet's House


Robert Sund was a poet that lived and breathed as part of the land around the Skagit River Delta and Anacortes Washington. I admire him because he was a poet that lived in outward poverty and inward opulence. Sometimes I think of what it means to be a poet. Many of the greatest heart scribes lived in obscurity and poverty, especially when they gave their whole life to their work. But that was just the outward appearance.

I think of Robert, how the riches and fame of the burning heart and whispering ink remade him day by day. His hall of light was a leaning shack on a finger loam river which scythed arm fulls of moonlight into his wrinkled window. He was like a monk but not a hermit. He was well known in his sleepy town. I remember when I first shared a dream with him of building a warm refuge for poets and artists. I still feel those dreams meandering in the sing-song tide of my heartbeat. I am here in my refuge. Here I watch the field melt down in the autumn rains. I listen as the trickle of life moving in the grasses, down into the rising stream and toward the faraway sea.

Last night I remembered him and clung to the mystery of our nearly intersecting life paths. I recalled the shack and the woodland and the mighty pen humming upon a burning thought. Suddenly I did not feel so poor or alone. All the riches in the universe opened up inside the hand that writes my life story.

If you feel alone, remember someone who came before and opened the way of longing and life within your heart. What magic is falling outside your window?

This is the life I live... the Great Song spinning all around me and tracing the patterns of belonging in my heart.

Information about Robert Sund (1929-2001) may be found by clicking here at: Poet's House Trust website

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Copyright Rick Sievers, 10-2010

Monday, October 18, 2010

Grandmother

My Grandmother and Grandfather
off the Coast of Avalon,
Catalina Island, CA. Early 1930s.
This was her favorite place and time of her life.

Today would be my Grandmother's 98th birthday. She died while sequestering herself in a house for decades. Her husband abandoned her. She never recovered from the seven years of the "good life" with a smoothly arrogant man. I think of her son who took on the mantle of impatience and meanness in her final years on earth. Yet I finally have a measure of compassion for him now too. He found her hallway closet full of her razor's blood when he was only two years older than me.

This morning I hold my cat who was bloodied by an attack by the wayward tom in our neighborhood bushes. I've seen my feline friend here as elegant and strong. Now I see her as delicate too. Her nostrils are flaring and her eyes wide after the attack. I have loved her and cared for her ever since her owner and my friend died. Perhaps it sounds strange, but I feel my Grandmother's spirit in this little cat. I feel her inside of me too.

I have sequestered myself in memories of my own Avalon, often coasting on memories of a past era. What will I choose as to never enter the dark closet of my ancestors? And how will I choose to be loved and loving instead of feeling arrogant or dismissed?

I write this to you as the cat now purrs and finally relaxes in the sun on the rumpled bed. Wrapped around me is silence. My Grandmother's eyes are watching me, bent and concentrating at the desk.

Who lives in our veins?
We all walk the line between strength and delicacy.
How do we contain the grief and longings that flow there?

What kind of life is a proper memorial to those that have gone on before?

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I dedicate this journal entry to Ann, who loved me and my Grandmother so deeply.

(c) Rick Sievers, October 2010

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Perseverance

Callie, the wonder cat, in our field.

Per-
Severance:

Summer has passed into Harvest Time. For me it has been a month of severance from almost everyone, including my own heart. My writing has seemingly languished. The big ideas of selling my new book have remained ideas, netting 24 sales (so far). My business plan is lost somewhere in a disheveled drawer. I ask my partner to communicate with me and then I become mute. I look for friendship and leave the phone off line.

Strange, the seasons of emotion... e-motion.

I wonder if I'm a quitter. Or has this been a time to recollect myself from a Summer of labor and growth? I ask God for an answer to these queries.

Then I look out my window and see a beautiful coyote in our field. She is gray and tan with thick fur and bright eyes. She appears to be searching for voles or mice in the dewy grass. And she runs on only three legs. Her front right leg is a stump, a painful relic of someone's trap or speeding car.


Who am I to quit? Who am I to second guess the paths of fate and consequence? The word Perseverance comes through the window and lands on the writing desk. Per- Severe... Per-Sever... to be willing to go on and do what you alone can do, to come out from the den and the shadows to hunt and play. The crippling aspects of life, the very things one rails against, become the motivations to come into the light.

The coyote sees me as I go out to watch and protect the chickens. She runs to the edge of the woodland. Perhaps she still observes me, wary, curious and determined to live the only life she can live.

Today I pray for two things:
For a vision of how to live and be creative in this harvest season.
Then for the strength to do what is necessary to bring in the all that I have sowed so early in the year.

I paraphrase my yoga teacher* who says that the purpose of a spiritual practice is to move through to the end of life without regret... even if the movement requires extraordinary balance and perseverance.

May the peace of discipline and determination be yours today.
May you smile upon the harvest that comes to you this season.

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*
Yvonne at Shanti Yoga

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Elements

Elements (c) Rick Sievers 2010

Last week a Google manager on Public Radio said that he has found that about 130 million distinct books have ever been written. All of these are made up of a small number of vowels, consonants and symbols. In our society only 26 letters have blossomed into tens of millions of books and billions of poems. Each one of these works is a literary universe in itself.

When I feel a lack of resources at hand, when I'm scared, I remember the miracle of words. Only 26 letters and 10 numbers make up anything I can write on this earthly plane. Zeros and Ones make up every pixel you now see flickering on this screen filled with news of the universe and songs from every mind connected on the web.

The elements of life are precious and mostly unrecognized miracles because they appear so ordinary. Yet the possibilities and unique combinations are infinite.

Is your bank account ebbing? Is your love tank drying up? There is still enough remaining to create from. One alphabet, one vision, one spark of hope can create a whole new universe... or even healing in your particular world.

I try to remember the basics of creation when I write from the heart, when my longing seems thwarted or when my world is crying for relief from suffering.

A few elements can join and make a miracle. You have a unique combination of building blocks that make up your essence... and your gift to life.

I remember today that who I am and what I do is adequate and miraculous in the ordinariness of everyday living. It's a privilege to play within the letters and songs that well up from the deep ocean of our world.

The act of creation,
not necessarily the outcome,
is what's important to me.

Creation is happening all around us,
even on this very screen.
We're made to be ourselves...
elemental and unique.

RS

(c) Richard Sievers, August 2010

Monday, August 9, 2010

Letters to Kali

Junior 10/2008 - 8/2010

Four days after putting the cat down:

Junior was an innocent and trusting soul, and very sweet. He was happy until last Thursday when he suddenly began great suffering physically. I had a choice of either allowing the suffering to continue, fruitless surgery or to euthanize him. I made am impossible decision. I held him as he died. I found myself aware of his simple presence still within me even after I cradled his little lifeless body and wept. I have thought about Kali, a goddess that strips away illusion, one who is fierce and ruthless with an intention of creating harmony and enlightenment.



Kali,


Why must destruction come with creation? I am speechless as a corpse, yet angry and demanding like a newborn child. The world is shoving at the light of love with pitchforks and sickles. Must I love the destroyers as much as the creators? Why does life take such a push and tug to make anything beautiful? I sit and write to you from the Zen garden we created as a peaceful retreat. The moles tear up the yard beneath your statue in our sanctuary.



Can’t there be place that is a refuge? You answer “Yes, but it is not a place.” You push back my hair gently before you sever my head. Why must you kill to enlighten?

~~

Kali,


I have become death for my little friend who was suffering. Now I suffer remembering my kitty's cry and plaintiff shudders. He knew death was coming at the end. Our prized golden cat knew no real danger during the life he shared with us. He knew no fear until the final moments of a life I tended… then ended. The vision of the needle became my recompense. I became you, Kali.

Now you hover beside me and ask: “What else must die little one?” Must I give up everything I bought so dearly to save my flowing life from becoming the sea? A shudder surges in and out of my flesh. I am the one who has hardly known anything But fear.


A ruthless truth wells up from deep within me: I must become a truer aspect of myself now or my soul will shrivel and die.


Inside I hold Junior and cry, remembering the happiness of love even in the severance.


RS



(c) Rick Sievers, 8-2010

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Why I Write

I watch the cat out by the edge of the wild field of poppies. She sits and waits and watches with her whole body. Usually she'll catch a vole, or if she's lucky a mole. When she scents the prey she stiffens and quivers and leans into her hunt. Her ears taught, body firm, she has one hundred percent attention upon her quarry. To some this attention might be akin to love.

If a poet does not seduce a poem, s/he lives lonely.

I wait at the window's edge. I see the cat and her work and my own death scampering about in the tall grasses.

For a moment a breeze ruffles the green sea prairie. And I am floating upon this very page, crossing to an island full of voices in caves and eternal twilight forests. Then the moment passes. The winds fall back to calm earth. A still small whisper says: "Good. That is a beginning. Now wait. Soon enough, I'll be in your arms."

I write now because it's all I really can do as work that's worth much to me. I've prepared my whole life to create poems and colors for my field of earth. Everything I love has revolved around the blank page... solitude, Spirit, surprise that life ends and begins again, beauty everywhere.

I notice these things with my whole being.

I'm ready to begin falling into this page. I put the pen upon the paper. I wait, and then hear a rustle in the grasses. My whole body becomes alert.

RS

(c) Rick Sievers, August 2010.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Milestones

Field of Sky (c) Rick Sievers, 2009

In yoga last night we contemplated the mid line of our body. A key to health is the act of coming back to the center of gravity and back to the fulcrum of movements. Everything, muscle and gristle, blood and bone, moves back to the center of the body as a pause between movements. I suppose this is true for endeavors of the spirit and psyche too. There is a thin red line from the ultimate dimension that runs through our lives, bodies and spirit.

Yesterday, I sent my first published book of poems off to the publisher for review and a proof copy. I wrote my first humble book. And another is on the way. But before I start another process of doing and spiraling in the creative process I pause. I come back to the mid line of my breath and vision.

This morning I sit with the cat purring. I do the work of observing the trees flocked in mist. I see the garden bent with dew. The sun is polishing the granite of sky, turning it soon into pure lapis and shining gold. I am a cloudy day full of words and colors. Soon I will be a poem. Soon I will shine.

This morning is a reset for my creative life.
I rest my back upon the milestone of my yearnings.

After you put in the fire of effort where do you return to?
Is there a sustainable cycle of burn and rain, growth and production, fallow time and reflection in your life?

R

PS The book is called Earth, My Body. I'll let you know when it is ready for the public.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

A Year to Live


Me, before the towers fell.

I've been rereading a book by Steven Levine: A Year to Live: How to Live This Year as If It Were Your Last. He quotes his friend who said that: "Survival is overrated." That was a shocking quote when I first read it. Then it made me laugh at the fussing I create over the details of daily survival.

What would life look like if it was not centered around fear and survival?
What destiny do you want to commit to in this embodied life?

Clinging to control and smallness is a way of living that is not serving compassion in this world. Mr. Levine suggests that there are important aspects of becoming aware in this process of living and ultimately dying. One is a non judgmental review and healing of one's psychological and spiritual past. The other is being present in the here and now. For me that comes through simply noticing what is.

Right now I feel more life energy leaving me than is generated within me. That leads back to the question: What would you do if this year were your last? What would I do? For one thing I'd be here talking with you. I'd also write and paint the story that only I can tell. And I'd make changes in how I view myself and my destiny.

How's your life, right now? Is there something important or seemingly small that you've put off for someday soon? What are the consequences and insights gained from the putting off? What would your life look like if you said "Yes!" to something that calls to you from a deep and loving place?
This is a photo of my brother, so happy, on the eve before his death.

I love you Robbie.
I miss you my sweetheart brother... beloved.
How do you feel about my life?
What can you tell me about living from your place of wisdom?

Dear reader, what are your ancestors saying about living life more fully? What would happen if you named and expressed the song in your heart?

R


(c) Rick Sievers, July 2010

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Garden Prayer


Garden Prayer


Walk with me Beloved.

Make this garden like the first.

Let me hold your hand and kiss your face.

Let the animals lay beside us as we ponder rain drops.

Let us share the sweet fruits of the happily laden tree.

Let us laugh with a joyous joke that only we understand.

Be with me in the garden Beloved.

Let us be lovers unashamed.

Let me wipe your tears away.

Let me name the deer you have raised in the woodland.

Let me sow in the same clay from which you made me.

Let us worship love as we look into each other's eyes.

Walk with me in the sunlit garden…

this innocence like the first.





(c) Rick Sievers, July 2010












Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Summer Snow

I've been in a creative funk this past month. I show up to my desk nearly every day only to stare out the window. Finally I breathe in and remember that the Great Creator is my source. Then I accept that my soul is working on other things that are deeper than the jumble of scribbles left on the page. I wrote a poem about the process:



Here I am again,

staring out the window,

sitting at this tattered desk.

The coffee cup is empty.

A soft cloud is hovering over the field.

Mist is mourning the sun.


The day is spread out before me.

I have a calling to create something beautiful.

Yet here I am, waiting, again,

creating only a jumble of thoughts,

catching empty space after

the memories and schemes have fled skyward.


Mist rises eventually.


The sun is coming, someday,

out there, in here.

The blazing sun will burn into Autumn.

Then comes the end of thought.

Then comes winter.


How can I make beauty

from the shrugging silence?

I have become the ghost writer,

the one who sits here behind the glass,

day after day wanting to be seen.

It feels like it’s only me

seeing the world rise and fall,

day after day, season after season.


I’m still here.


All the good people are working out there,

making contact with impermanence

and thinking that their solid lives are real.

Me, here, an idiot watching the mist

rise and fall in the middle of July,

feeling winter drifting all around me.


It’s the same pattern here

as in the whole of my life:

Be the a nature boy who dreams a world

back into orbit while the busy people rush by

so importantly on their errands,

while I am lost in the silence

of a rare summer mist shimmering

with the beautiful impossibilities of snow.



(c) Rick Sievers, July 2010

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Suddenly...


In the Cabin above the field...

After a while you don't notice the diamond shine in the window you set with so much care. The new desk you made is suddenly ten years worn. You've lived free of a cubicle job for a decade and a half on the edge of living your dreams. Suddenly you're fifty, not thirty when you smoked, drank and did all sorts of things that makes one blush. Now you contemplate the garden and pray for the dog that that is aiming for your gratitude with his plaintiff barking.

All the hard work to lay up this knotty pine wall, all the to-do lists and plywood scrabble, that is all just the jetsam of living now. Your memory is suddenly the shining sea. Your attention is the sky shattered with diamonds.

Suddenly your mother is old and your own mornings are achy. The dreams of a wild wood island are dusted off and then set in a frame by your window.

You step out into this morning, into this field, into this moment and breathe deeply.

Where did the time go?
And how has the love of your gaze changed in this one precious, fleeting life?

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Monday, June 7, 2010

Song of the Stones

"'I tell you,' he replied, 'if they keep quiet,
the stones will cry out.'"
Jesus in the Gospel of Luke 19:40

I have the part-time privilege of working on the land of my community: People of the Heart. I stay busy pulling weeds, coaxing gravel onto the trails, digging in the rock strewn clay and trimming the waves of grasses. I also help with revealing the sacred altars that already are singing beneath the forest duff.

My friends, J & J, are the legal and spiritual stewards of this land. They asked me to move a great stone a hundred yards into a meditation grove above their labyrinth.

A great basaltic hulk stood to the top of my knees. It must have weighed 400+ pounds. So I devised a way to muscle it up onto a dolly and strain my way down to the grove. I tackled the stone with will and force, the way many humans are inclined to do when reshaping nature.

After an hour of sweat and mud and pushing flattened wheels through the woodland I paused. I remembered the vision of this place: a co-created community including all beings... including the stone people.

So I sat and prayed to the essence of the stone. I journeyed to its mysterious dark heart. I did not hear the literal voice of the stone, or spirit's wisdom or an angel's advice. Instead, my prayer became a circle of gratitude. I began to really see the stone. It was no longer viewed as a resource or something to be subdued. I saw it as a part of the Earth's living heart, and as part of me.

Then I became partners with the stone.

It yielded its secrets, like how every stone has tipping points. These are the soft edges that are fulcrums of movement. If I could move the stone up on one of these edges then its own weight would move itself with its own momentum. No clever maul of a mechanical device was required. I rolled this behemoth the last 80 feet with relative ease and absolute respect.

Before rolling the stone into the slot that I'd prepared in the side of the mountain I prayed again:

"Please move within my hands,
so I may be your friend,
so I may be pleasing to the spirits of this place,
so your beauty may be revealed."

The great stone slid into the nook of earth, and is now a seat for meditation. Its beauty fills the grove.

I'm reminded of the ways of creation. Many people live as if we are to subdue and tame the Earth. Yet the strains and tragedies of that mindset are breaking our world into separate squabbling pieces.

A small, soft edge can be the fulcrum from which a seemingly impossible weight can move. I'm reminded how we are at home when we pause, sit still and see the creation... then we hear its song.

The stones sing
for you when you listen.
Our very bones are made
from their long melodious dreams.

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(c) Rick Sievers, June 2010

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

The Weight of Beauty

An amazing wave of storms has come this Spring.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
"... As the man works

the weather moves

upon his mind, it's dreariness

a kind of comfort."
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Wendell Berry
From his book: Window Poems
Excerpt from Poem #6



It's like the rain will never cease. Steady, silver threads are winding up in a whip of wind and mist. The snap of the storms anchoring persistence seemingly drowns the light in the eyes.

Yet outside the cabin window clover reaches from its green bed, uncurling scarlet fists of crimson flowers. The maple tree is pink and burdened with tender growth. The stream song soars up through the woodland in her crystalline concert of drip and whoosh. Outside, the garden tosses in a sleep of mud. Eager shoots from the seed of last years sunflowers break the surface. The soil is heavy and verdant from a winter that is obstinate in its passing.

On the rusted barbed wire of the pasture rest pairs of swallows. Fed by their hunger, they attempt sorties between the pregnant drops. Then they land, with heads bent, surrendering to the draping blanket of rain.

The world is an ocean
of imagination. It is dreaming
a cleansing storm
as we watch
for signs of summer,
as we wait for the sun
to pull the grey
curtains aside.

Let the rain come!

Open the door
of your shelter.
Step out into
the storm's tidal
truths.

The world was meant
to be experienced,
even the rain.

The elements are singing in their deluge.
Do you hear their song?
The weight of their beauty is not too much to bear.

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(c) Rick Sievers, May 2010, All Rights Reserved

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Where Shall I Flee?

"Whither shall I go from thy spirit?
or wither shall I go from thy presence?
If I ascend up into Heaven, thou art there;
if I make my bed in Hell, behold, thou art there.
If I take on the wings of the morning and
dwell in the innermost parts of the sea;
even there shall thy hand lead me,
and thy right hand shall hold me."
From Psalm 139

I flew to Maui on a last minute impulse. I had been feeling my soul slip into an agitated despair that concerned me. So I did something rare for me. I did something unplanned. At the last minute, I flew 2500 miles and landed here at the Mana Kai in Kehei.

I came here with the idea to get away from my difficulties. In an external sense this has worked. But the truth is that most of my difficulties are internal. I came here also so I can integrate and learn the lesson of the last few years better and deeper.

One truth that rises up is that I am 100% responsible for what I do with my feelings and how I react to life's lessons.

So far I have found an empty place where feelings once sang. I have found my own grief as I hang on the song of the sea from eight stories up.

Only a month ago I still owned my own island "paradise". I grew up as a child in Eden there. After ten years I took on a god's voice and exiled myself into reality.

I am here, now, sitting with myself and praying. Mostly what has happened is that I just soak in the sun and float in the ocean. I float in the salt until my skin is on fire. Yet my heart remains buried deep in the jade and amber well of the surf.

When the sun begins to burn I dive deep and listen to the whale song in the stillness below.

There is no place to run to that is too far from the Beloved's spirit. That's what I tell myself. And that's what I want to believe with a grateful heart.

RSS

*
(Mana Kai roughly translated means Great Spirit of the Sea
This is a wonderful unpretentious place to recollect oneself. Link)

Monday, May 3, 2010

Writing on the Glass




We spent the weekend in downtown Portland for our one year wedding anniversary. Saturday had been prom night.We spent a night punctuated with the laughter of a thousand young people dressed in tuxes and pink dresses. The darkness had been filled with the drunken freedom of teenagers. We were high above the pulse of the streets in the Westin Tower.

All Sunday morning I sat on the window sill of our room and watched and listened from my perch. Below, the street car rumbled in concert with the racket of shopping carts and BMWs. Sounds rose and fell in the dewy morning sun. The whisper of a train. The shuffle of feet. The flap of an empty flag pole. Last night's prom revelers were inspecting their car crooked wedged against the curb. Tenacious maples swayed in their sixteen square feet of earth.

As I was writing all this into my journal a woman that looked twice her age was rising up from her bed on the sidewalk below me. The sun was falling on her silver hair. Her torn backpack jangled with a tin cup. Her long skirt was faded purple and gold with a patina of grey grime from the street. Perhaps it was an old prom dress? Perhaps she'd laughed with her friends once?

The woman stood facing a jewelry store window. Her reflection in the glass was her only visible companion. She raised her arms and bowed her head. Then she stretched out her right hand which was covered with a fingerless glove. She began to write with her index finger in the shiny glass of the store front. She made one sentence finished with the flourish of a big exclamation point. Then she stopped, stepped back and looked at her invisible words. She contemplated in silence, then laughed. She began to write more words, this time with the sway of a measured dance. Her left arm stretched out wide as if in prayer.

She had no pen and no paper.
She had no status in our society.
Yet she had something to say... something from the heart.

When she was done writing on the window she stepped backward as if in awe or fear of her work. She studied the pane of glass. Her throat hummed with a rough sweet cackle. Then she ambled off.

What did the woman write?
And what is her story?
How different is she from us,
the ones that sit behind the glass and looked down?
Are her words seen or treasured
by any spirit or ancestor
or living human being?

I sat five stories up and contemplated my fellow human being... yet it was at a distance. And above me was the watchful heart of an angel, adoring and amused as she tasted the world through my skin.

May an angel watch over this old-young woman
in the ruined prom dress.
May the spirits of the earth read her words.
May Creator enfold her with wings of love.
May her story rise in the book of a thousand poets.

Blessings to you, dear reader.
Blessings to you, whether you are on the outside
or the inside of the glass.

May we remember the story
that is invisible to all but the heart.




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Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Seeing You Through The Window


There is a delicacy in the grandeur.

A sun-shaft sweeps across the green face of the meadow.

It is brilliant gold and then is gone.

A smile rises behind the tear.

~~~


After the morning broke I rushed into the rain to tend to the straining crop of beauty that is embracing our home. After the work outside I walked into the cabin muddy and cold. I sit now at my desk with pink flowers blooming just outside.


The memory of last night trickles in rivulets off the glass. Suddenly I am not present. I remember our dinner together. Real for a moment is the anger sitting as a milky skim on the eyes of a child. The soup my wife lovingly prepared steams as it is pushed away by a child. A light of grief pulls my beloved’s gaze into her bowl. I watch, bent over and small, my trembling spoon sending ripples across my broth.


The wonder of her meal is salted with betrayals of gratitude. A dark seasoning came from many miles away to mist our food. I see it spread onto a young boys face. Sometimes I think he looks toward a future of being eternally right…and unhappy. Then he laughs with a face as bright as any star… and as sweet as any spring day. A shaft of sun comes for a moment. What do I know?


~~~

How do we breathe through this tension of life?

Beauty---pain----comfort---karma.

We take our stands, blocking the deflating punches of warfare kicked at each other beneath our beautiful table.


Blessed wife, there is your creation. I see your gift in the bowl of my soup. Here beside the meadow view…Field so fertile, I hear your roots reach deep and your leaves open wide even as the tractor is humming a song of destruction on the fence line. The barbed wire is taught and the boundaries of posts are strong. But I still am afraid.


~~~

Outside, our cat stalks the chickens as she dangles from the hell bent wire of their coop chattering with fanged teeth. I rush out of my mixed reverie to the aid of the perpetrator and the victims. The chickens peck blithely at their food not knowing that their death is only spared by the intervention of stones thrown and fences bent straight again. I am fierce and open as the sky at the same time.


The boy who bullies our house at night is at school now being bullied himself by ones he calls “friend”. For now this particular field is safe. In the distance I hear the clank of a tether-ball chain swinging back and forth on the play ground. The swell of children's voices rise and fall in the cool breeze. For now the world right here is safe. For now the world here is soft.


It is only morning.

The day is stretched out beyond the window pane, through the rolling cloud banks.

The sun is really not so far away at all.

My love, I wait for you at this window.

I see you.

I am here

~~~

Blessings to you in the places of refuge and grief.
Blessings to you in the places between.
Blessings to you in the sun and the rain.


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Thursday, April 22, 2010

Memorial of the Heart


"...The things you brought from home look back at you; out of place here
They take on a lonely power...

Slowly, a new world will open for you

The eyes of your heart, refined

By this desert time, will be free

To see and celebrate the new life
For which you sacrificed everything."
John O' Donohue
Excerpt from the Book
To Bless The Space Between Us pp. 109 -111

We were carrying the memorial stone for my Soul Friend J on the bow of the speeding boat. It was my last crossing from what was my sacred land. Half way across I asked my friend to stop the boat. We drifted in 70 feet of water. I reached for the fairy statue that held my grief for a love that was lost in the ordinary world. I reached to the winged girl and lifted her gently over the edge of the boat. I released her into the ocean. I watched her upward gaze and her wings swirling deep into the crystalline green of Burrows Bay.

In the past I would have clung to the statue as an emblem and touchstone... something "real", a symbol of a beautiful life that had now passed from this world. My heart now decided to let this concrete image of the spirit go. A gift now rests in a sandy meadow within of a kelp forest at the bottom of the sea.

I swear I heard the vibration of a hundred singing ancestors rise in the emerald shafts of sun. And the song sank right into my chest, where I hear it now. What lived surrounded by a hedge of salal and juniper and granite now is something more.

I think of the statue at rest on the ocean drawer. I smile and feel sad and happy all at once.

Blessed sister, thank you for your life that gave so much light in this world. You still sing. I hear you! The great ocean holds you dearly as it will hold us all. Thank you for joining the chorus in my heart. For now I say goodbye beloved friend.

I miss you. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

Dear reader:

May you meet the wonder of love and compassion behind all the solid forms of this world.


May you hear the song of the universe in your heart.

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(c) Rick Sievers, 2010.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Whispers

Burrows Island April 2010

Shamans have a technique that helps ensure that their entire soul returns to their body at the conclusion of a spirit journey. It's important to have safeguards. The other world can feel so unifying, so peaceful and so beautiful.

The wise soul traveler knows that the deeper they go into the beauty and refuge of spirit the easier it would be just to stay there... leaving the shell of the body behind. Yet the wise shaman knows that freedom also dwells deeply in the connection and even the commitments back in the ordinary world.

So the shaman comes back to their body after flying within the secrets of the universe. S/he comes back to share information, bring healing, reveal beauty or to carry soul parts.

I am no shaman. I'm an ordinary stumbling sensitive man. I have had the great privilege to witness a few rare people with real compassionate power. My gift of sensitivity has allowed me to go to dream worlds. But my frailties made it hard for me to return.

I faced the dilemma of coming home this week. I sold my sacred island land. Today is my final day as legal steward of a place that I actually felt safe and at peace in this world.

I ferried over on a shining silver boat to remove all my belongings. I packed up every tool and blanket and chair. I even took the memorials of my beloved J and my brother. As I was flying back to the mainland on my friend's boat I made a decision:

To come all the way back into this world
and face the realities here.

I also wanted to bring a story
of the earth's beauty back to my family,
and back to you.


The shaman's technique I alluded to earlier is simple. The shaman-spirit traveler has an assistant who whispers in their ear as they return from their soul journey. The assistant reminds the master of the ordinary experiences that bring joy and smiles in this life. These whispers could include things like chocolate cake or holding hands with a spouse or playing cards with the kids. The whisper could be describing an event of beauty like the rush of wild flowers in the cool spring wind.

I'm no master. I sought refuge on the island I called Avalon because I needed the medicine of wildness away from my fear of people. And now I release that particular dream. I come back for my family and friends. I come back to share with you about my journey in a tangled forest and rocky shore of singing tides.

I'm grateful for my friends and family who help transport me home every day. I am grateful for those who remind me of why I am here.

What brings a smile to you?
Is there a way to integrate a safe & beautiful place
right into the ordinary miracle of your body,
here and now?

Peace to you from the shores of Avalon in my heart.

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Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Silver Light of a Passing Storm

The rain gauge leans heavily in a pool of standing water. Two inches of sky have fallen into it since yesterday.

At one o'clock this morning I woke to the thrum of a million water horses galloping across our roof. Sheets of water resurrected from the Pacific rolled by our bedroom window in the darkness.

I lay there recalling
a poignant moment yesterday.
It was a simple and ordinary moment.
It was a moment like this one,
where I happened to wake up.

I was standing on the greyscale prairie of a Fred Meyer parking lot after grocery shopping. My wife was patiently waiting for me in the car. I stood behind the taillights transfixed by the steely clouds rushing through a labyrinth of sun shafts. The storm that had been turning within me and around me had suddenly dissipated. The concerns about the kids, the bills, the leaking roof were washed away.

All around me people were going about their day, pushing clanking shopping carts, or edging into line at the stop sign. The people were going about their ordinary business. Most seemed to be lost in their thoughts or were rushing to get home.

For a moment I raised my arms wide. Swollen raindrops meandered across my open face. The cold golden sun stroked my hair.

I thought:
"How beautiful.

How exquisite this experience

of breath and sight and rain upon the skin."

All the previous morning I had prayed to Creator for release of my attachment and sadness about my island land being sold. I've been trying to let go of a central story about my life that no longer supports me. All that morning I'd stood beside my resistance with a voice that praised a hundred possibilities (and challenges) now open to me.

The prayer of release later rose through my body to meet the sky in a Fred Meyer parking lot. The simple experience left me quiet and awed on the drive home.

This morning the roof still leaks. The bills are still being addressed. And the kids still struggle with their anger and hurt. Yet I recall the moments in the pause between storms. I remember the living power of the storm itself.

These are moments worthy of being seen,
worthy of being praised.

Blessing to You in the pause between storms.

Blessings to You in the silver light of the clouds.

Blessings to You in golden gaze of the sun reflecting your face.

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(c) Rick Sievers, 2010, All Rights Reserved.