Sunday, February 28, 2010

Down the Middle

Down the Middle at Midnight

A Recollection Before Sleeping

I walked right down the middle of Commercial Avenue. Not one moving car could be seen for the entire length of the main street. Red and yellow lights blinked at the intersections. The rhythm of a bongo and a bass guitar rose from the coffee house. A throaty hum rose from the boat pushing her barge out on the straight. I gathered myself within my scarf through bursts of wind. A thousand halyards were chiming on their masts in the dark. A neon sign thick with Pizza and Take Out swung heavily. A flash of the silvery Salish Sea still floated green in my eyes when I hung my head back to view the ceiling of clouds and stars. I spun slowly on my heels at the intersection of Seventh and Commercial. The recollection of this fine day resounded in the wind there on the double line drawn through the middle of town.

One day can be a mirror of a whole life.

In this one day I:

Drew feathers.

Ate blueberry pancakes.

Slept on an ocean ferry.

Said a prayer on a mountain top.

Watched a movie about lightning.

Gave a shining crystal to the shining tides.

Collected three rocks and two ferns from the forest.

Wrote sadness right out of myself.

Smiled beneath the fluttering eye of the sun.

Walked 10,256 steps.

Felt peace and anxiety.

Knitted raw wool of fears into the shape of my heart.

Talked to the sea about my uncle and my brother.

Heard the whoosh of an eagle’s wings.

Tasted the salt of the ocean.

For three days I waited for depression to flow out of me.

And suddenly I am right here among the living, surrounded by beauty and loss at midnight.

Surrounded, but not inundated.

I am free again, after walking down the mid line of a sleeping fishing town.

Everything changes, even the moods of the heart.

How quickly life fills, and then empties.

How dense the delights of a single day can be.

How thick the fog.

How bright the sun.

I close my eyes and smile softly. I close my eyes to sleep.

"I felt the need of a great pilgrimage.
So I sat still for three days
and God came to me."
Blessings to You,

(r) Rick Sievers, February 2010, All Rights Reserved

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

God's Ghostly Galleon

Burrows Bay

I'm writing to you from my favorite temporary home in Anacortes, WA., the Cap Sante Inn . Tomorrow I will cross over the bay to my island land to show it to prospective buyers. Years and great loves have passed since I last stood on the land that claimed me as steward.

Here is a poem I wrote within the time popcorn takes to swell and pop in the microwave. Here is proof that poetry does not have to be good, scholastic, correct or even spelled checked. It just has to be allowed to come forward. There are always words in the waters between the mind and the heart. Just make the crossing.

Three and a Half Minutes
Writing between
the raindrops,
popcorn of ocean's
memory fallen
on the hard streets.

Tomorrow is an ocean
away, an island
hidden in the mist.

Tomorrow is the flood.

Tomorrow is the crossing
to Avalon.
Tonight, the rain,
sizzling ice,
rhiming sheets of
God's ghostly
galleon fluttering,
pulling me
into dreams.

Tonight, the crossing
within cloud layers,
through mountain hearts,
jet-streaming to another
place, another life

Blessings to you my brother or my sister.
Here is a link to a live camera of my island land and Burrows Bay. Check this out at 10:10 AM or 12:30 PM PST on Wednesday 2/24/10 to see our boat crossing. Fidalgo Camera

Wednesday, February 17, 2010


(c) Bubble Rick Sievers February 2010

I do not understand
the mystery of grace-
only that it meets us
where we are,
but does not leave
us where it found us.
Anne Lamont*

I'm thinking that we were born each day with the option of two paths. One is to create. The other is to resist creation.

When I create something with colors or words or in wood I feel lighter and happier. When I create a moment that is of service, no matter how humble and small, the world finds a little more healing.

In my younger days I thought that doing something heroic or magically mystical would be the way to prove myself. I wonder now if the small acts of kindness keep the heart of the world beating. Small things like making breakfast for the kids before sunrise, or opening space for another driver on the freeway are perhaps not that small. And making something from nothing, well that is just plain magical and even loving.

Here's a poignant quote from one the finest authors of magical adventures of the heart, Charles De Lint. It's from his recent book The Mystery of Grace P.235** :

"...Not only do we have magic, it's all around us as well. We just don't pay attention to it. Every time we make something out of nothing, that's an act of magic. It doesn't matter if it's a painting or a garden, or an abuelo (elder) telling his grandchildren some tall tale. Every time we fix something that's broken, whether it's a car engine or a broken heart, that's an act of magic.

And what makes it magic is that we choose to create or help, just as we can choose to harm. But it's so easy to destroy and so much harder to make things better. That's why doing the right thing makes you stronger.

If we can only remember what we are and what we can do, nobody can bind us or control us."

May you find your simple paths of creation today.
May the world grow richer through noticing
the beauty and in small acts of kindness.

* From her wonderful book: Traveling Mercies
**Links to Charles De Lint are underlined

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Sowing Clover

It's a new moon. The earth is breathing in and out. Spring's breath is fragrant this morning. The robin's have returned to hunt in the meadow. Sets of onion and rhubarb are stretching up from their beds. Spring is comes early and wet.

I walk the land with gratitude and also with a sense of grief. Our world is being plundered and disrespected. Democracy is crumbling. There is suffering in every family I know. And even with my good intentions and creative endeavors I am a participant in the acts that hurt the earth. And I am powerless to keep my loved ones from their destructive addictions.

I sow a cover crop of clover anyway. I plan a verdant garden. I walk the land aware of the season's change. I am aware of my fear and my hope living side by side. I wonder how to praise the earth, love my family and serve God more faithfully? The seeds fall willingly into the patient clay.

I recall Wendell Berry's Poem February 2, 1968*:

In the dark of the moon, in flying snow,
in the dead of winter,

war spreading, families dying, the world in danger,

I walk the rocky hillside, sowing clover.

There is this one life, in this precarious time on earth. How will I live consciously without being carried away by the grievous events occurring in my generation? I am sowing the clover. I am creating a loving home. What else must I do?

Wendell Berry replies from his poem Stay Home:

I will wait here in the fields
to see how well the rain
brings on the grass.
In the labor of the fields
longer than a man's life
I am at home. Don't come with me.

You stay home too....

Where is home for you?
What are you sowing there?
Do you hear the rain's beauty song?
What will rise in our fields for the next generation?

* Collected Poems of Wendell Berry, P. 68 and p 105


Thursday, February 11, 2010

Morning Pages

Every blade of grass has it's Angel
that bends over it and whispers,
"Grow, grow."
The Talmud

Every time my pen hovers over a blank white page there is a panic. "Just begin" I tell myself.

I remind myself that I write just for the experience of writing, just to see what will happen. To bring glowing words forward I must be willing to be darkly mediocre and yet also be open to an amazing flow of light.

The practice of writing can be like going to a potluck. It's like walking into a room full of strangers and acquaintances. Just showing up is key to any sort of connection. Then who knows, the experience may be average, superficial chit chat or even lonely. Or the gathering could bring an enlightening conversation that is a pivotal pint in life.

Often times I walk away from gathering of friends saying "I'm glad I went. Why was it so hard to leave our house and come here?" Sometimes the excursion into the unknown can bring you home to yourself.

Today I'm grateful for the practice of writing The Morning Pages. This practice is illuminated by Julia Cameron in her bedrock book for creatives called The Artist's Way. The practice is simply to put the pen on the paper and begin writing whatever words come. Do not lift the pen. Try not to hesitate or edit.

The practice often frees up energetic space in me. Sometimes worry is soothed. Sometimes an insight about my life is brought forward. Just write and practice the release and flow freely associating with whoever wants to come to the party.

I paint not by sight but by faith.
Faith gives you site.
Amos Ferguson

Please check out The Artist's Way Website here or on my sidebar.


Monday, February 8, 2010

Excavation of a Star Part 3

Scattered Star (c) Rick Sievers 2-2010

How much I am like my father: Preparing to create the happy times with my family and myself and then not quite showing up. I feel my father in my veins today. And so I feel adrift, waiting for a blessing, making my home shiny to soothe my unhappiness. Here's a poem I wrote this morning instead of distracting myself with spins of thought. Thanks for reading it. I pray that it helps you to have compassion for the legacies that flow in your veins.

Pole Star

My father was


in my dream

world. So I invited

him into my day-

light reflections.

I found pieces

of a shattered

mirror, with my own

eyes looking

back at me.

I saw the

blue fire of stars

and the moonlit

waves on the storm

bright sea.

I saw wreckage

of his ship

scattered in flotsam.

To the east were the bright

lights of the city,

far across the bay.

To the west

was the Other World

named “Someday Soon”

While in the south

the moon

hung heavy,

a sliver of light,

a sail in Milky Way.

I am the

great pole star

Polaris, the frozen

center of the night

turning in circles.

I am my father’s

son, a glittering

flame in the eternity

of space,

unmovable, distant

and free.

(c) Rick Sievers, February 2010

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Excavation Part 2

Start at the End

A wonderful way to rise into gratitude is to write an epitaph of your life. What would you say today, at this moment, if you could write one page about your particular sacred life? I'll share what I wrote this morning. There a a thousand books that could be written about each life on earth. But what is the core story in the midst of it all?


I’ve had a charmed life.

Though I did not know it at the time,

I did just what I wanted to do.

Found an island and staked my claim.

Found that the paradise was in me all along.

Found a great love and lost her.

Then found my beloved wife as a surprise of joy.

Discovered that the Beloved swam in my veins all along.

Lived in the city bright, a village by a river and on a hill in the suburbs.

Landed on this farm and planted myself in a community of many braids.

Wrote a million words and some of them were wrenchingly beautiful.

Rode the wind on a horse, a scooter, on the thrum thrum of a holy drum.

Knelt to The Christ, worshipped on the light of a mountain when I had nowhere else to go.

Was loved by three compassionate spirits and sat in a silence that was pungent with honey.

Rescued an old cat and sheltered two kids.

Married in a happy meadow and sang while crying beside a grave stone.

Planted a container of seeds and harvested a whole valley.

Paddled a pumpkin hued kayak under meteor storms, sewed a path through roaring canyons.

Walked for days on end and fell into oblivion of wounds for a month of rain.

Swirls of color poured off my fingers on a paper filled with wings and rainbows.

And I lay awake in a fog so grey that is pulled the fire directly from my heart.

Buried my uncle above a Hawaiian valley and I was uninvited to my soul mate’s funeral.

Made love quietly with my shining young wife while an owl sang for his mate outside.

Broke promises to save my own life and then bound myself to the joy of integrity.

Always teared up when the Celtic whistle would moan.

Then found that the whole universe sings a reflection of all the souls alive and dead.

Cut my own flesh just to feel alive and laughed just for the sake of laughter.

Drank heady wine with friends at a table I made from a ship left in the desert.

Held my father’s hand while walking in the fog of Laguna’s beach.

Sat with my mother on the top of a mountain in a horizon of granite and pine.

Heard my brother’s secrets like a confessor and become a man when he became my angel.

Traveled to the arctic on a salmon barge and cruised the blazing equator on a shining ship.

Died three times, twice by the drum, once in a lava sea named the Blue Dragon Flow.

At the end I was resurrected in words that flowed from the prayer of my life.

Met my ancestors in a field of grasses many years after we said goodbye.

Then I lay down within shimmering blades of scarlet green rye and found God and peace.

I became the world of memories and songs within the shining of everything that is alive.

This beautiful Earth, my home forever.

I take you all in and make you into eternity one moment at a time.

I had a charmed life, both sweet and sad.

I was tough and tender, broke but not broken.

Bound by my fears and boundless,

carried by the love that sings everywhere when you listen.

Listen, dear friend, listen.


(c) Rick Sievers 2010

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Excavation Part 1

We've experienced an ongoing leak in an old spigot on the edge of our pasture. Repairing the muddy mess has been something that I've avoided for nearly a year. Last weekend the sun came and shyly peeked through the clouds. So I decided to start digging.

When I uncovered the leaking junction I also found a surprise. The water source pipe appeared to run roughly from the area of our huge shop/studio fifty feet away. This is a place that has been without water since it was built in the 1980s. Water would would be a stellar addition to the workings of the shop and our life.

One thing led to another. I not only decided how to repair the leak. I also decided to trace to bendy PVC to back to it's source in order to build a junction line to the shop.

So I started excavating test holes all over the area the the pipe appeared to be heading. The kids helped guess where the pipe lay. But it took the hard work of digging three foot deep holes. After six holes were dug we found no pipe. The problem was that I began trying test holes far away from the leak.

I had to begin closer to the problem area, dig a hole about three feet away, find the pipe and then reassess it's direction. Then repeat the process three feet away again and again.

It took twelve more holes in the gumbo clay to trace the water back to it's source by the shop. It was a messy, sweaty effort. And it was intriguing and invigorating. The result is that the leak is not only being repaired, but water can be routed to a once dry building. The uses of the art space can expand exponentially now that a sink and faucet are going in.

This is a long story to extol the virtues of tracing the routes of challenges... energy leaks... back to their source. The metaphor reminds me of what happens in therapy or a deep friendship.

The excavation of the past or even one's ancestral tree can bring all sort of surprises.

And sometimes a once dry part of the seeker can become more than it ever was before.

The work of finding the source of an old anger or sorrow or even joy can be difficult and twisty. One cannot reach too far back at the beginning. Patience and mud and imagination are important. Family members pointing to areas saying "Dig here!" can either be helpful or distracting. But it's comforting to know that someone has interest in route of hidden water in the soul as well as on the land.

This week I want focus on ancestors and how they swim in our veins. I want to trace back to the sources of flow and flooding. I invite you to join me. Perhaps we can discover a new pipe or even a hidden spring together in this field of breath and heartbeat. Perhaps your ancestors will say: "Hey, look here!"