Saturday, December 14, 2013

Ordinary Wonder

The mist lies upon the land, a blanket of grace and quietude. I am listening to a haunting song of essraj and harp*. The coffee is silken warmth. My journal is spread out like the field outside the widow. I write. Whatever comes, I write. Happy. Free.

Then I’m called out of the room. Just for a moment. A change.

Coming back. Sitting down. Same coffee. Same music. Same scrim of fog outside. But a new moment. The old is gone. The old inspiration, the old story being carefully scribed, the old way of thinking, the sense of flow, Gone. And I sit, blank. Blank as the grey of winter. A little befuddled. What can I expect? Everything changes. The old reverie morphs into new questions. After five decades I am learning to be open over and over again.


I long for how it was. Long for the coffee and the music to soothe like it did before coming home to a new moment. Long for the flood upon the page. Long for the happiness of a sad song. Then I let go and open my eyes to what Is.

Over and over again, our experience is never the same.

Looking toward my short horizon, I see the field again. In and out, the mist comes slinking and snaking through the forest. The window frames greys and greens in a deep shadow with no sun. Soon enough the sun will come. Someday the forest will fall and rise or burn. The field will awaken and then be harvested. Or some other calamity of ordinary wonder will arrive. 

We are guests, passing through this life. We are passing through these mists and occasional clarities.

Moment by moment, what remains?

Who is experiencing this grace of being alive?

What would life be if we could answer these two seemingly simple questions?
Perhaps we’d be free to roam through time.
Perhaps we’d be free of the leaving everything behind as the next moment comes.
Perhaps we’d be free to peer through the fog.

The answers must remain as mysteries. For now, I simply try to reach out to you. Through the electrons and the weavings of space and time. Satellite to Earth and back again. Through the cable filled with light and into your flickering screen. Now, this moment shared with you is not ordinary anymore.

Thanks for reading this and for taking time to experience a small part of this morning with me. I pray that you find happiness today in the moments shared with those you love.


*A wonderful album: Within by Benji Wertheimer and David Michael

(c) Copyright Rick Sievers, December 2013, All Rights Reserved

Monday, November 18, 2013

Lessons Learned

The Rune Wunjo, The Joy of Perfection, Fulfillment and Light

I found an old journal from 2009 with a list of lessons learned. I was going through a rough patch personally. I'm not ashamed to say that I heartily sought therapy back then. I'm grateful to have had the opportunity of a witness and guide in my spirals of healing. I learned a few things on the way. I hope at least some of these ideas are helpful for you.

Lessons Learned on the Therapist’s Couch


‘Well Being’ is a phrase that trumps ‘happiness’.

Unfolding is what is occurring, not just a string of fortunate and unfortunate events.

The most correct ideal for service is when it benefits all beings, including myself.

Romanticism and drama and most forms of idealism no longer serve in the evolving life of solidity.

Compassion for myself is the basis for service and increased peace with others.

I will be disappointed or beset if I put my primary faith in a place or material lifestyle as my sanctuary.

There is something in me that’s reflected in the beautiful, dark, mean, joyful places out there.

I take refuge in The Compassionate Spirit, Community of Trusted Friends & my Work/Callings.

Contemplation and empathy are more helpful, stabilizing and healing than scrutiny.

A lot of power resides in Curiosity.

I’m grateful for All the tools I’ve used and the perseverance in which I sought healing.

There is suffering in the world, but more than that, there are joy and peace too!

I work better from places of passion & wisdom rather than from ecstasy & conniving.

Being solid is especially spiritual.

Firmness is not rigidity.

I can respect many ways of viewing the world while subscribing to my own.

Knowledge is fluid and evolving.

The ideas of Good and Bad are generally not helpful when seeking healing within my family.

Being nice is not always being kind.

Love something enough to risk doing it badly.

Vulnerability in a Safe Environment pays big dividends.

The so called 'spiritual person' can wield discernment as a powerful tool when deciding to either be open or private.

Pausing, praising, and seeking peace for only a minute changes the whole dialogue, experience within the day. In fact these can open up your eyes to see opportunities not even imagined before.


(c) Copyright, Text and Image, Richard Sievers, November 2013, All Rights Reserved

Monday, November 11, 2013

Clarity on the Way to the Wide Open Sea

Forgive me if I'm thrilled with the idea, but just now I thought that every poem I write ought to be called: "Happiness" 
By the late Raymond Carver, Found on a scrap of paper beside his typewriter.*
An excerpt from my journal while at Starbucks. These are moments of a sadness-happiness-wonder-loss all spun together, which was also bliss to me:
Just reading Raymond Carver (R.C.). Then writing whatever rises to my finger tips. An hour of not doing anything in particular, not paying much ado to the goings and comings of the cafe.  At a table in the middle of the swirl and swagger of so many people. I am an island. The people are the tides sliding past the shore.
I keep my head down, an odd bearded man, not really alone. Happy. Lonely for no one and no thing. Allowing the poems to read me. The words become sea songs. Right here, living a whole life as an Avalon for myself. A refugee called God (by some) lives on these shores, in these misty headlands. We sit together, praying to each other, heads bent, while the pearly storms make cloud faces that will disappear in the slanted rain.
I muse inwardly, wondering what my flying pen must signify to any that would care to notice. So much for a conscripted life. So much for normalcy in a reckless age of shattered reflections.
I hear you, island voice. My head tilted slightly. You whisper into my ear, a single word over and over again: "Home, Home...."
And I am, home.
You and me and R.C. Swirls of tide and storm buffet our sacred place. Across the straits, the peopled shore is so close and yet so far away.

This is my reflection to you. Forgive me if I'm being presumptuous or trite. But here is my unsolicited advice. Just be yourself. Don't allow anyone to tell you that one feeling is good and another is bad. Feel all that you can feel. Then discern what to do with it all. To me this is freedom.

What you resist, persists. If you stuff an experience down in your body, a sadness, a joy, a trauma, a revelation, it will get stuck there and fester and create all sorts of sideways havoc in life. Acknowledge what's true for you now, maybe just in a private space like a journal or on a dance floor, with a counselor or in a wood shop. Acknowledge the truth as it appears now, before it slips away and becomes something else.

One of my best teachers said that the meaning of life is just to experience stuff. Experience life events (internal and external) as fully as possible and then move on to the next experience. There's only one you in your one life. So be open to your own special experience and then let it pass through on the way to the wide open sea.


(c) Copyright Richard Sievers, November 2013, All Rights Reserved.

* From Appendix 2 in All of Us: Collected Poems by Raymond Carver and Edited by Tess Gallagher

Monday, November 4, 2013

Awe and What We Know

I just listened to a program on “The Dark Universe” via a Public Broadcasting Program called The Takeaway. The subject was dark matter and dark energy. My limited understanding is that these are real aspects of our universe(s) yet cannot currently be measured or really understood. I was intrigued with the discussion. Instead of a certainty or even smugness shown by many who profess a materialistic view of the universe the scientist involved had awe. In the program they explained that there is no accounting for what creates 85% of the gravity in the universe. There is an unseen, unexamined aspect of what we inhabit. Think about that. Isn’t that absolutely astounding?

This makes me think about certainty. How so many of us “know” what is real because we can perceive it with our senses. Or on the opposite end of the spectrum how many spiritual people “know” that this world is just an illusion. One person knows there is no God. Another knows there is a loving entity that created everything. My question is: What do we really know? I am naturally suspicious of anyone on either end of the materialist spiritualist continuum. I’m suspicious even of my own understanding.

Not too long ago science said that what we saw is what was real. Then new wavelengths of light, outside our visual abilities, were discovered.  Until recent centuries many in the know understood that only one universe exists, that which we experience. Now string theory postulates that there are potentially innumerable expressions of “universe” in existence. Many religious people, even today, believe that the world is only 6,000 years old.  I challenge them to visit the Grand Canyon and say that’s true. I'd ask those canyon explorers not to just count the eons of sediment layers but to really soak in how small and wondrous we are.

Please forgive me if this analogy is simplistic and naive. Our species has only stepped from a closed little room, out into a wide sky shining on a field of green. And we’ve never seen colors before or smelled the grasses waving in the spring breeze. We once “knew” the world was this room. The investigation into dark matter end dark energy shows that we know very little. We will know more in time.  And then we’ll have even bigger questions. That’s the wonder of science. And perhaps we’ll have even more gratitude for our place in the universe. That’s the wonder of the spiritual life.

Listening to this program  brought a deeper sense of awe. It made me think in terms of questions and curiosity instead of certainty. It made me think, too, about the intersections of spirituality and science. Perhaps both start with a profound sense of awe and a humble need to question. Question everything.

I have been left me pondering. My particular experience of this world is that is layered with spirits and spiritual powers including the vital living energies of the elements. And I feel a song that permeates Everything. I experience benevolence even in the pain. Now, this is just my experience. It’s not erroneous or irrelevant. Nor should I expect it to be another person’s experience or even universal.  

The program made me think And feel. I question, but know very little:
What if the dark matter is the physical (?) aspect of the spirit world? 
What if dark energy is the song of the Universe? 
Or Not. 
 These are questions I don’t have the physical (brain) equipment to understand. Not yet anyway. But I want to.

In our world I suspect that people want to make religions out of just about any theory that they know is correct. Science, Christianity, consumerism, atheism, liberalism, gun rights,  etc. etc.:  these all take on aspects of religiosity when folks start to argue for their particular sides. 
Hasn’t our world had enough arguing? 
Haven’t enough people been emotionally wounded in the name of truth
Haven’t enough human and animal beings been slaughtered in the smug stupidity of knowing what is right? 
What about awe and curiosity? 
What about listening to one another about each one’s experience? 
What about the glimmerings about our Wonder-Full universe, found in each person’s particular way? 

Let the knowing rest while we investigate all the matter and energies that we can. Let that curiosity and awe create kindness and compassion for one another.

Peace in the Great Mystery to You, Dear Reader.


(c) Copyright Richard Sievers, November 2013, All Rights Reserved

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Reflections in the Hall of Light

Sun in Unseen Wavelengths on the Computer Screen

Today I'm finishing the greenhouse project on our little farm. This is also the eve of leaving for a sojourn to reconnect with far flung friends and family. This morning I was caught by surprise by the memory of my father. I remember how a father's heart and eyes can reside in a child...even when that child is an adult.

I looked into the black screen and saw my father with sad wise eyes reflecting back. Is that who I am? An improvement by stealth and fire? What do I carry from him? What is truly my own?

I'm coming home. Right now you are probably sitting on your bluff above the wave wracked cove, so far away. Will you meet me there, one last time? Will you meet the eyes that cried the tears that you could not? Will you look at me with the look of a far away war that was never won?

Your eyes are like the sun to me, dad. Look at me one more time.

I remember you dad, how we built so many houses together. The day you left. The day I heard an echo of you, right here in the structure I built with my own two hands.
The morning is calm. If the weather holds, I will arc the plastic roof over the greenhouse frame. I will make a translucent story board of heaven. The view that is nearly clear, but not quite. House of the sun. A shelter from the storms, yet gossamer thin. My hall to worship streaming light that came from millions of miles away.

Thanks for reading.
May you see and embrace the reflection in the dark mirror.
My you lift your eyes to that insubstantial boundary between here and heaven.
May you feel the warmth of the sun on this crisp autumn day.


Copyright (c) Richard Sievers, October 2013, All Rights Reserved.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

It's Been a Good Year

Here's a slightly surly poem I came up with this morning. Please forgive the categorization of people in the poem and the misspelled alliterations. I'm poking fun at myself along with society. It's a pleasure and a pain to not fit neatly in any particular category. I both want to fit in and be a grinding buffer against the ideals of those who know they are right. I hope you find a few gems in here. I think many people feel like they don't conform neatly within our world of This Or That.
This Year

This year I've been
Mocked by the materialist,
Rejected by the religionist,
Raged at by the redneck,
Neutered by the newager,
Lambasted by the liberal,
Condescended to by the conservative,
Tackled by the tea partier,
Stigmatized by the socialist,
Whacked by the wealthy,
Pummeled by the poor.

This year I've been
Gutted because I use the word God in my speech 
Pandered to because I don't subscribe to a particular version of God.

I've been
An Idiot who believes in ideals 
a Reactionary for wanting what's real.

I was told I was
Lying when I told my truth
Misinformed when refusing to march to martial madness.

I sit here today in my posh poverty
and muse out loud:
"This has been a very good year."
My kids hear me for once and roll their eyes.
I think:
"Damn, I must be doing something right."

May your categories be ever fluid... or not.

Copyright (c) Richard Sievers, August 2013, All Rights Reserved

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Thought and Memory

A Scandinavian myth tells of Odin, the one god over all, the giver and protector, the slayer and destroyer, the one who discovered the song of the universe within the runes. Odin had two ravens named Thought and Memory. He would send these two out, to fly across the entire face of the earth. He asked them to observe everything with keen awareness. He asked them to return to him and report everything they witnessed and experienced. Like all myths, this one is living and dynamic. The story and facts will be different from person to person. But the Truth remains viable and worthy of contemplation.

Being open and sensitive is brave, if not foolhardy to many. To be a live wire and sift through the static and electricity in the world may seem foolish and even suicidal. To feel everything, is that a drug or enlightenment? What would it be like to be Thought and Memory? What is it like to share all experience with the Spirits of compassion and The God over everything? To me, this would be the ultimate life.
Ode to Odin

I am twin souls,
Thought and Memory.
I wing across the hidden sky trails and
witness all in the world.

In the darkness I come
back home to You,
Mother Father
Slayer Lover.

I tell you everything
we've witnessed.
I give you everything
we've become.

Then I sleep
like the double edged
sword resting in your sheath.

In your hands I am
the gleaming might of love,
the edge that cuts 
everything together.


Copyright (c) Richard Sievers, August 2013, All Rights Reserved.

Monday, July 22, 2013

How to Live Simply

A dialogue that came to me while writing in my journal this morning:
Please note: When I address the Beloved, I use the word God. I hope this is not distracting or triggering for some people. For me, this word is meant as the most inclusive, welcoming to EVERY person and beyond any particular religious persuasion.  And my personal agenda is to take the word back from those that have used it in a hateful or closed hearted manner. I address the one that I experience shining as pure love everywhere and in everyone. It is the still and quiet voice within.
 How do I live simply, God?

"Take a year to fill the pages of this book.
Then lift out a single sentence.
Give those words away, with no name attached.
Burn the book.
Begin the book again, as if for the first time."

That's a tall order, God.

"You will do all these things anyway.
(If you do it willingly you are truly free.)*
The meaning you seek is the space
between the words.
That space is sufficient.
That space is everything.
That space is me, within you."

Then, how do we live This day together, God?

"The Compassionate Spirits are here.
They know the winding ways of time
lead always to the place that is no place at all.
So, tend your garden.
Give all (that you seek and have)* away,
even in the exchange of wants and desire.
Love your friends and enemies,
especially those inside of you...
the ones you call yourself

Tell me one thing more about this living simply.

"Be free, write, say, sow, reap what wills itself 
out of the bardo called LOVE."


*(Parentheses) Are my interpretation.

Copyright Rick Sievers, July 2013, All Rights Reserved 

Thursday, July 18, 2013

The Desk and the Mist

A rare summer mist hovers over the cabin. 
The grasses in the field are bent 
like an army of monks in prayer.
Outside I recognize the new Earth.
The old is healed, renewed and vibrant 
with all possibility.
Inside, I linger over my desk:
loving this altar of solitude, my old friend.
I fashioned the boards with my own two hands.
But first the grain ripened 
in the rings of sun circles and forest song.
Me and the desk, both from the wild, 
bent for a time, refined, awaiting renewal, 
cleansed by the morning mist.
O, Sacred Earth come.
O, Beloved, come.


(c) Copyright Rick Sievers, July 2013, All Rights Reserved

Monday, June 3, 2013

I Am Woven Into the Fabric of the Universe

A message I received while in circle with my shamanic friends this weekend. This was meant for me and my periodic embarrassment of being inspirited with gifts and love. Like many, I am often afraid to be different. I am often afraid to state the truth within me which is not yet quantifiable. This may help someone else out there too...I hope so.
"What happens when you don't channel the spiritual power that is yours to give with love? Others may fail or pull up the slack. No longer apologize, minimize or trivialize our holy humble purposes in your life. What right have you to deny what is wondrous and loving within you? There are consequences for you resisting alignment with Love (Love=The Beloved and Compassionate Ones). The ancestors, animals, the Earth itself may suffer."

"The World of Love is diminished when you diminish what is Most Lovely in yourself."
An inspiration for this post was a song:
Heart of the Universe
by Peter Kater and Snatum Kaur

Copyright Rick Sievers, June 2013, All Rights Reserved

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

God Does Not Kill!

Julia Sievers ca. 1870s
To the religious ideologues who insist they know what is right and wrong, to those who kill in the name of all that is sacred and true and to those who wonder why hatred appears to bloom in our world, a letter from my Great Great Grandmother written in her journal 1898.

"God does not kill! Neither by flashing lightning, the whirling wind, the roaring water.... God does not kill with poison, pestilence, plague, famine, or flame. God does not kill with disease or disorder, with heartache or headache... God does not kill anyone, anywhere, or at anytime!

The doctrine that God takes away a child to punish or afflict a parent; takes away a husband to humble the wife... that God comes into a family like a lesson of destruction, to kill afflict and sadden; that God bankrupts or burdens any one good or bad; the doctrine of providential affliction and distress and sorrow; This is (an) unloving, godless and pitiless doctrine, (it) has no place in the thought of today only because it has had the sanction of the hoary ages Not because it is true, or reasonable, or good, or acceptable, or helpful, or hopeful.
Julia Sievers ca. 1940

(It is) Not because the Bible, or philosophy, or history, or science would have us believe it. But simply because we have been taught it, and have not had the courage to deny it.

God pities and helps, and guides and leads, and teaches, and hopes for us, but does Not destroy us, or hurt us, or hinder us. The theologian may have to teach us apostate thought to harmonize us with his system of so-called truth, But We Know Better; and in all justice and fairness let us quit accusing providence of inspiring crime and promoting disease, and in encouraging death....1

"Think and speak love, joy, peace, truth, Mercy. The Good is here and it is ours, it is for  you and me and to you and me.

In exalting the faculty of the Soul, we annihilate in a great degree the delusion of the senses." 2

Written by Julia M Sievers, Dennison, Iowa 1898

I love you Great Great Grandmother. May your prayers of love and clear thinking bloom in our world.



1. Julia's hand written journal is full of quotes and prayers and thoughts, all in devotion to God as she understood him. I was only the second person to ever read this passage until today. She notes that she adapted this first section based on an editorial from the Fort Worth, (Tex) Register.

2. This last four lines has the name "Martin" inscribed underneath it.

Copyright Richard Sievers, March 2013, All Rights Reserved

Monday, March 4, 2013

Eternity of Moments

My Brother and I in August 1972, three months before he passed away. These are happy moments that still live in my body.

of silence like song.
My brother in Idaho 1972.
That's what I have,
moments in a circle
that once looked like
a straight line.   

 From my new book Simple Life

If you had just one moment to begin eternity in, if there was a moment from which you could launch into forever, what would it be?

Pause and sit with this.
Is it hard to choose just one moment from your life?
Or is it  hard to choose any moments?
What does the answer say about your life or your presence in your life?

Let's narrow down And expand the scope of the question.
Choose a person that you currently consider a close friend. What moment in your life with them would you choose to carry with you into eternity? Any? Many? Are there regrets that need to be released or healed?

And expand even more: 
Think of a past person, animal or place you've loved. Is there a moment you had with them that you would want to carry with you, or even live in? 

Now go deeper and refine the question again. 
What about experiences that were mixxy, perturbed and challenging.  Was there an instance of clarity or healing that you would choose to recall in eternity? What about someone who has vexed you. Did that person touch you and bring joy nonetheless?

Looking at the question in another way:
Today... What if this day were The Day you'd live forever? What if you could move through this very day without regard to linear reckoning? What would you choose to believe, to do or inhabit? Which senses, sights and bodily sensations would you want to foster?

If this very moment was the launching point for eternity what would you pray or think or do in your life right now?

This is my glimmering on life:

The Moment of Eternity IS NOW.

I wonder if our heavens and hells and purgatories are not out there somewhere, someday. I wonder if the supposed afterlife is more akin with how we choose to inhabit and really experience this life.

Lately I've felt this existential challenge about what is all this work and experience for? What's the point? Is this all there is? How much do I really inhabit my everyday experiences? And does it matter that I do? I've wonder if hell is really just a way of regret. Perhaps hell is when you realize that you've lived disconnected and separate throughout life. Like there was no real joy and now it's too late. Well it's never too late to re inhabit your life, or re-enliven memories of your particular experiences.

I have a theory that a life purpose is simply to share all my experiences with Creation, Creator and Community when it comes time for this particular body to dissolve. At that time no experience will be either good or bad. But I think that the quality of how we inhabited experiences, the Vital essence of our bodily life, will be like manna to our spirits.

So I ask the questions again. 
If this were the launching point of eternity how would I be present in my body and life, how would I connect with people and love them in a way beyond sentimentality and yearning? How can we really be with each other in this gift of life and living? As William Stafford said: "Someday is now."


PS. The series Two Weeks in an American Ashram, will continue later in March.

(c) Copyright Richard Sievers, March 2013, All Rights Reserved.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Days 9-10 You Say...I Say

If you receive a version of this blog sent by email press the title link to see the blog in its full format. This posting is a segment of my ongoing series Two Weeks in an American Ashram begun in November 2012. To see the previous entries just scroll down or click on Journal Archive at the right. 

Heard in Prayer:

Child of mine:
You say that you have not done enough to match my grace.

My Grace is sufficient; that's why it's called grace.

You say that you have mostly failed in your callings.

I say that by Grace you serve 
and by Grace you offer what you will.

You say that your mind wanders too much, 
that you are too much a hermit and too little a friend.

I say that my Grace fills the space between your words.

I say that you are beloved on earth.
I say you are wholly mine.
I say you are a strand 
in the very fabric of my purpose 
here in this world of now.


(c) Copyright Richard Sievers, February 2013, All Rights Reserved.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Day 8: Patience of a Cedar Tree

The Ancient Cedar Tree that Became My Sanctuary in the California Hills

This posting is a segment of my ongoing series Two Weeks in an American Ashram begun in November 2012. To see the previous entries just scroll down or click on Journal Archive at the right.

“Quiet friend who has come so far,

feel how your breathing makes space around you.

Let the darkness be a bell tower

and you the bell. As you ring,

what batters you becomes your strength.

move back and forth into the change…

In this uncontainable night,

be the mystery at the crossroads of your senses,

the meaning discovered there…”

There are over a thousand acres to be free in. I walk. I am a wanderer in the hills of this intentional community. The rolling oak strewn, mesquite tangle of central California is my land today. I wander and survey all that I steward with presence and remembrance.

I walk for miles, through savanna and forest. I traipse through the village of people who have chosen to live in a binding freedom with each other. This place of farms and frictional unity. This splatter of homes that have stood through forest fires and schisms and holy blessings for over forty years.

I wander through the central square of the community and its humble collection of white clapboard houses. I walk by the little shops full of gems and amulets of astral magnetism. I wander past the temples and the altars. Then through the herd of goats and deep into the woods.

In the middle of all of this community and beauty I feel that familiar voice, a tinge of I am alone, even here. Which I now believe is a spell I have woven deep into the tangle of my life.

I am more than half way through my time here. Halfway in any endeavor often is a time of resistances. Today I am tired of the sacred songs. I feel non-pulsed by the lofty texts. I am slightly wary of the people that smile at me. And yet… And yet, I know that this is real here. There is family here. That community of virtue and devotion is real on this earth. A tug occurs between the old and the new within me.

So much of the world’s pain has come with me, even here. I need to let that go.

“Just breathe” I tell myself.

I take in three circles of breath. I feel the wind move in spirals through my sinuses. I feel the welling of living air in my lungs. I taste the happiness of release as I exhale. Then I hear the clouds moving through the trees. I am standing beneath a mighty cedar. This being is gnarled from storms, burnt from lightning, bruised by man and his machines. Yet it continues to stand here. Magnificent. Ten feet across. And perhaps 180 feet tall.

I lean into the tree. I sit. I watch the land and empty myself the best I can. But I continue pondering and recalling the old spell that wends its way through me: I am alone.

I think of my father, as I often do at these times, how I miss him. I think of the family who has declined to speak with me and won’t tell me why. But I don’t spiral any further into the inner night. A voice clear and ringing rises up through the wisdom of my body. The voice is from someone who is beyond all names. He speaks:

“You’ve known no father. I would be your father, in a family of love, right here, inside this time, inside me.”

I answer the voice: “Please be patient with me. The sadness is deep in this world. I want to grow closer to you.”

And the reply: “I am eternal, outside of time. Patience is not even a reality of need for me. Remember, the kingdom belongs to the prodigal. What has abandoned you on earth will never harm you in the ascension of now.”

Profound, mysterious and yet clear words.

A simple peace moved all around me. When I breathed in again, peace took root as a small seedling within me. Much like this ancient sentinel of a tree that began so small and now touches the clouds. I knew that I must have patience with myself. And I saw glimpses of love that is real and true and lasting… right here, right now.


*Rilke From Sonnets of Orpheus, Part Two XXIX
Selection from Rainer Maria Rilke's In Praise of Mortality, p. 132
Trans: Anita Barrows and Joanna Macy

Copyright Richard Sievers January 2013, All Rights Reserved

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Days 6-7 A Fire Ceremony in Winter

This is what we keep
going through, the lyrical
changes, the strangeness
in which I know again
what I have known before.

Wendell Berry: The Recognition
New Collected Poems, p.185

Winter comes for a visit. It is 28 degrees outside and 42 degrees inside the trailer. So, I move down to the warmth of the dining area to work on a long time writing project. Everyone else is working in the kitchen or in yoga training or in meditation. I sit at a long table, alone with eleven empty chairs. Outside, snow spirals lazily. Inside the darkness of my own karma sits as shadows all around the table.

I am, again, writing and arranging the story I've held in my body for seven years. It's a story of spiritual power and ecstasy, a story of illicit love and the death of my best friend. It's a story I long to tell, somehow,  someday, or my life might feel incomplete. And it's a story that vexes me at every keystroke, every rewrite and every attempt to say what I really want to say. Here I am, again writing and plotting. This is the work that I love and that loves me. And this is the work that I sometimes dread and resist.

For eight hours I endeavor to move the contents of 280,000 words into some order. I feel driven and sure of my mission as I write and re-write this book. But there is an emptiness about it too. Because words fail to convey the real truth of what love and loss are capable of.

Toward the end of the day, as the ice begins to thicken, a friend walks in and invites me to a fire ceremony. I accept the invitation and I close the computer and walk with him to the temple. The gist of the ceremony is to become clear on what one wishes to release, describing that intention to the congregants and then literally burning the old ways as a public recognition of moving onward.

Here I was in ceremony, writing something again. I knelt at the altar with a trembling sheet of snow white paper. Upon it were words like "not being enough", "being dishonestly nice", "feeling alone much of the time". I burned the paper! The facilitator (swami) laid her hand on my spiritual eye in the middle of my forehead and blessed me. And it was over. No bells or flashes or thunder. Just simple communal ceremony.

The next day I awoke with the driving desire to get my writing just right. I went down to the dining hall. Same table. Same snow. Same drive. I turned on the computer. There was an unexpected event in the hard wire. All the information I'd so feverishly rearranged and rewritten had disappeared from the memory. I had little reaction to the loss, which I found to be curious. I just said to myself "Oh, I guess that's that."

And I wondered "Who is it that observes all of this coming and going within me?"  

I noticed how I was different after my work disappeared. Not so heavy. But instead of feeling surprised I thought "This is how I naturally feel: Light". I wondered how many limitations I had set on my writing and my life with the need to call myself by labels like depressed, too sensitive for the likes on mankind, unseen, alone etc. etc.?

Then I closed the now blank progress of the old writing project. It was not as if the sad sorry feelings had disappeared. It's that I could hear other parts of me with more clarity.

So, I opened up a new screen and wrote a poem. It was a poem that had little to do with my projects or wants. It was not a good poem or even one that has deep meaning. It simply made me smile. It was just my little song at that moment.

I looked outside. The sun was peeking through the swirling clouds. Our two days of winter had passed. More snow will come in the future I'm sure. But not now.

Here's the little song I wrote

Moon of my night,
Star of my morning,
Earth of my day
I love Thee 
I love Thee
I love Thee.
Breath of my dreams,
Fire of my experience,
Water of my eternal birth
I love Thee,
I love Thee,
I love Thee.
Earth: Holy, Holy.
Life: Sacred, Sacred.
Death: illusion, illusion.
Beloved I love Thee
Beloved I love Thee
Beloved I love Thee.

And I smile, reading this again.

May you discover who observes this life experience within you.
And in the discovery, find a simple thought or song or poem that brings a smile to your face. It doesn't have to be pretty, proper or correct. It only has to be yours and real in these moments of sun or passing snow.


(c) Copyright Richard Sievers, January 2013, All Rights Reserved

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Day 5 - Lineage

My Great Grandfather: Ludwig Muther ca 1900
How astounding that all we usually know about our ancestors are a few tidbits and facts. After a few generations even those facts fade. Is that all that is left of us when we are gone, facts and then nothingness? My gut says NO, our essence lives forever somewhere, somehow. And a competing voice in my gut says: YES, this is all there is. This, what we see and touch. Perhaps both voices are correct.

I went to the community of Yogananda's disciples to dive into the dueling voices inside of me. I also went to discover more about my great grandfather. He was a devotee and direct disciple of Yogananda.  My great grandfather once was a part of this community. He was an American aspirant to bliss in the 1940s. And he was way ahead of his time.

I never met Ludwig Muther.
Like most modern people, I know very little about my ancestors.
These are the scattered facts I have gleaned about my great grandfather:

- Born sometime in the later 1800s.

- In the early 1900s he left Germany in shame after he and his cousin became pregnant with my grandfather. He was separated from his son and entire family. He was pushed across the Atlantic Ocean by a Germanic version of Catholic guilt.

- He immigrated to Flint Michigan and worked as a machinist.
- Married most of his American life to a woman, his best friend, named Bert. 
- In 1930, or so, he reconnected with his lost son, my grandfather Rudolph, and sponsored him as an emigrant to the United States.
- He saw my mother (his grand daughter) at least one time. This took place in the late 1940s in a spiritual community founded by a man named Yogananda, in Southern California.
- My mother saw him and Bert with Yogananda (A glowing man in golden robe: my mother's description) where they shared a meal in a dining hall.
- He was a German Catholic devotee to a yogi from India in post World War II America.
- He is buried with his wife Bert in Flint Michigan.

That's what I know.

I also have one ceramic painted plaque of him when he was a young man. I often look at it. I sometimes ask him if my life brings a smile to his face. I wonder if the struggles I am working through are like his struggles. I have told him of my hopes that my work here can somehow bring healing to him in his time, in his life.

I wrote a prayer to him while I was in the Ashram:
You preceded me here by 65 years. 
I am here now, Great Grandfather. 
Are you here too? 
I'd like to see God with you. 
I'd like to live our family's highest and most healing destiny.

I'm the end of your family line on earth. 
I have no blood and bone descendants to follow me. 
The press of time is upon me Great Grandfather. 
So few breaths are left. 
Yet so much living remains for me. 
Who are you in me? 
And what needs to be said or done before I leave this place?

I began to think of lineage. How important it is to touch someone or something connected with another generation? I have a glimmering that what we do, including our smallest habits, directly affects those who came ahead and those who follow us. That time is a circle, not a unidirectional line. I'm not sure that human beings have the physical capacity to understand the physics of spirit and time, yet.

Try to imagine this: everyone you ever loved or hated, every event that sings in your blood, every voice in your genes, every being, is alive right in the here and now. Just because we cannot see through time and dimensional space does not mean that we are alone in this moment. Perhaps God can see all the ancestors and descendants. And God sees them always right in the here and now, along with me and you.

So I come on faith, into an American Ashram, to find parts of me I'd forgotten. One of those parts has a name: Ludwig Muther.

There are moments in everyone's life that are transcendent, where figuring it all out loses its gravity. Where connection with love and lineage and being present are all that is real. Those moments ask us to have faith, action and will.  If we pause and pray we can touch what is hidden all around us in plain sight.

I see the results of all your good and difficult work, Great Grandfather. May I have faith in loving kindness. May my actions in these fleeting moments of forever bring healing and happiness.

Who sings in your veins? 
What actions and dreams yearn to live through you?


Copyright Richard Sievers, January 2013, All Rights Reserved