Digest: Days 250–258
The more things change the more they stay the same, right?
The more things change, the more they change.
There are a few words that begin to describe the last week of my life. What’s that Cathy? Only a few words? Okay, truth. You know how I love words. Yes, there are myriad delicious collections of sounds and phrases rolling around in my mind and across the edges of my tongue. I’m going to stick, however, with the ones carrying most weight, most import … the deepest flavors and resonance to truth.
Yeah, those two pretty much sum it up.
Ah, you’re back. Good. Now where was I? Oh, right. My return from revelation to reality.
To say that I’d be able to encapsulate my experiences from the last week at the Upaya Zen Center in Santa Fe, New Mexico in a mere paragraph or two would be folly. More to the point it would be impossible. I spent a substantial amount of time while away on my utterly unplugged and delightfully digital free retreat not only with pen to paper but sitting in stillness with thought. You’d think with all that time that I found tons of answers. A few, yes. It’s more that I clarified the questions I was asking, and feel more solidly on the path to knowing … Knowing what, you ask? Ah, well that will be the source for topics that unfold in the coming days.
Today’s post is merely the move to reinsert that digital umbilical cord. Plug back in and reignite the rhythm of my daily discourse with you all. I’ve collected the digest of Gracious Gratitude items from the week (they’re all below) and I also include a small gallery of images. For the most part I was shooting with my “real” camera (partly so as to avoid the temptation to upload right away and partly because it just takes damn good photos). I’ve not edited those yet so when I do and get the gallery up I’ll share that here too.
Themes that arose:
- Truth and what that means to me.
- Discovering home in an entirely new way.
- Feet. Yes, the things on the bottom of your legs.
- The human drive to recapture experiences, the fallacy of that effort and how finding home is like that.
- Expansiveness in small spaces.
There’s more but that’s a good start.
So buckle up. The coming weeks shall be filled with some interesting things. At least I think they’re interesting. :)
It’s also no longer April. That means it’s no longer National Poetry Month. With the volumes of remarkable poetry I love, compounded by all the superb work continuously slipping across my path, one month just doesn’t allow enough sharing. So I’ve made an executive decision in the company of me. While it may not be nationally recognized, for me, every month will be poetry month. Not sure whether I’ll do it weekly, every other week or on some random rotation, but you can be sure that there’s more poetry goodness coming here.
The one I share today comes from a book that came on my journey.
The trip from Las Vegas to Santa Fe pulled me across a variegated tapestry of desert — each transition shifting in color, texture and energy. The shades, the shadows and the light evolving and morphing as I made my way eastward and upward. While at the Upaya Zen Center I had myriad conversations about the desert and her power. Stating the name of the City where I live got more than one double take. Many of the people with whom I crossed paths were not from this part of the country (or world) and so their views of Las Vegas were cast solidly in stereotype. I found myself swelling with pride, sharing my own views and stories, and on more than one occasion I pulled out Jennifer Battisti’s Echo Bay and shared this poem.
When No One Is Looking
If you live long enough in Las Vegas
you will not learn to count cards.
You will learn to count triple-digit-days.
You will learn, this state is a broken tooth —
our city, the sharp tip
meant to shred inhibitions
into puréed pleasure.
While everyone else bolsters worth
in booths and bottles,
we have the best view
of her celebrity cerulean swirl
tangerine-silk carpet she unfurls
every day at dusk.
While heaps of pedestrian —
one-moving-organism, glides across the Blvd
being transported, up escalator,
moving walkway, monorail, roulette,
cabana and cocaine —
our mountains howl, backed by wild burro
and barbed beavertail, above rows of bulldozers,
their raised shanks like scorpion.
From Calico Basin to Death Valley
We only wager on the desert —
on cacti-blooms, unhinged moonflowers
bursting at midnight. When no one is looking,
when everyone else is trying to find their way out
of the casino labryinth
symphony of slots that sing stay.
The blossoms like white stars veiled in twilight dust
will be wilted by morning —
an implosion of the idea
that stacked-chips and swizzle-sticks
could ever bluff the Mojave.
The house, guarded by endless Joshua leaning in counsel,
Some images from the week:
Gracious Gratitude — Day 250
- 8 delicious hours of sound sleep
- Feeling at peace
- The feeling when the pressure of constant thrumming energy releases from my ears
- Wind through pine trees
- The rich, textured smell of freshly turned earth
- Asparagus wrapped in pancetta and grilled with blue cheese
- Having the universe drop messages squarely in front of me that confirm the path I chose
- Ginger turmeric tonic with lemon
Gracious Gratitude — Day 251
- Wind through pine trees (yes again)
- Sitting in stillness
- Fresh avocado
- Earl Grey tea infused with Bergamot
- Being exposed to entirely new experiences
- The power of meditation
- Random path crossings
- Being in a strange place and bumping into someone I know
Gracious Gratitude — Day 252
- My first full day as a “guest practitioner” at Upaya
- The healing power of cleaning (as in mopping and sweeping)
- Meditation that breaks things open inside of me
- Weeping openly in a room of strangers and feeling no embarrassment
- Pausing on a hike and feeling like I was in Northern California, which led to a feeling of home, which led to realization of my new thoughts on home
- The honeyed gold hue cast across hills at sunset
- Switching from coffee to tea and not getting a caffeine headache
- Hot shower after a long day of physical work and activity
- Making new friends
Gracious Gratitude — Day 253
- Feeling welcome and part of
- Sunshine as liquid marmalade dripping across red earth and Ponderosa Pines
- Long, meandering strolls along a river
- Finding a scruffy pup pal to augment my time at Upaya
- Sharing my gifts with those who so freely share theirs with me
- Sitting in the cool shade, wrapped in the scratchy warm blanket of scented pine, the burbling laughter of a stream serenading me
- Cracking open another layer of personal growth
Gracious Gratitude — Day 254
- Lavender lemonade after a long hike
- Meandering unfamiliar streets, exploring and being delighted
- Artwork that pops up in unexpected places
- The magic of stillness and the extraordinary experience I have when I pause long enough
- Realizing that closing my eyes when I meditate has been a metaphor for my life
- Peanut butter
- Realizing I don’t miss coffee as much as I thought
Gracious Gratitude — Day 255
- Sitting in discomfort, pushing through it and experiencing the beauty of release
- Allowing myself to be vulnerable and gaining strength as a result
- Deeply violent and vivid dreams that tear open old wounds
- When those same dreams serve to shift and reveal the truth of my inner story
- The clear, thin, crisp air of high elevation
- Hikes through Ponderosa Pines with breathtaking views
- That my friend Jennifer is right about the scent of sun-baked butterscotch
- Being covered with dust and the sticky, smoky scent of mountains
- Meandering conversations that touch on everything from music and meditation to sexuality and politics
Gracious Gratitude — Day 256
- Finding the top of my mountain
- The humor and gravitas of feet
- A spectacular full moon rise
- Sitting around with new friends and feeling safe
- The rich aromas of nature that smell at once wild and like home
- Mary Oliver
- Having a moment of pure, unadulterated joy that left me laughing with tears streaming down my face while I stood along at the top of a mountain
- That when I am still, I hear and feel the truth
- Dinner around a table with new friends
Gracious Gratitude — Day 257
- A smooth, uneventful drive home
- Connecting with dear friends
- The magic of light across a desert sky
- Burning incense from my trip and being transported back
- My own bed
- That though I find myself slightly terrified at re-entering the world having just experienced a thorough and deep emotional and spiritual exfoliation I also am exhilarated at the adventures that lie ahead
Gracious Gratitude — Day 258
- Seeing someone realize they have crossed a huge barrier of fear and accomplished great things
- Settling back in to my home and feeling everything is new and fresh in front of my eyes
- Holding on to the sense of grounding and peace I found at Upaya
- My dogs
- The crackling road of thunder from charcoal laden clouds
- The smell of lightening’s electricity
- Damp earth
- The sound of thick raindrops cascading in rhythm through palm fronds