Master of What?

Of fine tuning

careful listening

slow, steady attunement to another being.

Of recalibrating what bliss means-

with once singing joints now rickety,

tired and aching from carrying a little one –

but redefining ecstasy to encompass new reference points.

No, I am not presently a master of Yoga or the Intellect,

only having plumbed the depths of my own soul.

Master of this:

The Inner realm that is also the Outer:

reflection of divine light

also known as Love,

reverberating in all my cells

and in my slow beating heart-

quiet master of my own loving, aching soul’s journey

through time and space

Nothing more, nothing less.

Just Here, simple, in love in the face of small things.

I am not a master of words.

My particular realization concerns itself with Presence,

that act of grace filling body

coming together to form spine and stomach

and eyes flashing only glimpses of Divine reality within.

Ushering forth new life,

A mother becomes master of

Chopping wood

Carrying water

doing laundry

dishes

carrying

holding

feeding

loving

nurturing-

Some say ‘mundane’

I say beating heart

full of love

resting in simple dance of Being.

Nothing more.  Nothing less,

still refining,

Like the great crucible of life that is

The Womb.

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Linger…

A Poem from my dear friend, KC Waters Guaracio…

Let us linger

Wallow

Bask

And be known to the world

Drenching our long lost light

In the wakeful eye of remembrance

Nothing is more crucial

Now

And then

To bloom

To be the crocus

Divining life

Even in darkness

Sifting through snow

To sun

Birthing

Our buried beauty

What calls your heart out and into the world

What walks with you

Everywhere

Your children

Your tenderness

Autumn’s red blaze

The flock of crows feasting in my front yard

Bear them deep in your bones

And linger

There must be more lingering

By the fire

Under the stars

In the river

With the moon

More idle time

With our partners

Our babies

Our neighbors

The trees

The entire tribe of our lives

What is crucial

Let all else be lost

And allow the lull

To bring us home

To ourselves

Loosening of Self into Service

Notice what you are up to:

Resisting the intense

(often overwhelming)

responsibility

of caring for another human being.

Resisting sensation:

physical contraction of co-sleeping, carrying, breast-feeding

shoulders rolled forward, tight neck, sore back,

stillness filtered as stagnation

which is

actually Grace, Mystery

Abiding.

Instead: A Reckoning with what’s greater than yourself

while also perfectly accepting limitations.

All of this a huge gesture of love, a relaxation into the grace of giving, a loosening of self into service…

Love Is A Practice

Braeden is 3 months old and I pause to take note of the threshold beyond ‘newborn’ that we have crossed. These months a “toss up” quality prevailed: rootless structure, flailing at times under a hot sun that broiled my new mama brain to smithereens. The combination of summer heat and light coupled with new family dynamics often gave way for disorientation and chaos to bloom, even with love simultaneously taking root. The frenzied moments of adjustment were like hot flashes in a pan. There were hard moments of truth to move through. Tears shed. Voices raised. Rowan reckoning with wanting to send his little brother back to the belly (“Mama, next time, could you please try to put Braeden back in your belly so I don’t have to feel so alone?”). Then, all of the sudden, a lot of angst and confusion was metabolized, burned up and giving way for something else to take hold. Staying with difficult emotions and not forcing them into underground shadows, suddenly we’ve turned a corner into a new realm of emergent fondness between brothers and an accompanying deep sigh of relief amongst parents.

Love is a slow and steady practice, particularly in these early days of family bonding and adjusting. As parents we can help foster this practice of love amongst siblings, even when love doesn’t always look as we expect it to. We don’t typically fall in love overnight. Instead, an experience of love takes time, weaving through peaks and valleys and often complex terrain. Can we love what we want to initially push away? Can we practice seeing a reflection of someone like ourselves in those we don’t like at first? Every time Rowan acts out towards Braeden, I tell him to look at his eyes; I say again and again “this is a person! He gets sad just like you!” Staying in connection, empathy begins to surface. Love begins to show a face that is more compassionate and less edgy.

The early days of welcoming a new brother for Rowan showed me that perhaps the practice of Love integrates everything. Love moves its way through the shadows and pain to emerge in a place of more integrated acceptance of what is, even with resistances still present. It is here that I find myself and it is this place that Rowan reflects too. Both of us do the dance of love and surrender and love and resistance in different ways, together. Me resisting the myriad expressions of his challenges and he resisting the presence of his new brother and all the implications therein. Family becomes the hard crucible of transformation that so many of us want to run from. Try as I might, I can’t seem to get away. Day in and day out I am up against the ever-present challenges of required guidance and patience. I slowly enter into a new realm of practiced love between family members, where I catch glimpses of Rowan smiling at his little brother in the rear view mirror. Like a slow blooming plant, the cultivation of love is underway. The key is to keep nourishing the roots of kindness and compassion, even when other emotions may be taking the reins.

So too with other situations in life: we can stay connected, practice love – watering the roots of slow growth into a familiar comfort of being. Rather than proverbially pining for some other thing or condition, we can let go into what is in order to radically transform.

Dip Into Realm of Calling

The strange thing today:  all of the sudden the first year of Rowan’s life has passed – and slowly he moves away from me in that absolutely normal process of growing up.  I remember the days when I couldn’t even take a shower because I couldn’t put him down. And now, suddenly: space again – even if just a little – to connect and reconnect, to dip into realm of calling, to wonder at what’s next and to take stock in what is.

I make it a practice to find space in the week to ask myself:  “What wants to emerge?” What images arise in the short spaces between daily tasks?  It is almost always in glimpses that callings and a deeper sense of inner direction surface in my awareness.  For me this week what arises are images of pilgrimage, Ireland, the Earth-based sacred sites of my ancestors, the need to write down my experience, visions of creative projects, a pull to get crafty, draw to home-schooling (!?), desire to create seasonal festivals for family, homemade clothes and tablecloths, wool festivals, Irish dance, yoga asana practice and a soaking in of Summer and paying attention to the slow shift towards Fall.

Something about this phase of motherhood harkens me back to the crafts and wanderings of my ancestors.  I feel more acutely my place in the lineage of humanity’s long line and my responsibility to pass on a heritage, culture, tradition, careful daily routines that have meaning and history.  Much of this I have to re-create, and some days this daunts me, while others I step into this as if certainly stepping into a Calling – a calling from those who’ve been before me to bring forth a next generation with care and attention to detail:  not randomness and the havoc of clogged airwaves and media waves and endless hobbies and comings and goings that mark the dominant way of being of my American culture.

No, instead we can follow the thread of quiet mothering rooted in millions of years of simple but profound gestures.  Really, there is little that is more important.  Embedded in this vision is invitation to slow down and use my hands, learn something of the old arts of cooking and crafting… I write this with a wry smile, feeling how the hormones of motherhood have shifted my attention to encompass the age old vestiges of ‘tradition’ – a pulling longing for place in a line of great Women who know the collective power of small acts of creativity and intention enacted in the canvas of Home.

Do not misunderstand:  This too is calling, inspiration, creative expression channeled into raising another human being.  It is not that other expressions of my calling or creativity or work in the world are less important or less present;  It is just the unfolding understanding that there are few better ways to lend my realization and passion than manifested in the service of daily acts of caregiving.   This is also yoga:  that fine art of applying one’s will to the placement of the body as a gesture of love, openness, service, beauty.  In the same way that I carefully place my hands and feet with loving attention to detail – I can also carefully create Home and Family.  This too is sacred ground – the bleeding of spiritual practice and creative energies into manifesting the sanest, most grounded manifestation of what it means to be human – while also bringing another into the profound light of this experience.