Through The Sheets of Clouds

I love Mary Oliver. I wished she lived next door and we could share a daily cup of  tea. Her poetry has helped me in so many ways. Cultivating stillness so I can hear what mother earth has to teach me (The Instant). Laughing out loud, when I am feeling sorry for myself (I go Down To The Shore). But journalling with her poem The Journey has allowed me to reach the outer bounds of my comfort zone. For a year, every month I would take this poem and use it as my growth chart. It was like and echo call. One line from Oliver and one line from my heart.

After a recent trip home, I felt my heart clogged with so much family stuff. I struggled to journal…my heart needing structure.  As I turned to Oliver’s works for comfort, I realized I was in the midst of sorting through a place all of us will enter.  A reminder their is no separate self…  It was the perfect way to ease my heart.

The Journey

One day you finally knew
sorrow and loss had arrived
what you had to do, and began,
truly sitting with wrong view

thought voices around you,
#’s 1, 2, 3
kept shouting
4, 5, 6
their bad advice—
beep after beep after beep

though the whole house
of my child self
began to tremble
impermanence has arrived

and you felt that old tug
of confusion
at your ankles
on up
“mend my life!”
“embrace your suffering”
each voice cried
of my heart’s longing

But you didn’t stop.
you see
You knew what you had to do,
that it is something that can help you grow

though the wind
other’s pain
with its stiff fingers
all around me
at the very foundation
in the mud
thought their melancholy
so thick and dark
was terrible
and daunting.

it was already late,
55 years had passed
enough, and a wild night,
of many, sorrows
and the road full of fallen
siblings on their own path
branches and stones
wet and weighted.

But little by little,
step by step
as you left their voices behind
and wisdom self appeared
the stars began to burn
within the tiny space of the middle
through the sheets of clouds
and depths of consciousness
and there was a new voice
of mindfulness
which you slowly
recognize as your own,
to embrace
that kept you company
as you strode deeper and deeper
with gentleness and compassion
into the world,
the truth of our being,
determined to do
the only thing you could do—
in and out,
determined to save
take in all the suffering
the only life you could save
…….mother of mindfulness.

Day 4…100 day challenge….96 days to go….


That Tonglen Thing…

I missed writing yesterday…my head and heart were in a fog. Trying to rest my weary soul in knowing my Dad was headed home to die, another challenge emerged. A friendship I thought was hard and true, ruptured unexpectedly. Shocked, numb, dumbfounded…how was I to process this all?  I thought I was having deja vu. I had honestly just stopped dreaming about a friendship that had gone awry over ten years pasted. I thought my head might explode.

The day seemed to pass in a dream state but I couldn’t even turn this into a teaching practice…. to view all life as a dream. I had no stability. My thoughts were not able to be view as passing clouds. Just how and why was it, that two huge life lessons were colliding simultaneously. On the one hand I am facing a thing everybody knows is true; everybody dies. Nobody escapes this fact. Lineages are born. Lineages die. Its the nature of this world we live in. The in breath. The out breath. Ancestors are born and family patterns either break or continue. It’s an undeniable truth. So then the nature of relationships must exist in this truth.  All the while, I must remember  “that experiences have no coming or going” ….just like accepting that permeance is not a thing.  In becoming suddenly aware that a neighbor’s grievances had been simmering for months, then exploded due to an inadvertent misstep over property lines had just been made, reminds me this morning that I had forgotten that there really can’t ever be a “hard and true” aspect to life’s relationships for everything is fluid. I couldn’t find stability yesterday because I was in wrong view…I was offended and so hurt that I made it (the declaration of our offenses) solid. My heart was wounded so it was closing. I needed to prop it back open…soften. Ken McLeod once again explains it so simply.

~You were attached, very attached, to what people think of you and how people regard you.

I was, I really was. How could this person who we have shared holidays consider family, think we could be such shits?

~Open to what has just happened.

Ok Lis, who is here and who knows who’s here? Oh rats…the little girl who wants to keep the peace and seen as nice.

~Your tormentor is functioning as your teacher.

Double rats… ok, open to what you know…truly take a breathe and soften and ask the question of truth…who among us doesn’t know this place?

~Now take in the pain and insult and send in praise and honor…disengage from game playing and one-upmanship so common inline, to treat your assailant with respect and consideration and focus on what needs to be done.

Compassion…I can’t unblock this heart chakra stuff, if I am stuck in a reactive position. Life goes on despite our challenges. Awareness is the key. The key to awareness is stillness of your being…. stay open to the the pain of loss and hurt but view like Pema says just “Bad weather,” so I can remember that our minds are vast as the sky.

Phew…3 days done…97 more to go…100 day project.





My Jesuit Groupie

When I was a kid, church was a big deal. My Mom was raised in the Baltimore Catchiest tradition…very strict. There was never any room for conversation. Mass was in Latin and those nuns..oi-vey…you didn’t dare let your attention wander.  Her faith was built in fear.  My Dad too was permitted very little questioning but it wasn’t because of the nuns, it was his grandmother, Sadie. Sadie was a formidable woman. Legend has it that she threw the heavy weight champion of the world from her kitchen. She hated the the Irish (which was her heritage) because the men were nothing but a bunch of drunks,  and she hated the catholic church.  The two went hand in hand.  When the book Angela’s Ashes came out, Dad said, “This was Sadie’s life”.  So when my grandfather married a Flynn girl, and started going to church, she was not a happy woman and every Sunday was a challenge. My dad’s faith was a built quietly.  So as a kid, I loved going to church with my dad. My heart and eyes could wander because he was deep in prayer.  With my Mum, even if I was at the opposite end of the pew, never missed a trick.  If you didn’t sing when you were supposed to sing, she noticed. If you happened to scratch and itch, she noticed.   Questions I had were answered by my Mum with a “Because the church says so” and my Dad, “It’s about faith dear.” I was constantly confused. And I am guessing that if my heart chakra is blocked, I still am today.

I am wondering where their faith at today. This very moment actually. My Dad’s been in the hospital for the past several weeks and we (us 6 kids) were told last night, that we needed to tell my dad that it is time to go home to hospice. Is his heart chakra blocked?  I hope not.

When my Dad retired he became a groupie…a Jesuit groupie, at the Western School of Theology. He went back to school and loved every minute of it.  He would smile and chuckle when I called him that.  He loved learning about the scripture and meeting people from all over the world.   On my last visit home, we called his dear friend Sister Cathrine, whom he met at school and lives in Ireland.  I witnessed his spirits rise in a way that I thought might have disappeared.  On that same visit I went to church with my Mum.   I felt the solace she gathered from the service. I made sure I noted the scriptures spoken so I could share them with Dad during our hospital visit. When he became a groupie, Dad had a child like wonder about everything he was learning. He would often say “Well, your mother is very patient with me while I tell her everything that was discussed today.” I believe that she sure surely was but I also believe that my Dad’s  spiritual journey had a softening touch on my Mother’s faith. It slowly dared to be one based in less on fear and more on a faith of love.

Perhaps this faith of love is what my heart needs to keep my dragons at bay. But here’s the thing, I actually, I do believe in love as a force that can really shift our hearts and minds into a kinder and gentler place. And I do believe my heart is doing that, but without sounding like a crazy person, I feel the problem is that I somehow feel so deeply the sorrows of others, that it is leading me to believe that there really is no separate self.  No separate self is not a problem. It’s the wounded world we live in with all its horrors appearing all around me, that seems to be part of what is sucking the life out of me.   I honestly believe that a love of compassion for all  beings can be.

Krista Tippet writes, ” that somehow the possibility of care that can transform us —– love muscular and resilient—- is an echo of a reality behind reality, embedded he the creative force that gives us life.” My heart doesn’t feel muscular these days and I am wondering how my Mum and dad’s will feel when they hear the news.

I know adversity can wake you up. I know I have to find a way to meet it. I see that the scars in my heart need just to be seen. Will the passing of my father enable me to go there? Will the writing of griefs gifts provide a shift? Hmmm…maybe the possibility of care that Tippet notes goes hand in hand with McLeod’s thoughts on compassion. ” Compassion – the understanding and acceptance of the pain of the world-arises naturally. You sit there, heart broken in one way at peace with another.”

Day 2- 100 day project , 98 days to go.


Apparently my heart chakra is blocked…100 day project

7-30-11 080I was recently told by a very sweet soul, that my heart chakra is blocked. I didn’t get it. I still don’t entirely get it but here’s what I know. This bright soul, has never steered me wrong. She has held space for me more times than I can count, when I have fallen into a place so dark and deep that I felt I couldn’t go on.  So this fact is what I will trust. If she believes writing will help clear it, ok then. 100 days she says… so I will.

Admittedly I move at a turtle’s pace where spiritual matters are concerned, but what I have been thinking lately what this the heart chakra thing is all about, is one’s relationship with the Beloved, Spirit, Universe, God or whatever we call our sacred source, and our ability to recieve and give love. I guess it’s about something so much bigger than having ones heart broken….Trust, I guess. If I really trust I am being held by this bigger than me thing I wrestle with naming, then all will be well, because this knowing, is where my heart can rest.

So I guess I will spend the next 100 days digesting with these thoughts and see where it leads. Am I really not sliding down Alice’s hole but rather afraid my heart can not be broken any more? Is how we view ones heart really just so completely  warped?  Like how we constantly function as if permeance is a thing? I am not sure…clearly how I have been functioning so far is not working for me so here we go…day 1 done, 99 to go.