Athena Spills Her Marbles

Mmmm, someone’s having a barbecue!  Makes me think of campfires.  Oh GOD!  Suddenly the longing in my heart to build a camp fire is unbearable!  Seriously.  A thousand images just twirled swiftly through the crystalline mind of Athena Grace.  Images of forest floors carpeted with dry pine needles, pine cones and unwieldy, long dry sticks.  The sun ducks behind a burly blue mountain and suddenly chill surges in like fresh blood after a tunicate.  You know what that means?  All signs point to= time to forage for campfire materials!  Time to walk about the sweet scented piney wilderness, scouring the ground for armloads of sticky pinecones and hefty sticks.  Jesus, I WISH I could convey to you the feelings these ghosts of camping trips past are evoking in me.  I feel strangely soothed and whole.  At once young and ancient.  Very peaceful.  Purposeful.

Ask me how long it’s been since I was camping.  Well, if you did ask, I would tell you it’s been three years.  And then I would shamefully hide my blush laden face.  Life without camping is like life without pet Mexican jumping beans and Orange Crush and fat, sassy ponies on roller skates.  Skuze me for getting far out and silly allofa sudden… it’s just that I was trying too hard here at the beginning of this blog… I swear, writing that first paragraph took me like half an hour and by the end, I felt rigid and stricken with a case of the crumpled grumps.  I was about to throw in the soiled, repugnant blogging towel.  But Mykael beseeched me to keep going, and I love a good challenge…
So my only option was to spill my marbles out all over the place and watch them scatter and roll aimlessly in every which direction.  I feel better.  But I still don’t know what to write about.  What do you want to hear?  What do you want to think about?  Hotdogs?  I bet there’s nothing you’d rather think about right now than a greasy, beefy frank, swaddled in a whiter than thou bun.  What would you put on your hotdog?  Seriously!  Tell me!  What would you put on your hotdog?  I’d put liquid nacho “cheese”, sweet pickle relish and gummy coke bottles.  AHhhh, it feels so awesome not to have to make any sense.  I miss cracking myself up.

When I was “married” to Eric, I used to crack myself up on a regular basis.  I don’t know what it was about him, but I’d get into these weird moods… kinda like Andy Kauffman… Except Athena Grace style… (Me and Andy have the same birthday)  If you were a fly on the wall, you’d probably think I’m crazy.  But I’m not.  I’m just alive and still kinda constantly stupefied and enchanted by this fact.  Something about the way Eric would respond to me was like an amplification device… He didn’t DO much at all… just the way he BE-ed… was like… a wall that made me bounce back against myself with even more force and get more riled up.  Like when you don’t have a tennis partner, you just go and smack the ball against the wall for a while for shits and giggles.  Back in the day, man… I was a high roller when it came to shits and giggles.  But recently, I seem to fold mostly after the first hand.  My shit and giggle count is dangerously low.

That’s what I get for trying to be so profound and holy and mature and responsible all the time.  But the other day I saw Eric and lo and behold, the next thing I knew, I was pretending to have sharp talons and clawing at his bear arm and feeling instantaneously drunk on the punch of ridiculousness cubed.  He just stood there blinking and confused and for some reason this wound me up and I found myself at a crucial fork in my behavioral road where I could either choose to reel myself back in and partake in the moment as a civilized, church going, panty wearing lady… OR… I could have let myself be swept west of oblivion to where the sun don’t shine on those who choose to walk the road of the sane and restrained.  Can you guess which side of the line I walked?  Since the space between my ex and me is still tenuous and freshly reborn I chose to “act my age”.  Ha!  Why did that crack me up?  Act my age.

If someone had’ve told me I’d be just as much of a circus monkey in swan’s clothing now as I was then… I’d a said, “Oh goodie!”

Amen.

Courthouse Revelations With A Side of Bliss

God I live in such a bubble.  And the thing about living in bubbles is that it is easy to mistake the world of the bubble for the world “at large”… or maybe… maybe I don’t actually live in a bubble, maybe everyone in the courtroom this morning was but a reflection of my consciousness.  Maybe as I keep changing myself from the inside, maybe all of those fellow prospective jurors will begin to take their places by my side, standing up in the conviction that WE ARE ONE and punishment should not beget punishment.  That’s what I triumphantly told them right into the danged microphone this morning.  I told them that I could not be objective, looking only at the “facts” presented.  In a room full of wily, homegrown “strangers” (aka- perfect, unique facets of the One Self) I said that this world we live in is crazy and it only exacerbates it to perpetuate the chain of punishment and human suffering.  The seasoned black woman judge with the big blond head of straightened hair who would have been the perfect candidate to play a judge TV asked me if I had a better idea.

Smack!  Talk about on the spot.  I said not precisely, but the solution will come from loving, not from thinking.  I felt terrified and euphoric speaking from my heart in this room full of everyday people wearing placid faces and mostly crossing their arms in front of their chests.  If I had one wish, it would be that speaking from my heart spoke to the hearts of others present such that their consciousness is impacted and elevated.  If I had two wishes… (Grin)… I would wish to live life fully embodied as the Christ Self from now on, spilling over, everywhere with love and peace and blessings.  Perpetually awake in a state of unconditional bliss.

I was the first juror to be dismissed at the lunch break.  I felt sorta sad exiting the courtroom.  Even though I deem our system of judgment to be INSANE and irrelevant, I somehow wished I could’ve stayed and participated as the “token bodhisattva”… You know?  Just sat in lotus position in the corner and prayed for Love’s Grace to wash over the case and all present in the courtroom… while all the other suckas blew fuses and popped gaskets in their overheated little deluded minds.  Oh well.  I guess I’ll just have to pray from the sidelines.  That’s the beauty of prayer~ it transcends time and space, so you don’t even have to get out of bed to save the world!  (I’m typing from bed.)

I am very grateful for the opportunity to step into that little slice of life outside my new age bubble.  Or if we’re gonna go the more esoteric route (come on, open your minds wide, People), I was grateful to be able to face those facets of myself who are still deeply asleep in the illusory dream of separation.  I can see that I still have some surrendering and healing of this amnesiac psyche yet left undone.  Some unabashed bathing in holy light still to do.  But ain’t no thang… All Pervading Bliss knows not of time, of lack, limitation or suffering.  All Pervading Bliss will just keep smiling wide and wild from inside me and you and everything and beyond… Forever.

It really will.  I’ve been pretty curious about how it’s possible to *really*, fully live in the moment… and still get shit done that needs to get done.  And feeling stumped about the atrocity of living life sans planning.  Impossible, right?  But so many spiritual teachers and leaders and ancient texts whisper the eternal secret that if One lives fully open and alive, ever-savoring the gift of the moment, than life will unfold perfectly, abundant and full of Grace, according to Divine Plan. (Mom, what does that poster in your kitchen say?  The one with the picture of the lotus with the Yogananda quote…)  Now come on… Raise your hand if that stumps you.  Be honest.  Isn’t that a tough one to surrender to?  To fully relinquish the future and just bask like a sleepy sun drenched cat in the holy light of incessant blessed now… But today… I had an insight around this confounding esoteric cousin of one hand clapping.

Thanks to my Beloved, Doctor Depak Chopra!  (and of course thanks to my very own inner teacher, higher wisdom, Christ Self.)  Depak talked about living in bliss (among a whole other slew of brilliant, related topics) last night on New Dimensions Radio.  (I am still WILD about Mister Chopra!!!  Wild.  I want to be just like him, except me.  He *seems* to be fully awake to the truth of himSelf as the Great I AM.  As Creation, Creator, All Pervading One.  He is masterful, serviceful, focused, prosperous, creative, joyful, powerful, peaceful… I want to stand up and give him a boisterous round of applause!  And then I want to rush into an old skool phone booth and rip off my boring mundane costume and reveal the Wondrous Galactic Wilderness Woman Superheroine Maha Devi that lives just beneath this purple hoodie!)  Ahem.  He said bliss is our natural state, always.  It’s different than “happiness” or “sadness”… or any of those other great taste less filling emotions, which depend on external conditions.  Bliss just keeps on blissing along… Forever.  So today, I have just been lifting my mind and my heart to All Pervading, Omnipresent Love.  Letting the holy feelings of connection to all life waft and dance my consciousness awake like a sweet, heavenly scent.  I can see that living from this silent, unconditional bliss can only beget good.  And that is what I am here for.  To give good, to receive good, to recognize, praise and surrender to the unlimited good that we are all marinating in, that we are all made of.

There might be way less to figure out than I had once believed… It’s getting mighty quiet in here.

Amen.

Skin Shedding In AthenaGraceLand

I can feel myself changing shape.  It feels weird to blog… now that I’m not leaking caffeinated rocket fuel from every orifice I posses… shrug.  Lately I just don’t feel like I have that much to say… No, without caffeine amping me up, I feel like I somehow managed to swallow the Grand Canyon and there’s so much serene empty space, lazily sprawling out inside me.  Suddenly, every day is Sunday and every meal is leisurely brunch.  Every racetrack is full of domesticated snails and ever clock makes arduous and constipated ticks… and… t-t-tocks.  I feel like I am dissolving… and I’m glad for that.

I have gotten some positive strokes recently for being particularly *profound* here in AthenaGraceLand.  Groovy enough, right?  Yes I love positive strokes… but I noticed that my attachment to that sweetest of fruit was hindering the full spectrum of my expression.  And repeatedly performing the same crowd pleasing circus tricks just ain’t how I roll, yo.  I step onto the page as a wild horse steps onto the mesa~ to embody freedom, make love to the wind, to make the earth tremble, to be fluent in the language of thunder.  Not to be stroked for my exceptional profundity.  Nah, leave that to the PHDs and the MFAs.  Ladies and Gentlemen, the LMNOPs of the world let it all hang out.  I AM.  That’s about as profound as it gets today.  I am.

I am a human being struggling to break free from the bondage of my own mind.  And I am doing pretty good… but I sure hope that all this sweating and bleeding I’m doing now will pay off later.  I betcha twelve bucks that most people would tell me that I’m taking life way too seriously, being way too hard on myself, blahdy, blahdy blah… but listen, if you’re one of them, just you wait.  This might BE the modern day rendition of Henny Penny after all.  Wasn’t Henny Penny the one who worked real hard while all of her barn yard friends just dicked off and poked fun at her for being so focused and ambitious when she could have been simply dicking with the best of ‘em… and then a day came when tragedy struck and the whole spray of smelly animals were desperate to partake in the fruits of Henny Penny’s labors… I can’t remember if she was merciful and shared or whether she hoarded her booty in the end… but for the sake of time-transcending parables, let’s just say that she was virtuous and shared… Because I’d like to think that’s what I would do.

Yeah, I’m a modern day, under-cover, spiritual Henny Penny, working my soul’s fingers to the bone in the name of breaking free from the relentless insanity of the mind… And some day, your ass is gonna come wimpering to me, begging for a grandiose slice of peace pie… A sumptuous lump of Love flambé.  And you know what I’m gonna say?  I’m gonna say fuck* yes, I’ll hook a brotha and a sistah up… Eat up and come back for seconds, Pilgrim!  Come back for thirds… and thirty thirds… because the All Pervading Cream-Filled-Center is footin’ the bill!

*Yes, I said the F word.  Remember, a while back, I took a poll to feel deeper into the general consensus of this matter.  The results?  Spliced right down the middle… (Thank you, by the way, to all who exercised your voices pertaining to this matter!  I always love hearing your voice from my perch over here in Amnesiac Heaven…) which reminded me that ultimately, I get to say.  And since today I am a wild mare, snorting gratuitously and giving thunder a run for its money, I opted to toss a fuck into this decadent linguistic soup.  Sure… I could have said a million different things… and I might still.  But I believe that when used mindfully, sparingly and with rebellious reverence, fuck can sometimes be the spice that rounds out this holy-ish soup.  It’s kinda like cayenne pepper.  Mykael has a tendency to get heartburn when he eats spicy food… so I have mostly refrained from adding cayenne pepper (which I previously dashed into just about everything) to the [exceptional] food I prepare.  Now you could argue that cayenne pepper is a cop-out.  It’s just plain spicy… but it doesn’t have much flavor.  You could challenge me to find more culinarily innovative ways of expressing myself, besides just the cheap, hollow theatrics of garden variety spiciness.  Shrug.  That would be entirely valid… and I could rise higher than the occasion and ring bells you didn’t even know you had.  My cooking would STILL make your toes wiggle with primitive bliss… but sometimes this bitch likes it spice-ay.

Amen.

Solving the Perplexing Puzzle of Prosperity

Spirituality, Prosperity, Abundance and Full Divine Surrender have always been a particularly perplexing cocktail for this enchanted, amnesiac fairy gone human.  They seem to be a puzzle whose completion is ever evasive.  But lately All Pervading Daddy Warbucks has been hookin’ this sistah up with weighty wisdom, insight and miscellaneous booty from all sides!   It all started (that’s a dangerous way for an ancient soul to begin a sentence, eh?!) when I won a raffle at church and walked away with a fresh, sparkling copy of “The Abundance Book”, which lays out the most basic universal laws of abundance and includes a 40 day prosperity plan.  Auspicious, huh?  And then A Course in Miracles has been throwin’ down some sweet gospel on the essential matter of divine abundance.  And yesterday on facebook, my dear friend Marianne Williamson spit forth this priceless piece of the puzzle:
”Most people limit their lives by censoring their desires. Don’t censor them: allow yourself to own what it is you really want. The desire is telling you something. If the desire is appropriate, your owning it paves a path for its manifestation. If not, owning it is also necessary so you can surrender it for transformation. Live in the excitement of being pregnant with the life you truly want.”
LIVE IN THE EXCITEMENT OF BEING PREGNANT WITH THE LIFE YOU TRULY WANT.  That is sheer and utter music to me.  Upon reading it, I noticed that a big chunk of my mind had been preoccupied with figuring out how I was going to survive in Kauai.  The energy behind the thoughts was anything but pregnant with the life I truly want.  It was all about figuring out what compromises I was begrudgingly willing to make in order to barely get by.  Ewwwww… but for most of us, that is our default modus operandi~ squeezing ourselves into unflattering molds imposed by a world devoid of soul.  What if it wasn’t?  Am I dreamer?  GOOD.  Let me dream.  In fact, a wise man once told me, “You may say I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one…” (Grin)  Listen, we are ALL dreaming, all the time.  Even the author of the beloved childhood anthem, “Row, row, row your boat” knew what was up.
The question is what dreams do you choose to dream?  What dreams are worth being entertained by the divine flood of light that you ARE?
I want to go to Kauai and WRITE MY BRAINS OUT!  I want to pop out a sacred book while I’m there.  A book that will make the world tingle and dance and take hecka unabashed deep breaths.  I want to write a book that will stealthily, sexily seduce the masses (you and me and everyone we know) into a state of ecstatic celebration and a holy remembrance of the here now Heaven!  Screw retail and all of its wretched second cousins twice removed…  Let them curl up in shriveled pathetic balls where the sun don’t shine.  Why can’t I live the life I want to live?  Well… only because up until now, I have told myself that I can’t.   Because we have slumberishly acquiesced to being so damn ruled by the zzzzzzzz inducing limitations we have unconsciously inherited by our anally clenching predecessors.
But then I always get caught in my slipperiest trap of a construct that says, “Oh, but Athena, is that dream truly God’s will for you, or is it just your ego, bullyishly taking control of the steering wheel?”  Wonder woman!  Seems like I have been stuck in that tired cesspool for centuries!   No, wait, I don’t want to dis it entirely… I think the deep, scrupulous inquiry of the origin of ones motivations is of crystalline value.  I should ask myself who is in the driver’s seat as I dream myself into existence.  And I have found that the seemingly disparate worlds of action and surrender, effort and grace melt into one holy bindu (single point of consciousness) when I return to the well of holy silence daily to wash my mind clean.
I am willing to take thirty-ish minutes a day to offer all my desires and dreams and fears and bona fide divine chaos back into Gods hands.  “Here God,” I say humbly.  “Please take ALL of this mish-mash and just give me back what is most true and blessed by your omnipresent Love.”  And the more I do that, the more that I am realizing the implicit unity between effort and grace, desire and renunciation, passion and service.  PASSION and SERVICE?!  Could those two really walk hand in hand in peaceful, blessed communion?  To this starry eyed mystic, it seemed too good to be true.  Could it really be a service to you to read these words that gush from me as very waves of the ocean of passion and bliss?  Nah…
Seriously, for a long time, I equated suffering with serving.  Serving meant doing something that you really didn’t want to do, because a wickedly elusive, punishing authority figure said you should, in order to be “GOOD”.  You gotta love the back draft, back lash of organized religion… puts some unsightly hair on more than a few billion chests…
Here is something I have learned about abundance, prosperity and gratitude in the most recent chapter of my existence (Note that I have been studying it for longer than I can remember… but only recently have I mounted this winged beast named Synthesis.)~ My ability to truly feel the abundance, the prosperity that has been promised to us all by our Heavenly birthright is directly correlated to my conscious recognition of the sacred, interconnected, underlying reality of all Life.  I have been on this relentless path of forgiveness… thanks to A Course in Miracles… and the more I forgive, the more I am able to Love.  And the more I am able to truly, unconditionally Love, the more I feel RICH right now, the more drunk I become on the beauty that just keeps seamlessly splooging (in fountainous fashion) from the very core of my being, the very core of existence!
The perfect embodied example of this is the choir at the East Bay Church of Religious Science.  I bow in reverence to their sacred, celebratory offering of song.  No joke, I cry every time they sing.  And you know what?  Half of the singers are crying as they pour their honey wine voices out on high upon the holy congregation.  And the other half are practically levitating in ecstasy!  They are a sea of faces of every color, shape, age.  Their faces are meandering epic poems exalting the infinite journeys of the One Creator.   Yesterday in church, the choir director, a luminous, large black woman, spilling with spirit was ESPECIALLY inspired.   They sang a song about surrender and she opened her arms wide to the sky as she soulfully belted the flaming melody.  She held nothing back.  I repeat she held NOTHING back.   No fear of looking good.  No fear of being judged.  Just a pure, complete offering to God, through God, AS GOD, with God.  Her freedom and purity sets the tone for the choir and all who were present to drink the sonic exlixer.  The energy was so high and pure it tickled and left me blinking and awe struck.
She told us yesterday, “We are not here to entertain you… though it may be entertaining.  No, we are here to serve as a sacred mirror for you, so that you remember who you truly Are.”
This holding nothing back, this offering EVERYTHING of one’s self in service of the Highest… This is true prosperity.  It lives now, shining as the One face of Eternity.  The giving IS the receiving, the service is the passion.  The effort is the grace.  Amen.

The Perplexing Mess of Relationship

Well, it’s official… Athena Grace LMNOP does not know how to win at the sordid game we call Relationship.  Which is ironic, because I remember like a year and a half ago when my eyes were still all clouded with operatic stardust, telling a man behind me in line at Trader Joes that I was really good at Relationship.  I might have even told him I had a gift at it.  Ha!  That’s embarrassing to admit!  That was back in the days when my Love was still running on the fossil fuel combination of lust and moon honey.  That was back in the day when I my well of devotion-stained patience seemed to slice right through the core of the earth, stretching not just to China, but beyond our very own Milky Way.

I used to feel like such a spiritual, enlightened bad-ass during those mile long fights with Mykael where I would just keep switching from reserve tank to reserve tank to reserve tank, draining each of them without a fret or a care.  And now?  And now… I am the camel with the perpetually broken back.  I am the bomb with the fuse almost as big as a microscopic splinter.

Remember back in the day when this blog practically revolved around all my churnings in relationship with Mykael?  And then suddenly, apocalyptically, his presence here on the page mostly blinked out like a dinosaur.  (I just had a really long pause while my mind’s eye tried to conceive of the image of a dinosaur “blinking out”.  I wondered, “Is that a good metaphor?”  I heard myself say, “It doesn’t really make sense”… to which I replied, “yeah, but I like it…”  I love being my own boss here on the page.  Whatever I say goes.  It’s a pretty sweet deal.  Anyway, I imagined it would be a drooling tyrannosaurus rex  that blinked out… one that was charging toward me, poised to DEVOUR… and then *BLINK*…*poof*… suddenly he is gone without a trace, only some rainbow colored neon psychedelic smoke remains.  And it smells like rotten eggs, like when you light those little colored smoke bombs on Fourth of July.)

Why the sudden out-blinking of my gratuitous mention of Mykael?  Well… because so many of my thoughts and feelings have been delicately fetal, not wholly formed and potentially damaging.  Not to mention so mercurial.  I have not been ready to commit to any of my view points for more than a day at a time at best.  And given that, I have realized that it’s not even a healthy subject matter for me to focus on in the privacy of my own mind.  I have been cultivating the self discipline to focus on myself and my path.  I have been spending much time in quietude as well as investing myself in other relationships.  (He too has been focused on matters of deeper purpose.)  It feels like a slow, gentle pulling apart.  But it’s really confusing in some moments.

Confusing because he has been so beautifully virtuous and generous toward me.  He has been giving me so much space to free fall through all the myriad of emotional spaces I have been breathing my way through… with such a sincere spacious generosity and unconditional love.  My greatest fear has been that because I am not committed to a future with him he would take his well worn, conditional love and lock it away behind the door to his own, private bedroom.  I should be afraid of that.  I have done it many times over the course of our relationship… always secretly hoping that HE would be the one to muster the courage to choose generosity and come back to hardened, sour me.  And mostly he has come to me… He has taught me a lot about being generous.  Staying.  About loving.

But I guess not enough, because I still don’t know that I want to stay and love.  That is what is so damn confusing.  I love him.  I LOVE HIM.  And… our relationship feels like perpetual hard work and fights and disappointments… and I think I might be crazy to keep choosing that.  But then I think I might be crazy to let it go… because are these lessons that I’m gonna have to face somewhere along the line, no matter what???  I don’t know.  Probably.  But there is some value in being alone for a while too… it’s been seven years since I was alone.  I did not even consider myself a woman back when I was twenty three.  (I started to feel like a woman at 27.  And since then, I feel more and more like a woman as the chorus of clocks tick me riper and closer to death.)

So you see… I’m in a tangle.  It’s confusing.  I’d rather think about other things, like cream colored ponies and schnitzel with noodles and… what it means to really feel intimate with God.  What it is to really give my life over in service of Love.  What it is to really surrender to the truth of ultimate aloneness… and the ironic connection to all life implicitly nestled at the core of that.  These inquiries are a far better investment of my energy and time and mind these days.  But then… Mykael is in the bedroom next door and our lives are braided together in so many ways and every once in a while, that causes some friction or an accidental milk spill.

Like yesterday.

I was wanting more from him than usual.  I guess I was just sick of aloneness and wanting to sooth myself with the salve of being loved and loving.  But mostly stepping into a space of intimacy with him just felt like trying to drive a wrecked train.  Unless we just held each other.  Anything else proved disastrous.  Which naturally amped up my perplexity to the next level.  I feel him so deeply.  Resting in his arms feels like a deep, ancient home.  Everything in me ignites and flows and comes alive like vibrant starlight.  It feels so right and natural.  Until we try to talk… and then it’s all sparks and flames and flying grit.  Shrug.

Finally, after quite a few stabs at moving closer, we just had to do our own things again.  He carved (like always) and I went for an evening hike in the immaculate earthy cathedral otherwise known as Redwood Park.  I remembered the wisdom of Little Grandmother, advising us humans to get our energy from NATURE, rather than other people… and even though I left the house sobbing, soon enough I was full on sweet scents of dirt and pine and cooling air.  I emptied myself out with every fresh footstep.  I released myself to the silence of the forest.  And then, near the end of the hike, All Pervading Grace offered me the sweetest gift!  I came to the top of a hill… my eyes snuck left to the plunging valley which gave way to a copious helping of open sky… and was smacked oh so softly by vibrant pink, lavender and blue lullabies, wafting soft to meet my weary eyes.  And a near full moon passively dripping with breathing gold.  This tidy little pearl, glowing.  Purring and glowing with unconditional smirking revelation.  Below the sky, was a montage of variously colored and textured distant mountains, laced with rivery ribbons of soft fog.  Lucid.  Dreamy.  Medicine.  I breathed it.  And breathed it some more.  I let it flood all the secret crevices and empty spaces and hungry places inside me.

I am doing my best.  I really am.  I sorta wish my best was better… or less messy and confusing… but… as my dad would say, “It is what it is.”

Amen.

Making Love to Loneliness

After my recent post, “Letting Love Slice Me into One”, my beloved blogging friend, Arlene (aka spirit2go.wordpress.com) expressed some compassionate concern that I was in a funk.  Yeah… that’s one way of putting it… Well Arlene, I am writing to you personally right now and as well, I want to share this with others because it feels like an important message for me to express to many.  But first, thank you for caring so deeply for me, and for all whom your immense, courageous heart dost embrace!

One of the guiding lights along my path is the twelfth century Persian poet, Hafiz.  The brotha knows what is up.  He’s wild.  He’s free.  And he’s unabashedly drunk on the All Pervading Friend.  I used to have this poem hand written and taped up above my bed, because it felt like something that I needed to remember every single day of my life~

My Eyes So Soft

Don’t

Surrender

Your loneliness so quickly,

Let it cut more

Deep.

Let it ferment and season you

As few human

Or even divine ingredients can.

Something missing in my heart tonight

Has made my eyes so soft,

My voice so

Tender,

My need of God

Absolutely

Clear.

This is why I did not try to run from or avoid my loneliness the other day.  I want to be carved out like a freaky jack o lantern, lit from the inside with a sweet scented votive and left out in our dark world so that my eyes glow and blaze with undeniable, soothing truth and kindness for all.

It’s an art… to visit that utterly lonely place without getting stuck or stagnant there.  Without making it mean anything, (and I mean ANY thing) about you, about God, about life.  Without judging it as “BAD”.   No… just to BE there.  And then, to recognize when it has passed and gracefully dance with that which arises next.  The mind loves to hold on to everything and create an identity around it.  “I’m Athena and I’m so lonely… I must be depressed.  There must be something WRONG with me.  But at least I know I EXIST!  At least I can avoid facing the Great Emptiness that is always humming from somewhere deep inside me.”

You see what I mean?  And our mindlessly consuming society is built on this fear of emptiness.  “Uh-oh, I feel empty.  I’d better reach outside of myself in desperation to make this go away.  Who or what can fix me?  Here, TAKE my money!!!  Just make this unavoidable human ache subside for long enough to keep me three and a half quarters blissfully asleep!”

Beloveds, do not fear the shadows.  In this silly dream of division and duality, they are vital for recognizing the light.  Loneliness.  Forgetting the oceanic, resplendent, All Pervading Love that we ARE is about the loneliest thing I can imagine.  I LOVE You, Arlene!  And I feel your Love for me.  And because of this, I know the world is infinitely more blessed.

Friends, let your loneliness carve you, artistically into exquisite jack o lanterns and together we shall celebrate the infinite glowing faces of God in this magnificently dark world!

Amen.

Adventures on Jury Duty

I write about myself because that is what I know best.  My tangle of dreams, fears, longings, curiosities and inspirations are my areas of profound expertise.  But I also write about me so that you can know YOU better.  Each of us is a unique finger print of God… and yet in so many ways, we are ridiculously interchangeable.  So please know that as I unfurl my mind and my heart here on the page, that I am also unfurling YOUR mind and heart on some level.  We are all in this together, my Friends!

But I want to tell you about today, is jury duty.  I stepped into the courthouse schizophrenically split between being entirely open and voracious for the adventure of it and feeling like a crumpled, resistant scrooge.  I couldn’t decide if I wanted to just fling myself unabashedly into the arduous arms of bureaucracy or hop back on my bike and pedal home as fast as I could back to the warm safety of my bed.  It’s a maddening experience, being split like that.  I want to practice engaging in everything I do whole heartedly, single mindedly.  (Starting now, that is…Wink.)

I was surprised by the copious amount of heart and humanity that I felt from so many of the employees in the courthouse.  Especially the woman who was in charge of orienting us jurors.  Over the intercom, she bade us all a cheerful good morning.  Her offering was met with a few flat-lined grunts at best.   She tried again.  I shouted out, “Good MORNING,” as did a bunch of others.  From there, she went on to explain many things that we would need to know.  And she did it with inspiring, authentic engagement and heart.  Remember, she probably spends forty hours a week in that large, fluorescent lit room full of adults who mostly behave like apathetic high school students being “forced” to do something they don’t want to do.  It would be all too easy for her to implode and stagnate and behave like piss flavored coffee.

But instead she stepped in with fresh vibrancy and an inspired commitment to breathing the life back into us.  Just writing about her, I can feel my heart begin to dance.  Even the glossy lipped security woman who greeted me at the door wearing purple latex gloves (who confiscated my metal fork) was kind and genuine.  Upstairs in the courtroom, the same thing.  More people who against all odds had not been beaten into submission by the monotony and soullessness of “the system”.  Passed along through so many caring hands, I found myself able to sink in and enjoy the ride.  I can do this, I thought to myself.

Up in the courtroom they revealed our case.  The state of California against a young man who had shot and killed someone while engaged in “gang activity”.  He was later busted again for possession of a gun.  “Guilty, hands down,” came the unsolicited, immediate verdict from the choir of jurors in my mind.  It was a subtle verdict and I hardly paid attention to it.  Until the defendant was introduced to us and he stood up from his seat, turned around and waved to us.  He was a young black man.  He looked like someone I could have gone to high school with.  Not that he was… He wasn’t.  I’m just saying…

My inner jury sure changed their tone when he shifted from a concept, laden with numerical penal codes to a real live human being with a heart and a soul, waving at me from the front of the room.  My heart stung and my eyes welled up with tears.  From that moment, I knew that I would not make a good juror after all.

They handed out thick questionnaires to each of us in order to perform a preliminary screening.  I had solemnly sworn to tell the truth… and I did.  I felt like such an anomaly as I filled out my form.  I told them that I was not willing to close my heart.  I told them that even if the accused was guilty, that I didn’t believe that he deserved to be punished and locked up.  I said I thought that just exacerbated the less than desirable existing condition.  I told them I preferred the philosophy held in some indigenous cultures, where the entire village took responsibility for the health and well being of each member.  If one committed a “crime”, the village would circle around that person and sing them their song (the song that each mother to be goes out into the solitude of the wilderness and listens for as soon as she discovers she had conceived), reminding that person of the truth and purity of who they are.  Can you imagine me and the whole spectrum of jurors, the judge, the lawyers, even the family of the person who was killed, the bailiff, the court reporter… all singing this young man the song of his soul?

I’m tearing up.  I can imagine.

…Maybe next Wednesday, when I go back (to be officially dismissed, no doubt…) I will stand up and unabashedly loving, sing his soul song… and everyone in the room will be so moved and they will join in!  It will become a healing celebration where we reclaim our true oneness and forgiveness washes us clean and sets us free!  Dream with me, will you?  It’s not that far fetched.

Amen.

Letting Lonliness Slice Me into One

I was going to write about jury duty… I still might.  But I must start where I am.  It is a familiar place, though one that I try to avoid.  Fear and loneliness have seeped into me like wet, cold wind that sneaks right through winter clothes.  Three thirty in the afternoon and the sky is gray and unforgiving.  The air blowing through my open window chases me deeper under the covers of my bed.  I feel so lonely.  I was released from the courthouse by eleven am… and then my yoga student canceled our appointment for this evening.  So my whole day has become one long whisper of unstructured time and space.

Part of me wants to scramble and reach out to *some*one and make a plan.  My mind desperately tries to structure the rest of my waking day.  It is terrifying to be here, devoured by the most starkly ordinary moments, wrought with silence.  Silence!  The very thing that I have been yearning for.  Yes, the thirst for silence has been tickling my palate, pressing relentlessly against the bottom of my mind for some time now.  Then I read one of Souldipper’s most recent blogs, which exalted the virtuousness of silence, adding weighty validation to the increasingly amplified inner beckoning to submit to sacred quietude.  I have become hyper sensitive to words shared between myself and others and honestly, most of them are on par with light beer.

So here I am.  Silent.  And terrified.  Terrified by the threat of meaninglessness, aloneness, emptiness (The “nasty nesses”… Grin.).  Yearning to be diverted, yet digging my heals in and refusing to move.  I must face this.  I thought about taking myself on a date to the movies.  But I’m too stubborn.  I feel challenged by this state of panic. Seduced right to my edge.  I don’t want to be a typical American, stuffing in MORE of anything that I can get my smarmy mitts on…  I don’t want to reach in desperation for a hollow something to shove into this intimidating chasm.  I want to claim liberation.  I want to lean on God.  But God is so blessed quiet and that frightens me.  What if I spend the whole rest of the day trying to feel God’s presence… and I fail?  Then the joke’s on me, because here I was, reaching all of my hands out to this God character and all I wind up with are infinite fistfuls of Nothing.  (Wink.)

Does all of this sound crazy?  Ridiculous?  I’m just sharing my experience with you, because it is what is true right now.  I feel vulnerable, very vulnerable inviting you in to this weird crevice of my existence.  It doesn’t seem very normal.  I think most people would just go to the damn movies, or call up a friend, or put on some music and clean out their closet or paint a water color rendition of their orchid colony.  But not Athena… She’s got something to work out in this echoing realm of solitude.  I feel better putting words around it, transforming the experience from gaping infinite to defined, articulated, translated.

This unresolved relationship to aloneness as articulated by time and space is something I have used my intimate relationships to avoid facing.  I have cast my boyfriends as my saviors, my entertainers, my continuous distractions.  I am curious and excited to navigate the world alone for a while and heal this wounded neighborhood of my soul.  (Are Mykael and I breaking up?  Dunno… but we are certainly separating for a while.  I am going to spend some months in Kauai and he will go stay with his parents while he passes his nursing exams and finds a job.  I will be Athena’s Athena.  I will be All Pervading Love’s Athena.  That is as far as I can see right now.)

Yesterday, Sir John of the Land of Unicorn Milk and Frivolously Spilling Coins (Reno) drove our chariot back to foggy, dismal Oakland.  We drove on highway fifty, through South Lake Tahoe and we were both engulfed by silence for almost the entire drive.  Are there ANY words that can transport you into the sea of awe that I splashed in as we wound along those mountain roads?  Clunky-assed words…  I am digging.

Lucid.  Imagine massive mountainsides composed of gray stone, interspersed with magestic, towering pine trees.  Imagine the vibrant play of lucid, tremulous blue, screaming green, entire intricate worlds of brown and this almost silvery, immovable sea of stone.  Imagine all of this set to the sweet scented music of hot mountain air rushing at your face through an open window.  Enchanted.  Mystical.  I would not have been at all surprised to see gnomes out gathering mushrooms and medicinal barks at twilight, or unicorns frolicking in the occasional waterfall that tumbled down the long, hard, timeless faces of the breath giving rocks.  Rocks.  I was taken by their mostly smoothed contour and definition.  In some places, the mountain peaks appeared to be composed of precariously stacked boulders.  In other places, the same face of stone would stretch unbroken for long spells.  And how do trees grow so virile from ancient, impenetrable stone?

Shrug.  I did my best.  But the wonders of this world are not to be clumsily told.  They are made exactly to fit into the wide-open chasms of peace that reside at the center of each one of us, as lock incites penetration by key.

That epic scenery is a tough act to follow in the way of conversation… so even as we descended into the relentless heat of the sprawling suburbs of unsavory Sacramento, we kept quiet, each nursing the mysterious nectar of our own private world.  Then I got a text from Mykael updating me on his plans upon moving out of our home at the end of August.  In that moment, the curtain of serenity tumbled up and fear, loneliness and alienation swept down in me.  Suddenly I was looking change in right in the cold, reptilian eyes and all my heart could do was stammer and squeeze in on its self.  I felt inundated by cold and shadows.  As if receiving his cue from the All Pervading Cinematic Director, Sir John popped his CD of Coleman Barks reciting Rumi poems into the player.  My paralyzed heart shuddered with a strange cocktail of heavy relief and boundless woe.  The poems were set to delicate, evocative music.  I released myself into the hidden worlds that spilled from them.  Every single poem spoke to my heart.  Or spoke FROM my heart… My eyes became the mouths of raging rivers.  I clung to this sane and sacred poetry like one lost in a violent sea, clinging to a benevolent, bleached piece of driftwood.

Poem upon poem, lavish with timeless truth, ageless wisdom, transcendent beauty and I let each one break my heart wider.  Soft, silent sobs.  I let my soul feed and release.  Outside, Sacramento streamed by in a series of perplexingly meaningless images and sweltering heat.  A couple of times I noticed Sir John wipe tears from his own face and I knew that he too was allowing his heart to be forever changed by this slicing strand of moments.  It was poetry at it’s finest, living through us.  It hurt.  This Love so big trying to squeeze its way through two ordinary humans in a big, silver diesel pick-up truck, speeding through a mundane, baking afternoon in Sacramento.

God, keep all these worldly distractions, I want them not.  I choose this awkward aloneness.  Help me dive in and be quenched in the oasis of Peace that is always here to nourish me in this dream of thirst.  Amen.

Moonlit Unicorns in Desert’s Breath

Alright, alright, I’m going to come out of the blasted closet.  It’s hot in here and hella stuffy.  And besides, I’ve heard that the world outside is kinda amazing…

I was born in Reno.  I don’t often tell people this.  I identify myself as a bay area native… I have lived there since the age of two.  And to me, Reno, Nevada seems kinda trashy for the likes of a sophisticated, bohemian lady such as yours truly.  Not only was I BORN in “the biggest little city”, but I spent [too] many a childhood summer under wide, dry, vast Nevada skies.

Why do I bother to confess this modest nuance of my personal history today?  Because these very words are tumbling forth from beautiful Reno.  And there is something about Reno that fits like a square peg in a square hole inside me whether I like it or not.  (At least in summer time… I don’t love all that frozen business as far as I can throw it…) As it turns out, this is becoming the summer of holy pilgrimages!  I have made a holy pilgrimage to Reno to ride unicorns!  My dear friend and beloved knight, Sir John has a gaggle of them and he’s been trying to get me up here to ride for months.  But I was too busy trying to hold my frenetic bay area life together.  Shrug.  Now that it’s falling apart, I have set myself free to wander and drink from the bottomless well of sacred images, textures, scents, feelings that lay in wait all over this miraculous planet, earth!  Three cheers for falling apart!  (At least in this moment… I imagine I’ll feel less enthused in moments to come…)

(Last night, I dreamed that a cardinal flew into my temple (massage/yoga/meditation room).  Cardinals are one of my favourite bird… I am stunned by their redness and their gurglish elation of a song!  Cardinals live in Hawaii (among other places) and I take it as an auspicious sign that Hawaii is one of my next destinations!  A cardinal flew into my temple!)

What do I love about Reno?  The dry heat.  The infinite sea of sweet-scented sage brush.  Being surrounded by endless chains of arid, shadowy mountain ranges who rest in a patient timeless meditation, their shy peaks kissing the sea of unbounded blue above.  It is six forty two am and already the world is flash flooded with vibrant light.  In the bay area, I usually only get to taste stingy bites of the sky at any given time.  It is always obstructed by buildings and ostentatious topography and the towering ambitions of those who live lives in perpetual high gear.  (Generally, making plans with a friend in the bay area requires planning at least two weeks out and then blocking out a sorry two hour slab of time at best.  Can you feel my disdain?  I could say a lot more on this topic, but I’d rather write about the enchantment of Reno right now…)

I am drinking all these images as one who has almost died of thirst without hardly noticing that she was wasting away… but every time I leave the bay area, I find dormant pieces of my soul.  They come alive and I remember more of the sacredness that beats my poetic heart.

We spent the day at Sierra Hot Springs, lounging like nobody’s business, luxuriating in warm water and decadent shade, expansive lullabies sung by towering pine trees and warm desert wind, bird songs and the expertly blended perfume composed of heat and dirt and pine.  I invited all the beauty to enter me and become a long term guest in the spacious world Inside.  It graciously accepted and flooded into the infinitude of cracks in me.  We arrived at Sir John’s home after dark.  The moon danced in taunting stillness, high in the foldless canapé of deepening indigo.  She was just over half full and her light was icy silver.  Her light was infectious and uncontainable.  Ever time I looked at Her she drenched me silly, while throwing a twisted, knowing smile my way.  Touché, lady luna, I bow to your spicy, understated splendor.

“Do you want to see my babies before you retire?”  Sir John asked.  I felt lazy and hot springed out and just wanted to flop into bed, but I mustered.  Were they *really* unicorns?  I guess as with all things, it’s in the eye of the beholder.  But if I had any doubt before I met them, now I am sure that it was unicorns that I encountered last night.  Sir John turned off his obtrusive beam of light and took me into the pen of his stallion, Rico.  My vision was all silhouettes, shadows and moonbeams!  Rico’s white body shimmered at the edges as it made ghostly love with the moon above.  I felt shy in the presence of this intimidating equine presence.  I reached out and pet his velveteen muzzle.  He exhaled a massive unicorn lung full of warm air and I became at once drunk on its simultaneously animal and vegetable sweetness.  I feel like I need to reiterate this point.  You MUST understand the potency of tasting unicorn exhale!  Unicorn exhale could heal the sick and resigned!  It transcended my finite self and wafted effortlessly into the eternal world of my soul in a single, slippery instant!  And then it was over… but I am still reverberating with the sting of enchantment.

Unicorns burning in the icy light of a half illuminated wily moon!   It does not get any finer than this.  May you bathe today in Grace-drenched, soul-quenching images!

Amen!

Poetry Muse Strikes Again

Committing specific chains of words to the page… where does one begin when there is so much inside?  Where does one begin when one has not had a nourishing swig of uncontrollable laughter in too long to mention?  Yeah, that’d be me… Yesterday I realized I haven’t had a good laugh in way too long.  I have laughed.  That’s some consolation… but not the kind where I get an ab workout and feel divinely empty and blissfully spent afterwards.  Please, All Pervading Funny Bone, come take a swim under my skin.  I beg of Thee!

I guess I’ll tell you that I went to the Lake Meritt Farmer’s Market yesterday to serve as the Poetic Muse again!  But I felt extra shy.  Honestly, this new and uncaffeinated rendition of myself feels very tender and sensitive like a fresh hatched dinosaur.  (OMG, can you imagine how adorable that would be… to stumble upon a boulder sized egg, just in time for it to crack open from the inside and reveal the most shiny, tiny, slippery little tyrannosaurus rex!?  To me that sounds profound!  Which reminds me suddenly of a dream I had last night that I was in Disney Land on a Saturday night and all my friends wanted to go on dates.  I didn’t.  So I got left behind… and I was really bummed, because I wanted to go out and play, but I was not so moved to step out into the vast, dark amusement park on my own.  I didn’t want to be alone.  I was afraid of getting lost and of being bored.  I think I just stayed home and watched a movie starring Steve Carell instead.  (But even the movie was scary… in one scene he was walking through dark caves with blood dripping from the walls.  The only reason I could handle it, is because it was Steve Carell and he makes any situation more than palatable.)

Anyway, what a BRILLIANT metaphor for my experience of Life!  Alone in a vast, dark amusement park on a Saturday night!  Touche, I say to my own divine psyche!

Well, I sat on the wall with my typewriter for a while… But I after not too long, I just couldn’t bare the sensations of so many people walking by and making intentional effort not to look at me.  It was excruciating.  I flirted with the idea of heading home.  But I decided to take a lap around and get my vegetables and hopefully load up on some courage and inspiration while I was at it.  I asked the young, handsome though tortured tamale salesman with open-sky-blue-eyes to typewriter sit for me.  And while I was at it, I asked him for some words of wisdom and strength.  He’s adorable, because he’s got this kinda mopey demeanor juxtaposed with a deep engagement in the moments we share… it puzzles me beautifully.  Like a good breathing poem should.  I felt stronger when I left him to hunt and gather.

Speaking of hunting and gathering, I have discovered these Japanese cucumbers that are SUBLIME.  They are so sassy and snappy like cool, submissive ice cubes.  The skin is thin enough not to be a bitter, dense hassle.  (And who likes bitter, dense hassles after all?)  I BOUGHT TWO!  This was a first… buying TWO entire cucumbers just for me…  You gotta try ‘em while they’re peaking.  If you know what’s best for you.

I’m in love with the man who works at that particular veggie stand.  Nothing fancy as far as love goes, but very mutual nourishing.  We just both savor the brief, simple moments of overlapping existence.  He’s a tall, slender black man who I bet has like ten pounds of dreadlocks, but he keeps them all neat in a big, black knitted hat.  He’s got the right kinda soul for me~ old, well seasoned, deep.  Honestly, we don’t even need to speak a single word to dig eachother’s groove… we just do because… it’s the American way.  (Actually, now that I think about it, there is no shortage of soul to be imbibed at farmer’s markets in general…)
I shared my conundrum with him of simultaneously wanting to run away and hide and to stand boldly committed in the face of my discomfort.   I said, maybe I just needed to find a different place to sit.  He grunted and quickly stated that there ARE no better places to sit.  As I hoped he would, he ordered me to march right back to my original perch and take the power back.  After I had an overflowing sac of vibrant, rainbow colored gifts from the earth, that’s exactly what I did.

Thankfully, because I connected with two very awake souls and wrote them pretty kick ass poems if I do say so myself.  I only have the bandwidth to share about one though… Jim.  He was all decked out in cyclist gear.  He approached me and shared that his wife was a poet also.  And an amazing renaissance woman.  As he spoke of her, he spilled with deep respect, admiration and devotion for this woman.  Honestly, she DID sound about like me in another quarter of a century… Which rings these here bells, since I’m all about aging and ripening.

This man, Jim, talk about a wellspring!  Lately I have been consciously collecting Lovers of Life… Because that is something that I am fostering in myself.  After so many arduous years of feeling depressed and suicidal, I am SO ready to love life.  And since we are the company we keep… But back to this particular slice of passionate humanity.  Jim shared himself with me unabashedly.  After sharing about his wife, I offered him a poem and asked him what was in his heart.  This question stirred something in him.  He told me that not so long ago he had had some heart troubles that may have been precursors to heart attack.  This had changed his life.  After surgery, he actually FELT his heart in a whole new, profound way.  He quit a job he hated.  I mean *REALLY* hated.  It had been sadistically sucking him dry of life for a long arduous walk through the soul’s desert scapes.

I just have to say… that I have met so many people who have been freed and seasoned by life threatening illness.  In fact, I think that should be a top criteria for being the president.  You must’ve had a brush with death in order to be in charge of our county!  Ahem.  So Jim… His amazing wife was a total support during this massive transformation.  And now he is a passionate cyclist.  On his rides, he sniffs out fascinating, liberated humans and makes a connection with them.  Then he blogs about it!  Sounds familiar…

He told me that on a recent ride, he met a woman riding a unicycle with a mountain bike tire, up very steep hills.  She said she was training to ride through Mongolia, where none of the roads are paved!  And he met an old hippy freak with a long beard and a Hawaiian shirt who it turned out was a WORLD CHAMPION gambler!  And… He met me.  He said he would blog about me.  He took my photo as I plunked out his profound poem.  (One thing I forgot to say about Jim is that he was wearing these red lensed sun glasses… so I could see his eyes, but not fully.  In retrospect, I realize that the whole time we were connecting, this was passively driving me bonkers.  I just wanted to bask in the unfiltered light of his soul as is my proclivity.  Just for the record…)

So he has already written the said blog.  I discovered it last night and it made my heart dance like a drunk!  I loved being able to see my offering from a whole new angle… and the rippling impact that it has on the world.  Check it out:

http://flashblog2011.blogspot.com/2010/07/athenaa-goddess-of-poetry.html

The last thing I’ll say about Jim is that I was so inspired by his dedication to being present, receiving the moment as a miraculous gift.  I have been practicing that lately and it is absolutely stunning what characters, situations and shades of aliveness that the One graciously offers at our Holy Feet!  Thank you, oh All Pervading Bestower of Winking Profundity!
Amen.

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