Embracing the Endless Desert

Any guesses as to how many luscious, indulgent words my fingers will be privileged to pump out before my Luminous Shrimp cries out from the bedroom and sucks me into the roaring machine of single motherhood?  My guess is not enough to scratch the itch or feel outrageously coherent.  I have seemingly abandoned my post here in Athena Graceland, because Serena has been on an early-waking-bender.  For weeks now.  And the lone shred of something for “myself” has blinked out like a kamikaze star.  Sigh.  The heat is ON.  And the longer I go without writing, the less I know what to even say.  I mean… what does one say when they are being broken down???

Well in THIS moment, it seems almost obvious… One describes the process of being broken down.  Such that it becomes poetry and salvation and wholeness.  Such that when one looks backward at the wilderness of her Unfolding, she might have a deeper understanding of Divinity and Perfection, Healing and Grace and Destiny.

But God… There is so much.  And it feels like chinese water torture to imagine going play by play, ounce for ounce.  So where does that leave me?  In the epicenter of my heart, I s’pose.

I have not had any communication with Ed (Serena’s dada, and the married man I have fought for for four years now) for days.  Today I am pretty damn sure I have given up the fight.  For real.  I know that I am a classic case of the girl who cried wolf, when it comes to the topic of “breaking through” with Ed… And I don’t expect you to believe me.  But I will testify that we have never gone more than a few hours without communicating at least a little bit.  Except for once a few years ago…. and that time, it was painful and dramatic.  But this time, I feel relieved and more whole… Like finally, my life doesn’t feel like it’s got a flat tire or a sinkhole.  I’m not syphoning my life-force into this fantasy world that detracts from the immediate and glorious world I marinate in.  I never imagined this day would come.  Detaching from Ed seemed beyond impossible.  And actually, I guess it IS, since we have a child together.  I guess it’s not ED I’ve detached from… but from the fantasy of someday playing house with him.

Letting go of that rotten fantasy, I land with a sobering thud in the reality that I am an over-stretched and stressed single mama.  Yes, I have been that the whole time…. But I refused to fully admit it.  Part of me was fiercely clutching this other frustratingly intangible life.  No longer.  Now I am here.  Shmoozing with all of my nearest and dearest– Loneliness, Exhaustion, Longing, Confusion, Regret and my all time favorite– DISAPPOINTMENT.  Yeah me and disappointment can’t seem to get enough of each other.

The surface “me” wishes things were different.  And I mean almost EVERYthing.  But the deeper me is actually relieved, because I can’t even get a grip on my identity, and I know it’s because I am dissolving.  And how can one EVER hope to know their Infinite-God-Self, if they are all twisted up around the shards and husks of something less.  Social conditioning and past experiences and self-imposed limitations.  “On paper” (or on the screen, to be more accurate), it looks pretty glamorous– the Opportunity to know my Self…. But in real time, it has been barren and excruciating.  Lonely and hopeless.  Like Jesus wandering the desert for forty days and forty nights.  Except from Athena Graceland, forty days and forty nights seems like a recreational cake-walk.  Over here, it’s more like a paltry stone’s throw from Forever.  I long for some PG-13 man-love.  Just a strong and beautiful and clear soul to hold me and rub my shoulders and smell my hair and cook me dinner and delight in my (dwindling) radiance.  But then I wonder if inviting that in would actually be like tying my own shoelaces together and making me trip all over myself, when what I really need to do is MOVE FORWARD.  I’m afraid that even the most simple and pure intentioned connection could quickly turn complex and haunted.  Because I’m someone who can’t NOT go deep.  And relationships are complex and twisty and jagged… because they arouse our deepest vulnerabilities.

Well there’s a lot I want.  And then there’s my rigorous moment to moment existence.  And the two don’t seem to have too much overlap, so who cares?

I care.

But even still, all I can do is breathe and do my best to hold my own heart as the Infinite Treasure and “do what it takes to feed the children”.

Thank GOD for my friends.  Even though I am navigating such profoundly uncomfortable terrain these days (as many of us are, I must acknowledge… and I pray that sharing MY journey will offer healing to yours.  That my Ultimate Faith may illuminate your own.  That my honesty and willingness will inspire you to face yourself with kindness, curiosity and humor.), I cherish my morning walks with Teri and her little Phoenix.  The healing, honest and spiritually nutritious exchange of voice memos with QuynhyMama.  The ever-irreverent, easy and no-holds-barred, spiritual gangsta sisterhood with Anitra.  The “Cheers-esque communion with the warm-hearted staff at Mother Truckers– the tiny and amazing grocery store a hop and a skip down the road from Ananda.  The hallowed daily check-ins and gift of Listening bestowed my my dear Mother.  God bless her!  Even as she navigates the brambly forest of Cancer and ChimoTherapy, she is still my rock.

Serena is awake.

But I’m satisfied with this cut of sharing.  And I aspire to a more steady linguistic outpouring of this Wild and Enchanted Journey through God’s very creative and ruthless Imagination.

Bless you, for we are all in this together.  And I’m certain you are rockin it over there!

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Things that go “Fuck” in the Night

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Things that go FUCK in the night.  An essay by Athena Grace LMNOP.  Yes, lately I have been going “fuck” in the night… and I feel slightly ashamed to admit it.  Serena goes through cycles where she sleeps amazing– I put her to bed around 7:30, in her pack n play.  She sleeps soundly until 2 or 3am.  Then she calls to me, and I scoop her up and nestle her into my bed, where she nurses and we both drift back into cozy slumber… for about two hours… Then I nurse her some more, imbibe one more delicious wave of sleep, and then get up, make tea and have the most (potentially) delicious, lucid “Me Time” for an hour or two if I’m lucky (half an hour or less, if I’m fleetingly damned).

But for the last couple of weeks, she’s been having her first wake up somewhere between ten and eleven pm.  And then waking every two hours (ish) after that.  I thought she might be teething… or at least having a juicy brain growth spurt… So I coached myself to have a generous attitude.  But no new teeth yet… and my arms are going uncomfortably numb again from the excessive side-lying nursing.  I’m tired.  And yes, flooded with helplessness and frustration, I find myself going “fuck” in the night.

But that is the end of that essay.  Short and sweet.  A flame-trailing line drive down the third base line.  I’m taking the turn…. sliding into second… SAFE!!!!

Tragically, I was never a great softball player… I’m too much of a pansy.  But God, I can feel the latent satisfaction in being a skillful and aggressive player.  *Smacking* the ball solid with my bat (I have recurring dreams about this), owning the bases, fearlessly fielding smokin’ grounders, hurling the ball with fierce warrioresse accuracy… I guess I’ll have to express these edifying energies in other (diamond shaped) domains of my life.

I haven’t been writing much about motherhood here in Athena Graceland… I felt like I should be… Until I (just now) did.  Then I realized why I don’t…. I am mom every second of every day… except for two hours on tuesdays when I am “yoga teacher”.  “Awesome yoga teacher”, at that!  And for an hour in the morning, I am “writer”.  And I don’t really feel to blather on and on about my (AMAZING) baby, because she will soon enough awaken and require EVERYTHING.  Which I mostly relish giving.

I’d rather blather about my stupid relationship!!!  Is that dumb or WHAT???  I vote YES on measure D for Dumb.  But that doesn’t stop me from expressing what there is to express.  I write from FEELING.  It heals me.  And helps me make the treacherous climb from my sniveling small self, into my soaring, winged, triumphant Being of Light Self.

I’m not officially in a Relationship anymore… we have mutually opted out.  But it’s such an excruciating process to starve the ravenous, slobbery beast inside me, who subsists on energetic ties to Ed.  She is so fierce, and really causes a stir when she is not fed.  Time and again, I reach out for him… hoping to surge with decadent feelings of affinity and fullness…. and… they just aren’t available anymore.  It’s more like me sprinting into the electric fence, getting knocked backward onto my scrawny ass, and then copping a massive, childish attitude because I’m not getting what I want.

I FEEL SO “ENDARKENED”!!!  So immature.  I love this experience of “breaking through” (the flashy, new-age verbiage for “breaking up”)… because it is revealing remarkably unflattering angles of me!  In the past, I would have beat myself up over not being “perfect”.  No longer.  I am DONE believing that there is anything but God, disguised in all characters, scenarios, feelings… EVERYWHERE.  Let’s get Real.  Is HeSheIt Omnipresent, or NOT???

Yeah, that’s right.  Omnipresent doesn’t leave room for much else.  Even if it must encompass darkness, childish behavior and global atrocities.  Shrug.  It’s a zany lila.  But declaring the all-pervading presence of the Good Lord WILL DELIVER US.  And I am playing my essential part in this impending Ascension.  But Jesus… My role entails so many uncomfortable feelings.  Thirty six and three quarter years into this Athena Grace thang, I’m getting good at recognizing the “Still Small Voice” (the voice of Infinite Wisdom) within me.  It tells me that Ed and I were so powerfully attracted, because we were Destined to give Serena life.  Mission accomplished.  And now my infinite stream of happily ever after is flowing elsewhere, and there’s no need to suffer about this.

But I am suffering about this.  Because I had lucid fever dreams of US playing house and being together forever.  A stubborn-as-fuck piece of me insists on clutching to a few lousy, stale crumbs of fulfillment.  Moldy crumbs that make me sick.  Yet I cherish them.  And even though I know I deserve WAY BETTER, I still love the one in me who fights to the death for these toxic, jagged crumbs!!!  And I honor the Divine in her.

Day by arduous day, freedom quietly unravels in my clenched, frightened heart.  I have little (ecstatic) tastes of full surrender.  I feel washes of soul-fulfillment as I inhabit the Life that lives through me.  So many moments of crushingly beautiful music and dancing, evocative light and resplendent friendship… Moments upon blessed moments of delight as Serena’s Lila Graces me. (That was a play on words.  Her full name is “Serena Lila Grace”.  I’m clever.)

I have this perpetual gnawing conflict as I write…. I thirst to become a “famous writer”.  But I imagine that I will have to edit, refine, distill, direct my expression in order to do so.  And I don’t want to!!  I want to be FREE.  I want to show up here in Athena Graceland with no holds barred.  I want to say it all.  Without concern for if it is good enough, or refined enough or ENOUGH enough… I want to be as goddamn superlative and excessively expressive as I feel to.  Even if it means that I have to get paid minimum wage to bake goddamn (delicious) quiches, make (epic) soup and clean houses for the rest of eternity.  God, I’m stubborn.

Maybe someday I’ll change.

But today, I am me.  Today I am free.  I type what I must… and I breathe.

I remember that this is as God as it gets.

And yet…

There truly is no end to how brightly we can shine.

The best is yet to come.

Love is the Way.

I am willing to die (a gazillion times) to all other notions.

And be birthed into Love Itself, a gazillion more…

Inhale.  Exhaaaale.

Amen.

The Travesty of Stick Throwing

First things first.  I must clear Mykael’s name.  He told me that the blog I wrote recently about our fight in the car portrayed him as a bona fide jerk-off with a head hopelessly lodged you know where.  (‘Member… when his fuse expired after driving around the parking lot for forty minutes while I was working poetic miracles at the farmers market?)  The truth is that he and I are about tied when it comes to the topic of enlightenment… AND endarkenment.  We are a tag team act, constantly passing the bodhisattvic baton back and forth and back and forth as though it were a hopelessly flaming potato.  When one of us acts like a withered ignoramus, like magic, it calls the other of us into our highest.  Sometimes… Though come to think of it, all too often we both get lost in our brambly, chaotic, egoic underbrush… and trust me, it ba-LOWS.  But conversely, we have also been known to partake in prolonged rendezvouses, levitating together in lotus position and sipping the superlative nectar of ageless wisdom from impressively tiny heirloom tea cups (with matching saucers, naturally).

I guess I’m basically describing any relationship with another human being… or am I?  I guess some people manage to glaze and graze the surface as a way of life.  I guess… I can’t imagine.  I generally steer away from those people because if I’m not careful, I start to shrivel and fall into a dire state of catatonic boredom around such blasphemously mainstream characters… So you see I oft forget they even exist.  Maybe they don’t.  Maybe I’m just having a bad trip.  Maybe everyone is interesting.  It sure seems that way.

I first discovered that everybody is an undercover celebrity or a mythological heavy-weight a few years ago after the lion at the San Francisco Zoo killed those dudes on Christmas day (because they were provoking him and treating him like cheap Christmas trash).  Soon after that, I discovered that the guy I danced next to every Sunday at hip hop dance class was the lion (and tiger) (but not bears-oh-my) trainer!  I remember my flamboyant, eccentric dance teacher exclaiming that you never know who’s dancing next to you.  And it’s true.  If I could leave you with ONE potent nugget for the day, my friends, it would be that YOU NEVER KNOW WHO’S DANCING NEXT TO YOU.  The thing I love about people is that we are absolute wizards of paradox.  We so innately span that chasm between being the most utterly mundane little flesh lumps and also being wholly holy and recklessly profound, gifted fallen angels.

But anyway, back to Mykael… he did a pretty good job of getting over himself and letting go of his scummy emotions.  And I’m pretty grateful, because it was good practice for me.  I want to become adept at being able to simply BE in the face of any body sensations.  It was really challenging for me to feel all of that intense, heavy negativity that was filling up the whole car like the Blob.  To just feel it.  Without having to change it, without leaving my body, without getting lost in the woman-eating folds of fear.  Honestly, I am committed to realizing wholeheartedly that nobody can take anything that is Real from me.  I yearn to free myself from the bondage of the incessant ego game of attack and defend.  I am innocent.  You are innocent.  Always.  Though the ego has an impressively endless barrage of tricks to convince us otherwise.  And we can be adorably gullible.  Except it’s not adorable, really.  It’s sort of a shame.  Because here we are, a gifted posse of earth angels, dancing together in a very special, poetic strain of Heaven… and we mostly act like snot nosed victims begging for a few measly crumbs tumbled from a mouthwatering slice of sumptuously iced Love cake nestled on the plate of an over-sized, white bearded and fair-weathered, blood-shot eyed God who abides behind locked golden gates just beyond the sky.

But we’re gonna get it.  This is why I’m putting in overtime these days.  For the team.  Sheee-it, I will bleed and sweat until I can see only God in Mykael.  Only God in those among us who choose to live in the shallow end of the pool of Life.  Only God in rapists, murderers and people who eat at McDonalds.  Oh and while I’m at it, I guess I’ll stop throwing sticks at my own heart too… Why not, ya only live once!

Speaking of the travesty of stick throwing… I had a date at the Berkeley Farmer’s Market with my dear friend this afternoon and she had stumbled into a deep, dark and all too familiar shadowy crack in her mind.  The kind swarming with massive hairy tarantulas and hissing opossums inflicted with mange and rabies.  She kept saying things like how stupid and unworthy and repulsive she was… Being with her, feeling the impact of that kind of barbaric, stick throwing violence felt like casual crucifixion.  I am very grateful for the mirror she held up to me.  My nose would grow three feet in an instant if I told you that I have never spoken to myself this way.  Both aloud and silently.  But to witness it and feel it from the outside, I see that this is the quintessence of cruel and unusual punishment.  It is NOT okay.  Let me lay down my nun chucks and prostrate before my very own sacred, weather-beaten feet, kissing them with reverence and gratitude for the infinitude of miles they have carried me along this sacred, confounding path back into the rapturous arms of the Beloved, which somehow I have never even left in the first place.  Let me use my word ONLY as the word of the Highest, to bless, reveal and praise.

Oh All Pervading Fountain of Gurgling Liquid Bliss~ May my forgiveness of myself and others spread like ravenous, unruly flames all about our collective consciousness, burning away all but the ever-smiling Truth nestled patiently at the core of Everything.  Amen.

Leaping Typewriters on Speeding Buses (part I)



I forgot to mention to you that I brought my illustrious typewriter* with me on my recent pilgrimage to the Ananda (my mom’s ashram).  I just figured hey, you never know when you’ll encounter a soul thirsting madly for a poetic blessing… well actually, I think most of us are parched in the way of poetry and intentional blessings.  So I carted the heavy beast along on the greyhound bus, often being mistaken for an anvil saleswoman… just like the one from The Music Man (wasn’t his name “Charlie”?)

*A brief and reverent word on my typewriter:  It belonged to Mykael’s grandmother, who was a minister of the church of religious science!  (Which happens to be my church of choice these days!)  She was head of the ministry of prayer and she used the typewriter mostly to conduct related correspondence, such as replying to letters for prayer requests.  The moral of this ridiculously short tale?  The typewriter was BORN to serve the All Pervading Love Hemorrhage!

As I was boarding the bus in Oakland, the driver noticed the sign on the outside of my typewriter that said “poems for sale”.  He was clearly titillated.  He confessed that HE used to write many poems back in another [prehistoric] incarnation of himself.  His blue eyes twinkled and danced.  Then I boarded the bus and made my way to the only remaining vacant row, toward the back.  As I was trying to clumsily shove the mythological alphabet stamping beast in the overhead rack, the hard-cover case came sprawling open and the heavy machine plummeted down on an innocently by-sitting woman.  I was mortified.  Blank sheets of paper flailed about.  I asked the woman if she was okay and she said she was fine.  That was hard for me to believe, since the thing weighs at least as much as a baby unicorn.  I must have asked her eight times… and apologized twenty one… But alas, there was no blood or broken bones.  And not even any hard feelings, aside from mine.

Amidst the melee, I had a chance to scope out this fellow citizen of the human race.  I was surprised by her youth, her luminosity and her fabulous, decadent tan.  She had icy blue eyes that spoke much in our nativer than thou tongue, the language of light!  She was young and vibrant and struck up an orchestra of curiosity in me.  I offered her a poem for her passive troubles.  She immediately accepted. I asked her what was in her heart… and after digging for a few moments, discovered that she had been traveling in Mexico and Central America for the last five months… and was soon going back to her motherland, England.  She said she was tangled in uncertainty about landing back home again, wondering where she would work and that sort of mentally pestering nut and bolty stuff.  I gathered myself in my sphere of chaos and made my way to my seat behind her, my mind already busy stretching into the heavens in search of images and metaphors and other essential celestial freebies.

I parked the typewriter in my lap and slowly plunked out a poem for her as the bus bounced me like a baby on its soothing, automotive knee.  I wondered if it was okay to produce that kind of erratic, sonic rhythm in a confined public arena.  No one said anything… until I was two lines from the end.  At that point I was approached by a real character.  A middle aged woman with a passively clownish countanence~ thick foundation make-up, eyebrows entirely fashioned from thin brown pencil lines, frizzy, stressed out hair orange as a bleeding sunset sky.  She informed me that my typing was offensive to a flock of people behind me and would I mind stopping.  Fair enough… But I asked her if she’d mind if I finished up the last two lines and she acquiesced, god bless’er!  I read over the poem and was more than satisfied.  But the beautiful English wanderer was sleeping, so I lay the poem to rest, packed up the typewriter (which sorely needs a name, don’t you think?) and got to my previously scheduled business of doing a whole lot of indulgent nothing.

It wasn’t until Sacramento, when the woman, whose name I discovered was Zoe, was about to flee the enchanted bus and remerge into the folds of the mystery that I bestowed the poem upon her.  She turned around and said, “Goodbye.”  Ahhhhh!  Wait… what about your poem???  I read it to her through the crack in the seats and then passed it through the narrow slit into her open hands.  I felt the warmth of her gratitude and she said that she hoped more typewriters fell on her.  I laughed and said “Be careful what you wish for…”  Then she was gone.  I glowed inside, savoring the strange fortune of my typewriter leaping onto her, and the blessing that generated.  Though I wished that I had been able to learn more about this kindred mystery woman.  Shrug.  I guess that’s not what life had in store.

When I got off the bus at my destination in beautiful Colfax, California, I asked the blue eyed, bus driving, closet poet if he fancied a poem.  His energy was all liquid yeses, but his mind had to navigate its own modest obstacle course before he caught up with himself.  I asked him what was in his heart.  Work and family.  A man of few words.  I had to roll up my sleeves and dig to find the plethora of gold nuggets laced in this obviously wakeful though mildly frozen in past pain soul.  But when push came to shove, he was willing.  I learned that he had a twenty four year old son who was tangled in discord with his mother.  Mister bus driver was playing the exhausting roll of mediating peace maker, holding a hundred times his own weight in responsibility within his own overtly tender heart.  He told me it was both comforting and taxing to head out on the open road in his bus… On one hand, he had respite from the familial tension… and on the other hand, his absence put strain on the family unit.  I nodded in recognition.  He WAS the perfect poem.  So wrought with internal struggle, dynamic tension, a divine play of light and shadow.

I only had ten minutes before the bus was to depart, so I got busy.  The poem was born in the nick of time and I ripped it from the auspicious machine and read it to him.  (I was not so enamored with this one… and actually gave myself a hard time for like half an hour… my ego screaming in my ear, WHO did I think I was offering ragged, limping poems to strangers?  I had to be vigilant in releasing that obnoxious voice.  Actually, I ended up giving myself a sober pep-talk-coaching-session out loud.  “Athena, your job is to be courageous and do your best.  To keep releasing yourself into God and saying YES.  That’s it.  Keep going.  Naturally, you will like some poems better than others, but who cares.” Etc.  Sheesh, where did I learn to be so mean???)

I read him the poem.  He lit up.  Then he recited from memory the first poem he had ever written, when he was a teenager, waiting for the greyhound bus(!!!!!).  It was very introspective, melancholy and soulfully universal.  Yup, he’s a seasoned citizen of the universe.  The he turned away, boarded the bus and drove into the sunsetless horizon.

Amen.

To be continued…

Ice Cream, Second Chances and First Impressions

The last couple of blogs I’ve written have earned me some extra positive strokes… which I’ve interpreted were a result of being “deep” and “profound”… two words I love to be associated with.  But this morning, I’m noticing that I have piled some pressure on myself to keep it up.  I LOVE getting comments.  They make me feel HEARD (which is a big one for me), valued, connected.  (Thank you all who have shared your thoughtful and inspired depths here!  And those of you who haven’t…I would LOVE to hear your voice!  Please share your magnificent heart and mind with the class.)  Alas… Sometimes “digging” for the profundity can pull the wool over authenticity’s googly eyes.  I strive always to free my mind.  And therefore to free Our mind.  Even if that means talking about ice cream.

When I wrote poetry at the farmer’s market the other day, one of my modest handful of customers was a young boy-man, accompanied by his silent, exotic, deep seeing girlfriend.  He handed me a stack of four quarters and I asked him what was in his heart in the moment.  He mused effortlessly for but a moment and then said, “I’m gonna eat ice cream when I get home and I’m really excited about that.”  His manner was the dictionary definition of matter of fact.  It knocked me sideways, since I am the queen of the deep… Ice cream?!?  What in God’s frozen decadent name do I have to say about ICE CREAM???

But I tried to ignore the fear voices and give myself over to the endlessly gurgling font of the muse.  I banged out a very short poem about ice cream.  I kept rereading it, wanting to add something… wanting to plump it up, pimp it out.  But it was stubborn as fuck.  It dug its inky heals into the ground and refused to move.  I shrugged inwardly and pulled the shameful paper from the archaic, indifferent machine.  Sweeping my embarrassment under the expertly woven rug of my ego, I read it to him and his enchanting consort.  I couldn’t tell much what he thought.  They stood up and thanked me and then confessed that they were both writers.  Oh no!!!!  I made a fool of myself in front of other writers!  (Remember that character from the early 80s version of Sesame Street… The piano playing puppet who was always screwing up his songs and getting ensnared in the hellish twists of self depreciation… and banging his head violently on the piano keys?  That was me.  Inside, I was banging my head on the typewriter keys, pounding out miles of linguistic gibberish.) (Note to reader= I am exaggerating.  Please do not identify me entirely as an exacerbated ego maniac.  Sure, I have that voice in me… and in the interest of this story, I have turned up the volume on it… but it is just one facet of my sweet, gleaming rock of a self.  Thanks.)

Sigh.  Poor Athena… lost her chance to dazzle.  Frowny faces and  Poopy diapers abound!  But this blog is a crystal ship setting sail to the land of second chances!!!  So I am going to take this opportunity to stab the topic of ice cream again.  And the beauty of the blog is that this is MY space, and nobody can storm upon me and put a stop to the frenzied sling shot bus stop cabaret of words.  Except me…

And now for a sock knockingly profound poem about ice cream!!!!!

A he and a she

Once upon a Sunday pounded

The corridors of gluttonous Infinitude

Screaming.

Creaming

their respective under garments

with the abandon of phantom

children.  Dreaming.

Dreaming of frozen jagged alps,

Melting in their eager mouths.

Sweeter than the nectar

Of a mother’s supple, dripping

Nipple,

Under-sucked

And over-paid.

They waded through

The endless slew

Of the thirty two flavors

That never quit.

Thirty two flavors of banana

Splitting,

Hardball hitting home run

Sunday night fevers

In a dish.

In a cone.

Home?  Oh Lover, this is it!

Phew!  I feel much better… Now I can die complete.  But I don’t want to die yet.  It was just figure of speech.  Okay God?  Make me live a long, long, arduous, growthful, uphill, sweat inducing human haul, okay?  (Making fun of my default orientation to Life…)

Hey, I need to practice poeticizing on the fly… so please toss me a topic (in the comment format), and I will knock it out of the park of my mind and back into the “out there” “great unknown soup”, back to you.  BRING IT ON!!!! Amen.

Free Falling into Heaven’s Arms

I took two days off from blogging and I forgot how to do it!  Not to mention that I am frozen solid from my early morning swim in frigid waters (76 degrees).  But the thing about being alive is that you just ARE… so now what?  I face that question all the time.  I have an ancient, calicified habit of getting into this mind fuckish loop~ I feel overwhelmed and disenchanted with life, I wonder why I am here in the first place, I wish I wasn’t, I want to die and then I tell myself that that’s a stupid mental street to roll down, since I AM here, which means that like it or not, this is where I belong.  Yeah, it’s a pretty ridiculous loop.  I take it with a sprinkle of sugar these days.  Come on, I have been looping through it since my teens… After fifteen-ish years, I just can’t take it as seriously as I used to.  Plus, I am now a self proclaimed saint in training, so it would be a dumb idea to take my own life, wouldn’t it?  I am playing for the team!

Plus, I see the impact of my kindness, my generous attention.  It brings others more alive!  I love that.  I love that just the simple act of putting my caring, inspired attention on others makes them shine brighter.  That is priceless.  But back to blogging.  The moral of the story is that if I can just keep putting one foot in front of the other in life, I can do that on the page right now, too.  And nine chances out of ten, something good will come of it.  Speaking of putting one foot in front of the other, I walked my first labyrinth yesterday at four am.  It was the labyrinth at Grace Cathedral.  It was a highly profound experience for me.  I’m not sure if I’ll be able to do the experience any justice as I attempt to articulate it… but I’ll give it a whirl.

As I slowly, mindfully (occasionally absentmindedly) moved my feet, wound my way about the intentional tangle of a path, I was struck by how much this is like life.  Doesn’t life seem to be going one direction in one minute, and then, suddenly without warning, it wraps around on its self, and you find yourself moving in the opposite direction, though the ultimate destination has not changed… but you might not realize this if you are only paying attention to what is two feet in front of you.  The mind is like this too.  Ultimately organized by a supreme order and intelligence, yet so twisted and wiggly and seemingly unkempt.

It drove me crazy in some moments, how round about the path was.  I am so conditioned to want to “get there” (you know, “THERE”…) as quickly as possible.  After all, that is the American way.  But the path just kept folding in on its self and dragging me through vast scapes of internal wilderness, at which point, I always returned to the choice to let go, a-gain.  Surrender a-gain.  I imagine that there is much more profound meaning within the advent and existence of labyrinths…  But the personal layer of profundity that I treaded was more than enough for now.  My prayer as I slowly strode was for radical forgiveness.  When I feel fear, I am learning that it is merely an indication that there is something to forgive.

Three very crucial people in my heart kept springing to the surface of my mind as I meditatively moved forward~ My aunte, my brother, Daniel and my friend Dan.  I prayed for their happiness, peace and healing.  Honestly, lately I am not convinced that “others” really exist.  I imagine that the people in my life exist as reflections of this one self.  And if I am trippin’ out on a particular relationship, or if someone in my world is struggling, it is up to me to realize that aspect within myself and pour super sonic love on it.  I believe that I have access to a kind of love that has no limits in its ability to transform, transcend and heal.  I guess that could be construed as lot of responsibility.  But I felt like my prayers were amplified as I walked this secret, sacred, ancient path.  Birds began to sing their melancholy, predawn invocation as I walked and prayed.  You know, the song that casts shadows and exalts veils.

Of course my experience in the labyrinth directly correlates to the current lessons in a Course in Miracles too.  Life is woven like that… (I’m back at Pizzaiolo and I am astounded by the huge pile of doughnuts stacked on the fancy serving plate.  It looks like a doughnut sand castle.  If I was a smurf, I would make a holy pilgrimage to this doughnut castle and scale it in the name of discovering something profound, taking occasional bites out of the terrain as I fancied!)  According to A Course in Miracles, we need not manage our lives, ever.  Really.  Not at all.  They assert that this comes from a place of intrinsic mistrust in the intelligence of God.  They say that life will guide us every step of the way, All Pervading Light will move us along in the currents of Grace with our greatest happiness, peace and quintessential best interest in mind, always.  There is no need to entangle in thoughts of past and future AT ALL.

I YEARN to live like this~ totally free to exist in eternal delight and wonder, alive and present in this one graciously unfolding holy moment.  But letting go that fully!!!???  What a massive, unwieldy leap of faith that requires.  Living every day unplanned?!??  Are you kidding me, screams my frightened little ego self.  Jesus!  But the alternative is certainly not making my soul blush and cream its etheric panties AT ALL.  I am fucking sick of living in fear, living with a perverse sense of intrinsic danger imagined to be imbued in the very threads that this life is woven from.  My heart of hearts knows that life is kind, that everything is burning with an ache to love and be loved, give and be given.  So I am embarking on a new leg of the journey in which I need not look ahead, scramble to figure shit out.  Fuck that.  That’s SO nineteen eighty six.  This is two thousand TEN, baby!  My new (improved) mission is to meet life head on, right now.  I am ready to ignite in crazy wonder, gratitude and divine surrender as life unfolds in ever new perfection.  Can I switch gears over night, like casting a spell with a mere snap of eager fingers?  Maybe…  I am gonna practice relaxing my belly, softening my heart and saying yes to what each moment invites and offers.

Worst case scenario, I die.  But “I” (the “I” that I have manufactured from this aforementioned sense of fear, this dillusional dream of separation) am closer to death with ever breath I take, anyway.  (Much like getting closer to the center of the labyrinth with each step.)  Besides, I ultimately want that false “I” to die, anyway… Then all that will be left of me is a perpetually overflowing fountain of peaceful loving kindness.  Better than your garden variety sharp stick in the eye, any day.

May you feel held, loved and buoyant in Grace’s omnipresent being today.

Amen.

There’s God In Them Thar Hills!!!!

Well, God would have it this morning that I sat myself next to a man from Nigeria, who was chosen at the ripe old age of five to be a catholic priest.  You see, I told him my name was Athena.  He exclaimed, “The goddess!”

I said, “Yup, wisdom and war, baby… though people conveniently leave out the war part on a very regular basis.”  They do.  Whenever I tell people my name, the popular response is, “The goddess of wisdom!”

…Yeah, the goddess of wisdom who happens to be carrying a massive shield and sporting a high-fashion warrioress’s helmet… I guess war as we know it is a pretty frightening subject.  Better to just pretend it doesn’t exist, eh?  But then there’s the quintessence of all wars~ the war we fight inside ourselves every day.  The war that the ancient Indian sacred text, the Bhagavad Gita metaphorically addresses.  This is the war between the ego and… “The Great Love”, I’ll call it.  Yikes.  Talking about “religious matters” is a slippery slope, isn’t it?  Well, suffice to say, that I like to think that Athena’s stand for imbuing war with wisdom is a courageous stand for the highest, especially in the Holy battle fields that stretch across the interiors of every human heart.  At least that’s what THIS Athena stands for.  I am committed to cultivating my wisdom and intelligence and using it as a trusty ally in winning the only battle worth fighting.  The fight for peace in my heart, in my mind, here and NOW.

But, the crafty philosopher asks, does it HAVE to be a fight?  Fighting is the antithesis of peace, ain’t it?  After all, war begets war…  Maybe, oh Crafty One… but for now, all this devoted warrioress can do is fight this relentlessly chattering, fearful ego machine.  My bullets are made of condensed conviction, perseverance.  My gun powder is feverish devotion to a vision of something that I can not see with my eyes, but damn it, I know it exists.  I know that there is a world within me that is unbounded divine light, and that it is possible to live life unified with this great light.  And this silly, frivolous mind that never shuts up and ceaselessly dangles those wicked carrots all up in my sheee-it… You know, the carrots who seduce gullible little me with visions of a future wrought with every shade of wealth, happiness and peace (meanwhile, my heart is tight and trembling)… those carrots that that are designed with state of the art, aerodynamic elusivity…

How many times must I tell myself that this is it?!!??!  This is the only moment where happiness and peace are truly at my disposal.  Is this good news, or bad news?  You decide.

Anyway, a few days ago, I had this epiphany that I would start a research project in which I will visit a different church every Sunday, and blog about my experience.  TIME THE FUCK OUT!!!  The Nigerian would-be priest just strode up to my table with a handful of large, wet, glistening CARROTS.  I am SO FUCKING SERIOUS.  Really.  I swear.  He offered me one.  I said no thanks.  I said, “Listen, Your Piousness, you take your seductive, crunchy-assed carrots and shove them where the sun don’t shine!!!”  No, of course I didn’t say that.  I considered taking one, but I didn’t feel like starting my digestion at ten forty three am, so I politely declined, and very jubilantly exclaimed to him that I was writing about carrots as we spoke.  This is the man who was just preaching to me about how he didn’t trust faith as far as he could throw a whale-sized carrot.

God, you are SO, SO, SO brilliant!  Thank you for the comic relief… I was getting pretty heady this morning… Time in.  So I’m excited to explore religion, because I throw the word GOD around with such devotion and gaiety, in the face of a world that is AT WAR AS I TYPE THIS, in the name of GOD.  I forget that sometimes.  In my little microcosmic, insulated slice of forgetful heaven, “my God is an awesome God”, (as the beloved David Lurey would rapturously sing on occasion).  Suddenly I am insatiably curious about what “the masses” are being spoon-fed in all the holy edifices of the bay area… and maybe eventually the country, and the world!!!

I proudly disclosed my blue printed plans for this project to my Nigerian friend nesting at the table next to me… and little did I know that HE had a story.  Back in Nigeria, he was sent away to catholic schools from a very early age, so that he could be groomed for the rigorous vocation of Catholic Priest.  Good for him, right?  Wrong.  At age fourteen or fifteen, suddenly the raging river of testosterone knocked him on his ass and he became consumed with lust and curiosity about all things pussy.  Woops, I mean, “girls”.  Let’s not be lewd here, Athena.  Well this was BAD NEWS according to Father So-And-So.  My friend was sent to perform “penance”.  He informed me that the “English translation” for penance is more equivalent to “torture”.  He was sent away to a cloistered “retreat” (more like a “prison”) where he was fed bread and water once a day, slept on a cement slab and commanded to pray for hours on end to be purified of this “demon” called Lust.  After months of that, he was permitted return to school.  Foolish man, he confessed that penance had in fact not helped the situation, but actually exacerbated it.  (No, I don’t really consider this man foolish, I just wrote it for dramatics.  Actually, I perceive him to be highly courageous… to stand in his truth in the face of EVERYTHING on the outside negating his experience.  That takes some serious balls if you ask me.)

He stayed in this caustic, soul contaminating environment clear up until he was twenty two years old!!!  Don’t you think that’s a long assed time to be hanging out in a place that insists you are broken and possessed for wanting to explore your sexuality and speak your truth?  I do.  And when he left, he straight up FLED.  And he said that the “Holy Men” had pumped him all fulla this fear that he was bound to be struck by bolts of lightening hurled by an angry god at any moment.  Wow.  He said since then, he has been a seeker.  Since then, he has been asking a steady stream of questions.  They sure tied him in some tight knots.  No wonder he don’t dig no faith.  To him, faith means believing stupid shit like the Immaculate Conception without question, investigation or the entirely natural shadows cast by healthy doubt.  Then we had a laugh, because he flipped over the splayed open book on his table and showed me the title, “The Portable Athiest”.

So this is the world “outside” that I have to contend with, EH?  Good to know.  Humanity?  Are you listening?  Take my hand… We’re gonna go on a journey!  We’re gonna go on an adventure!  We’re gonna skip and frolic through the plethora of churches in this contemporary and diverse world… and hopefully, be able to sip the delish nectar of Love that quivers like a tremulous wishing well at the center of all of them.  It’s like panning for gold.  Sure, it’s an arduous process, picking out all the rocks, gravel, calcified beliefs and unwieldy clumps of control mechanisms… But then you have ga-ga-ga-GOLD!  Ga-ga-ga-GOD!!!!  La-la-la-LOVE!  A kind of Love that One really has no choice but to brake for, because it is so magnificent, healing, inclusive!  That’s what the miners really meant when they exclaimed, “There’s GOLD in them thar hills!!!”  They meant there’s god in them thar mountains of human confusion, war and pain… trust me…

Oh, and did you know there’s a Guru living in my back yard?!

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