Humility Dawns in Athena Graceland

I don’t feel very inspired to write… but what if I never feel inspired again, and my whole life zooms by and anonymously folds back into the earth and smears across the star-strewn sky, and my utterly profound and meaningful existence is devoured by the perpetually ravenous wolves of forgetfulness?….

This lonely little blog is like a log cabin nestled deep in the woods.  Mostly it just lives it’s own secret, self sufficient life… but every once in a while, a straggling adventurer notices the smoking chimney, the succulent scent of boozle chip cookies baking in the oven, (I call Serena “Boozle”… but it’s become akin to how the Smurfs use the word “smurf” as a verb, a noun, an adjective…. I truly amuse myself!  But even funnier, is how my Ma used to be like, “What do you mean, ‘you’re about to take a boozle??”… She just didn’t get it.  And then one day, she nonchalantly used the word in a perfectly slanted and appropriately inappropriate context… and I felt tickled and proud.  This is how all language evolves, right?… Somebody makes random sounds as though they know what the F they’re talking about… and the flock just goes along with it as though it were the Word of Boozle Almighty 😉

Where was I?  We were wandering through the “woulds”, seduced by the deep caramel scent of boozle chip cookies… Okay, I declare myself officially inspired!!  Now… what is essential for you to know about this modest little Divine Existence over here??

I have been hard at work, digesting expectations and hopes and disappointments of what I thought my life was supposed to be… and gradually and authentically landing in the soft, sacred center of what my life actually IS.  NO!  I refuse to say “It is what it is”!!!  That’s one of the official, most worn out Ananda cliché phrases.  I find it amusing and curious how little cultures and deep grooves of collective habit form amongst groups of people… Maybe my life “is what it is”…  and maybe IT’S NOT!!!  But honestly, it probably isn’t what it isn’t… so where does that leave me???

It leaves me here on my disturbingly ugly, but mostly comfortable, BROWN (bleck), well-worn Ikea couch, in the shy light of early morning, bathed in passive stillness, reflecting on my life… and realizing that I mostly loooove the pants off it.  In fact, yesterday I was suddenly bursting with gratitude, in a similar fashion to the ache that over-takes my boobs sometimes, when they get too full of milk and need to be relieved by a tiny, moist, hungry boozle mouth… Yes, I get almost painfully bursting with invisible goodness, except it doesn’t hurt.  It feels… like my heart is the sun, and it is intimately contacting every pore and cell of Creation with it’s warm, bright Life.

“On paper”, my life is so plain and simple… and dare I say, imperfect!  I would never have dreamed that I would be experiencing this caliber of joy, delight and fulfillment as a result of being a single mama, nestled mostly anonymously in the woods, bobbing in a sea of endless chores and duties… But what it really is, is that I’ve worked SO FREAKING HARD in the pursuit of Truth… I’ve cried, sweated, bled and broken a bazillion times over.  And now… suddenly my spiritual practice is an unbroken and grace-full continuum of love-inspired BEing.  Do I meditate?  Yes… in everything I do.  Do I say mantra?  Yes… in every loving word that I am blessed to speak.  Haha, that makes me sound too perfect.  I’m a totally fallible human, just like you!  But Love is dawning in my heart, and shedding her gentle, fresh, innocent light on everything.  Even the hard moments, and the jagged feelings.  Because I know that my only job here is to give my ALL in the name of LOVE.

That’s it.

Serena has been a huge catalyst.  Because she is pure joy.  She wakes up in the morning, sees me, and her face LIGHTS UP.  And all day long she just Buddhas it up.  Pure, awakened, engaged, peaceful, seamless, authentic being.  She’s such a happy, trusting, deep, curious, passionate person (kinda like her mom…).  Being with her ignites my heart in rainbow flames.

On Wednesdays I make soup in my “Shakti Pot” and deliver it to people in the community.  This week was my biggest order ever~ thirty three servings!!!  I had three pots going on the stove.  I worked from about 8am until every jar was delivered, at around 5:40pm (17:40, as Ed would say).  Of course I took as many Boozle breaks as necessary to make sure the Tiny Goddess was fed, rested and happy.  But still… I was jammin’.  I made an african peanut veggie lentil stew with coconut milk.  That seems to be the unanimous favie.  People dig their sweet, decadent creamy.  It’s primal.  Like breast milk.  Everyone loooooved it.  And at the end of the day, I felt so freakin satisfied.  I put my tired, tragically patient Boozle to bedsie, and devotionally cleaned up my kitchen area, which by the way, looks out on trees and sky and setting sun.  I guess the feeling in my body was Alignment… like I am pouring myself into something that is… “right”… somehow.  It just feels right.

The rightness surprises me, because I always thought I’d be “someone”… someday.  A well-known writer, a leader, a teacher… And here I am, a “Soup Maker”.  Ha!!!  It’s so funny.  It could only be God’s favorite joke!  But what I am truly, experientially realizing, is that it’s not WHAT you do, it’s HOW you do it.  I give EVERYTHING to my “Shakti Pot”.  And I give everything to my Life. (And I believe that “Life” is actually a synonym for “God”, but that’s an entire blog unto itself…)  I do my best to love whatever arises… to bring great energy into my heart, so that it infuses my soup, my life and the world.  And people feel it.  And I know that my love makes a difference.  (As does yours, I hope you know!…)

From this place of dawning humility, I realize that if it is my Destiny to be a well known writer, a leader, a teacher…. it won’t be because I need to “prove myself”.  Because this chapter is teaching me that my love is truly, deeply enough.  Come what may…

It’s just like Rumi says, “Let the beauty you love be what you do”… That just means, let your inner beauty ooze out like honeyed perfume and infuse everything you encounter.  It means let your life be a continuum of profound and simple intimacy with ALL.  Be willing to love and to lose and to LIVE.

This is Grace.

And this is Athena Grace, signing off and wishing you the blessing of a gently blooming heart…

PS– Here is the *perfect* example of how utterly fallible I can be– I wrote the first half of this blog yesterday.  Then Serena woke up, and I was sucked into the powerful machine of motherlife.  Last night, Ed called me and we spoke briefly.  Then he had to go, because he just had a few minutes in the car, before he got home and had to go be that other guy in that other life… I felt dismissed, secondary… My heart broke.  Which then caused his to break.  We both went to sleep bleeding.  I woke up sore… but I still chose to keep on with the continuum of this piece of writing, despite the thorn lodged in my heart.  Writing it has once again pointed me due north.  My job is to LOVE the one who feels dismissed and secondary.  To love the pain until it is obliterated in the light that I AM.  You see, I fall!!!  But I pick my heart up like a baby bird, fallen from her nest, and cradle it with so much care and kindness, and it all always works out.

Keys to the Queendom of Heaven

Eeeee… Here we go! Off-roading in Athena Graceland. I feel extra pre-game jitters today, because I’m not quite sure where we’re going, and how we’re gonna get there. And if the route will be “scenic enough” for you… But actually, I have been known to consider that EVERY route is a scenic route, if you are looking through wakeful, artistic eyes… The path you’ve traversed ten thousand times is bursting at the “seems” with hidden wonders, aching to be revealed in your receptive, inquisitive gaze. Neighborhoods fashioned from industrial warehouses, cyclone fence-encased, abandoned parking lots with cracked pavement contain the whispering triumph of mother nature reaching up tenaciously from beneath, with her svelte, weedy fingers, and the graffiti on the walls are the cryptic longings of weary wandering souls. Open your eyes!!! Don’t miss this strangely shaded zoo of misinterpreted bliss.

It’s tempting. To race to the illusory, self-inflicted finish lines. Like me, counting the days: three weeks and two days… until I depart this enchanted forest valley… and fly back into Ed’s arms for a few all too fleeting moments… feeling into the shape of my freshly transformed self against the rajasic backdrop of the Bay Area… I’m looking forward to that. The way a warrior might inexplicably, subliminally salivate moments before stepping onto a battlefield laden with dancing, airborne arrows and casually strewn puddles of warm, steaming blood. That was dramatic, but fun to write. What I mean, for those of you who only speak “plain english”, is that I feel so sensitive these days. Like I’ve told you before, my urban calluses have worn down and I am a tender babe. But I’m eager to explore my new shape against a backdrop of jagged contrast, so that I can more deeply recognize who I am becoming. And then after that brave and brief brush with becoming, I shall kiss Ed goodbye once again, and run for the benevolent, woodsy refuge that is “The Momshram”. Another homecoming. Another backdrop against which to ascertain the flowers, fruits and foliage of this current alchemical transformation.

And then and then and then and then and…. So what? I watch myself erect all these future events to “look forward to”… And I believe in their implicit rewards, as a child believes in Santa Clause. “Some day”… It’s like that song… YOU GOTTA WATCH THIS!!!:

Seriously! That says it ALL. I just watched it, and realized NO FLIPPING WONDER that I turned out this way!!!! Hahahaha!!! If you only KNEW how REAL that exiled, tender-hearted princes archetype lives inside me!!!! Children are such preciously malleable little sponges… soaking up criminal thresholds of toxic bullshit in this plastic, corporate empire, otherwise known as the Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave.

Someday Ed and I will be together. Someday I will be PREGNANT… and give birth to beautiful, luminous Alexandria. Someday I will publish my book(s). Someday I will be a spiritual leader… And THEN… Wink. Sigh… All I am racing toward, when I am in refusal to realize the grace and glory of this under-cover scenic route of a human life, is DEATH. And rebirth. And death and rebirth and death. And if you don’t believe in reincarnation… then fine, just stop the train at death, and that’s pathetic enough… (But when we brush elbows in the next life, you’ll scratch your head and wonder why there’s something disconcertingly familiar about this wild place called Athena Graceland!)

Hey, It’s a miracle! Because when I dropped anchor and set sail onto the dark, mysterious swells of philosophically charged language and thought this morning, I had just a faint notion that what I wanted to talk about was happiness… In fact and fallacy. But I quickly relinquished it, allowing myself to be swept away by a powerful wave of inspiration, into the journey… and suddenly we are here, and all there is to address is the meaning of life!… and I didn’t even break a sweat or grind a gear in order to land here! Something BIG and hella ALMIGHTY is clearly at play. Something still, and small and secret…

In my raja yoga class, Daiva passionately “throws down” the potent, rudimentary principals of life as we know it. He reminds us week after week that it is always happiness that we seek. No matter how we skin the dinosaur. And embarrassingly, even that assertion was a surprise to me at first. Like, REALLY? All I want is happiness? I have dressed it in SO many ostentatious and clever costumes…. But upon further reflection, I have come to recognize that this is true. Are you with me so far?

Good. Then take my hand, and let’s proceed to the next lilly pad of illumined revelation… We have put the cart before the horse, people!!! We are conditioned to believe that we must figure out WHAT will make us happy… and we all grope around in pitch dark, like selfish little baby monkeys, trying to get our greedy fingers and opposable thumbs around our heavily frosted, perfectly moist slice of unbirthday cake….

I just took a shower break a few minutes ago, and I laughed out loud in the dim stall, under the stream of deliciously warm water, as I continued to mull on this topic, and I thought of how long I have cried and lost sleep over the fact that I can’t seem to figure out WHAT COLOR MY CURSED PARACHUTE IS!!!!! Hahaha!!!! Listen~ it doesn’t MATTER what color it is!!!! That’s just another gimmick lodged in-between me, and the ever-present CHOICE to BE happy. Right now.

I know it can SEEM way more complicated that that. Because we are carrying the heavy burden of THE PAST along with us… which makes it hard to recognize WHAT WE ARE. You see, we don’t need to SEEK joy… because we ARE joy. That’s what it is to be made in God’s image. We are the joy, the love, the peace that we seek.

It is such fertile ground for learning here at Ananada Laurelwood. Because I can truly see that no matter whether I am scrubbing moldy shower stalls, or dressing massive cakes in painfully sweet frosting, or sponging tomato-stained grease off of a heaping mountain of lunch plates… It’s really all the same. It’s only my attitude, and willingness to surrender myself into the voluptuous grace of the moment, that governs how I experience IT. Every once in a while, at the end of a kitchen clean-up shift, I hear myself triumphantly utter something equivalent to, “We’re almost outa here!”… Then my words echo, as if through a massive canyon, flailing like bouncy balls, about the expanse of my awareness… and I ask myself where I imagine that I’m going, that’s going to be any better than where I am… and I realize that I am like TOTALLY deluded. It’s only the tension I’m holding in my body… that resistance to fully inhabiting the space of now, that makes me wish I was elsewhere. So I am practicing softening my belly and my shoulders and my thoughts; breathing all the way into and through each perfect and whole, lucidly gooey slice of Now Pie.

Do you hear what I am saying? I spent so many years suffering, because I couldn’t figure out what to DO with my life. Finally, I am coming to realize that that is NOT the issue. The issue is what barriers am I placing in the way of my moment to moment acceptance of what I AM? Like a shy bud emerging from the world’s longest winter, into the bright kindness of spring, I peek my head out into the rainbow-strewn, crystalline halls of eternal Truth. Sometimes it’s a tough pill to swallow. Ya know… that in the face of this flawed and fleeting world, it is permissible to allow my heart to sing out in perpetual, prismatic shades of divine joy…. Do you GET IT?? Life is not about FINDING your passion. It is about BEING your passion.

Meditation is very helpful in this process of undoing from the chains of misunderstanding. Think about it. If happiness lies within, where must we GO to find it? Yep. Exactly.

There. Now you have the keys to queendom of heaven. What ever shall you do with them?

Om. Peace. Amen.

Fresh From the UnderWorld…

Hey, before I get too immersed in the boundless depths of my thoughts and feelings and stories… do you realize that YOU are a Child of God? And yes, even if you prefer to use different, less charged language, such as a “Whole and Perfect Expression of the Infinite”, my point stands. I just thought I’d ask, because personally, I often forget. And it’s always a little mini victory to remember again. Ahhhh what a strange thing to be a luminous little shard of Infinity, field tripping through a finite dreamscape…

I haven’t written in AGES… or so it seems… because I have been very occupied by the arduous adventure of fumbling through a pitch dark maze in the underworld. I kid you not. I have been digesting way too much poison to be able to offer up anything beyond my own disgusting soul sludge. It’s been quite an experience to sit in the belly of darkness. I wish I understood why that was a necessary journey…

I arrived at the “Momshram” (Ananda) a week ago. My mom was convinced that it was the “outside world” that chewed me up and spit me out, and she received me like a mangled, bloody soldier returning from battle. She gave her all to the task of rejuvenating me and restoring me back to the homeostatic peace and joy of being aligned with my soul. Upon landing back here, I was slogging a heavy and burdensome load of responsibilities and expectations I had piled on myself… and every day I shattered under the weight of all these fear based, self-negating dos and don’ts. But beloved Ma forbid me from attempting to get ANYTHING done, or figure out my screwed-up (my toxic judgement) life. She told me to just take care of myself and BE. This was really hard for me. I was somehow clamped in the steely jaws of this nasty idea that I have been lost and confused and ambiguous about my path for WAY TOO LONG (like my entire adult life), and if I didn’t figure it out by six NOWs ago, I was a pathetic loser who deserved to suffer and die. OUCH!!!

God, it seems so ridiculous from my perch on the stiff, velvety blue couch in Serenity House lounge… To consider that I wandered through such a bleak rendition of hell. I was also suffering about my relationship with Ed. Wishing it was different. Wishing he was available to live OUR life, create OUR family… Putting so much of my energy and attention on him, and breaking apart again and again as I slammed up against the stone wall of the reality that he is still immersed in another home and family that I am not welcome or included in.

But I’m here today to tell you that yesterday, Sunday, I found the light again!!! I went to Sunday Service with my adorable mama… and like a starving, abandoned kitten being fed a bottle of warm, sweet milk, I gleefully suckled every last drop of Truth and Light that was offered! God, there really is nothing like gathering in the name of LOVE, and imbibing the timeless teachings of the yoga of Self Realization. I get an undeniable feeling in my body when Truth is spoken, read or otherwise revealed. Relaxation. Vitality. Alignment.

It is ironic that when I left Ananda like seven weeks ago, and returned to the Bay Area, I felt so saturated in the teachings, that I had no desire to go to Sunday Service. Once I read in a book by Yogananda about “spiritual indigestion”… He said one oughtn’t gorge on Truth-imbued books. You just take a bite or two…contemplate it, allow it to sink in and transform your consciousness. You don’t need to keep ingesting more and more and more, like Burger King drive-thru. Well I felt SO FULL when I left… But how quickly that “other world” leached the nutrients from my system!!! I was truly starving and twisted up in deep grooves of ignorance by the time I returned to this God-stained haven.

Trust me, it is a different world here. Everyone is on the same page. Everyone has given their lives to going Inside, into the Silence, and making themselves available for the whispers from eternity, which speak to us all, all of the time… if only we take the time to LISTEN. In the “outside world”, that is NOT what people prioritize. “Out there”, it is so much more about survival, and ambition, and excessive, incessant stimulation. Here it is about creating the conditions to touch the divine reality within (through deep meditation), and then living that reality every day. Mostly through service. At least that’s how I perceive it today.

Why on earth would I want to go back to the other world of noise and darkness and deluded worldly ambitions, when I could be here, actively working to BECOME divine reality. Not just to “believe” in it, think it, hope for it… NO! To make it my Home in every moment, and to let Truth inform all of my thoughts, actions and words. I want that!!!

The more time I spend here, the more I am considering living here. Even though it is “bland”, as I once described it to my ma. Shrug. It seems I am losing my taste for excessive stimulation and outrageous flavors. Suddenly bland is the new delicious. Honestly, I’m not quite ready to swan dive in to being here full time… I think I need to get roughed up s’more first, by the choppy waves of the deluded world. If and when I choose to live here, I must be one hundred percent behind that choice. I’m just reporting the riptide I am experiencing that keeps pulling me deeper onto this beautiful, nourishing path of Self-Realization.

What about Ed?

He is an exquisite partner. He has been continuously willing to stand by me and support me in what ever choices strengthen my well-being, happiness and fulfillment. Because his love for me is deep and quality. And the more he lets go of me, in service of choosing the highest path, the more I KNOW in my soul’s bones that he is worth holding onto. I figure, if a couple can navigate such arduous challenges as we are, standing side by side and relying not on our own strength, but on the strength of God… finding the tap-root of patience and endurance, staying mostly compassionate and loving, surrendered and in good humor… then there is NOTHING, no challenge, obstacle or storm (Yogananda says there are no obstacles, only opportunities) that we can not weather together, and emerge VICTORIOUS.

I am beginning to believe that it is loving and trusting God that makes a Relationship capable of going the distance and enduring the inevitable trials and transformations of human life. Can you prove me wrong? What do you think makes a Relationship endure in the face of this unwieldy ride we’re all on?

So that’s the terrain I’ve been navigating lately… I am so grateful for my return Home to Faith and Surrender and the ever-new Joy of God. Blessed BE!!!

Live,
A

Living In My New Skin

Have you ever gone through a deeply transformational experience, only to get spit out on the other side and find that you are just the same as you’ve always been? That’s how I feel on this first morning, post Ananda yoga teacher training. I now hover upon the page… wondering how to begin to put my experience into words… wondering if and how I have changed, grown, purified. And this wondering feels so familiar… it’s the very same wonderer who has always greeted this open, glowing space, and always will. Perhaps because I AM the open, glowing space.

But I shall remind myself now, as I oft must, that there is a time and place for spiraling philosophicality… and now is not it. Trying to say the most perfect thing is giving me the symptoms of writer’s block. And I’m here to WRITE, not feel stuck and frustrated because I’m not perfect. So instead of finding the absolute RIGHT thing to say, I’ll just pretend I’m writing a letter to my grandma, sharing some broad brush strokes of my recent life experience.

Or maybe I’ll tell you about how mesmerizing it is to watch the three tiered fountain spill slowly into itself. The water moves slow, as though it is drooling. Perhaps I’ll tell you that the air is thick with smoke because a distant forest is currently being engulfed in flames… and sitting outside is giving me a headache and I feel like I might be doing harm to myself by sitting at this picnic bench, groping about inside myself for the ultimate meaning du jour… but I went inside the market and the ambiance felt wrong. So I came back out to my perch in the poisonous morning.

Ahem. Dear Grandma Grace, yesterday I completed a month long yoga teacher training program at the Momshram. Although I have been studying yoga for thirteen years now (plus God knows how many prior lifetimes), including a regular daily practice for much of that time, two immersions, three prior teacher trainings, plus occasional workshops and retreats, this is the first time in my life that I feel certain that I want to and am ready to teach! I didn’t know when I set out on this most recent leg of my journey that this clarity and deeply rooted conviction would be the outcome. Not even close. All I knew was that the life I was inhabiting was rejecting me like the body rejects a splinter. Nothing felt right from the inside… though from the outside it “seemed” good enough. Like a snake shedding her skin, my once beautiful, nourishing life became inexplicably dry and lifeless…yet it concealed the vivid, tender, unborn life, still taking shape beneath the surface.

Am I in my new skin yet? I must be. But I have not yet come to recognize myself within these new sleek patterns of sacred expression… and this is why I am perching in puzzlement, upon the picnic bench wondering what I have to say for myself on this thick, smoke-strewn morning.

Oh, but Grandma Grace, please rap my elegant knuckles with your antique ruler, because I have begun to levitate again, and I must be brought back down to the rudimentary telling of this most recent chapter of my endless becoming.

Ananda yoga is different than any other asana practice I have ever encountered. It has facilitated a deep experience of my innermost self. All of the other yoga classes I’ve attended in my thirteen years of exploration have moved unceasingly from one pose to the next… until finally we arrive in savasana, the corpse pose, where we lay for five or ten minutes, before sitting up, joining our voices in the sonic resonance of OM, rolling up our mats, and forging back out into the urban storm.

Ananda yoga is about internalizing awareness; cultivating energy in the body, and then drawing it up the spine, to the point between the eyebrows, which is said to be the seat of superconsciousness. The place where one’s consciousness is merged with All That Is. And if that’s too woo-woo for you, this point is also the prefrontal lobe of the brain, which is responsible for producing the experience of happiness, peace, calmness, and other such savory textures of human beingness. In Ananda yoga, rather than moving from one sacred shape to the next, like a fluttering flip book, we do a pose and then return to a neutral stance, close our eyes, absorb and EXPERIENCE the energy that has been aroused within. We draw the energy IN and UP. Letting it become fuel for higher awareness.

No wonder I never felt moved to teach before now. For better and for worse, I am not one of those people who can make myself DO things just for the sake of doing. I can only access self-discipline when compelled from the depths of my soul. I was never compelled from the depths of my soul to teach a spiritually persuaded exercise class. Shrug. Not enough gravitational pull. To guide people to the profound, powerful truth that abides within the silent center of each of us… Now THAT’S something I can get behind!!!

I am amazed at how simple this yoga is, Grandma Grace! And yet how deep it brings me, when I offer myself fully to the process. I find myself wondering why it is not more widely practiced. I mean, doesn’t EVERYONE want to cultivate their inner garden of peace and unconditional, ever-new joy? I would assert that we DO… but most of us are going about it all wrong. We are incessantly grasping and striving for external circumstances to bring us peace and fulfillment… and unnecessarily suffering for this. We co-create a matrix of unnecessary complexity as we dream up new, bigger, better schemes which we unconsciously hope will finally deliver the contentment we seek.

A couple days before the training began, I went to the Yuba River with two of my best girlfriends. I remember telling them that I desired simplicity in my life… for the first time EVER. Up until recently, I thought simplicity equated to boredom. But something has blossomed within me. I no longer require the intense stimulation I once did, in order to know that I am alive. I can feel so much fulfillment, listening to the fountain’s gentle, gay, splash song; take delight in the sensuous language of wind upon my skin. I am called to reverent stillness, beholding the majesty of trees.

I am pretty sure this return to my Self is a result of regular meditation practice. Simply remembering how to inhabit my silent center. This is the aim of Ananda yoga (of which meditation is an essential component!). Yoga is not just a set of glorified shapes to twist your body into. It is a science. A tried and true method that will lead every sincere and devoted seeker to the experience of Self as Totality.

Wow, that letter to grandma trick sure got me on track! Mere moments ago, I was almost convinced I had writer’s block… And now I am a passionate font of spiritual revelation!!! I could gush for another millennia about this intelligently crafted system of Self-mastery. But the practice speaks for itself. And this is why I am delighted to serve as an ambassador of these ancient teachings.

Wow, I just proofread this, and it seemed to piss on the slippers of other systems of hatha yoga. Which was NOT my intention. I appreciate all of the teachers and practices that have been stepping stones on my path. Essentially, I am saying that it just makes sense to pause and go inside between poses to feel the power I am awakening, and channel it intentionally to raise my consciousness. And it makes sense to let the asana practice be an access point to deep meditation. And this potent and simple practice is something I am madly jazzed to share!!

OM. Peace. Amen.

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Kali Strikes Again!

Sunday evening.  Guess what my burp tasted like?  Pesto!!  You never would’ve guessed that.  It’s the prettiest day EVER… except my life is getting decimated by the fierce mother goddess, Kali and all I can do in the face of this uncomfortable destruction is inhabit it with neither glee nor despair… but just a sense of pale, raw willingness… and stay off of drugs.

 

Yeah, the depth of sobriety that life is asking of me now, is quite remarkable.  Almost like it’s own high.  Everything is so simultaneously mundane and far fetched.

 

Ugh, I was just overtaken by a compelling impulse to erase this writing, close my computer and get on with my life.  Like maybe just do a bunch of hip openers and then mediate.  Yeah, Athena… THAT’S gotta be the ticket to eternal happiness and fulfillment.  Wink.

 

Heck, maybe I’ll break the mold and just write a short blog today!  THAT would be unheard of here in Athena Graceland.  Yes!!!  I’m gonna drive off the road tonight, in my neon pink corvette.  After all, it’s father’s day.  That doesn’t really mean anything.  Why am I even bothering to waste my time, spewing words that add up to NOTHING?  Sheesh.

 

I guess I’ll just tell you that I haven’t written in a while, because I’ve been feeling overwhelmed… because I am moving out of my gorgeous, light, spacious apartment by Lake Merritt at the end of this month… and I haven’t chosen to harness the luxury of time to sit and sip sweet, creamy tea and muse on frivolous philosophicalities of life, love and the universe.

 

Instead, I’ve been going thru my belongings and getting rid of a lot (which has felt terrifying to the small, false me, who insists she exists, when she actually might not at all…).  Not to mention having a few long, draining conversations with Ed about our currently flailing (though ever LOVING) Relationship…It all feels like its falling apart right now.  Shrug.  I’m just trying to stay tuned into God, and let our Loving Source lead the way.  I think I’m doing pretty great.  But it’s certainly not the most joyous process.  My face feels mostly serious.  My body feels dull.  And my heart and mind feel arduously sober and a little too stiff for my liking.  I can’t see but two feet in front of me, and yet, I hear this intuitive whisper calling up from the depths of my soul, informing me that even though this current cycle of decomposition and shedding feels uncomfortable and awkward and even a bit torturous in certain momentsf, it is clarifying me into the most exquisite servant of God!

 

From my inside, out, there is NOTHING that I’d rather be, than a clear channel of pure, Divine Love.  And like, why would I want to be who I was YESTERDAY??? Zzzzzz.  While the familiar has it’s own holy shade of seduction, it sure can overstay its welcome!  I’m yawning.  It’s seven fourteen pm.  Native american flute music is kissing about the platinum, soulstice evening light.  Tribal drums dribble in through my open window, and have a soft, sonic spar with the gentle, breathy waves of whispering flute.  Just like life, it’s simultaneously awkward and beautiful, like sipping a sassy cocktail on an expensive balcony, overlooking a majestic city full of anonymous fucking and killing, birthing and death, mundanity and artistic splendor.

 

I digress.  Where am I going at the end of the month?  To the Momshram, where I will do a rigorous, month-long yoga teacher training, and then maybe continue to marinate in my own sacred juices for another couple of weeks before returning to the Land of Oaks to do another fifty hour tantra yoga immersion.  There.  I said it.  I know, sometimes I get so swept away in poetic metaphors and meandering, heart-wrenched prayers, and dramatic recounting of my love life, that I forget to just share the basics with you.  Do I want to be a yoga teacher?  Shrug.  Maybe.  Maybe not.  But I certainly want to keep diving into the beautiful, boundless depths of my own heart, and sharing generous sips of the Infinity I find in here, with anyone who wants some.

 

I mean, it’s either that, or become an accountant.

 

Okay, I’m tired of writing now.  My brain is fuzzy and my body wants to move and stretch.  My breath wants to run like a river racing through a deep cut of ravine, eagerly pouring back toward Source… Om Namah Shivaya.

 

Something good is happening here.  But I can’t make out its shape in this dark.  Shrug.  That’s how it’s sposta be for now.

 

Live,

A

Surrendered and Awestruck

All I want to write about is Ed.  Because honestly, I have NEVER met a man who knows how to love, worship, empower, care for, respect, experience and open a woman like he does.  (Except maybe my friend Anitra’s man, Matthew… but I’ve never met him in person.)  I wish Eddie would TEACH men how to love women.  This world would sure be a different place if men knew how to love women.  And yes, it’s a two way street.  Women need to be able to fully receive this profound gift.

I sat and blanked out for a few minutes after I wrote that first paragraph… wondering where in the heck this blog wants to go.  I mean I could plunge head first into the topic of intimate relationships… but that doesn’t inspire me.  And I am here to follow the energy like a golden thread that weaves all the way through the curvaceous fever dreams that coyly conceal the omnipresence of Heaven.

I want to say that this is such a RICH time in the unfolding of my soul.  Om my GOD.  If you have been vacationing in Athena Graceland for a while, you have witnessed me riding some pretty killer waves recently!  Sheesh, I am become painfully intimate with my edges… that ugly “fuck it” place, where I am ready to quit.  Where I lament that I am too spiritually aware to even consider suicide, so instead I just spit and snort about what a stupid choice it was to incarnate as a human being on planet earth.  And a part of me is like, “God, Athena, you can do better than this!”… And I try to find the way home to the peaceful throne at the center of my bodhisattva heart… but darn it if the path isn’t is utterly obscured!

But even in the worst of times, I am still up at five thirty am, seated at my candle lit altar, calling out to God and begging for the grace to be welcomed Home, into the heart of Silence, which wakefully rests, eternal, at the center of my being.  I’m getting closer!

Today, I can testify, that the challenge, the glorious struggle of life these days is making me SO strong and beautiful.  As I ride each excruciating wave, I truly wonder how in the fuck I am going to pull this one off… But I DO!  And then the ocean becomes calm for a wash of welcome breaths, and I look around… and I am pleasantly stunned by my victorious becoming, and by the endless wonders that surround and embrace me!

I know I have used this image before in my blogs… but that’s because it is perfect… Member in the Wizard of Oz, when the wicked witch flew through the open, blue sky on her broom, trailing smoke with which she spelled out “SURRENDER DOROTHY”?  Yep.  Run out of your house now and cast your eyes to the heavens…. Surrender Athena!!!!!  Or if it’s of value in your own life at this moment, please substitute YOUR name for mine!

In my heart of hearts, I pray to love GOD more than any fleeting form, or illusory goal.  And as I am thrashed about by this RAGING SEA, it is impossible to cling to much of ANYTHING.  All I can do is BREATHE deep, and make friends with what IS.  In some moments, this SUCKS.  But I LOOOVE who I am becoming.  One who is unshakably grounded in spirit.  One whose faith is bullet proof and firmly rooted in the soil of miracles.

I’m not afraid to let go.  I am willing.

Listen to this!  I went to church on sunday.  And as soon as I entered the sanctuary, I broke down in a deluge of tears.  I let myself spill.  And this is unlike me… but they didn’t stop.  They just kept pouring right out.  And I felt right and welcome and whole, as I soaked up the spiritual nutrients that bled from every pore of the nowness in which I marinated.  THEN, get this, Reverend E shared that she was sick, and had visited two doctors who could find nothing wrong with her… so she went to a kinesiologist who told her that she was GRIEVING.  And because she never cried, her LUNGS were crying.  She said it’s true, she never cried, because as a child, her parents forbid it… so she learned to hold it all together no matter WHAT.  Meanwhile, there’s Athena Grace, sitting in the second row, sobbing her guts out.  Life is such an intricate mystery.  An image of a prismatic snowflake with infinite facets and dimensions just flashed in my mind’s eye.  It dances in the devotional embrace of the void, refracting ever-new faces of wonder.  This is the ground of our being.

I love Reverend E.  She’s in her eighties.  And her divine beauty stuns me.  I love how she delivers her sermons with her eyes closed!… so fully given to spirit… and the words pour from her sacred mouth and wash over our hungry minds like a river of sweet honey truth.

But I guess the moral of that story, is that sometimes one must let the tears flow and cleanse our hearts like summer rain.  Because afterward, I was indeed made pure.  I left church, still aching.  I ached all day.  Then, came evening, and in desperation, I called out to my Goddess Sister, Deirdre.  That was the turning point for me.  FRIENDSHIP!!!!!  Wait.  That deserves its OWN paragraph…

FRIENDSHIP!!!!!!!!!

Holy God.  There is NOTHING like friendship.  Friendship is food.  Friendship is blood.  Friendship is water.  Friendship is God.

I am amazed at the skill with which Deirdre was able to simultaneously cradle and kiss on the desperate, broken child in me, and then, while the child was pacified on the tit of holy mother love, Deirdre wielded a phat sword and chopped the head off the self-indulgent victim flailing about inside me!!!  How did she pull that off? A blessed combination of skill and grace!!!!  Deirdre’s loving presence has raised the bar for me on how to show up as a friend.

Bottom line?  I have faith in this transformative cauldron of LOVE, we call Life.  I am seeing that the more I LET GO, and LET GOD, and use every single moment to extend LOVE, the happier and more at peace I am.

Join me here.  Love always wins.  I promise.

Live,

A

P is for Philosophicality

Lord have mercy there are SO many disparate topics bursting from my “seems” this morning, my pants might just split down the seat!!!  How in Krishna’s name will I choose which thread to follow?  It’s not even like a paltry fork in my mind’s road… it’s like a whole prismatic collision.  Hmmm… Maybe that’s what  I AM- a prismatic collision.  Just like a star…

 

I want to say it ALL.  And I want to say it all beautifully.  Tall order.  But just now, as I was slogging through the swamp of my pre-blogging anxiety, a question sparkled upon the surface of my mind:  What would I say if I truly knew that I was already complete, whole, perfect and divine, with nothing to prove and nowhere to get to?  God, that’s a question I want to crawl inside of and make a happy and lasting home, such that informs every single moment of my life.

 

Well, I am back on the lawn, outside Master’s Market, at Ananda (aka “the Momshram”).  I will be returning to the Land of Oaks this afternoon.  And even though this visit has been a day shorter than most, “on paper”, in practice, it has been timeless.  And I am *not* just saying that to be poetic or philosophical.  I’m serious.  I have not been existing in time.  Only in the motion of perpetual presence.  But not the usual, unrelenting suck of time and space.

 

I think one of the byproducts of daily meditation is attunement to the more subtle expressions of being alive.  In our modern world, we are bombarded by so much noise and stimulus, that many of us become addicted to cheap, rough, empty and continuous “strokes”, in order to feel that we actually exist.

 

I’m certainly not declaring myself exempt from this concealed, contemporary plight of the human soul… but I will testify, that the more I practice sitting in quiet, and bypassing the continuous, shallow roar of my mind, the more I am able to recognize the song of peace that is always singing oh so softly from within everything.

 

Yesterday my Ma and I went to sunday service together.  The talk addressed the subject of living in a state deep calmness.  Honestly, hearing radiant Anandi speak about it felt startling and revolutionary.  She said that when we let go and let God be the doer, this is the smooth, rolling continuum on which our lives unfurl, like a red carpet rolling its way to the exalted feet of Ultimacy.  I want that.  And in truth, I don’t quite “get it”.  Like, how would this peaceful and connected surf across waving time and space be any different than who I am, here and now?

 

Well… it wouldn’t.  And yet…

 

Is GOD the author of this spree through Athena Graceland?  Or is it but a cheap, ego fever dream imitation?  The lines are smeary, you see?  And then, there’s a heavy-handed chance we’ll wake up and realize none of this really even happened.

 

Was God the doer when my heart tumbled through dilapidated floorboards and fell into a room of love and like and live and lust with our beloved, married friend Edward?  That’s a controversial topic.  Because on one hand, what ISN’T God in this life?  I’m inclined to cast my vote as NOTHING.  And yet… on the yogic path, there is such a thing as “right action”.  And I don’t think that includes getting involved with a married man.

 

I’m gonna pause and breathe here.  Here.  In THIS moment.  Because I started to feel tense, considering that I did something WRONG.  Really, I don’t even believe in “right” and “wrong”… But I do believe that every action sends ripples throughout all creation.

 

After I wrote about my ex-fiance Eric a couple of blogs ago, I got an email from his wife, kindly reminding me that I had left out the crucial piece about how Eric’s current state of extreme closure to me is a result of the WAY that I left him: for another man.  Sigh.  Yes, Mrs. Eric… it’s true.  And now I’m in another situation where the bridge of love and respect *seems* hopelessly burned.  I often feel Ed’s wife in my heart.  I consider her heart, and what she must be going through… And I wish I could be a friend to her.  A sister.  I wish I could be a space for her to speak her raw, unfiltered experience and feelings… and invite her into inspired realms of possibility and desire.  Like okay sister, now that your drab, wilted marriage is waning, WHAT DO YOU REALLY WANT TO CREATE??  Like not from security and familiarity… but from tender, vibrant desire, inspiration and passion…

 

I’m not sure that she has someone in her life who is inviting her into that juice-laden inquiry.  God I want that for her.  And I know… ultimately, I must remember that it’s not my job to pull the levers and cranks and push the big, glowing buttons that operate the multiverse.  But I can’t help but want her to be happy and turned on and tapped in.  What a contradiction… that my actions have played a leading role in the undoing of the safe, insulated world she has built… which could be construed as careless and inconsiderate… And yet I really do care.  But the truth is, it will be PURE GENEROSITY and GRACE if she ever opens her arms and her heart to me… sigh.

 

I often wonder… do we REALLY have a choice in the unfolding continuum of our lives?… or has the sprawling garland of moments been strung well before we even squeezed through that hot narrow slit between our mother’s legs?  I know it’s very popular these days to believe in “free will”… but from all that I have lived thus far, and intimately observed in the lives of those near to me, I can’t help but feel that the irresistible, gravitational suck toward the whos and whats, wheres, whens and hows that fashion and shape the scopes of our lives are so much stronger than anything we could muster with the paltry muscles of our isolated, half-baked imaginations.  Please don’t misunderstand… I’m not bashing the sublime masterpiece that is your imagination and creative force… I’m merely suggesting that the tapestry is FAR TOO INTRICATE and COMPLEX to think that we, alone, are in charge.

 

And in the long run, this is totally cool.  Because, just like at the deli, we are each clutching a paper number that we pulled out of the red, plastic dispenser, and when our number is called, it will be our turn to go HOME.  That is, to remember the unbounded miracle, the LOVE we always were and always will be.  And perhaps when we “arrive” (awaken to that which we always have been), time will collapse, and we will have an epic laugh because like any other dream, we will realize none of this really happened… but it was somehow fun to pretend it WAS, for a frivolous, infinite sprinkle…

 

But I digress.  I want to exist in a state of perpetual calmness and soul peace as I navigate this perplexing jungle of relationships, circumstances and the mundane, mythological underbrush of human existence.

 

LIVE,

A

 

Please Come In…!!!

Warning: My mind and emotions are *especially* rambunctious today.  Enter Athena Graceland at your own risk.

 

No!!!!  Waaaait… PLEASE COME IN.  I yearn to be witnessed.  And unconditionally accepted.  I want you to be with me.  As I am.

 

I hafta laugh, because what just came through is such a quintessential part of my me-ness.  And I would be so bold as to imagine it may be familiar to YOU and your you-ness, too.  The part of me who pretends she is indifferent.  Like, “I don’t need  you.  I’m cool.  Whatever.  Stay or go… it’s up to you…”  But really, inside, I’m screaming, “DON’T GO!!!!!!!  LOVE ME!!!!!!  HOLD ME!!!!!”

 

That’s real.  I want to feel connected and accepted.  I want to be heard, and I want to make a difference.  Just for being so fully, unapologetically ME.

 

Ahhhh… Now that we’ve got THAT out of the way… I can tell you that I’m at the Momshram.  And for those of you who don’t know what that is, allow me to illuminate with a simple, mathematical equation:  Mom + ashram = Momshram.  My mom lives in a spiritual community, over the river and through the woods.

 

Pbthhhhhtt!!!!  That was the Athena Graceland back-up accompaniment- the distant tremulous croon of a whoopee cushion.  Actually, now that I mention it, the orchestra of life is blaring right now!  I am sitting at a  shaded table on the moist, lush lawn outside Master’s Market.  And the surrounding area is littered with children and the myriad voices of lusty birds.  If I wasn’t having so many intense feelings, I’d certainly be drunker than thou on springtime!!  Ten twenty five am, and even in the shade, I’m perfectly warm.  The especially kind voices of spiritually persuaded children warm my heart as a cool breeze whispers compassionate and generous about my bare arms. I am drowning the stereophonic vivacity of all these young whipper-snappers with harp music… It smooths out the jagged edged intensity of their unfiltered expression.  Binds the moment into sonic smear of subdued, diverse perfection, that allows me to focus and relax into the invocation of this new-born world within a world that is the world of Athena Graceland… much like eggs bind the ingredients of a cake, such that it RISES UP in sweet, moist perfection when exposed to the alchemy born of intense heat.

 

I take it back.  I’m not having intense feelings anymore.  I have finally arrived in the perfect peace of this moment.  I wish you were here with me.  It is really quite extraordinary.  In the most ordinary sense of the word.  I often blink awake for a split second and realize just how much time and energy I spend trying to “get somewhere”… somewhere “better”… Namely the version of reality where I am thriving in my full throttle creative expression, living in my own sweet, spacious, light penthouse apartment overlooking lake merritt, on my own terms.  The rendition of reality where I am free to be with Ed as we wish, without the consideration of his *other life*.  And God… my heart and body long to have a child… (and don’t bother telling me that having a baby is a *huge* responsibility and I will basically be handing my life over to an unrelenting stream of selfless service.  I know that.  It’s not an intellectual desire.  So as much as I try to reason with myself… it doesn’t change the depth of my longing in my heart and body.)

 

Patience, Athena.

 

Desire… it’s such a beautiful beast.  And a powerful force to become deeply intimate with.  She is why we are here.  And She can either be a source of raw power, or perpetual discord and disappointment.  Do you see what I’m saying?  If we allow ourselves to be tossed about by Her like sorry little bitches, we will suffer.  But if we can cultivate deep presence and openness, we can know Her in a way that informs and empowers every single moment of this spiritual mind-fuck we call Life.

 

Desire will never cease.  I will not necessarily be any happier when I find myself suddenly living within the sensuous textures and shades of my unborn dreams.  No… the peace, the joy, the profound love that I seek at the heart of all my wishes has nothing to do with circumstance or shifting sands.  They are a world unto themselves.  Eternal and unbroken by the illusions I project upon the vast canvas of time and space.

 

Wow!  Suddenly, I smell the bright, evocative essence of oranges.  Sweet, tart, fresh… drifting on the breeze, invisibly pressing into my senses, causing my mouth to flood with juice.  How do I open even *more* fully to this quietly sensuous heaven I am currently perched in?  That is a question worth living inside of, if you ask me.  And ultimately, it all comes down to breath. Inviting the breath to wash tidally, all the way into and through me, to the very bottom of my belly.  And softening.  Relaxing my jaw, my face, my shoulders, my belly.  Receiving this beautiful moment and all of the nuanced textures of nourishment it has to offer.  I WANT IT!!!!  I want to invite heaven here.  By just allowing it.

 

This is why I meditate.  Because I am determined to discover heaven INSIDE me.  And not *just* on warm spring days drenched in harp music and orange slices, children at play and birds singing rapturous praises of new life.

 

Athena Grace LMNOP on meditation: There are is such a daunting plethora of ideologies on the purpose and practice of meditation.  But the more I give myself to my daily practice, the more my own motivations, the understanding of the WHY and the HOW dawn within me.   Morning meditation has become an essential respite for me.  It is the most sacred and essential half an hour of my day, because it is a time when I have officially declared that NOTHING that I think means ANYTHING.  That’s huge.  Because for the other twenty three and a half hours, I am mostly perpetually tempted to invest my faith this alluring, vivid wash of dualistic hocus pocus.  But sitting erect, before my altar, I simply keep returning to breath and praying for Grace to inundate my mind and carry me the rest of the way Home (Home = integrated embodied realization of the Truth that ALL IS LOVE)  I used to feel pretty discouraged by the incessant noise in my mind, the thick, sticky veil of maya.  But then I heard an angel whisper in my ear that we don’t call it “Amazing Grace” for naught.  We do OUR part- showing up, being available.  And in the perfection of divinely ordained time, Grace will do HER part and carry us the rest of the way.  It is inevitable.

 

LIVE,

A

 

 

 

The Past: Letting Go Into Unconditional Love

I was cleaning out my closet yesterday afternoon, because I have an aversion to needless “stuff”, and I came upon the scrapbook that my ex-fiance and I compiled over the course of our five years together.  Five years… once upon a time, that seemed like a lot.  But now… well, it’s been five years since we broke up.  Almost exactly five years.  I know, because yesterday, when I opened our scrapbook, I discovered a flattened package of “vanilla-neem” ayurvedic soap, next to which, my sloppy, pink, hand-written caption stated that it was the last box of soap Eric and I shared before we separated!  The date was May fifth, 2008.  I was sublimely tickled by my slanted sentimentality.

 

My intention was to toss the heavy, oversized book (that we stumbled upon at Thrift Town, back in the day), artistically plastered with the past into the trash.  Because why would I haul that around?  Truthfully, I felt crushed a coupla years ago when Eric told me he was gonna trash our Cuba photo album.  And *beyond* crushed when he refused to reach out and take my hand when I proposed continued friendship last year.  In fact, here is an excerpt from the last email he sent me in the fall:

 

“If I have a protective shell up between you and I, it is there for good reason.  For my reasons.  And you are not inside my shell.  You will not be inside my shell again.  It is my place.  For me.  And more and more for Erin.  I don’t say this to try and hurt you, though I can imagine it does hurt.  I only want to be clear on where I am.  And I want you to understand that as well.  If we are to be friends, we must come together from this moment and not from the past.  I feel that you are still loving me from the past.”

 

THE PAST.

 

The past… And here I sit, on this first day of may, twenty thirteen, trying to grasp what it is to let go of the past.  I’d like to think I’m a pretty skilled little bodhisattva, fashionably perched upon the illumined throne of holy nowness… but then… why can I not bring myself to toss this large, heavy book full of countless expressions of our shared love and life?

 

And in service to getting naked upon the page, I must say that it stung me to read that he felt that I was still loving him from the past.  Probably because he’s right.  But god, it bruises my lousy pride to consider that my loving is so remedial that it is founded in the long-dissolved and glorified dream of days now dead and gone.  When I read those words for the second time, I took a long wonder… How DO I love him from the PRESENT?  And I was sad to realize that the answer was simply to hear him.  And accept his desire for space.  So I have been.  But truthfully, I still have more forgiving to do… because I can feel this *subtle* bitter twinge of self-righteousness swirl inside me when I think of him.  Like he’s WRONG and FOOLISH for rejecting my invitation into proactively evolving our love and connection.  I must admit, it really does seem that way.  I mean, I’m ATHENA GRACE LMNOP, for Jesus’s sake!!!  And I love like a heavyweight champ.  Who WOULDN’T want to hit this heart???

 

Eric.  That’s who.  And I have the opportunity to deepen my practice of UNCONDITIONAL LOVE.  Ya see?  It’s conditional love if I am waiting for him to want to be my friend.   It’s conditional love if I find fault in his desire for space.  It’s conditional love if I cast myself as the enlightened one, for wanting to stay connected, while casting him as the stingy jerk for choosing to live his life without me in it.  Sigh… I guess I’M the stingy jerk for feeling so perpetually tempted to find fault in his choices.

 

But I spose I oughtn’t shoot the messenger.  People stream through our lives to teach us so many shades of lesson.  I mean, if I was busy white-knuckle grasping the perfect picture of how it is SUPPOSED to be with Eric at this point… then I wouldn’t be available to this profound opportunity to explore what it is to love someone unconditionally; or to fully release the past.  Honestly, these are skills I would REALLY love to master.  I’m looking now at ALL my relationships… yes, every single one… and seeing how easy it is to “love” from memory.  Like Ed and I shared some glorious time together yesterday… and that most recent emotional impression informs how my heart feels about him today.  And my Ma… we have shared so much laughter.  And she is so generous in her practice of accepting me no matter what I choose in my life.  Or even Anitra, who I HAVEN’T connected with in a while… and began to imagine that she STOPPED loving me (AS IF!)… But…

 

All of that is a glorified bushel of shriveled yesterdays, at this point.  How do we do it?  How does one courageously toss every glimmering shell of yesterday into the transformative fires of forgiveness and simply LOVE… without limit; without “reason”?

 

I ask…

 

And then I sit in contemplative quiet… I feel my heart swell and shine with intimate warmth.  My heart says it is very simple.  Too simple.  My heart says I AM love.  Not love the concept.  Love, the radiant, eternal, indwelling presence.  It is my mind who complicates this undeniable, unwavering truth.  So ya know what I’m gonna do?  I’m gonna keep meditating every day.  Sitting and sinking deeper into Silence.  And letting that quiet place teach me; inform my choices and my movement through this seductive river of dream images.  Yes!  I’m signing up for a permanent subscription to simplicity.  Not that this will obliterate the complexity and chaos of the world… But it doesn’t need to.  Nah… it’s just a sweet sanctuary to nestle into from time to time, as I haul my fat, gravitationally challenged ass up the endless summits of this human life.

 

Live,

A

 

The Rapturous March Of A Single Saint Thru The Mind Of Athena Grace

All the good seats are taken.  Flies are soaring gaily about, adding an air of third world grime to the dark ambiance of Gaylords Cafe.  The sky is neither committed to grey, nor blue.  I’m pressing right up against my resistance to settling into my linguistic flow.  My mind is a meaningless swirl of random thoughts, sorta like a “suicide” slurpy at seven eleven.  You know, all six hideous flavors mixed together to create a cup of sweet, frozen, black, sludgy death.  Given that, which of these individuated specimens of mind debris shall I harvest for you?

 

I want to tell you that my mom has been reading me a long, meandering and relevant bedtime story… Yep, for almost a month now.  Teeth brushed, I nestle into darkness and covers, call her, and she commences to crack open a thick, heavy, hard-bound book called “Saints Who Moved The World” and reads a few dense pages of the life of my favorite saint, Saint Theresa.  Her soothing, melodic voice is the most familiar thing in the world to me.  And I’m not being figurative just for sweet poeticism’s sake.  I mean think about it, that is the voice that sang to me as the cells of my body ecstatically divided, and divided and divided and became and became and became a cohesive body who has slogged across the frontiers of time and space, evolving as this current rendition of glorious human mash who is gracefully banging alphabet into subjective meaning for your psycho-spiritual edification RIGHT NOW.

 

I love her voice.  It fills me with such peace and comfort that many nights, as she reads, I accidentally drift into slumber as it sings spiritually substantial content into my voracious, truth-seeking mind.

 

In last night’s installment, Theresa, at age 43, finally left her earthy body vacant and motionless, and made a voyage straight into the epicenter of God’s eternal presence.  For those weighty instants, her human form was but a soft whisper from a far away and meaningless dream, as she encountered this potent Presence.  (This pivotal experience of the hallowed saint was portrayed by the author through the worlds most EPIC run-on sentence, for which my linguistically adept mother had very little tolerance.  She re-read it a few times… and with each expulsion, it became increasingly ridiculous, until we were both gone in splashy puddles of laughter.  I wish I could remember it.  In fact, I’d love to memorize it, like a poem.  And spontaneously recite it once and a while just for the slosh and giggle of it… Do you dare me?!  Wink…)

 

So there’s Theresa, naked and bathing in the ecstatic rays of Our Father Which Art In Heaven… and my mom’s like, “how does the author know so explicitly what it was like for Theresa to meet ‘The Lord’?” I was quick to respond, because I’d already been mulling a similar query.  What I came up with was that I really didn’t care how the author knew, or if it was totally accurate.  To me, her story might as well be a great myth.  This story, as all great mythologies, serves to illuminate aspects, archetypes, and unearthed longings of my own Inner Life.  I don’t know that it is even a pertinent endeavor to distill “fact” from “fiction” as we swim along in the riveting currents of daily existence.  What is real, anyway?  Mostly, it’s all a montage of belief and perception and projection, avoidance and hope, shrouding a Presence of unwavering, eternal Isness that we’ve come to define as Love.  Given that the world as we know it is but a glorious and tragic holographic dream scape, who cares whether the histories to which we subscribe are “accurate” or not?!  To me, what is more pertinent and valuable, is whether the story serves to illuminate something within me that awakens Love; the beautiful connection I share with all life, always, now.

 

I discovered Saint Theresa when I was seventeen and traveling through Italy with my high school art class.  My teacher took us to a small church, off the beaten path, where the magnificently skillful stone carver, Bernini, had immortalized her in a hunk of marble, so smooth and lifelike, I honestly felt like I met her that day in Rome, in nineteen ninety seven.   An angel stands over her, piercing her heart with a divine arrow, and the delicate saint rests, broken open in a state of perpetual ecstasy… or “painful rapture”, as the little hand-out I received at the church read.  For the sixteen years since our first acquaintance, I have kept this woman of God’s image close to my heart, and framed on my altar as well.

 

Why?  Something about the experience of being broken open in a consuming Sacred Presence, so intense it defies definition as “pleasure” or “pain”, speaks to my depths.  Sometimes I wish it didn’t.  Ya know, like in those moments when I break open and bleed with pure, unadulterated ache.  When the experience of aliveness becomes so intense it feels barely tolerable.  Yet my paltry human feelings are probably child’s play at best, compared to the celestial spheres of heavenly rapture that swallowed Theresa into the center of her eternal Sacred Self.

 

There came a point on Theresa’s journey where she had to choose, God, or the world.  Now, I know all you tantrics are like, “God IS the world, silly!”… But listen, this is not about wagging flashy philosophies… or whipping out aggrandized religious riteousnesses.  No, this is more akin to Rumi’s field beyond right-doing and wrong-doing.  This is a parable of one who would settle for nothing less than DIRECT EXPERIENCE OF TRUTH (beyond finite, transitory form).  Come on y’all, it’s 2013 for goddess sake.  Let’s wrap religion in a burning flag and send it afloat down a river whose mouth opens to the Ocean with a capital O, and get on with it!  And to all you tantrics “out there” (myself included, naturally), I say YES, God absolutely IS the world… But that knowing is moot unless it is truly anchored into the deepest pulse of your being, such that your actions, thoughts and words are actually informed by direct and rarefied relationship to this realization.

 

What am I driving at here?  I see myself, tossed about in the frenetic waves of a meaningless world.  I seem to be so endlessly riveted and invested in hollow pursuits.  And I wonder for how much longer, will I insist on being shackled to this shiny pile of nothing… As for Saint Theresa, there comes a time on each of our journeys, when our number is up, and we are ready to give up every shred of investment in illusion, and offer ourselves entirely to that which always IS, that which we name, Love, God, Truth… yet which cannot truly be named.

 

Every morning I sit in meditation, and wait for Grace to show me this magnificent world.  Mostly half-heartedly.  Mostly still cherishing this shallow hallucination I call “me”, and only able to relinquish it for a single breath, if that .  But hey, I am doing the best that I can in each moment.  Will I have to suffer like Theresa, to be initiated into the spheres of rarefied self-realization?  Maybe… Maybe not…

 

Live,

A

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