Simple thoughts about the complicated virus

There’s so much to say about the virus, it has so many dimensions. So I’ll keep it simple and share just two thoughts from today.

Earlier this evening I was speaking with a friend in Poland about how it is for her. She was telling me that if feels like the end of the life we know, the one we’ve built together, all of us, over so many years. In her inner world she’s OK she says, but when she goes out and sees the empty streets that before were full of life and people, there’s a sadness. Not a sadness for the evening but  something more. It feels like a stranger has moved into the house and the world has changed

The number of cases, the progress back and forth, the safety measures don’t interest or touch her. Something else does. She recognizes there’s a virus, is not in denial. She’s just not moved or called to what we’re doing about it. If feels like most people in her town don’t share her view and she walks alone.

She mentions Marshal Rosenberg’s story about the two wolves: There are two wolves and the one you get is the one you feed. I fear this wolf the society is feeding may devour us. I was trying to write about this wolf but I was unnerved by his stare. Luckily there’s another wolf.

This makes me think of a different animal, a beautiful tiger we’ve brought from the wild and put in a cage with a sign on the front that says Tiger. He’s alive but not living a tiger’s life. Soon he may forget the jungle.

Another Covid-related thing that happened today.

I  was on an exploratory zoom call this morning and had a sense that each of us carries hidden or taboo voices that are hard to share, but that welcoming these taboo voices, giving them room to speak if they want, is something we can do for each other. For me, I had Covid in mind. I wrote down a few lines about this then and turned them into a little poem just now, after the talk with my Polish friend that echoed the theme. A lot of things echo that theme at present. It’s like the stranger in the house, there when I go in the house. He and I have to have a talk. .

If you’re interested in joining a zoom call to explore the virus personally or experientially (or perhaps the challenging time since they’re likely related), respond to this email and I’ll send you an invitation with some times.

Take good care,

and here’s that little poem.

The Hidden Voice

I welcome you speaking the voice
they put the taboo on.
I’m thrilled when I hear you speak the voice
that might cast you into the darkness.

Some nights I wonder, do we all feel this?
Do we all long to go together
down and down in the dark on a narrow trail?

Down in that darkness
the Taboos are there and look up
from the dishes,
astonished to see us finally coming
single file down the path to meet them.

One of them said they’d been waiting
a long time.

How are we being with the climate emergency?

I was reminded of this poem by David Whyte the other day, speaking with a friend. It was the words “secret water,” that came to mind, though I couldn’t place them at the time.


Those who will not slip beneath
     the still surface on the well of grief,

turning down through its black water
     to the place we cannot breathe,

will never know the source from which we drink,
     the secret water, cold and clear,

nor find in the darkness glimmering,
     the small round coins,
          thrown by those who wished for something else.

We were speaking about our climate emergency and she was saying that, mostly, people didn’t want to know. That made her think we probably wouldn’t make it. It’s a huge thing to say and yet you too have probably heard it from friends. I have old friends, who I mainly talk to by email now, who’s refrain after our lengthy explorations is often “we’re so f**kd.” Another, a sage old fellow with Albert Einstein eyes, doesn’t think our society can pull through either; he hasn’t thought so for a while. Personally I align with Jem Bendell’s view that collapse is inevitable, catastrophe probable, and extinction possible.

It’s hard to get my mind around the scope of this or get it into my body. The enormity seems surreal from my small town apartment that looks out over the pool hall and the street the trucks use to pass through town. I’m not always sure of my motives bringing up the question of our existential situation either. Who am I serving? It feels rude and I like people to think well of me. Yet I’m drawn back to the question like I am to a ragged tooth and I’m sure I’m not the only one. How do we be with what’s happening? It’s a social question as well as an individual one.  

If there’s some depth that’s needed in answering the question I’m sure I’m not all the way there. I’m aware of the loss of the natural world. I love birds and the wild and for a long time I’ve been aware personally that that the birds and the wild north will not be, are not there, as they were. Already, here in Canada, much of the wild has been bent to our will. A part of me sees it’s in decline, that the wild things buffeted by winds that change the context from which their strength comes. Yet another  part of me knows that whatever we call the force that brought nature into being in the first place will remain, will still be trustworthy and good. Perhaps that’s part of the secret water. The feeling is like witnessing the decline of parents as they lean toward the ground. You may spend a long time concerned for their health and you don’t really cry and don’t feel the intensity until, suddenly it seems, it’s happened and it’s over.

If you’re not too young you may remember the line from the John Lennon song, “Nobody told me there’d be days like this”. Nobody told us about the depths of the climate trouble we’re in. We discover it by ourselves, one by one, digging down through layers of  misinformation and denial. And it seems that there’s always more depth, more to let go of.

I like exploring these big questions with others. Almost always something always comes up that’s more than we could have imagined on our own.

To that end I’ll be holding Sunday online video conversations (in May 2019) for those holding these challenging questions, and perhaps wondering how others are too. There’ll be a little poetry to prompt the imagination, some speaking, mostly not by me, and some listening, which is a harder skill.

Warm thanks to the 12 who took the plunge and showed up May 5th! I’ll send out a link and reminder to May 19th call shortly.

“What if it’s just for me?”

“What if it’s just for me?”

What if it’s just for me? What if higher consciousness is just for me and not a gift to the world? (Instead of me out there peddling it like a snake-oil salesman.) Just for me!

Have I even thought about receiving it?

What if the gift of Presence is just for me and all the anxiety about how to get it, or manifesto it, is just so much dandelion fluff drifting in the wind?

What if bad poetry is really OK?

I keep on repeating it because I do: What if it’s just for me?

What if no one can see the flower that grows on the lonely height of the mountain?

What if I can see the lonely face of the other, the never-seen-before face, and see it just for me, without trying to be helpful again?

Because what if it’s just for him too!

It’s the me that sees me I’d love you to see. And I love to see in you the you that sees you. All the finery is just foreplay before we look at each other and see the real thing. The cover-ups don’t hide who we are and sooner or later we’re unmasked by our trembling and suddenly humble love, try as we do to not let it happen.

Everything comes clear in Presence

Everything comes clear in Presence

Everything comes clear in Presence. Yet Presence can’t be described or forced, proven or produced on demand. Everything you can say about the Tao, which isn’t much, can be said about Presence. (Holy Spirit, we can only make little songs about you, skipping-rope songs.) We hear the melody. We see it on the faces in all the different ways. Transparent Presence makes everything visible.

The ancestors wait in Presence. The pain of the long past is there as is the joy, as is a fountain of words and colors moving out into the world. Presence is pleasure’s simple joy.

Presence arrives like sleep. Effort doesn’t help. Nothing helps. Nothing hinders either. Presence is waiting for you. The impossible koan of your own partial perspective relaxes in Presence. You’ll always be only you, always be only Presence. You’re like a shrub growing in a forest of Presence. You’re helplessly part of the vastness, the pain, the comedy, the working itself out, the privilege, the mystery. You’re stuck with it, given it, blessed with it.

Present to it. You’re a part in a play of Presence.

It’s a feeling. The feeling of feeling Presence is like touching. Presence knows us and Presence is being known, the actor in the costume. Any fool can feel Presence and that’s good to know.

Presence must be bigger than death since death rests in it. Pain is the part of the drama before resolution.

Everyone comes to Presence their own way. Everyone comes to Presence the same way.

Illusion gives way. It gives itself up. In bereftness the strong arms of Presence hold us and we wonder whose arms it could be. Illusion can linger a long while and Presence is perfectly uninsulted. It doesn’t change at all.

No one could presence all of Presence. Yet even a little taste is the whole thing. When you’re screwed up, it’s Presence that screwed you up, knowing it’s all alright and because it loves you and your birthing helps the world so much.



No rules for the journey

We came by them honestly, the rules that define our lives. We were born to them. But of course we didn’t think they were rules when we were small; we thought  they were reality and we could be good by following them.

It’s good when the rules break down and nothing works because then we see the rules aren’t the same as reality. And we were so very sure they were. When we see they aren’t, a door opens and we see something else. We can even walk out the door and leave the House of Rules if we want.

But when you step outside the door, what’s there?

A howling wilderness.

Out there the old rules are no more and the old God who brought us this far, blessings upon him, is dead. There’s just the mighty wind that some call spirit.

Now it’s up to us to travel together. What we need comes on the wind or in the breath of each other, which is much the same thing. But there aren’t any rules for this journey.

Your comments are welcome!