The Biggest Circle Holds All the Parts

desert sun2Bees buzz and dragonflies dance
as the wolf howls call us into circle

We settle in to be unsettled
vulnerable to the rising eastern sun
and the gaze of others
Witnessing our unfolding stories
spiraling in towards the truth
that is ours alone to claim

arriving at our target
like an arrow of Artemis

no longer invisible
we become curious about what
sacred nuggets and rose-scented revelations
come pouring out of our heart-mouths
into the Inyo

The sun keeps chasing us, saying:
“You can’t hide anymore”

But it can rain at any time,
and sometimes it is rainy and sunny
at the same time
in the weather systems of our soul

And now: we show up
to take our places on the land

in gratitude and yearning
in celebration and commitment
marking the next unfurling
of that place within ourselves
which is none other than
taking our true place in the world

We bring but our gift of tears
of grief and joy
and ears to hear
what is already here

The land speaks with us
and through us
because we are not separate

we do not believe the Big Lie

The land speaks through us:

as an earth poem that unlocks hearts
as a log we carry home in love
as a bird with whom we whistle, saying, “Pay attention”
as an exquisite trust in the Beloved, the Great Mystery
as the scent of a burnt tree
and paw prints in the dirt, tracking them back to the Source
as a rabbit dancing with love and fear
as gnarled roots we love
as an ever-emerging tree being seen
as an unmatched sunset, saying goodbye with a squeeze of the hand
as honey in the rock that cracks open
as a consuming fire that forgets what it once was

as a mid-day sun stretched between the horizon of elation
and the horizon of desperation,
taking a Sacred Pause

knowing IT IS ENOUGH

Because the land holds us

holding
all the parts
all the parts
all the parts

In the Cave Behind the Waterfall (Rainbow Home #3)

creekIn the last few days, I’ve had quite a few adventures up in the forest above the village. Here’s an abridged version to give you taste of what has happened.

I have caught several glimpses of the Fire Dragon. A tail here. Smoke there. Tip of a wing there. All usually through thick brush or the canopy of trees. Never did I see his full form, but at least I knew it wasn’t just my imagination.

I realized, though, that I had misinterpreted the 7th-born Rabbit’s message. I thought that it meant the Fire Dragon only appears when it is silent. In fact, it appears frequently in the presence of noise, even when people are around. But to ENCOUNTER the Fire Dragon in its true form, I would need to find its cave, which he said was behind a waterfall. And if I did found it, I would have to be absolutely quiet.

I’ve walked the entire length of Redwood Creek, from the beginning on the west slope of the ridge down and southward until it empties into Upper San Leandro Reservoir. Along the way I met an owl, a heron, a snake, a little lizard with a dragonfly in its mouth, beautiful horsetail ferns, the leg bone of some animal, and the largest madrone tree I’ve ever seen. So sexy.

You know what they say, if you’re not turned on by a madrone, you can’t be turned on by anything.

But nowhere did I see a cave of any kind. Saw a few hollows along the banks of the creek, but no cave, let alone one big enough for some dragon the size of an elephant. Am I in the right place? Maybe 7th-Born meant some other place? Afterall, a dragon can cover territories much larger than this park, as large as it is.

This morning I sauntered once again along Redwood Creek. Lo and behold I encountered 14 more rabbits and 6 little yellow golden birds. I’ve never seen yellow birds here before, so I took it as a sign. Maybe I should go to the Great Sea, as 7th-Born Bunny recommended. Whether I would find the HeartSeer or not, or find some clue to how to enter the depths of the water and recover the Obsidian Key on the Golden Ring, I had no idea.

With that I resolved to at least try. But in order to do that I felt I had to find the Dragon and to keep looking for its cave.

I have been learning from the redwoods that it is in silence that i can hear the true things.

I sat down next to a grandmother circle of redwoods and closed my eyes. For what seemed like hours, I settled into the ancient dialect of the forest. When I finally opened my eyes, I saw a yellow bird hovering directly in front of me. A seventh?! That can’t be a coincidence.

Out of curiosity I stood up and began to follow it.

From branch to branch it flitted forward, deeper into the forest. Clearly aware I was following it, it waited each time so I could catch up.

I heard it before I saw it: water. Hopping up on a large moss-covered boulder, I saw a water fall, 15 or so feet, tumbling down from a tributary of Redwood Creek, into a wide and deep pool formed by sandstone on all sides.

Aha! So it IS here!

The yellow bird fluttered up beside the falls and perched on a bay laurel branch that extended just to the edge of the water.

With my adrenaline pumping, I leaped from one boulder to the other up the sides, grabbing fists of rock and gnarled root and branches, until I was almost to the top. Seeing a slight ledge led behind the falls, I took off my daypack, took out my headlamp and knife, and proceded to inch along. The force of the water was fierce, and I grabbed on tight to whatever I could feel, as I couldn’t see, having to keep my eyes closed from the water pressure.

Soon I was completely soaked, but instead of a solid cliff, my hands felt emptiness, so with a trust in leaping, I threw myself into the cavity and found myself in the dimly-lit entrance to a cave.

“Well, I’m here. Nothing to do but keep going,” I thought to myself, making sure I was as quiet as possible.

I had only a knife for protection. But what could a knife possibly do to the mail-plated skin (I’m assuming) of a dragon? Neverless, I resolved to keep my knife.

I entered the cave. Taking a few steps, and turning a corner, what remained of the daylight world beyond the waterfall began to disapear. I pressed the button on my headlamp.

Nothing. Now, of all times, the batteries are dead!

It’s too dark. And I hear what sounds like low roar, echoing from deep within the mountain. Only a fool what go into a cave without a light!

I lost my nerve and rushed out towards the water. In the process, I hit my hand on a jutting rock, knocking my knife out of my hands, hearing it drop with a thud on the cave floor.

So much for silence.

What am I doing?! I have no idea what kind of creature this is. I’m only looking for this damn dragon because I was told by a woman I didn’t even know that I needed to ride it to the edge of Always to find my Rainbow Home. Under the full moon of all things.

But the full moon is past now, come and gone without incident. Or, according to 7th-Born Rabbit, I have to visit HeartSeer by the Great Sea to recover the Obsidian Key. Either way, I have no mode of transportation.

How am I to fly to the Great Sea, let alone to the edge of Always? I could walk instead, like I do. I don’t mind Walking. But How far is it?

Could I hitchhike? Steal a horse? LYFT it? As an absolute last resort, I could take Greyhound.

None of those sounded very appealing. Some, rather far-fetched.

No, it must be this way or no way. I’ve done the easy thing before. No, it’s time for the neccessary thing. 7th-Born had said it will either melt me or I will melt it.

I steel myself, take a deep breath, and head back in to the cave.

Without weapon. Without light. Unadorned and vulnerable and scared out of my mind. The time has come.

As I turn the first corner into darkness, I hear that awful sound again. sounds less like a roar than a combination of a snore and groan. Perhaps it is sleeping. Could I be so lucky?

It’s pitch black. I turn another corner, with only my hands on the cold, clammy cave walls to guide me. For all I know, I could be walking into a bottomless abyss, a nest of brown recluses, or get irretrievably lost. No one would ever find me! My pack would be found someday by intrepid explores. Perhaps.

But what are those risks in comparison with facing a Fire Dragon! I can’t believe I just said that. Perhaps this is all a wild goose chase. Or wild dragon chase, as it were.

Then, suddenly two glowing red-orange embers the size of volleyballs appear before me.

Eyes!

I’m flooded simultaneously with as much awe as fear, as much fascination as pure dread.

It’s here! I’m here! I froze.

The eyes cast an eerie flicker across the walls of the cave, causing shadows to dance.

I see that the narrow cave tunnel had opened up into a stone chamber the size of a cabin.

And then I realize, what I hear is not a roar or a snore, but a cry. A dragon cry. It is wounded.

From the red-orange ember-eye light reflecting off the walls, I see the source of the pain: A dagger pierced it, just below where the wing attaches to its torso.

Suddenly, whatever fear I had disappears.

Now what? I’m here. I made it. I’m not torn to pieces. I’m not melted. Yet.

I could do nothing but just be there with it in its pain.

I slowly reached my hand out and lay it near the wound.

I whisper in its ear.

“I’m sorry you’re hurting.”

As powerful as it was, as big as it was, it was apparent that it could not reach the area where the dagger went in with its talons nor its mouth.

I knew that I had to pull the dagger out.

I grabbed the black ornate handle with both hands.

“This is going to hurt. I’m here to help.”

A pulled back as hard as I could and with a grunt and one full action, yanked the dagger out.

The dragon jumped and hissed in burnt steel agony. Fire and smoke filled the chamber,

The heat seemed to sear my flesh. I cowered in the corner, but couldn’t escape it and began to choke on the smoke filling my lungs.

Then, I had the idea: The pool at the base of the cave.

Before I could think about it too much, I yelled, “Follow me!!” And began running out.

I headed back towards the entrance, this time with the aid of the glow of dragon eyes lighting the way close behind me.

It was following me. I saw my knife on the floor from earlier. I quickly bent down to pick it up and kept running. Taking a big gulp of hot air, I ran and jumped straight through the back of the falls. In a split second, I plunged directly in the pool below, knife in one hand, dagger in the other.

When I came up for air and was relieved to find that I still had skin. The cool water felt invigorating. And the cool air was a welcome relief in my lungs. I looked back up, and saw just a long dragon head sticking out through the waterfall. Almost comical if it wasn’t so freaking bizarre.

I encouraged it: “Jump!”

“Dragons don’t go in water!” It spoke, in a language I didn’t know but somehow understood.

“Well, grown ass human beings don’t hunt fire dragons!” I screamed back.

“Jump in!”

Evidently convincing, the remainder of his giant body emerged through the falls, and not without grace for such an unwieldly large body, landed in the pool with an explosion of water.

It sent me reeling, and forced me back below the water for longer than even my jump had. When I came up, rather than seeing a dragon in the pool beside me, I saw a little boy. Brown hair with bright brown eyes.

“Thank you for coming,” he said with a smile, seemingly unaware of what just happened.

You can imagine the trouble I had finding words in response.

“And for pulling the dagger out,” he said.

Still stunned at what had happened in the previous hour, I said nothing. My face no doubt revealed my shock.

“And for not trying to kill me with that knife of yours.”

“No problem?” I managed.

With that, the boy, who I estimated to be about 12 or 13 years old, began diving and splashing and playing.

“Hey!” I yelled. I had too many questions, which I rattled off, one falling on top of the other. “Who are you? What happened to the dragon? Who stabbed you? How long have you had that sticking in you? What is going on?!”

He just laughed and began splashing me.

“A story for the sky, perhaps?”

“What?” My eyes must have widened even more than they already had.

In an instant the boy transformed back into a dragon, flapped his enormous translucent wings, picked me up in its talons, and took to flight.

To the Great Sea it is then.

 

Rilke-Soaked Dreams and a Vulnerable Mountain Heart

IMG_4512A year ago this week I was trekking for 10 days in the Olympic Mountains.

I was struggling over several long, hard days climbing up the side of the mountain, the trail often obscured. Though it was June, winter was still up there.

I was struggling with heartache: my partner and I were estranged. I was struggling with trust and jealousy. I was struggling with my inability to fully receive love. I was struggling with ancient wounds of abandonment. I didn’t understand different kinds of love and connection. I was struggling with meaningful livelihood.

I arrived atop in a lake basin and pitched my tent above Heart Lake. I became stuck there for several days – it was cold and rainy and snowy. I was getting increasingly wet. In the clouds. No sun all day. Fully soaked. Boots undryable. Spending the day in the tent. The only warmth was from a little backpacking stove.

The clouds from every direction merged, climbed, surrounded, hugged the crevices everywhere. I couldn’t see anything. I was aware that I could soon be in danger of hypothermia, so knew I had to descend as soon as possible, if conditions didn’t change.

But I had a deep feeling that I didn’t want to leave the mountain top and the lake until all was revealed. Something was coming.

Finally the sun appeared on the 4th day. Joy! My first real moment of excitement! I was able to get dry. When the clouds opened up, I could get perspective. I could finally see Mt. Olympus. More importantly, the image of Vulnerable Mountain Heart kept appearing inside me. It had appeared a few days before at the beginning of my journey – it was now deepening and speaking.

Vulnerable Mountain Heart. What is it? Deep cosmic heart of vulnerability, source of love and strength. It’s the heart that stays open, that feels what it feels, that rests easy with what is, that doesn’t need to react to save itself, has no fear, that knows its strength in vulnerability, and therefore its wholeness and power.

Vulnerable Mountain Heart is unearthing and resurrecting our archaic connection with the natural world. That connection critical to healing ourselves, our communities, and the planet. It’s about meeting ourselves authentically, with nature not just as context, but as collaborator. A mountain doesn’t care what storms present themselves. It merely accepts and receives them, unphased. Mountain Heart is about embodying our strength and power, overcoming fear, and accepting what is.

Yet at the same time, by being willing to connect with our vulnerability, we allow healing and growth and remain compassionate. It’s about recognizing and feeling our old sacred wounds and finding love and power in that place. And it’s about liberation from unhealthy patterns inherited from our family and culture. Finally, it’s about listening, opening, and resting in uncertainty and change, and unfolding our authenticity layer by layer.

After a week and a half up there, I walked out of the rich, green Hoh Valley a changed person—richer, stronger, and more clear. I knew it was an unfolding story. The day after I hitchhiked out of the forest, I found myself in the city lying on my side getting a needle stuck repeatedly in my arm—I was getting a mountain heart tattoo in Olympia.

It did change me, but since then I have often strayed from that wisdom, sometimes so far off that it’s like I’m in the clouds again. Fear causes pain to ourselves and others. Can’t see anything.

It’s not a one time opening.

It’s choosing love over fear, moment by moment.

How to Love Me

sand castle heart

love me like a friend
with gentle affection
and casual curiosity

love me like your best friend,
to whom deepest waters are not hidden
with whom there is no such thing as vulnerability
because there is nothing to fear

love me like you’ve known me
since the dawn of creation
memories clouded by stardust

but also love me like a stranger,
with the respect of
someone you just met
on a park bench in spring

because i have depths you can’t know
things hiding out in ocean caves only
moray eels go

love me like a community member
with regard and mutual support

love me like a playmate
being silly with deep laughter
in the garden
and like kids on the beach making castles
with serious play
ever ready to let the sea
reclaim it

love me with a trust
so deep
there are no roots old enough
to reach its depth

love me with a touch
that only you know how to give

love me with a knowing look
a shared secret
only our eyes can decipher

love me with a word
of appreciation
or with the silence
of your presence
even when we are far

love me with a song
whose melody stalks your heart
softly
with tears of pain or joy

love me like a lover
whose open bodies
are close, but wanting even closer
sharing heat and intimate wetness
and generating colors
of the rainbow
and beyond

love me in any
or all of these ways

Apprentice

turtle-dont-be-afraid-to-be-vulnerableI began the new year
with skin
exposed to sheets of rain

and an apprenticeship
to vulnerability,
a master craftsman
soothing a tenderfoot’s
tender heart
pierced with perceived
ruin

no protection
because there’s nothing
to be protected from
no fear
because there’s nothing
to fear
knowing that once again
water rolls
through a parched land

the same trust
that sees
even the darkest shadows
radiate
like a beacon
signalling home

Haiku for Living Where you Fear to Live:

unfurl and grow
your vulnerability
and strength will follow

inside-out shirt

inside outi put my shirt on
inside-
out.
again.

she grinned,
and right away
took it off me
and put it back
on
again,
the right way

or so it seemed.
the seams
could be seen.

for being a bohemian
she’s trying so damn hard
to get it right
to figure it out.

and I told her so.

“What do you mean?” she asked.

“See?” I tasked.

maybe it’s
the musician in her.

maybe it’s the trickster in me.

what she doesn’t know
is that I put the shirt
on
inside-
out
on
purpose.

because i was inside-out
and wanted her to meet me there.