I met the not-knowing fear in the fullness of my mother’s eyes, as she lay dying, denying, whimpering love and sputtering anger neither of us knew how to handle. All I could do was anoint her feet.
I met the not-knowing on the summit of Kilimanjaro, exhausted and wondering how I’d ever make it back, break down camp and descend another 5,000 feet. Triumphant. The longest day of the trek.
I met the not-knowing rolling my 4×4 late one night, landing upside down, protected by the of my grandmother’s Spirit, then rolling in the glider ride 10,000’ above the Flatirons, feeling invincible. I wouldn’t drive for three months.
I met the not-knowing and the all-knowing consciousness of my IMAX mind. Was it 8 minutes or 8 hours. NDE-time is irrelevant. Then the lady with the long grey hair came dancing through the field singing, “Painting, painting, painting, I just want to paint flowers.”
I met the not-knowing sitting zazen, straining at koans, learning to see what else there is in a picture, how it reflects the interiority of our heart-mind. Inner and outer landscapes melding into embodied wisdom.
I met the not-knowing walking into the mystery with 30 strangers, some would become life-long friends, forever bound by rituals and vows. Conscious speech. Purity of heart. Compassionate Action. To be of service for all time…
I met the not-knowing looking into your eyes, and your eyes, and your eyes… deeply, longingly, as if I’d never seen anyone so beautiful. A circle of total strangers, gazes held for an eternity, until our souls melted into pools of perfection.
I met the not-knowing when I said yes to studying with my teacher. Receiving my mantra and the blessing download, hand on my crown. The headache kept me up all night. Downloads come now with a glance and nod.
I met the not-knowing the first time I sat for havan. I mixed the 25 ingredients representing our vices into the samagree to feed the fire God, Agni, cleansing the detritus from our souls. The full moon shimmering overhead.
I met the not-knowing in every pair of eyes in the ICU. Patient. Family. Nurses. Why me? Why now? Why, God, why? There are rarely answers for the “why” questions. The midwifery of silence and deep listening a true gift.
I meet the not-knowing daily. How I meet the not-knowing of others is entirely up to me. Perhaps all of this, is why I’m called…
071223 ©LjWinston A “wild writing” from July, inspired by poet Jen Levitt’s piece, Autobiography
Select images from July – Click on any photo for gallery view
What I’m Watching:
The Chaplaincy Institute panel – Supporting the LGBTQ+ community in a time of renewed oppression. This comment from Rev Jess Shine during the panel struck like an arrow in my heart. “I don’t want you to be my ally, I want you to be my co-laborer.” Jess is a dear friend, colleague, and the minister who presided over my ordination. Their request brought home, for me, that even in ally-ship there is separation. I think this rings true for BIPOC folks too. So, I say yes to being a co-laborer, co-conspirator with my LGBTQ and BIPOC friends.
Eldorado: Everything the Nazis Hate on Netflix – This documentary examines the LGBTQ haven (and way of life) in Berlin that was destroyed by the Nazis. There are chilling similarities in the film to what’s being experienced today as a result of white national extremists in our own country with their hatred of LGBTQ folks. A gay man I recently met said he’s more afraid to say he’s gay now, than he was 25 years ago.
The Week: a 3-part doc with actions steps – on the global Climate Crisis – This was a bit of a heavy lift and I’m grateful to have watched it with fellow clergy. I wish I could say I came away full of hope and excited to jump in and do more to help stem the tide. I’m afraid I didn’t get past the doom and gloom of episode one. In my view, without immediate progressive action by governments and corporations, we are hurtling toward the point of no return. That said, in what years I have left, I will continue to do my part to reduce my footprint, to not do more harm, and to use my gifts of creativity and welcoming hospitality offering Beauty as Medicine, in support of preserving all life on this precious blue orb.
This has been an overflowing month, with both information intake and an out-pouring of feelings. In rapid succession, I completed the INELDA end-of-life doula training, followed by teaching a class on Near-Death Experiences, then co-hosting our monthly Death Cafe, and being in groups to consider how to support the growing oppression of basic human rights and the global climate crisis. I also attended a poetry reading in the home of my wild writing teacher, Laurie Wagner, and was deeply moved and fed by the words and musical offerings of three goddesses, musing about the paradox we must hold in this one precious life. I was reminded of a talk I heard recently, “Leaning into Hope,” during which the presenters shared, “We tend grief. We cultivate hope.”
So, I exit this month of July pondering something Thich Nhat Hanh said, “Your life is your message. At any moment, you should be able to give a dharma talk for an hour, without notes, from your life experience.”
Peace and blessings,
Spiritual Companion/Guide, Healer,
Interfaith Chaplain, Contemplative Photographer
“The earth is full of thresholds where beauty awaits the wonder of our gaze.” John O’Donohue