WORDS
My intention is to include a piece of raw, unedited “Wild Writing” each month.  This month I missed 2 weeks of sessions. One week because I met up with my brother, Andy and his wife Cheryl in San Diego for a few days, the longest time together since our nephew’s wedding in 2019. And the second because I was observing a period of silence and reflection. So, I have a backlog of writing to practice. And, I’m very excited that this Monday we have a session with poet/philosopher Mark Nepo. That said, this wild/raw writing happened literally in the last hour. So here goes…

Truth telling ain’t easy, nor is hearing it sometimes. The despair in the world is palpable. Today it came knocking on my door. One friend called to say he was just diagnosed with Parkinson’s. Wife out of town, son away at work, who to share this news with? Needing someone to bear witness, ground the lightning flash running rampant, extended family by Spirit

Another friend entered carrying the weight of the world on his shoulders. Tomorrow, he will courageously witness a family member’s death-with-dignity. Over tea, he shares witnessing the toll of pain too much to bear, and the hoops one must jump through to make the choice to end their own life. Then, picking up the medication at the pharmacy for his loved one, he wasn’t even asked for ID.  Mic drop…

A port in the storm. An anchor for impending waves of grief. We reflect upon presence… awkwardly at first, then with more aplomb. How to be… with a capital B-E. Offer empathy, compassion, comfort, hope. Validate the suffering, the sadness. Are you willing to authentically sit with another in their fire, their pain, when nothing is easy but to tell the truth? How do we speak of, let alone reconcile, the ever-recurring themes of good vs evil, dying and death?  Reach into the medicine pouch for a little healing balm; beauty-nature-walk-mantra-breath-silence-rest, repeat.

Beyond the knock at the door, sadness, exhaustion, fear is on the collective breath. Mass shootings, mass die-offs, massive weather events, mass extinctions, weapons of mass destruction, mass exodus of refugees, mass media. Everything negative is “biggie-sized.” Frighten, divide, control. Is there any room left to give two fucks about an ex-president’s criminal indictment? I can feel the oxygen being sucked out of the airwaves. Then through the miasma of tropes an angelic voice of truth rings: “grief requires tending, hope is cultivated.”

Inspired by Disrobing in Time, by Mark Nepo; Valerie Brown, Hope Leans Forward, and the words of TNHanh, “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.”

What I’m reading:
March 22-29 was the observance of Spring Navaratri – a time of inner stillness, contemplating our relationship with the Divine. During this time, in the Aghor tradition, we honor the Divine Mother: MahaKali, MahaLakshmi and MahaSaraswati. As part of my devotion this year, and to understand the observance more deeply, I read In Praise of the Goddess: The Devimahatmya and its Meaning, translated by Devadatta Kali. The following description explains the book better than I’m able to.

In Praise of the Goddess image

In Praise of the Goddess

About 16 centuries ago, an unknown Indian author or authors gathered together the diverse threads of already ancient traditions and wove them into a verbal tapestry that today is still the central text for worshippers of the Hindu Devi, the Divine Mother. This spiritual classic, the Devimahatmya, addresses the perennial questions of the nature of the universe, humankind, and divinity. How are they related, how do we live in a world torn between good and evil, and how do we find lasting satisfaction and inner peace? These questions and their answers form the substance of the Devimahatmya. Its narrative of a dispossessed king, a merchant betrayed by the family he loves, and a seer whose teaching leads beyond existential suffering sets the stage for a trilogy of myths concerning the all-powerful Divine Mother, Durga, and the fierce battles she wages against throngs of demonic foes. In these allegories, her adversaries represent our all-too-human impulses toward power, possessions, and pleasure. The battlefields symbolize the field of human consciousness on which our lives’ dramas play out in joy and sorrow, in wisdom and folly. The Devimahatmya speaks to us across the ages of the experiences and beliefs of our ancient ancestors. We sense their enchantment at nature’s bounty and their terror before its destructive fury, their recognition of the good and evil in the human heart, and their understanding that everything in our experience is the expression of a greater reality, personified as the Divine Mother.

PICTURES

My photos on PEXELS have garnered 1.8 million views so far!!  Here are some March photos around California. Click on any image for gallery view.

What I’m watching:

Bardo Image

Bardo

For some cultural flavor, prior to the academy awards, I watched Bardo, False Chronicle of a Handful of Truths, a Mexican film. https://www.imdb.com/title/tt14176542/  An acclaimed journalist-turned documentarian goes on a dreamlike introspective journey to reconcile with the past, the present and his Mexican identity. Bardos, if you’re familiar with Buddhism, are the in-between places, the gaps or intervals our energy travels through during transitions of birth, death, and rebirth where time and space don’t exist. Even this life we are living is a bardo. The movie is dream-like, full of dark humor, as we travel through the main character’s bardos of the loves and losses of his current life and through Mexican history from indigenous massacres and colonization to migrant caravans traveling north through the desert to escape poverty.

RRR Image

RRR

Another cultural anti-colonization movie – RRR (Rise, Roar, Revolt)https://www.imdb.com/title/tt8178634/  is a fictitious story about two legendary revolutionaries and their journey away from home before they start fighting for their country’s independence from the British Empire in the 1920s. This is a 3-hour Indian action/adventure epic, with tons of special effects, including all the digitally created animals, and super-hero lead characters. Both characters are based on actual Indian freedom fighters, although they never met in real life.  While the dance number Naatu, Naatu is fun and lively… my favorite scene comes toward the end of the film when Ramaraju with long hair (and bare chest) is firing off flame-tipped arrows in every direction. Quite exciting!! Congrats to RRR and Naatu Naatu on the Oscar for Best Original Song.

IDEAS
Curating this month’s blog, I’m struck by how it unfolded around the universal themes of our relationship with (the sacred/good) nature and Spirit, versus (the profane/evil) power and oppression over all. It’s with deep gratitude (and privilege) that I have the time and space to be curious, contemplative and to share at this phase in my life.

What I’m listening to:
On Being Podcasts with Krista TippettBiomimicry: An Operation Manual for Earthings, an interview with Janine Benyus who has written several books on Biomimicry. “…Consider basic life/design principles around which biomimicry orients – all of them at work in every moment beneath our feet, in the air we breathe, in the sky above: Nature runs on sunlight. uses only the energy it needs, fits form to function, recycles everything, rewards cooperation, banks on diversity, demands local expertise, cures excesses from within, and taps the power of limits. Nature relentlessly creates conditions conducive to life.” This knowledge/wisdom is known by all indigenous peoples who live in harmony with nature. The power, arrogance and greed of our dominant white colonizing, industrialized, technocratic cultures needing to have supremacy over nature and non-white peoples is leading us to the brink of humankind’s extinction. Benyus’ consulting work with some major corporations provides little glimmers of hope.

East-West Death Café – I recently co-hosted our 2nd zoom gathering with a wonderful group of folks, willing to share deeply and vulnerably. We’re inspired to have these conversations with the hope that talking about death can become more natural, and revered, just as is talking about birth. To talk about our own relationship with dying and death–our fears, angst, beliefs, hopes–is a courageous act. Doing it in community is incredibly supportive as we discover that we are not alone. Our next East-West Death Café is April 23. Send me a message if you’d like to learn more.

Every Blessing,
Rev. Lisa