Pandemic Thoughts 21

Even for a Moment, Find Your Heart

The swirling of news, conflicting reports and the general stress of people of all ages is escalating as time goes on and variants are reported in the forms of the virus. Fear is the most dangerous "virus" of all: it raises our defenses until they burn out; it uses energy we need to go about our daily tasks with steady presence, and - like any virus - it spreads quickly.

So one of the most important practices during this time is to be present to yourself in a way that you notice your fear and work to bring it into a lower hum, even eliminating it for a few moments at a time. Coming into the present moment is one simple practice that helps. In this moment, how am I present? What is happening in this moment? Keep repeating "in this moment" while you notice your breath moving in and out of your nostrils.

Then move your attention to your heart. Breathe into your heart, breathe out from your heart. That's it. Do this as many times a day as you can, for a few seconds at a time, no matter where you are - except driving!!! You will begin to notice a bit more calm as you move through your day. From my own heart, I send you soft breath, and present moment focus...

Inner Stillness

There is not only the disintegration of our longheld habits and preferences dissolving during this pandemic/quarantine, there is the hope being held by many that there will soon be "a return to normal." I don't believe that this will ever happen. We have all been changed by the precariousness in which we live now, and the future remains uncertain. It is too soon to even know HOW we have been changed, but we have. It is difficult to come to terms, and even to some interior stability in the midst of what we are forced to live now, but there is one practice that will help: an acceptance of the instability we live in now.

Everyday life doesn't stop. But here is a small part of an article I just read by Matt Kahn, who is outlining them in an article he has written called "Feeling Off:"

"Everyday Life doesn't stop. Here are some ways to settle our emotional turmoil in its midst:

1. You've done nothing wrong.

2. Anyone who blames you isn't happy.

3. Hardships can be fast-tracked through Thankfulness.

4.Feeling better helps everyone heal.

5. Well-Being is a signal that you are ready to embody your potential.

6. The Universe always has a plan.

7. Everything changes but it can only change for the better.

8. In order to be emotionally free, it's OK to dislike.

9. Projecting anger drains you of energy.

10.Love is your Liberator "

                   (p.47 in MIND BODY SPIRIT, summer 2020)

Practising even one or two of these can help to bring us a few moments of Inner Stillness, which leads to peace. Or - if you know any other practice for Inner Stillness...I encourage you to do it as often as you can in the course of the day. For some it will be prayer, meditation, looking out into nature, allowing your mind and heart to be filled with thanks...but turn your attention to such practices, so that the building anxiety will not take you completely.

So where are we now? Chickadee Teacher

Almost a year into the the quarantine, what has or is changing? For my self, I notice layers of myself falling away, a letting down of years of holding up, without knowing that I was holding up at all.

Last week I was filling the bird feeders when I saw a little chickadee hopping over the snow. Here is the story I wrote:

My Chickadee Teacher

 
I was outside filling the bird feeder when I noticed a tiny chickadee hopping onto stray sticks and branches that were scattered because of the wind. Approaching slowly, I saw that his/her coat was fluffed up, and he was actually trying to stay above the snow. As I approached, he ran and found another stick. At that point I saw that his tail feathers were scanty, and that he could not fly because of it. My heart filled with tears. But I went and took some black sunflower seed from the feeder, and scattered it near him. This was a mistake, as it brought squirrels, who ate it all, while little chickadee hopped farther away, though he found a seed or two as he went.
 
I checked on him several times that day, and he was still perched on one piece of stick or another. I tried again to feed him, but the squirrels were faster. The next morning he was still there, and I kept trying, all day. But the day after that he was gone, and my feeling of deep loss surprised me. I look for him still, but I know he has either become food for another creature by now, or he is buried under the snowfall.
 
Still he stays with me. Is it vulnerability, during this quarantine time? Is it the natural tendency I have to tenderness for any vulnerability, my own last of all? Whatever it is, I am coming to know that this sense of vulnerability is quickly deepening as I age, and as I encounter the diminishment of energy, attention, and physical capacity that I once took for granted.
 
So my chickadee was indeed a teacher, and continues to be a teacher, as I look for him every day still. Here he is as I photographed him on that first day:
 


A Recurring Gift: poem

A Recurring Gift

 

Rain pounding on skylights -

I hardly know what day it is,

so loosened has become

any thought of time...

 

I am out in a wide field

with hidden markers...Light

is the only visible (and more often)

invisible sign of change,

rhythmic, rhyming change,

turning over the world.

 

In this swiftly shifting sky

of Light and Dark - inside and outside -

are the markers of being here.

The only markers, really -

all else is surface passing

faster and faster and faster,

while Light and Dark dance

and swoon and wrestle

before our very eyes, Darkness

more visible than it's ever been,

even in daylight, speaking and posturing

all over the known world.

 

Only in the moments when I see

and feel the heart pulsing - my own

and the Heart of the World;

only in the unfolding of everyday being -

only in the turning of trees, and

in the caterpillars moving with dignity

towards transformation;

and in the fading plants in their vivid presence;

in the insects, squirrels, chipmunks,

foxes, wolves, bears - all preparing

for the hidden season -

so we are invited to do,

but not by our own choice.

 

We would never choose nor

think to choose what is required of us now-

a darkness that will dissolve

what we thought we knew

and open our hearts against all odds

into sudden streaming

blinding Light, beyond our own capacities:

a recurring gift.

 

 

Alive in Dying: poem

 

 

 This morning the trees are so alive in their dying

that I hear them calling to me, calling me over

like a friend, their leaves gesturing,

their branches swaying like belly dancers,

or like hammocks of invitation, hailing

winter's rest in stunning color that -

like all color - fades in its time.

 

But for the time that it's here - the colour of life,

the colour of love and friendship, the colour

of all the colours  in the world - life itself

is a tapestry of color - and suddenly one day

you notice subtle shifts, barely

noticeable changes, a fading streak, perhaps,

or a blending never seen before. One day you notice

that what it took you an hour to do now takes three.

Some call this aging, this move towards transformation;

some call it dying. I prefer the latter.

 

What I am discovering is the hidden, subtle aliveness

in emptiness, in silence, in removing myself from

endless activity and social engagements.

Aliveness intensified; a spark billowing into a flame.

Life maximized in the falling away of unnecessary things,

showing itself in the simplest burning moments:

the trees' camaraderie; woodsmoke billowing among mists,

the loons' leaving cries, and the season's turning:

all there really is; all there is.

 

A poem to realize...

A Half-Second

 

                                                The smallest breath of a breeze

turns everything, anything

into something else- a color,

a shape that wasn’t there

a half-second ago.

 

No wonder it is said:

“The wind blows where it will;

we don’t know where it came from,

or where it is going.”*

 

So it is with our own lives

and the life of the world.

 

We never know. We never know.

A half-second can change

everything.

 

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24.04 | 21:27

Hi Brenda,
I did some writing this last week.
Finally!
Here is it. :)

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12.02 | 08:41

Hi Laurie, You will find The Choice on amazon.ca//

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18.10 | 18:29

Thanks, Mike...so glad you found it here. I think it's remarkable. Holly's grandmother is one of my long and close friends; it was she who sent it.

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18.10 | 17:38

Thanks for posting this. I heard it read from Abbey Theatre in their "Dear Ireland" and was hoping that I would find it on the web. I thought it stole the show.

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