love in, love out

These were the words of a very sweet and inspiring young homesteader that I was privileged to meet yesterday. He was referring to growing plants, although the application of the principle is universal. When he carries composted fertilizer to his plants, he tries to so with an attitude of love. Otherwise, he said, if you feed your plants frustration-laced compost, they will take that on and you’ll end up taking that in again when you consume their fruits.

So – love in, love out!

When we arrived on his land we were offered a tour. We were shown the shelter where he and his partner currently sleep: a sturdy structure with a roof and tarps that closed it in on three sides. They will stay here until the tiny home they are constructing is ready, hopefully by Thanksgiving. There was another roofed-but-partially-open structure where food was prepared and enjoyed. Also a composting outdoor toilet. Little walking paths snake through the land where he has planted fruit trees, chestnuts, and a vegetable garden among the previously established green nations in this corner of the planet.

This young visionary embodies a deep understanding of the interdependence of all life. He plants for generations that will inhabit the land long after he has finished his earthwalk.

May his vision of reality gradually take root in our collective consciousness. Our survival depends upon it.

How Connections Create Interdependent Relationships
photo from kathleenallen.net

leave-taking

I am on the cusp of leaving home to travel. This journey will take me to finally meet my grandson in person (he’s 13 months old now) and to be reunited after 18 months with his parents, and another of my sons. Anticipation of this journey has taken me into reflecting on what it is to leave, to arrive, to leave again…

Life is a series of leave-takings. And the arrivals – are they perhaps just preparation for the next leaving? It’s a grey, rainy day today, and I wonder if my contemplation has become tainted with a sentimental melancholy. But there is an undeniable truth here. In my sitting practice this morning I felt the exhalation as a leaving. As I focused on it I knew it as a preparation for the moment when I will leave this body.

Maybe all our living, all our breathing, all our journeying is a preparation for that leave-taking.

In my mind, this is not at all a morbid contemplation. It’s a reality check. A revisiting of the notion that – as Hamlet says – the readiness is all. No growth ever happens without this shedding of the old and a stepping into the new.

Lord Śiva holds the damaru in his right hand, creating the pulsating beat that brings everything into being. Simultaneously, his left hand holds agni, the fire of destruction and dissolution. Since the hands are the motor organs of the heart, this is where creation and destruction have their source.

May all your journeys be blessed. May we all come to rest in the dynamic stillness at the heart of the whirling tāndava dance of life.

Om Namah Śivaya.

how can we know the dancer from the dance?

O chestnut tree, great rooted blossomer,

Are you the leaf, the blossom or the bole?

O body swayed to music, O brightening glance,

How can we know the dancer from the dance?

(W.B.Yeats  Among School Children)

Today’s Bharatnatyam class with Supratimji tapped into the mystery of embodiment.

It started innocently enough, with me showing him a step we had worked on previously. He wasn’t satisfied. He gave me cue after cue in an attempt to get me to truly inhabit the movement.

He had me sit down and find an internal focus. Once I felt established in that, I was to initiate the arm and eye movements. I slowly began to move. I experienced the feeling that it was the surrounding space that lifted my arm. Not me, moving, but just movement. The sweep of the arm, the drishti or gaze: no longer just graceful movements that I was doing. The dancer, and the dance coalescing…

After this he had me move on to explore the asamyukta hasta mudras – the single hand gestures – from this same consciousness.

Supratim: When you take the hand position of, for example, triśula – you must feel the energy coursing through the three raised fingers. If you do not, then it’s not right. When the energy finds its path, the gesture will be right. You must feel this.

The application of this is all-encompassing. Yogāsana, Bharatanatyam, holding my grandson – it touches everything in this ecstatically beautiful, embodied existence. W.B.Yeats’ final question sums it up:

O body swayed to music, O brightening glance,

How can we know the dancer from the dance?

Shiva Nataraja Stock Illustrations – 553 Shiva Nataraja Stock  Illustrations, Vectors & Clipart - Dreamstime

rain dance

I just did something I’ve never done before.

For the last week the heat and humidity have been building. The earth… so dry. And then today the clouds rolled in and Rudra let loose with a torrential downpour. Thunder. Sheets of rain. I looked at my husband and said – I want to go outside and dance in it. We looked at each other. Conspiratorially he said – I’ll record you!

So I ran outside and entered the downpour. Stood in the pelting rain reaching my arms skyward. Drank it in. Like the earth, the plants. Swayed. Stamped my feet in the puddling water finding rhythmical patterns. Cupped my hands to catch it. Pretended I was a tree, my arms its branches. Touched the water on the ground, brought its blessing up to my eyes.

Finally, full, I came back inside.

To avoid getting chilled in the A/C I ran a hot bath. Water again – but this time contained, controlled. My usual comfort zone. As I soaked, I thought back to those moments of release – of shedding boundaries. My Bharatanatyam teacher had been urging me for a while to do something like this. Nice idea, I thought.

Today I went beyond the thought.

I did something I’ve never done before.

: )

Photo from the Ottawa Citizen, August 13, 2021.

listening

Divinity:

You ask for the grace to become the “mere instrument” that enables love to flow into the world.

You ask for the grace to become “the container” through which love pours forth into the world.

Know this: you have always been My instrument.

Know this: My love dissolves the container.

Me:

. . .

The Inheritance of Loss

Yesterday I started reading this novel by Kiran Desai. She won the Man Booker Prize for it in 2006. It has been slowly tearing my heart out.

Her writing is deeply poetic. It reaches into the intimate details of lives lived, of places inhabited… I’m only 42 pages into the worlds the author describes, and I am wrenched by the penetrating violence of colonialism. I shudder to recall my Bengali dance teacher saying there were signs saying no Indians allowed – in India.

And I am thrown into a reflection on how I fit into the horror of colonialism. People in my own country are reeling from the unearthing of so many unmarked graves surrounding the residential schools. The extreme violence of ripping indigenous children away from home.

From home.

I’ve always been a homebody, given to bouts of homesickness whenever I have had to leave home. As I reach inside myself and touch this deep feeling of loss, I am overwhelmed.

It is an immense privilege to have Kiran Desai’s words draw me deeper into this dark and shameful reality.

One of the immense blessings that studying Bharatanatyam dance with my Bengali teacher affords me is the antidote to the sickening reality of racism: connection. To say that love is the answer sounds trite, but it is true. However, it needs a specific application, a specific connection between specific people. Then the transforming power of love can flow.

And transform the one world we inhabit.

Daily Recco, April 1: The Inheritance of Loss, alternating between  despondency and droll

Tiny Treasures

The water-sucking, green carpet front lawn paradigm needs to be re-thought.

A neighbour’s enthusiasm for creating a more insect-friendly environment by letting our lawns grow inspired me to experiment. I’ve mowed the grass 3 times so far this summer, and on the highest setting (about 4 inches). Also, I’ve established a no-mow zone about 10 feet by 12 feet in an oval around some little birch trees. I keep an eye out for noxious-type weeds, but have been letting other little things fly in and take root.

Magical!!

Today I found ripe wild strawberries in a little patch. I ate the tiny tasty fruit, remembering foraging for these as a kid in a nearby field. Remembering the sweet sun-warmed tiny treasures – just there, free for the taking. After 50 years of remembering, I knelt down close to the earth and foraged again. Tasting the wild sweetness of summer…

And other discoveries too! Different wildflowers are flying in. My lawn mowing must look quite comical as I swerve around in crazy patterns so as not to disturb the beauty.

The intense unexpected beauty just waiting to take root in our lives.

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F is for family…

– and fun and frenetic and FOOD and – farewells. (Those will happen far too soon.)

The holidays have been a delightful dance of train and airport pickups and drop offs. With three out of four children living at a considerable distance from the family home, these times of confluence are beyond precious.

As we each create our unique choreographies in our own home bases, there is always a little period of adjustment when we come together once again, and find out how to dance together now.

Listening. Observing. Connecting in the dance.

What a blessing!

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C is for Christmas…

…and for cancer. We just learned last night that a close family member received a diagnosis a few days ago.

There’s a kind of lie that we all want to buy into at Christmas – that everything is good, and whole and full and there is an abundance of overflowing  joy and goodwill. We want to freeze-frame all this and live what we see on the front of the Christmas cards that drop through the mail slot. We hang on to this vision with desperation – a bulwark against encroaching darkness and chaos: war, terrorism, pestilence,  even our own bodies, turned against themselves.

Where is the light?

We are fast approaching the shortest day of the year. The longest night. And then, the balance will start to tip back… gradually, gradually. We will slide toward the longest day, the shortest night, and then… Nature see-sawing from light to dark, with us along for the ride, trying to derive some sense from the cryptic, never-ending process.

Light and dark, and all the pairs of opposites, disappear under closer scrutiny. C is also for cyclic, and continuous. There is only flow punctuated by our moments of blindness as we look at it.

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