My sweet Cleo returned to Spirit this morning, leaving a profound silence and absence in our midst. Thank you, Cleo, for the precious gifts of your grace, beauty, and boundless unconditional love, for the privilege of your company these last 16 1/2 years, and for showing me the way to Love. You live in my heart, forever.
A Turn of the Wheel
It would have been so much easier to cancel my Vermont trip. It had begun to look as though I would have to. With my aged cat all of a sudden routinely missing the litter box, I was starting every day of late with a distressing and unpleasant clean up task. The situation wasn't so pleasant for the cats either, of course, which augmented my distress. No way could I leave for 3 1/2 days under these conditions: I couldn't expect someone else to take on this chore. I felt frustrated and desperate--even entertaining thoughts of having to put her down before the convention weekend. My cat was failing, no? Was I just postponing the inevitable? I found all of this hugely stressful, especially alongside a ticking clock: the Conference, my first convention with the American Society of Dowsers, was fast approaching. Everything was paid in full, and no refunds would be forthcoming at this late date. More importantly, I felt destined to be there, but it looked unlikely I would be.Then it dawned on me: Cleo wasn't peeing all over the place. Just by the litter box. I started brainstorming solutions. What relief I felt when the first one I tried worked. A litter tray designed for dog training turned out to solve--and pinpoint--the problem: trouble getting her hind legs up and over. With this new tray (three higher sides, and a nice low, open, front rim), she could walk right in, do her business, turn around, and walk on out. Hooray! I was thrilled, for both of us. So on to the next hurdle: twice a day meds, and food and water for the old girl every 2-3 hours, for three days running. Hiring their cat sitter, if she could even do it, for all that would blow the budget. I put out a call to my animal-loving friends.What a production! It took a few days, a lot of organizing, and a village of helpers, but I did it. Thanks to the love and kindness of Phoebe, Brian, Robert, Craig and Orissa, scheduled around the backbone care of Sue, the pet sitter, both cats would get their pills, and even more crucially, Cleo would be kept hydrated--essential to keeping her alive and walking these days--for the duration. I would do what I could from a distance, sending Reiki for good measure. In sum, all would be well. I could go, and with an eased mind to boot.Thanks to my reaching out to friends, I learned how to make and administer kitty fish broth, which has turned out to be a lifesaver, no exaggeration. Also, hearing of this, Orissa has offered me halibut steaks from a block of fresh fish her son has sent her from Alaska, to poach for Cleo's broth. And beyond the cat world, I stepped body mind and spirit into a significant turn of the wheel in my life's unfolding.
I set the stage for this a couple of months ago, I suppose. In the midst of what felt like an uncharac-
teristic (for me) limbo, an inert and fallow time, I set an intention, despite having no idea how I would fulfill it: "I'll know my plan for the next 10 years by June 15," I declared. My weekend up North under the generative light of a New Moon was a parade of graces, supplying me with all the foundation stones on which to build that plan. Magnificently so. It's a marvel to me to see how various threads combine and gracefully weave a single turn of Fate.In her Dancing in the Shadows of the Moon, Machaelle Small Wright ends some sections with a comma where you would expect a period (end of sentence, end of section). A comma because later, sometimes many years later, she would discover that what looked like the end of a moment or story was not the end at all.I've been feeling lots of commas in my life of late. Ireland was a comma, for example. I don't know what the "more" is with Ireland, only that there is more. The Vermont trip generated a host of commas, and it's exciting to be living into them. It turns out, my chicory encounter was a comma: I learned this weekend how to harvest, roast, and grind its roots for winter coffee brewing!There will be more to share, no doubt, as the bigger commas unfold. For now, I simply want to marvel at the workings and wisdom of Life. To thank Maryfaith for mentioning this convention to me to begin with, and for saving me a place in her room. And to extend my gratitude to all who made it possible--including Cleo and Sylvie who gave their unspoken blessing on the trip by thriving in my absence.It's crazy to me now to think I spent my first moments at the Conference having second thoughts about being there. Pulling onto a campus crawling with a motley bunch of mostly elder (it seemed), drawling, stereotypical Americans sporting oversized name badges hung from cords round their necks had me certain I'd come to the wrong place. What was I thinking!? I found myself thinking. Fortunately, I snapped out of it pretty quickly. As I put a foot to the ground the next morning, I declared: "I will be in the perfect place meeting the perfect people at the perfect time for the rest of the time, starting now."I was, and I did--in spades. It was clear in no time at all that I was among friends--very special friends: 500 or so of them, no less! For any time I've ever asked, "Where are my people?" I now have a very good answer!After dinner on Saturday, I got the urge to leave campus. Sunset was approaching, and I had wanted to see it, maybe photograph it. So why was I leaving the hill and descending into the valley at the sunset hour? My answer presented itself posthaste at the bottom of the road, when I spied a classic covered bridge which called me over it. When I crossed it, parked, then walked back to it, I was immediately wrapped in a rushing sworl of sound--a sound bath you might say, washing my energies clean. This from the falling water on one side, so arranged with leaf and sun and stone that it called for pause, and I happily, gratefully obliged. "This is why I left campus," I thought standing with the rushing and beauty, the stillness and sound before, around, and through me. I don't think I stayed even ten minutes; still, I was clear and refreshed utterly for the evening session ahead.Gifts, gifts, everywhere gifts. To think I might have missed them all-- too many to count, too many to list here. And they just keep coming. I attended a numinous Solstice sunrise in Larz Anderson Park this morning thanks to the a fellow conventioner's inviting me last Sunday. I have lived in Boston for 16 years, and though I've heard of and been invited to many other events at Larz Anderson over that time, this was my first encounter with it. What a treasure this man left to the people of Brookline and beyond. And what a commanding, bucolic perch from which to greet the dawn of a day--especially this, the longest day. I'm so happy to have learned of it, and so glad I could rouse myself before the birds! to partake of it all, to join in welcoming, celebrating, and appreciating Sol in all its radiant glory. There is magic afoot at that hour--even moreso at Solstice, it seems--and I felt privileged to be a part of it. It has cast a golden, lingering glow over what is unfolding: yet another blessing, it seems, on this new beginning,
The Earth Speaks
We were winding up our conference, we dowsers drawn from far and wide across this Continent. There was packing up and then closing ceremonies and a long drive ahead of me this evening. But first, I would take time to visit the irises I only now had time to give notice. I told my friends as much, and so while they made way for the dining hall, I headed toward the pond-side bed, camera in hand.
The iris had finished blooming at home: ditto the peonies, the lilac, the poppies. But we'd come far enough north--45 minutes or so from the Canadian Border, in fact--to see them all over again. I'd thought I'd have to wait another year for that: what a treat! Add lupine, in their prime, all over these parts, and you have the picture of my little piece of heaven, Vermont style.I shot the iris, with and without bees, then tried a few lupine, companioned by Queen Anne's Lace. It was hot this day, and the full sun here was quite cooking me. But some tiny balloon flowers detained me a bit longer. I'd seen these along the roadside at home: a weed back there, but featured here, alongside the more familiar, cultivated perennials. They're tiny, prolific little blossoms that I was curious to see larger, so I snapped them, from just about every angle. Then I plucked a portion of one cluster, to run it by my friend who knows her wild flowers: I was banking on her knowing its name.
"Bladder campion," she informed me, and so now I could name my newest love, this milky flower within a flower. They're easy to adore, with their wild whimsy. Yet they are easy to miss; like the ferns in a rose bouquet, they're backdrop to the featured flowers. But what distinctive features, what personality a closer look revealed!At home, I shared my views with a friend. I got more and more excited tabbing through them:
"I look at these and wonder how I could ever be depressed even for a moment. There are marvels like these all around us, all the time!"
She laughed a bit, but she got it: she could see it too. Intricate, exotic, flamboyant: all this in a common, unassuming weed!
Routinely, we destroy plants like these, all in the name of develop-
ment, all for the sake of our strip malls, our industries, our lawns. It is to be expected, right? These privileges come with our "First World" ranking, no?
Certainly we have come to think so. But more and more I hear the humblest of life forms around me telling another story. They remind me that we are guests on this planet. The earth preceded us, and we are its custodians. Dominion is not ours, though we have assumed it. We have exerted our influence to the extreme, and we are right now paying extremely for that.
The Native American people lived and worked in harmony, in communion with the land and its inhabitants, showing due respect. When did this change? Was it with the Industrial Age? The Information Age? I suppose it changed whenever, wherever entitlement and greed stepped in.
In two- and four-legged creature alike, the skin makes tracks to vent an infection festering beneath it. The open cysts that result are not so much an ailment as a symptom of the body's attempts to heal itself. The system is wise this way.
Our native people know: the earth has always spoken to us; it speaks to us still. It seems to me our earth is shouting to us these days. She is issuing warning after warning as she efforts to rebalance herself. These are not commentaries on our destruction, where we have accomplished that. They are acts of earth Wisdom Itself.
Our earth does not hang in the balance during these extraordinary times. It is we, her guests, who do. This because we have, when we have, misbehaved. We have, when we have, abused her magnanimity, her hospitality. I think it is time for us to remember our place, to return to gratitude, respect, and balance. If not, our benevolent host will have to shake us off like fleas, and go on alone.
There's a Power in that Flower
I called the file "Cornflower" when I downloaded the pictures from my camera. That's how cursory was my knowledge of the chicory plant when I photographed it. I've been seeing its indeed cornflower blue all over town--most notably in my neighbor's field. I had tried macro photos of this wildflower in the past, but the light was not quite right and the results were unimpressive. Yesterday, for some reason, it was time to try again. Drawn to its color, I had picked a stem of this "cornflower" to add to a vase inside. But first I would lay it on my porch window sill, in a pool of afternoon sun, and try a few shots.As happens from time to time--and I've written about it more than once: what I saw on the "big screen" later took my breath away. My friend Tracey calls them "gasps," those photos that catch the breath like this, as in "Any gasps in those pics I sent to you?" There were several "gasps" in the so-called Cornflower photos. As if the sugary stamens and the candy-striped pistils weren't enough to steal the show, these close ups revealed what I am now calling energy vortexes at their center. I've seen this before in the morning glory: a definite, distinct condensation of energy at the core. Or maybe I feel it more than see it, I don't know. Take a look for yourself; be your own judge. (Technological note: you can easily enlarge the images and text on this page by holding down Ctrl and hitting the + key multiple times, fyi.) But know that what you see at the core of these three flowers pictured is not a function of focus or the lack thereof. Something else is going on.The flowers of the morning glory and chicory have something besides their (blue-purple) color in common: each lasts but a day - or less than a day. I'm inclined to think that has something (or rather, a lot) to do with the intensity of their vortex. Imagine a whole lifetime compressed into a single day! This is a very powerful energy indeed, but a power for what, of what?I'll keep listening and let you know. In the meantime, I'll happily let it speak for itself.