Phenomenal Woman

Last night when I heard this, I had a tear in my eye and for a moment held my breath, as if time stopped. You know when you hear, something, that resonates deeply within yourself. Anyhow, it’s no small thing to hear the truth. (So grateful for my UU Women for sharing this.) Dr. Angelou’s words penetrate through layers of shame. Today, I’ll walk a little straighter, a little taller and hold my shoulders back. I wonder, where did my swagger go? Some deep conditioning, likely from many generations, to cover up and hide my sensual, sexual nature. As the poet who wrote ‘Layers’ said, “I’m not done with my changes.” May we all find courage to embody the divine feminine as best we can today.

Phenomenal Woman
By Maya Angelou

Pretty women wonder where my secret lies.
I’m not cute or built to suit a fashion model’s size
But when I start to tell them,
They think I’m telling lies.
I say,
It’s in the reach of my arms
The span of my hips,
The stride of my step,
The curl of my lips.
I’m a woman
Phenomenally.
Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.

I walk into a room
Just as cool as you please,
And to a man,
The fellows stand or
Fall down on their knees.
Then they swarm around me,
A hive of honey bees.
I say,
It’s the fire in my eyes,
And the flash of my teeth,
The swing in my waist,
And the joy in my feet.
I’m a woman
Phenomenally.
Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.

Men themselves have wondered
What they see in me.
They try so much
But they can’t touch
My inner mystery.
When I try to show them
They say they still can’t see.
I say,
It’s in the arch of my back,
The sun of my smile,
The ride of my breasts,
The grace of my style.
I’m a woman

Phenomenally.
Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.

Now you understand
Just why my head’s not bowed.
I don’t shout or jump about
Or have to talk real loud.
When you see me passing
It ought to make you proud.
I say,
It’s in the click of my heels,
The bend of my hair,
the palm of my hand,
The need of my care,
‘Cause I’m a woman
Phenomenally.
Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.

Source: https://www.familyfriendpoems.com/poem/phenomenal-woman-by-maya-angelou

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Our Lady. Our Friend.

Repost of poem by Jeff Foster on occasion of Notre Dame cathedral fire

OUR LADY. OUR FRIEND.

We stand on sacred ground today.

Perhaps even more sacred

than yesterday’s ground.

I don’t know.

She outgrew her old form, she did.

She couldn’t be contained by her own form.

She is now bigger than she was

(Don’t trust your eyes completely my love).

See her now, ascended in fire!

Let your heart break, but let her go.

She was ready.

She wanted God

more than she wanted herself.

Our Lady. Our friend.

Returned to sky. Returned to ground.

Look under your feet. There she is.

Look into your heart. There she is.

Look into your memory. There she is.

Look everywhere

except where she once stood.

Even God’s houses must crumble.

Impermanence is the law,

rendering everything sacred

even before the sanctification.

It hurts. It hurts, I know.

But it hurts even more to hold on.

Our Lady. Our friend.

All the prayers you held!

The hopes and dreams of untold millions.

Mothers. Lovers. Fathers. Children.

All the secrets. The tears and the sorrow.

All delivered today in fire.

They say you are just a building,

but aren’t we all.

Destruction. Rebirth.

Water and flame.

The loss and the reconstruction.

The hope and the despair.

And this poor human heart,

trying to make sense of it all.

We stand on sacred ground today.

Perhaps even more sacred

than yesterday’s ground.

I don’t know.

Goodbye, my friend.

– Jeff Foster

This eulogy of sorts moved me deeply. Follow Jeff Foster on Instagram or Facebook for beautiful words that have a way of expressing universal truths about our humanness and Supreme Reality. Yes, we outgrow our form. Destruction. Rebirth. The loss and reconstruction. The glorious and the wretched. Impermanence. What remains is that which is essential and boundless. She’s free.

I believe in all that has never yet been spoken

I believe in all that has never yet been spoken
-from Rilke’s Book of Hours: Love Poems to God, by Rainer Maria Rilke
Translated by Joanna Macy

I believe in all that has never yet been spoken.
I want to free what waits within me
so that what no one has dared to wish for

may for once spring clear
without my contriving.

If this is arrogant, God, forgive me,
but this is what I need to say.
May what I do flow from me like a river,
no forcing and no holding back,
the way it is with children.

Then in these swelling and ebbing currents,
these deepening tides moving out, returning,
I will sing you as no one ever has,

streaming through widening channels
into the open sea.

And now a few crazed ramblings on waking up from the dream of being separate. What I am cannot be remembered; no memory necessary. Am I the dream or dreamer? There’s an awakening which expresses Itself in a simplicity, an ease, a deep, quiet faith in this place-less place. What I think and how I feel, is Love revealing Itself and knowing Itself through my being. This warms me. I believe that God fine tunes our experiences uniquely for each of us, giving hints and glimpses, teachers, adversity, opportunities to experience that which we became incarnate to learn. And as we pay attention and listen to our most authentic self emerging, our life becomes a song of the Eternal, a playground for God. All has already been accepted. The consequences of this have been life changing. What waits within me reveals Itself in the experience of Love.

Recently I asked my spiritual teacher if he will remember me after we no longer see each other here. Will “I” be recognized, even after the physical form of who I am or who he is gone? He said, without hesitation, “I will know you, even after my memory of you has gone.” No greater gift could I have received. I’m learning to listen to my heart. These words crystallized my belief that pure Awareness knows pure Awareness. My immediate experience was the collapse of a me and a you. This, the recognition of our shared being is Love.

I imagine that Rilke had the experience of knowing that all of life, our creativity, compassion, expression of our humanity, this being and becoming, learning, always more to learn here is Consciousness playing, dancing, laughing in all the diversity of our selves. The nature of this reality, can’t really be measured or spoken, because who I am is that already. It’s a knowing without knowing. Rumi writes “In the existence of your Love, ‘I’ become non-existent. What waits within me is continuing to evolve, like new fronds unfolding on a fern, like thousands of miracles occurring every day, knowing Love is here, Love is never not now.

This Morning I Watched the Deer

This Morning I Watched the Deer

By Mary Oliver, from Why I Wake Early (2004)

This morning I watched the deer

with beautiful lips touching the tips

of the cranberries, setting their hooves down

in the dampness carelessly, isn’t it after all

the carpet of their house, their home, whose roof

is the sky?

Why, then, was I suddenly miserable?

Well, this is nothing much.

This is the heaviness of the body watching the swallows

gliding just under that roof.

This is the wish that the deer would not lift their heads

and leap away, leaving me there alone.

This is the wish to touch their faces, their brown wrists—

to sing some sparkling poem into

the folds of their ears,

then walk with them,

over the hills

and over the hills

and into the impossible trees.

________________________________________________

I find myself reminded this morning reading Mary Oliver’s poetic expression of what it’s like to be drawn to beauty in the natural elements and to see the abundance that surrounds us, even as a feeling of separation arises. Over and over again, she captures the essence of something deeply felt within myself. And it’s all Ok. There is a beauty in being alone. A certain kind of poignancy in glimpsing Life as it is, without conditions. Often this brilliance carries me. Still, my experience of longing and desire are felt deeply; both, willing to go out and seek and who find there way home to my heart. My teacher says “Consciousness wants us to be Whole”. Love always has our best interest. Masculine, feminine, earth, air, water, fire – the dance of life at play, never static, and uniquely designed for each and every one. We each have a choice – to dance, play, contemplate, observe, be dull, be brilliant, be heavy or be light, “to walk over the hills and over the hills and into the impossible trees”. Love will not be denied.

Mary Oliver

Mary Oliver (Sept 10, 1935 – Jan 17, 2019) has written so many beautiful words that have deeply touched my life. Just learned that she has died. I feel so emotional, like a dear friend, soul mate has departed. She inspired me to blog. Her words helped me during times when I desperately needed inspiration, faith to just get through. Her poems help me feel less afraid, more brave to be authentic, to live with curiosity. There are teachers who come into our lives and help us remember who we are. She has been this for me. Thank you Mary Oliver for sharing your essence, your view of the world with such elegance, simplicity and beauty. Rest in peace.

A few of my favorites:

Poem Of The One World

This morning
the beautiful white heron
was floating along above the water

and then into the sky of this
the one world
we all belong to

where everything
sooner or later
is a part of everything else

which thought made me feel
for a little while
quite beautiful myself.

Praying

“It doesn’t have to be blue iris, it can be weeds in a vacant lot.

Just pay attention, then patch a few words together and don’t try to make them elaborate.

This isn’t a contest but the doorway into thanks. A silence in which another voice may speak.”

The Summer Day

Who made the world?
Who made the swan, and the black bear?
Who made the grasshopper?
This grasshopper, I mean-
the one who has flung herself out of the grass,
the one who is eating sugar out of my hand,
who is moving her jaws back and forth instead of up and down-
who is gazing around with her enormous and complicated eyes.
Now she lifts her pale forearms and thoroughly washes her face.
Now she snaps her wings open, and floats away.
I don’t know exactly what a prayer is.
I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down
into the grass, how to kneel down in the grass,
how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields,
which is what I have been doing all day.
Tell me, what else should I have done?
Doesn’t everything die at last, and too soon?
Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?

Wild Geese

You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
for a hundred miles through the desert repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.

The Journey

One day you finally knew
what you had to do, and began,
though the voices around you
kept shouting
their bad advice–
though the whole house
began to tremble
and you felt the old tug
at your ankles.
“Mend my life!”
each voice cried.
But you didn’t stop.
You knew what you had to do,
though the wind pried
with its stiff fingers
at the very foundations,
though their melancholy
was terrible.
It was already late
enough, and a wild night,
and the road full of fallen
branches and stones.
But little by little,
as you left their voices behind,
the stars began to burn
through the sheets of clouds,
and there was a new voice
which you slowly
recognized as your own,
that kept you company
as you strode deeper and deeper
into the world,
determined to do
the only thing you could do–
determined to save
the only life you could save.

Heavy

That time
I thought I could not
go any closer to grief
without dying

I went closer,
and I did not die.
Surely God
had his hand in this,

as well as friends.
Still, I was bent,
and my laughter,
as the poet said,

was nowhere to be found.
Then said my friend Daniel,
(brave even among lions),
“It’s not the weight you carry

but how you carry it –
books, bricks, grief –
it’s all in the way
you embrace it, balance it, carry it

when you cannot, and would not,
put it down.”
So I went practicing.
Have you noticed?

Have you heard
the laughter
that comes, now and again,
out of my startled mouth?

How I linger
to admire, admire, admire
the things of this world
that are kind, and maybe

also troubled –
roses in the wind,
the sea geese on the steep waves,
a love
to which there is no reply?

Hallow this life

A lengthier personal narrative on the meaning for me of the prophetic words below will follow in a future post. 2 greats…Rupert Spira and Martin Buber.
Teachers light the way for others on the journey. I too sense there is a beauty, stirring for expression. Something to write perhaps? It warms me to know that Consciousness Itself moves in and through each of us, wanting only to experience the world in this very way, this moment. Here. Now. This play of energy, its dance. I’m invited to the dance. You’re invited to the dance. No one is forgotten. Say yes. Listen and trust its Reality. “If you hallow this life, you meet the living God.”

“I forget Myself to taste the sweetness
of longing
I divide Myself to know the tenderness
of friendship
I hide Myself for the pleasure
of seeking
I look for Myself for the fulfillment
of finding
I find Myself for the knowledge
of happiness
I know Myself for the joy
of being”

-Rupert Spira

“Creation is not a hurdle on the road to God,
it is the road itself.
We are created along with one another
and directed to a life with one another.
Creatures are placed in my way so that I,
their fellow-creature,
by means of them
and with them find the way to God.
A God reached by their exclusion
would not be the God of all lives,
in Whom all life is fulfilled…
To look away from the world,
or to stare at it,
does not help man to reach God;
but he who see the world in Him,
stands in His presence…
If you hallow this life,
you meet the living God.”

-Martin Buber

10 Commandments

1. Be authentic. Take your stand in the truth as best you know it today, without hesitation or fear of judgment. Consider eccentricity a reflection of authenticity.

2. Sexual pleasure and desire are our birthright. Allow yourself to have consensual sex often, with whom you’d like and as creatively as you desire.

3. We are all “becoming” and our being is an intimate, creative dance with God. Recognize yourself and others as images of the Divine.

4. Express love and gratitude for beloved teachers who are present in your life and ones who are no longer here in human form. The Universe has helped you find one another.

5. Your heart knows things your mind cannot always explain. Trust in synchronicity.

6. Live a simple lifestyle. Give to your parents, children, neighbors, friends less quantity and more quality, less entertainment and more loving interaction, less overwhelm and more joy.

7. Remember who you are. You are That which knows all experience. Do not seek after what you yearn for; seek the source of the yearning Itself. You are this already.

8. Forget with generosity, those who cannot love you.

9. Have your feelings, all of them in your own way. And allow others to have theirs, without any need to change or manipulate them.

10. Stay curious. Be patient with all that is unknown. Delight in the mystery of formless Love that is ever present and everywhere.

As a member of the Unitarian Universalist church in Westport, CT, I have been attending a class called “Building Your Own Theology”. We were each invited to consider our 10 Commandments or “10 Suggestions” which is more fittingly Unitarian! What an interesting experience…Hope readers will enjoy this and be inspired to consider your top ten!