Starlings in Winter

Starlings in Winter
by Mary Oliver

Chunky and noisy,
but with stars in their black feathers,
they spring from the telephone wire
and instantly

they are acrobats
in the freezing wind.
And now, in the theater of air,
they swing over buildings,

dipping and rising;
they float like one stippled star
that opens,
becomes for a moment fragmented,

then closes again;
and you watch
and you try
but you simply can’t imagine

how they do it
with no articulated instruction, no pause,
only the silent confirmation
that they are this notable thing,

this wheel of many parts, that can rise and spin
over and over again,
full of gorgeous life.

Ah, world, what lessons you prepare for us,
even in the leafless winter,
even in the ashy city.
I am thinking now
of grief, and of getting past it;

I feel my boots
trying to leave the ground,
I feel my heart
pumping hard. I want

to think again of dangerous and noble things.
I want to be light and frolicsome.
I want to be improbable beautiful and afraid of nothing,
as though I had wings.

Oh, Mary Oliver, you touch my heart again. Feeling. Longing. Wanting. Desire. My friend Desire, warms me. Yes, these are expressions of Love knowing Love. This poem evokes the sense of wonder and awe of being surrounded by the Infinite, everywhere – a sensitivity to the arrangement of beauty that brings me closer than close to the experience of total contentment. Time lost, pausing in amazement, beholden by the mystery and magic of intimacy, which at its core is so simple and available. Like the most tender touch of a Lover, deep acceptance of being totally naked, safe, complete and recognizing the formless forms of Awareness.

Richard Rohr, the Franciscan mystic says “We were made by Love to Love”. When we are completely seen by another, there is the collapse of unique selves- intimacy. Love is here. God cannot not love God in us. Perhaps, the eternal covenant we experience is the birth of ourselves in the image and likeness of God.

My mind dimly holds onto grief and I’m glad for Mary Oliver’s reminder that it is both still around and yet no longer a strong attachment. She is so non-judgmental and with loving kindness says, “I am thinking now of grief, and getting past it…” It’s all ok.

The best part of this poem is the end.
“I want
to think again of dangerous and noble things.
I want to be light and frolicsome.
I want to be improbable beautiful and afraid of nothing,
as though I had wings.”

Reminds me of “The Layers” poem, sited here in another blog post. Live in the layers not on the litter. To think again of dangerous and noble things requires a bit of courage and risk taking. Could this be the masculine energy emerging? (The blessing of a teacher holds wonder and awe!) I want to be improbable beautiful and afraid of nothing as though I had wings. This is me. Now.


Woman to Lover

I am fire stilled to water

A wave lifting from the abyss

In my veins the moon-drawn tide rises like a tree of flowers

scattered in sea foam

I am air caught in a net

The prophetic bird that 

sings in a reflected sky

I am a dream before nothingness
I am a crown of stars

I am the way to die

– written by KATHLEEN RAINE, courtesy of Rupert Spira 10/12/17 Garrison Retreat


“…keep empty, keep available, resist not, what comes uninvited.”   

-Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj

My dreams and their reality intrigue me, nudging me ever closer to knowing myself.  My friend often says, our Unconscious is smarter than we are.  He’s skilled at helping me explore their meaning.  Keeping a sense of humor is more comfortable.  I like laughing out loud.  Reminds me of the poem by Mary Oliver where she says, “Have you heard the laughter that comes, now and again, out of my startled mouth?”  That’s been my experience lately.   Laughing out loud in dreams, at myself, sometimes for no reason at all. 

While I may think I’m alone on this journey of life, there are some shady guests in the house.  They patiently wait for their hostess!  Who joins me at the table?  Feels like their invitation is an ancient one and my yes, an infinite yes made long ago.  No doubt, they’ve been invited.  (My home has become an airbnb.). I’m patient too.  Oh, it’s quite the story I’m in, all of which has led to my living from a place of profound peace.  The possibilities are endless.  There are no more endings. 

Becoming a Mighty Kindness

Zero-Circle – Rumi, 1207-73

Be helpless and dumbfounded,
unable to say yes or no.
Then a stretcher will come
from grace to gather us up.
We are too dull-eyed to see the beauty.
If we say Yes, We Can we’ll be lying.
If we say No, We Don’t See It,
that No will behead us
and shut tight our window into spirit.
So let us not be sure of anything,
besides ourselves, and only that, so
miraculous beings come running to help.
Crazed, lying in a zero-circle, mute,
we will be saying finally,
with tremendous eloquence, Lead Us.
When we’ve totally surrendered to that beauty,
we’ll become a mighty kindness.

My friend read this out loud to me this week and I was deeply moved. Poetry has a way of suspending time and can become a portal to ourselves. I’m unable to decipher the meaning of this ancient mystic.   And yet, as I listen, my heart sinks back into Itself, there’s a sense of the  sacred.  Not sure how this touching happens.

I see you.  To have someone see us, really see us and to feel seen, reconnects us with the knowledge that we are One with. Awareness sees Awareness. Love knows Love. There’s a sort of remembrance that happens when we encounter another person who recognizes the truth of our being, especially when we may feel asleep to our true nature. Love will not be denied. I’m learning that whether it’s through ecstasy or agony or much more often the ordinary, life is rich with possibilities. The closer I stay to being true to who I am, the more luscious life is. A friend recently said to me, “I want you to be deliriously happy, and to radiate your enlightened love into the world.” I am loved.

The Sufi poet and mystic Rumi inspires us in Zero-Circle to “be helpless and dumbfounded”. Whereas, these traits in our contemporary society are sometimes shunned or considered a weakness, our poet invites us here. Come in, relax into places of unknowing and mystery. As we lean-in to this emptiness and the realization that we are not the do-ers, only then can we sink into the heart. We are Light and Shadow. Here in the wounds, we’re poised to let the Light in, through the cracks of not-knowing, humility, desire and longing. “Then a stretcher will come from grace to gather us up.”

“So let us not be sure of anything, besides ourselves, and only that, so miraculous beings come running to help.” I love this line! They’re already here. Fellow light travelers. My Lovers. Teachers. Consciousness. Dreams. Ourselves. Trees. Oceans. Love Itself…in myriads of color and forms. Oh, the freedom of living this life from the seat of Love. Before this week, I had never heard of Zero-Circle or my last blog The Layers. Another example of the synchronicity of the Universe. “I have walked through many lives, some of them my own, and I am not as I was, though some principle of being abides, from which I struggle not to stray…” I’m going to try and memorize both of these poems…good for the heart and soul…and morning commute!

What is a zero-circle…could it relate to that intuition there’s no longer an ending? Well, no worries…it’s all unfolding…

(The following is adapted from a fellow blogger.)
Have you encountered someone whose entire being seems to radiate a sort of profound kindness, that envelopes you and makes you feel wholly seen, deeply held and completely loved? When I am around them, I feel clever. Interesting. Attractive. Maybe even a little bit shy. They warm me. The truth of who I am is felt deeply and in their eyes I can do no wrong and that everything good in the world is possible.

I believe that person- who exudes love like a rare, intoxicating and exotic perfume – is what Rumi might deem a Mighty Kindness.

True Confession: I want to be like that. I want to be a Mighty Kindness. I want to see the world as full of possibility and hope and be a beacon of love that guides people home. Back to themselves. Back to the love that is born in the very marrow of their being. Back to truth.


The Layers

Thank you to Frank Hall for his deeply moving reciting of this poem at UU Westport church homecoming service this morning.  So emotional…touching the hopeful and sad places within. I’m grateful for the inspiration and sense of belonging I feel in this community. 


I have walked through many lives, 

some of them my own,

and I am not who I was,

though some principle of being

abides, from which I struggle

not to stray.

When I look behind,

as I am compelled to look

before I can gather strength

to proceed on my journey,

I see the milestones dwindling

toward the horizon

and the slow fires trailing

from the abandoned camp-sites,

over which scavenger angels

wheel on heavy wings.

Oh, I have made myself a tribe

out of my true affections,

and my tribe is scattered!

How shall the heart be reconciled

to its feast of losses?

In a rising wind

the manic dust of my friends,

those who fell along the way,

bitterly stings my face.

Yet I turn, I turn,

exulting somewhat,

with my will intact to go

wherever I need to go,

and every stone on the road

precious to me.

In my darkest night,

when the moon was covered

and I roamed through wreckage,

a nimbus-clouded voice

directed me:

“Live in the layers,

not on the litter.”

Though I lack the art

to decipher it,

no doubt the next chapter

in my book of transformations

is already written.

I am not done with my changes.

Love will not be denied

When all is said and done, Love is all there is. Everything else comes and goes – feelings, thoughts, perceptions, including voices that seem closer than close. People, not only acquaintances, neighbors, and strangers, but dear ones who nurture us, teach and inspire our courage – all come and go.   There is a finiteness to our identity as human beings.  Contemplating the mystery and synchronicity of how paths cross and how we find one another helps me know that our being and becoming, are the movement of grace.  But true freedom is knowing we carry a Consciousness that recognizes the impermanence of all things. Consciousness carries us, through death and back to life again.  I am that which remains unchanged, ever-lasting. That which is essential to who I am is Love.  My friend JK says “Love will not be denied.”

Last night I was hot and restless and awake in the wee hours. I was also unsettled with recurring thoughts, questions, a sense of detachment, feeling alone, worried about being judged by someone who is often unsympathetic.  Turned to check my email and came across a new daily meditation from Richard Rohr, an essay on “Faith as Participation”. He is a Catholic priest and teacher with great understanding of non-duality and Christ Consciousness.

He says to “live the faith of Christ…means we are all participating – with varying degrees of resistance and consent- in the faith journey that Jesus has already walked.” He goes on to say, “but once we know Jesus is the corporate stand in for everybody, we know we have already been taken on the ride through death and back to life. All we can do now is make what is objectively true fully conscious for us.”

Faith isn’t external to who I am. With faith,  I can withstand intense feelings and emotions. I can hold uncertainty and unanswered questions close without harm. This is an experience of being “hollowed”, yet never alone. Fully saying yes to all of experience is living the Oneness of Christ Consciousness. Freedom is living the truth of who I am. Freedom is our birthright. Love will not be denied.

There’s a crossing over happening. A self-remembrance, experienced in my mind and body. Sometimes I can’t find the words to express what this is like.  So I borrow from others that speak of it poignantly, poetically or practically.  Poems lead me Home.  Teachers help me to know myself, to know the truth. I am blessed and have deep gratitude for those who light the path; who gently turn me back towards myself. As I deepen and embody the truth of who I am, there is a serenity that flows through me. Love will not be denied.

It’s becoming easier to surrender anxiety and confusion and concerns that take me away from right now. There’s plenty of space within for the questions, the not-knowing.  Patience. 

Rohr writes: “God refuses to be known intellectually. God can only be loved and known in the act of love; God can only be experienced in communion. This is why Jesus “commands” us to move toward love and fully abide there. Love is like a living organism, an active force-field upon which we can rely, from which we can draw, and which we can allow to pass through us.”

“Do not search for the answer.
It will find you in the perfect moment,
when your defences are down.
It knows where you live.

Befriend the question itself.
Fall into the wonderful not-knowing…

Know that your true Home
is where you are.” -Jeff Foster

Love shall not be denied. Rest here.