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.


“…celebrate your survival,
open your senses
to the mysterious communion of life
right where you are…” -Jack Kornfield

Today, live from your truth.
Recognize the abundance
coming into your home this week.
The sacred journey has no destination.
Simply say yes to now.

The divine spark welcomes
Longing and Love.
Who do you say that I am?
Let your heart rest in the
mysterious communion of life.

Abide knowingly as this.


A passage

Mother Wisdom Speaks – a poem by Christine Lore Weber

Some of you I will hollow out.

I will make you a cave.

I will carve you so deep the stars will shine in your darkness.

You will be a bowl.

You will be the cup in the rock collecting rain.

I will hollow you with knives.

I will not do this to make you clean.

I will not do this to make you pure

You are clean already.

You are pure already.

I will do this because the world needs the hollowness of you.

I will do this for the space that you will be.

I will do this because you must be large.

A passage.

People will find their way through you.

A bowl.

People will eat from you.

And their hunger will not weaken them to death.

A cup to catch the sacred rain.

My daughter, do not cry.

Do not be afraid.

Nothing you need will be lost.

I am shaping you.

I am making you ready.

Light will flow in your hollowing.

You will be filled with light.

Your bones will shine.

The round open center of you will be radiant.

I will call you brilliant one.

I will call you daughter who is wide.

I will call you transformed.
On the occasion of my birthday and  in honor of the people in my life who have mothered me, thank you for being a light and illuminating the way.  

Crossing over, suspended in the timeless, placeless space. Journey of my soul?   This emptiness, nurtures humility and wisdom, the soft spot of bodhicitta. Here I am home. Never alone. 

Little duck

The Little Duck    by Donald Babcock, 1947

Now we’re ready to look at something pretty special.
It is a duck,
riding the ocean a hundred feet beyond the surf.
No it isn’t a gull.
A gull always has a raucous touch about him.
This is some sort of duck,
and he cuddles in the swells.

He isn’t cold,
and he is thinking things over.
There is a big heaving in the Atlantic,
and he is a part of it.

He looks a bit like a mandarin,
or the Lord Buddha meditating under the Bo tree.

But he has hardly enough above the eyes
to be a philosopher.
He has poise, however,
which is what philosophers must have.

He can rest while the Atlantic heaves,
because he rests in the Atlantic.

Probably he doesn’t know how large the ocean is.
And neither do you.
But he realizes it.

And what does he do, I ask you?
He sits down in it!
He reposes in the immediate as if it were infinity
– which it is.
He has made himself a part of the boundless
by easing himself into just where it touches him.

I like the duck.
He doesn’t know much,
but he’s got religion.

A friend recently sent me this poem that he read during a community poetry forum in Norwalk, CT.  It moves me.

I’ve been wondering more lately about the place where we feel our humanity and divinity; a core place inside, where these touch.   It seems that the more deeply I engage in life,  leaning-in to the “gloriousness and wretchedness” (Pema Chodron), I meet that which is boundless.

Easter nears.  I wonder if we are each destined to live the resurrection – in our own skin, in our own bodies.  My journey is an Easter story and yours too.  I am a miracle or is the miracle in me?  Oneness isn’t about moments of bliss or feeling good all the time.  These experiences come and go.  What does one call That which never changes and is ever present?   Living fully awake leads me here.   This space kindles a gentle, open-hearted quality in relationships and how I perceive day to day.   In the stillness, there are so many questions, but these are all ok too.   No need to rush to having answers.  My heart knows that only Grace can account for all of this.

As for the little duck, this poem is an Easter meditation of the Messiah rising in each of our lives.  Contemplating this makes me smile.  We are each effortlessly and intimately positioned to rejoin the “boundless”, exactly where we are.

A parenthesis in eternity

To awaken is the greatest miracle of this world!   Throughout the day I notice being more open, available, sensitive and softer. I suspect this comes from understanding myself in a new way.  Tasting the fullness of life takes courage.  Although it’s not always easy, living deadened is no longer an option.   There’s a pop song by Hailee Steinfeld with the refrain, “I didn’t know I was starving ‘til I tasted you.” That line playfully captures the sweetness I find in both the intimate and sensual experiences of spiritual Oneness and sexual freedom.  I’m learning that there’s so much more to life than just surviving.  Life is richer, fuller.  I see beauty in people and places I may easily have overlooked in the past.  Sometimes the day and night move in slow motion, as if asking be taken in more fully.  I am keenly aware of my own sorrow, sadness and confusion at times; sometimes unbearable, but not really.  Surrender to the present moment, to whatever is here, say yes without reservation. I absolutely would not be writing this without the guidance and support of teachers who have lived experiences of love, loss, metamorphosis and the changeless nature of their own being. The universe has provided me with two significant people who inspire my courage and share with humor, humility and grace.  I am so grateful for the intimacy and Love that binds us.

The following are selected excerpts from a parenthesis in eternity, Joel S. Goldsmith, 1963.  As mentioned in earlier blogs, this book is one that I was led to by a spiritual guide.  And it continues to bring light to my experience of communion.  I am drawn to his writing too because it reminds me that the questions and mysteries of the heart are ageless.  It’s ok to live with the mysteries.

“Locked up in you is the power to attract to the word of God all those who are seeking God. Learn to tabernacle with God, to commune with God at the center of your being.  Meet God there every day.  And there, too, you can meet all the other people that you have known on the spiritual path.  Go within yourself and meet them there.  You can never be alone – those you know on the spiritual path are always with you”

“Every word of truth that God has ever uttered is locked up within you.  Loose it and let it go, but never tell this secret except to those of your spiritual household.  Do not expose you “pearl” to those who are not connoisseurs of pearls.  Do not ever give anyone an opportunity to ridicule your inner life.  Do not let anyone try to destroy your faith, your understanding, or your wisdom.”  (Since this blog has a spiritual focus, I trust this is safe to ponder here amongst friends and other light travelers.) 

“Each one who maintains some measure of the realization of the Absolute has a work to perform, and part of that work is imparting the Absolute to those few who are able to receive it.”

“Although there are some few in the history of the world who have come to earth so highly endowed spiritually that they have received the impartation of the Spirit directly by Grace without the intervention or help of a teacher, the vast majority of those who have attained the realization of the Absolute have attained it through a teacher.”

‘Many are called, but few are chosen.’  “There are many who receive some spiritual light, but instead of instantly saying “Ah, I must follow this to the end’, they usually are content to rest in the additional comfort gained.  They accept the increased human good and are satisfied with it, rather than seeking to find the principle that brought it about.  Spiritual evolution comes about not in one lifetime: it comes about over a period of many, many lifetimes.  There are those who receive some measure of spiritual light, but aside from using it to gain better health, more abundant supply, or more satisfying companionship, go no further with it.  This, however, gives them such a firm foundation that in their next parenthesis they go higher, and it is possible that in the one following that, or the one after, they will attain the highest initiation and receive the illumination of the Absolute.”



Heavy –  Poem by Mary Oliver  (from Thirst, 2006)

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 hands 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?

Here I am

My Lover finds beauty in
my vulnerability and calls me closer,
even when discomfort feels unbearable.

He is intimately present
in my longing and yearning.
Like sparkling ripples on the Soundthat glisten with oneness.

The path can go one way or another –
each time you’ll go the right way.
You are moving closer to yourself.

My Lover holds me tenderly
even when I feel misunderstood and alone.
Lean in on chilly Spring days.
Abandon the illusion of separateness.

It’s ok, to say “Really?”
See Me in all your questions,
doubts and confusion too.

Then relax,
laugh out loud and often.
I like it when you do.

Dare to stay open
even as you risk the pleasure
or pain of making love.
My Lover is desire Itself.

Do not be afraid to cry.
A unique portal is designed for you alone.
Your grief cannot harm you in anyway.  I am your tears.

Trust in synchronicity.
Everyone and everything in your experience
is for your awakening.
Honor your participation in this boundless mystery.

Say yes to all experience.
I am presence and will NEVER leave you.
Your soul is called to this journey,
in this time, this place.

Your heart knows your own changelessness.
Live knowingly as that.