I was just dining on my front porch earlier, too lovely of a warm spring day to go inside. The crickets are back, whirring their evening songs.
I find it easier to be mindful of my food when I eat outside. Way easier to be mindful when I’m not watching TV too 😉 When I eat mindfully, I consider where my food has come from, how many people helped it arrive here in my bowl tonight, and also, is it tasty? Do I like the texture?
I had combined some leftovers with some fresh ingredients, all mixed together: brown rice and peas, onion and garlic sautéed in butter, a little diced pork tenderloin Mark cooked on the grill a couple days ago. I enjoy combining textures and flavors. The peas were fresh and sweet. The rice, firm with just enough salt. What isn’t improved by an onion sautéed in butter?
I envisioned rice fields, Guatemalan gardens, a pig and a cow, that I hoped were able to enjoy the pleasures of their kind. And the people who brought me my dinner: the brewers in Pennsylvania. pickers, warehouse managers, truck drivers, stockboys, that young tattooed cashier, and the workers in the desalination plant that made the salt I sprinkled over it all.
All these plants and animals collected energy from the sun for my benefit here tonight. All the workers labored for my dinner tonight, here on the front porch at sunset with the crickets.
So to make all their journey and energy worth it, what can I do? A bit of yoga, a little tidying up my home, a little writing.
In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. 2 Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters. 3 And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. 4 God saw that the light was good, and he separated the light from the darkness.
Through vibration, the universe came into existence – a Word, a Flash. That primordial wavelength lingers in the whirl of each atom. We are stardust, connected by this Divine Hum.
Our busy lives disconnect from that One Energy, lost in our screens, our traffic, our music digitized, amplified. Whether we realize it or not, we long for those moments, unplugged, where we can feel the ancient trace of the Divine.
One of my favorite peaceful practices, Sound Meditation pulls me back into sync with that universal frequency. I love the tangible vibrations of sounding bowls, quartz or brass. Those natural wavelengths, the music of the spheres.
When I can share this practice, whether sounding the quartz bowls to a group meditation, keeping rhythm in a drum circle, or using tuning forks in a private Reiki session, I feel a profound awareness of our Oneness with the Universal Vibration.
When we reconnect with that Divine Hum, whether tuning in to the sounds of nature, acoustic music, or singing
bowls, we heal our brokenness and add to the Music of the Spheres.
I really must thank Daniel Ladinsky for his delightful rendering of the works of Hafiz, keeping the modern reader in mind as he translates. In his collection, “A Year With Hafiz” I recently took comfort in the January 23rd entry:
Word Spreads About Good Cooking
The movements of our hands help build the
We add to the universe by our efforts.
Whatever we do, we should never think it is irrelevant;
whatever we do, we should not conclude it
is so important either. Between those two
poles find your balance; between those two
regions your talents will bloom.
Word spreads about good cooking. Become
that, an exquisite meal for us.
The alchemy stone is waiting to retire and
confess… something in us is its power.
As I have felt the rising call of political activism in my life, I’ve been contemplating how protest can also be a peaceful practice. I’ve been to a few lately, feeling a duty to help represent the voices of some of my faraway friends who don’t live so close to the capital. Taking an action, and getting involved helps balance the unpleasant physical response I’ve been feeling. Bitching about it on facebook is not so restorative.
I can’t assume these leaders know how I feel. Voting alone isn’t enough. So I’ve taken to writing postcards to some elected officials. I don’t imagine they will actually read my postcards and letters, but hopefully someone will and my voice will be added into their tallies for and against the issue at hand.
Sign-making forces you to hone in on your motivating force or the source of your ire. Succinct messages. Signs with too many words are hard to read. Big signs are hard to carry all day. My first sign said “I am Muslim.” On the back “One Human Family.” Brainstorming sign ideas with friends sharpens this focus, steering our words back to positive phrasing so that our raw anger doesn’t obscure our message.
Whether I’m making my signs, writing my postcards, or marching in a protest, I try to apply my principles of mindfulness – being present in the moment I am in: focusing on my message, the ink on my paper, the legibility of my lettering -taking a deliberate deep breath, feeling the strength of a shout, the cold air on my face, the ache of resistance in my shoulders and legs the next day.
And at the marches and our sign-making and letter-writing parties, I look at the faces of my compatriots. Their companionship encourages my resolve. I collaborate with others who support peaceful protest.
My four o’clocks shed blossoms and seeds all over my porch
But they are vibrant and bountiful
I can’t uproot the thriving, despite my husband’s concerns.
I like to watch the bees busy among them,
And sometimes at sunset, the elusive sphinx moth
But the seeds are uncomfortable on bare feet,
Which are often on my porch.
I wanted a broom to leave on the porch,
A daily zen chore of clearing and collecting
I sent my husband to the store for a straw broom
Simple, elegant, efficient.
I didn’t realize the variety he’d be face with alone.
He chose one labeled for outdoor use.
Black, plastic, frugal.
A disappointment too superficial for complaint
The motives for my request not clearly conveyed.
My un-zen attachment to a broom.
I apologized to some visiting bare feet,
The broom couldn’t live on the porch and was not used so much
The explanation of my superficial dilemma was met with understanding
Rather than judgment.
She had a rarely used straw broom in her garage
She’d happily trade for the frugal broom.
A broom exchange has been arranged with
A witch after my own heart.
Together we will fly
Practical and elegant
The crickets lead my evening hymns
The clock keeps rhythm
The lovely air conditioner hums along
My keystrokes a soft staccato
A deep breath , belly rising
The soft chair beneath me.
I am Loved.
My family is well.
Even though Hafiz lived over 700 years ago, I find the subject of his poetry exceedingly relevant. Like this one….
The Sane Idea
Intelligence begin to rule
Whenever you sit with others
Using this sane idea:
Leave all your cocked guns in a field
Far from us,
One of those damn things
July 19, 2015
The clouds didn’t deter us, sun not our only motive
Just the sound of the waves like a craving
Umbrella, blanket, towel, one chair
And a picnic – but it could wait
The boulders drew us over to explore the tidepools
The mystery of the other side luring us over the top
We returned to our picnic—
and a report from the next blanket over.
Seagulls took your chips!
We chased them away!
I eyed the reporters suspiciously,
The bags were unopened!
But later I witnessed another seagull incursion
a chee-toh feeding frenzy.
I always felt a kinship with the seagull
the soothing song of waves, warm sand
And as I watched the seagulls I realized
if I was one of these seagull banditos
I would still be me, staring at the crashing ocean
feeling regret over more chips than sushi.
What is this life if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare.
No time to stand beneath the boughs
And stare as long as sheep or cows.
No time to see, when woods we pass,
Where squirrels hide their nuts in grass.
No time to see, in broad daylight,
Streams full of stars, like skies at night.
No time to turn at Beauty’s glance,
And watch her feet, how they can dance.
No time to wait till her mouth can
Enrich that smile her eyes began.
A poor life this if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare.
Ignition, support trusses fall away
Spectacular roar and blaze
The tremendous force to reach escape velocity.
Faces glued to the screen, bated breath
Lift-off the culmination of years of work
Any unnoticed deficiencies will manifest now
Sometimes with calamitous results
Nothing to do now but monitor
I look at the face of my daughter
I feel like I should read her a story and tuck her into bed
Years of research and labor behind us.
Nothing for me to do now but monitor the screen
Keep the communications open
She left with a blaze and a roar
Reaching for escape velocity