Dear Miracle

Setting free the beautiful truth inside.


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The Kindness of Strangers

Small and large mercies everywhere when you look.
Light in the shape of a butterfly on a dark and stormy night.

Don’t shutter the windows ,

don’t turn the deadbolt just yet while hope survives—

just not inside of you.

One minute past giving up, calling it quits

while you believe as you do because of those that hurt you—

you, the stranger, who has extended so much mercy in your life.

Kindness is not dead even if you believe it true.

You are due, owed your time, ripe for the plucking.

And your story may be much different than you picture it now

as you stand upon the narrow ledge of your own aching heart

thinking no one sees

or worse, cares.

Mercy and kindness travel in pairs on the bus of surprise—that

is how they operate.

You never see them coming until they arrive.

And what if you have locked all the doors to your heart,

how shall they enter?

All the while they’ve been looking for you while you slump pale and cold,

buttressed behind the deadbolt and shuttered window.

This troupe, this Calvary of strangers who arrive most unexpectedly

to see you through the next minute or the rest of your life

here to restore your faith in you, how okay you really are.

You never quite know where and when they will appear,

who or what will waltz or breeze through your door with arms

full of what you need

or run into your burning house

with buckets of water to save you.

So go on, turn out the lights and go to bed.

but this I beg of you,

just be sure to leave the door open a crack

for possibility, please.

Photo and poem by S. (Sawyer) Wolfington


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Communiques from the Flower People

I want to know if you have those days, weeks or months where you retreat in order to retrieve your energy or an answer?

When things or circumstances don’t seem fully manageable?

When renewal is only possible through rest of the mind, soul and body just to gain a bit of strength for the journey ahead?

Yes, I’d like to know.

🌳

Me?

Well, thank you for asking.

I like to talk to the tree people, listen to the flower folks—

they like to talk back.

I like to get real close to their mouths and be still—they talk in whispers, you know.

A camera, too, helps me to translate when the light is just right.

They get into my heart and do all their best work there.

                         🥀

I apologize,

I may not say much to you because I’m too busy listening.

Talk can be cheap on these days—

when all I can think about is how I’d rather open my heart,

fling my arms toward the sky and be ready for any bright word that might come my way.

🌱

S. Wolfington

Whomever You Are, Thank You

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Whomever you are,

wherever I might have lost you along the way,

thank you.

 

Whether you know this or not, whether I’m lost

To your thoughts, or you think of me often

Or now and again,

Thank you.

 

Whatever we had in laughter, in bittersweet or hoped for dreams,

Our present lives written as they are because of that—

Thank you.

 

We are pages scribed in a book

Because I loved you or you loved me.

 

We are not lost because of our loss—and though

we may never speak—or maybe we do,

In my heart where love is found,

I will always love you.

 

You are a part of the larger story of who I am,

And I will always be grateful to you.

One day in the greater light, when the book is closed,

I know we will meet again,

thank you.

 

S. Wolfington



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Your Life by Heart

When you’ve learned to lighten up on yourself, learned compassion and kindness, you grieve for the years the locust has eaten. When you were so unjustly hard on yourself. When you looked in the mirror or at your life.

When kindness arrives at your door, you look back at old photos and realize, “there was nothing wrong with me”. And anything that appeared to be out of place was merely fear and a deficit of love towards yourself playing itself out in the world.

When kindness arrives, you fall in love, maybe for the first time.

The world is not our personal yardstick by which we measure ourselves. We will always come up short when we do.

It is by the heart we see ourselves rightly—even in the most difficult of circumstances.

Stay close to your heart. When hope or life feels spare, remember to return again and again.

Your heart is the book by which you rightly read your life.

~Shoshana


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And Then There’s This…

 

And then there’s this, a moment to unplug…splendid, mind-boggling, joy giving beauty just waiting for you to notice. A moment so transitory in nature, we often miss it, opting instead for stress and worry, in a hurry to get things done.

Stop for a moment and receive what’s freely given you–and opportunity to take in the quiet miracles all around you, an opportunity to open your heart just a little more to each one.

Soon enough in those quiet moments of recognizing and receiving, your heart will soften towards noticing. It will  become the very thing it is underneath the pain and trauma you carry in your life and body–an open door to joy.


					
		
	


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Today Might Be a Very Good Day

Photo by S. Wolfington

How beautiful to commit just one day to not speaking about that which disturbs, disrupts,

brings unnecessary pain to ourselves or another,

to dwell in and listen to the silence of our own deeper nature,

to be attuned to and see from the heart

rather than racing to reply or judge or manipulate.

How beautiful to allow and make space for one magnificent day of your life just as it is!

Today might be a very good day.

 

S. Wolfington


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Dying Seasons

Something I wrote a few years back. This life all around me faithful to provide carefully positioned sentinels that stand at the gate against any misery that would seek to make a permanent address inside me–a reminder of where my true north lies, a pointer home saying “This way to your heart”. 

 

Driving down the street the other day,

I detected that fall had had her way—

and under freshly shorn trees were luminous

yellow-gold pools where sunshine had accumulated

—a riotous cornucopia of puddled sunshine in

brief reprieve between darkening days,

like some kind of joy

suddenly rising up to greet me in the dying leaves.

It left me happy for days.

 

My life has it dying seasons, as well.

Yet the art of dying often leaves me wanting,

absent without poise or polish.

futile attempts made at scooping up decay

of that which needs to die, staring, bare

limbed, at loss, shivering in the wind.

If there is joy-filled reprieve, I often fail to notice it.

 

This letting go business—I’m not as graceful

as the golden dying leaves.

But what I’m counting on is that spring

always comes and old attitudes, beliefs and judgments

about how life is supposed to be

serve as perfect compost for my re-creation.

 

S. Wolfington


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The Invincible Summer Inside You

In the midst of winter, I found there was, within me, an invincible summer.

~Albert Camas

invincible-summer2

 Today we start the rest of our lives. It’s official.

On this day, January 20, 2017, President Obama has left the White House and a new President takes his place—for better or worse. I have my own ideas about what he might or might not do while seated in the Oval Office. I am sure you do, too. All eyes of the planet are watching to see what is going to happen. A man comfortable enough with his own authority is now taking his place in a seat that is powerful enough to make or break this barely visible blue planet–a planet that spins in the backwaters of an incomprehensibly vast pinwheel of stars. Think about that for a moment.

And it is a man who, no matter what side of the fence you’re on, has repeatedly, and with a very long stick, poked the tiger of our fears since announcing his candidacy for President of the United States. Poke, then stir and repeat. This has been the methodology for his brand of success over the years, it would seem.

However long the life span remaining for each of us here on a breathtakingly small speck of universal life, there has never been such a time as this between technology and the ability to create or destroy. I believe actions for better or worse are felt as a rippling waves throughout the fabric of all of life itself, wherever it is or whatever form. Everything is connected.

Though widely attributed to being a Chinese curse, the saying “may you live in interesting times” may be deduced from analysis of the late-19th century speeches of Englishman, Joseph Chamberlain and erroneously expounded upon by his son, Austen Chamberlain. However it came about, we are here right now, in the boiling cauldron of interesting times. [i] Interesting times are signals that something is about to change. In fact, it is pretty much a guarantee–and you play a part in it whether you choose to or not.

Interesting times are created for thinking people just like you and me. Now, what are you going to decide to do with your place in it?   Remember, if you choose to distract yourself in habituation, hoping to maintain the status quo away from uncomfortable feelings or the work of change, you’ve decided.

Most critical is the decision to give up any complacency you may be in possession of about your own life, and over your place here as a citizen of the earth, and over the gifts and talents lying within you. And you do have certain gifts and talents even if they have become undervalued, dormant or gone underground.

Because as you may or may not know, our gifts and talents, no matter our personal idea of them, were given to us so that we could give them away.  They are meant for service and for the betterment of yourself and the betterment of mankind. They are intended so that you will be able to better know exactly what and where the passion is in you to go out and serve–and with the proper tools innately and proportionately exact to you.

But sometimes you’ve got to start digging to uncover them before you can utilize them. I have some ideas about how you might begin the process and will write more about that very soon, because now is the time you are really going to need to rely on those beautiful parts of yourself. They are what will save you on more levels you can know in the present moment, and might even positively contribute to life on Planet Earth.

Collectively, we are powerful! This I know. Individually, you might not have not given yourself enough credit for surviving until now.

Desperately seeking change, whether realizing it or not on a conscious level, this is the time that the people of Planet Earth through their most heartfelt and fervent desire have collectively moved heaven and earth to effect change away from the prevailing system and towards a more healing one that WE get to create as we go. We have put people, point men or women, if you will, in place around the world who are sufficiently capable of taking a sledgehammer to our most cherished fears in order to exquisitely tear them down.

The time has arrived. We stand on the precipice of fear and change. What is our future going to look like? Right now it is a big question mark. Question marks in life are doorways to limiting probabilities or countless possibilities. What will we be? It is ours to choose for better or worse individually and collectively. We have an amazing opportunity. We get to make up the rules for continued life on this mother ship upon whose back we  reside—much like the rules that were made up for us in preceding generations.

We live in times meant for the unseating of dominance of one over another, of our fears over love; and whether we’ll be pushed by our fears or pulled by love and courage.

This is the part where we now get to save ourselves! Ultimately, no governing body can do it for us. It’s going to take some true grit and a lot of courage.

Time to get busy! Dig where you are. Ask for help. Reach out. Network. Power lies in strength of community. Choose to be a force for good where can you do the most good for the most people.

Your uncovered and passionate heart bent on love in service over fear will show you the way through.

 

[i] http://quoteinvestigator.com/2015/12/18/live/


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If You Can Wait

dug a hole

 

It’s enough, a place to begin

to wait for a single drop or bead of rain

to fall on the hole you’ve climbed in.

A single drop that waters the single word

that strikes the chord that plays just right,

that grows into a bud, a tiny shoot, a spark of hope.

If you can wait long enough.

 

A day will do, then becomes two and three,

a week, a month, a year of unexpected alteration,

offerings falling from ominous clouds

straight into your heart.

And what went down, now goes up—

it’s the natural law of things.

 

The blackness of pain, as you will learn,

drop by drop from day to day,

will serve to increase your capacity for joy,

stretch your boundaries,

which can often hurt as you know,

then break the cords that hold too tight

your beautiful and sacred life,

if you can wait

just a day or more.

 

If you give yourself permission to fall,

say it’s okay to be held while you go down,

go easy on yourself,

there will be stronger arms than yours right now

to catch you while you fall.

 

And then

there will be that day,

though I can’t say exactly  when,

you will rise and rise from your black loamy bed

born in sorrow and blood

and know you were glad you stayed

and waited for rain.

 

© 2016 Shoshana Wolfington


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A Broken Hallelujah

Broken Hallelujah

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For all the things that make up a life,

that run a universe or that collide in hearts or stars,

in the unbearable witness of great human suffering,

or in the joy of unexpected offering,

the mercy that comes from a stranger or friend,

 

on this the whole world spins.

 

In birth and death, when something dies to allow something in,

in all the living stretched between,

in gratitude or grief

that in a moment can metamorphose from one to the other

and back again,

in a heap of tears falling to the ground,

in the bitter-sweetness of most everything,

in the simple pleasure of being here

 

a broken hallelujah all.

 

In clarity or confusion, this one thing I know,

that without brokenness,

there could never be a true hallelujah at all.

 

© 2016 Shoshana Wolfington


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If I Had a Prayer

Light Streaming2

I’m broken.

I’ve been away too long—

there are miles to go.

 

I’m tired and broken—a pot in shards,

but I tell you, there’s a brilliance burning

I’m trying to get out,

a searing light streaming from the cracks and the holes and

even though—

 

I’m shouting hallelujah down on my knees.

 

I will tell you—if I had a prayer—and I do,

in every breath or the spaces between,

in every tattered thread of me,

 

it’s this,

O God, not above, not below, but equal to

the unbearable light of this naked soul,

the burning thing I came here for.

 

Oh, yes, I look for the day

when everything’s broken,

when nothing’s left of pots or shards,

standing here in no thing but this

glory and nakedness.

 

 © 2014 Shoshana Wolfington

 


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Everything Is Okay

Life is a series of natural and spontaneous changes. Don’t resist them; that only creates sorrow. Let reality be reality. Let things flow naturally forward in whatever way they like.” ~~Lao Tzu

I am over it–I’m throwiPhoto by S. Wolfingtonng out my “Goo-B-Gone” in exchange for authenticity, giving up the sanitized version of myself for a more authentic me. Me with all my messiness, my pain and my outrageous laughter.

This is not to say I don’t still sometimes dig through the trash for that stuff in a moment of panicked meltdown. But the general theme of showing up as myself is having its way against my compulsive need to look strong for everyone. I am finding freedom in asking for help, in admitting my vulnerability.

It’s heady stuff, exhilarating when you finally begin to let the truth of yourself out.

It’s taken me awhile to get here after much grief and loss, and I’m not about to throw away all this hard work in order to look good for a lot of people that don’t really care because they are too busy worrying about how good they smell or how well they clean up.

I have given up my dreams of reaching total enlightenment or perfection in this lifetime and have decided to go out and live. If I have to fall down, that’s okay—let my life be worse or better than I could ever have imagined.

I’ve spent too many years believing certain things are fixed or healed and put away for good. These are just silly notions I’ve entertained. I have come to realize that I am at my best when I am broken wide open to both myself and others; and that because of the brokenness, there are far vista-ed rooms that wait for me, things within them I could never have conceived of on my own. It’s not that I go out looking for it. It has a way of finding me when I’m least expecting it. Wait long enough, it will come around. Life can be really surprising on both ends of the spectrum.

What I have often thought of as healed or finished so often returns for another day of reckoning, another layer of awareness in order to enter into wholeness, to make you ready for certain gifts that are waiting in the wings to enter your life.

I know my perception of how things are is limited by my stoicism, my blind faith, my rigidity, the wounds that live inside me. It is only by becoming soft inside, by allowing life to do its best work on me, and my eventual surrender to the whole beautiful world living inside my beingness that I am given the password to enter the sacred expanse of rooms or realms beyond anything I knew existed. Openness is where the sweetest of grace sweeps in. Brokenness is where it can find me, where I tumble down to my knees in gratitude for this one moment of pure release, knowing I am seen.

Pain is often the chisel that cracks the heart open when I have refused to surrender.

And it’s okay that it might take a while to learn this. I am learning to be tender with myself.

I am done with trying to sanitize and rationalize my life away.

Life doesn’t work like this on a more organic level. It will always find a way to come to you in order to crack your most carefully crafted exterior wide open. We are not as together as we would like others to believe.

Sometimes you just have to fall apart in order to come together. That toughened exterior has to crack wide open–the one that always wants to tell the world how fine you are, the one you hide behind with your doubts and fears and wounds.

There are some wounds that are buried deep, and like a splinter, take their own sweet time to surface. Sometimes the abyss looms large and we fall in.

On the way down, open your eyes and look around. Don’t fall asleep. Don’t judge yourself in the falling. Life is having its way with you, hoping you will surrender your heart to it—that you will find a way to say yes.

Life and the ability to laugh will cycle around again.

Life has a rhythm to it like the natural inhalation and exhalation of breathing, like the tides going in and out. No less your very own life, too. Expansion and contraction, contraction and expansion. There is no getting around it.

There are times you are required to give out and then just as naturally, simplify your life or days enough in order to take in the necessary  nurture and nutrition your depleted body and soul requires. You cannot serve from an empty vessel. If you habituate yourself to serving from that place or believing there is no other way, life will come in the backdoor to simplify it for you. It will make a way where you thought there was none.

Recently, I let the windshield washer tank in my car run dry. I discovered this one day when I went to turn it on, and the only thing that came out was disgusting brown ooze all over my windshield. It’s kind of like this when we let our tanks run dry without taking the time to fill them back up.

In my years, I am coming to recognize that I always have enough. It might not appear to be so, I still too often hit the panic button; but it starts with the knowing that I am enough in whatever comes along. It is my perceived inner lack that I project out into the world and then draw back to myself.

Knowing this requires a daily commitment first to show up for myself, even if in the smallest of ways, such as consciously and simply inhaling and exhaling first before taking action or deciding what to say when things fall apart. And maybe that is all you can do in the moment. You might have to keep breathing, on purpose and with awareness.

No matter how we perceive it, we don’t know the end of the story yet. It could be better or worse than you ever imagined and then circle back around again. And remember that at the end of every story, a new one begins, whether that story ends by death or circumstance.

Put away the veneer and shellac, and begin to peer into the holes of your life with new eyes–there are stars in there!

If I were to get a tattoo on my arm to remind me in every minute when things fall apart, here’s what it would say: Everything Is Okay.


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Making Out with Mickey Hargitay

Jayne Mansfield and Mickey Hargitay at home (circa late 1950s)WHAT I REMEMBER IS JAYNE. Jayne Mansfield, that is—the bursting at the seams, large bosomed, blonde bombshell and sexpot of the 60’s. The Hollywood star with the heart shaped pool in her backyard lived a large life in my mind. I wanted to be her. I was nine or ten playing house in my bedroom—as Jayne Mansfield, of course, stepping into the cool darkness of my closet to make out with an imaginary, muscle ripped Mickey Hargitay, while my girlfriends, all the while sighing and moaning, languished on my bed waiting for me to come to my senses and come out of the closet.

Then one day she was beheaded. I was devastated. Riding in the front seat of her car, slamming into and under the backside of a semi-truck, and…off went her head—I imagine right into the back seat! Just like that.

I imagine that she believed she still had a lot more making out with Mickey left to do, but as you know in all things, they end. Time runs out, and all you’ve ever done is all you’re ever going to do.  And besides all that, I had already grown tired of making out with Mickey and was feeling the intensity of my puberty bearing down on me in the crush of feelings I had towards the boy down the street.

So much innocence left behind as the crush of life began to have its way with me. I almost succumbed to it more times than I care to say. Lucky for me, I made it this far into my sixties. Surprised to be here now, I was sure I would die before I was fifty. My entire adult life was white hot with extreme busyness and caretaking, and then total collapse—all of which I believed to be a badge of honor I wore proudly.

While at lunch the other day, my friend, Mystic Meena (whose odometer is getting ready to roll over to seventy), happened to remark on a sixty-seven year old actor that had passed away recently. Meena related how television pundits had observed after his passing that at least he had lived a long, full life—to which my friend exclaimed, “Bullshit!” When I was thirty, sixty-seven was definitely old—and death not so unexpected—that is, of course, unless you are sixty-seven. Unless you are ready for it, the pronouncement of death always comes as a surprise at any age. I don’t feel done yet.

Here I am, and the sun is beginning to dip in the sky. There isn’t a whole life left in front of me as I have a  series of “holy shit” realizations that I’ve got to begin now if I want to find and use my real voice. My dreams are still the same. It’s just that I have a little less physical energy to realize them with. Maybe the point of the body sliding past the apex of youth is this: it compels you towards your realness. I don’t know for certain. It’s just a hunch I have.

Now that the leaves are beginning to turn into blazing yellows and crimson reds and oranges, into their most flagrant and final stand for beauty, I am wondering how I didn’t see there could be so much splendor in moving towards that inevitable final breath of falling from the tree. What a metaphor to our lives—the grace-filled allowing, the gentle welcoming of age, the coming home to ourselves, finally. Perhaps, the leaning into our wisdom years, of spreading our brightly colored canopy over the lives of those coming up after us as way-showers is what really matters. Personally, I don’t want to waste it, not a single drop, not a single brilliant colored leaf of it between now and the time whatever pronouncements over my impending demise are made.

I am heading towards my glory years; and it going to take some careful planning and execution as I begin to re imagine myself, playing smarter, not harder. There is still time enough whether it be one year or forty years.  I cannot take my body for granted anymore. I cannot ignore and punish it. As long as I am able, there is a strict requirement for honor and listening, then supplying it with the necessary rest, nutrition and nurturance it requires. In this one moment I have been gifted. It almost didn’t happen.

Whatever has happened in my life has brought me full circle.  I am lucky to get the chance to have a “do over” in the last act of my life, playing the part of me rather than someone else. My fear, in whatever time is left, is leaving this life realizing I never had the courage to live an authentic life.

Admittedly, I am scared. It’s a moment by moment thing requiring a firm commitment. Holes must be plugged in order to enter into right relationship with myself. Gone is the bent towards extremism in my thoughts and actions, doing everything at once or nothing at all. It is not mine to single-handedly save the world.

If I want to live out the richness and the depth of all that has brought me here, I must practice sacredness and gratitude in the gentle or not so gentle breath of each day, in allowing, in letting go, in lightening up, and in laughter, and last but not least, in the flow of words that find their way from my heart to my fingertips. I am rising up and up into this voice that has been given me, flowering quietly or noisily, vibrantly and brilliantly. I am practicing freedom, using the only voice I have to set this prisoner free.

 


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Looking Nothing Like That

Letting go & Falling off cliffLove has a way of entering the back door

of your life

when you least expect it.

When you had your life precisely charted out,

your keys in hand, your perfect plans,

while walking out the front door,

when suddenly, BAM!

 

the back door slams against the wall,

like a hurricane coming in.

I was just leaving, you said.

You had to lay down your keys

and your map—because what just came in looked nothing

like that,

but what came in had its own plans for you.

 

While standing there, you’d never guess, looking at the mess,

it was only love come

to save you.

Resistance is futile, it said, surrender best.

 

But of course, it might take a while to learn that.

And when you finally get it

while it’s got you, this thing of your undoing,

this decimator of plans,

it becomes sweetness in your hands,

and the whole splendored universe moves

inside of you.

You wonder how it is you never saw such an endless

midnight sky blinking back at you.

 

Love is a shape-shifting trickster in ways you’d never conceive,

can take you to dizzying vistas you’ve never seen

on some crazy and crooked paths.

 

Love says,

It’s not about what you think it is. It’s more than that.

Love comes to bust down your doors and walls,

shake possibility loose in your mind,

get you to move beyond your self-imposed boundaries

as a citizen of the stars

into your own feral nature.

 

Out beyond the dictates of decorum or certain civilities

waits your aching passion,

but first you must learn to surrender

whatever safety

you think you have, then leap

from the precipice of that life.

 

© 2014 Shoshana Wolfington


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Pura Vida!

Lemon TreeSlicing open a lemon this morning, squeezing out all its sour essence, like I do every other morning, I felt myself suddenly overcome with gratitude. This simple small act of slipping the sharpened knife past the dimpled yellow skin of this brightly colored, tart flavored little fruit—feeling the sun’s warmth streaming through the window on my back, I give thanks. I give thanks for the earth, the sun and the rain that nourished the tree that it grew upon—from small bud to flower to this lovely little fruit that sits on my counter now in front of me, that has shown up to support and sustain my health and wellbeing.  Grateful, I offer up a blessing of thank you again as I down the juice in a glass of sparkling filtered water.

It came to me how I too often forget to say thank you for so many simple things and how, conversely, I find myself grumbling and grousing over my long lists of overwhelm, things I need to accomplish. Life is so simple when we allow it to be so. I am working on remembering in all things that life can be so beautifully and elegantly simple, that I don’t have to complicate it in every minute by stressing out over what I don’t have or what remains to be done. I want to be done with the complaining of it all. Instead I want to celebrate my life, this gift given to me every single day I wake up. These little acts of self-care and gratitude say I value my life, bring me unexpected joy in the most difficult of circumstances and keep me resilient and moving forward.

I am reminded of the term “Pura Vida”. When visiting Costa Rica, a country that I hope to travel to one day very soon, I have heard many remark upon their return how the custom is to say at every opportunity, “Pura Vida!”  No matter what is happening, “Pura Vida!” When exiting a cab, when paying for groceries or when sipping coffee or chatting with friends, people will call out “Pura Vida!” Rain leaking through the roof? Pura Vida! Flat tire? Pura Vida! Not enough money or food? Pura Vida!

In Costa Rica, Pura vida is less a motto and more a way of life. It is an expression of happiness and moving on no matter the flat tire or the spilled milk. It is good to remember that monotonous complaining is a waste of time and there are many among us who are far less fortunate. If we are here and healthy, and there are many ways to be healthy, then we can also remember that life is good and that we are exactly where we need to be no matter what it looks like from the outside.


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Waiting on the Heart

403026_210248729061804_100002300359908_457295_2010259817_nI cried and cried today. Standing in the hot shower, mixing tears with water, I cried. I prayed.

With tears, went breath. Not for myself particularly did I cry. It was all I could do though, the only thing. 

Quite recently, I have been entrusted with stories. Overcome by the grief of others, I felt myself full with their pain, their stories of death, loss, and unimaginable grief.  Stories told of decisions made I would have argued against had I been asked beforehand–sincerely believing nothing good could come from them.

However, what’s done is done. I have no power over any of it—except as witness to it.

What do I do with all of this? Where do I go and whom do I ask?

Some would advise it not in my best interest to involve myself. Look at the bright side, the light only, the bigger picture.   Be happy, some say, accept what is and move on.

Don’t stare too long into suffering’s great abyss—or the abyss might stare back.

Some might say correction is needed or guilt conferred as if I some kind of judge, jury and executioner over another.

I say not necessarily so.

So much pain, not enough me. It’s feels unbearable at times to hold for long without paying an unbearable price in depression, apathy or anger. The tendency is to pick and choose what we will see; or at the least, we are chosen, unwittingly, without notice–a kind of in-your-face thing.

As humans, it is understandably natural to shy away from what causes pain in us and instead turn our attention to that which brings pleasure—you already know this. Yet there is a Tibetan Buddhist practice called Tonglen you may be familiar with. This is not my solitary focus here, but to be brief, it involves breathing in the pain or the wish for peace and healing of another and then breathing out peace and healing to that same individual or group of individuals. One can also practice this for oneself in identifying with others who also might be feeling the same pain or suffering around the world. We allow the pain to pass through our hearts, transmuting it into healing. At the very least, it changes us. If you are interested, you can Google it for yourself if you choose to learn more.

I am not a seasoned practitioner of Tonglen. I have used it more than a few times over the course of years. Today was one of them. When the pain of self or others becomes unbearable, it is a good therapy to change the way you see things.

This morning I blogged a poem here that came to me first thing upon awakening called, “Tending the Roses of God”. I was speaking about my mother and her descent into the deeper stages of her illness–Alzheimer’s. I referenced the idea of her tending the roses of God while her body slumbered. It occurred to me later my mother is one of the roses of God; and I, along with others, are tending her as she is bathed or fed or loved.

Yet it also came to me that we are each and every one a rose in that same garden of life, that it is our given service to tend one another by learning to bear witness to the pain and suffering of our lives, by offering up our gifts or talents as acts of healing.

In this, my mother has taught me well. It’s been a long and difficult journey I have often resisted. Nevertheless, witness is the wisdom I’ve learned here, the most valuable lesson, the only viable choice I could make in order to survive and not go down in flames of exhaustion and guilt. I’ve heard it said that the grieving we do is merely the love we are feeling making itself known in visceral ways .

I view many kinds of grief as a kind of stripping down to what’s essential, what is real and true.

What disservice would I be doing in my knee jerk attempts to short circuit whatever important work is going on just so I don’t have to feel uncomfortable?

It is this bearing of witness I am speaking about in not only the practice of Tonglen, but in our choices to become present, to hold space for everything that crosses our paths. It is a conscious choice though expansion of the heart, the still presence of witness. I am making a choice to do this, to recognize that my heart has its great capacity to carry the world in it and not be diminished by it, but rather to transmute it. It is a great honor to be entrusted with this and to trust no matter what a thing looks like.

I am choosing more and more, not always necessarily with success, to hold space for another when I am called. It is a life’s practice not learned overnight, but through the course of years and all the things that happen in a life. These others–they are me, my brother and my sister, no matter the story. How could I do less?

This does not necessarily mean there is something for me to do or to change. There is often no instant comfort or practical advice I have to offer;  nothing I can affect or change without creating damage in the long run to myself or them.

I can only sit and be present with the grief or the illness carried by another whose load it is to carry it. I can sit with my discomfort or lack of answers. I can sit and allow my heart to sift through it all, to breathe out peace and healing the best way I know how.

The more difficult task is to remain still, to cease fruitlessly wishing for the proverbial wand of righting wrongs.

I am learning to let go of the need to “do something”—the guilt I’ve been raised with that has so often compelled me into instant action. I know I may still feel the guilt of inaction or answers, but I am choosing to not always allow it to have its way with me, to take time to be reflective and wait on my heart.  I trust implicitly in my heart to do the right thing—but first I must listen and be witness to all it has to tell me.


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Tending the Roses of God

therosesofgod2

My mother, light as paper, stands,

folds, crumples to the floor.

Yellowed parchment skin inked in

purple orbs and reddened tears, evidence

of failed attempts to hold on.

Her feathery body sleeps heavy

against knocks at her door, barely knows

anymore the call of her name.

She does not stir as I press my lips to her cheek,

my love into her heart,

stroke her hair or feet, wondering where she goes

when she sleeps.

Is she walking somewhere in light-filled fields of gold?

Is she speaking in hushed tones with dear ones passed on?

Is she tending the roses of God?

Will someone tell me please?

I want to know if when she awakes,

something of her stays behind in that world

and waits

for her to come home.

© 2013 ~ S. Wolfington

 


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The Decision to Leave

IMG_0897Awhile back I made the decision to leave a relationship I was in. As decision making often goes, the lead up to the decision was distressing, agonizing even as I searched my heart for right answers of what to do, all the while not really wanting to do what was right knowing it would be the most inconvenient and painful for all parties in the short run. I vacillated back and forth, one moment totally ready to stick it out and make it all okay no matter what, believing it would be; and the next knowing some things were beyond my control and repair.

Day by day, the situation had become increasingly unbearable in exact proportion to the good that seemed to be leaving for both of us. Looking in the mirror, I was looking like someone else looking back at me. My joie de vivre had taken flight to distant shores. My soul was shriveling and meaningful purpose or repair wasn’t to be conjured up or found anywhere.

Then one morning after a particularly bad night, I just woke up with perfect clarity of what I had to do.

I took comfort all the while in my questioning knowing that the decision would make itself. I knew I didn’t have to rush to judgement or do anything ahead of schedule. However, I will add the proviso this may not be true in every case, and indecision and vacillation can too often render one immobilized, keep a person in a stagnant or even dangerous situation, or at the very least, from their most authentic selves. The thing was I knew myself well enough to know how resilient I am, how much of a survivor, that I have survived far more painful things. I knew I would ultimately do what I needed to do to save the only life I really could when nothing else was working—my own.

I knew there would be those who would disagree with my decision, who would call me wrong for doing so, who would question my motives, who would no longer call me friend. I knew this questioning might arise from people who thought they knew what was best for me or my partner, or thought they had a grasp on who I am or what the situation was. Nonetheless, I knew in the depths of me what was true, and I left in spite of the clamoring voices that might surround me.

It was one of those watershed moments in life when you know you are going to have start from scratch all over again. It’s not like I haven’t had to build from the bottom up before. It’s a kind of fire in your life that burns the house down. It’s damn hard work to rebuild. It’s damn inconvenient, too.

Oftentimes the decision to leave a situation, a job, or a relationship is something that decides itself. One day, after a lot of tossing and turning and sleepless nights, you just wake up knowing. Suddenly there are no more questions. The decision becomes almost independent of you and begins to move you at that point.

And sometimes the decision is made for you, thrust at you without your input. It can be abrupt and shocking, leaving you crying and groping for answers for endless days.

Yet you do find the courage to go on you didn’t know existed—from a place deep inside yourself. You do what’s necessary to rebuild life in a meaningful way, to restore the lost vitality, to create something beautiful and with purpose. You laugh again. You make new friends. You are still you, maybe only now a better version, and you grow through the pain into wisdom and caring and helping others to find their way, too.

First, you must do the important work of grieving, whatever it takes. It doesn’t mean, however, that there will not be doubts or second guessing once the decision has moved you away. You will still wonder what if, what might have been. Then again in your heart you know the truest answer, that you did the right thing, that you can never go back.

How do we judge the rightness of a decision except by listening deeply to our own heart, following our truest true? Hindsight is usually a good barometer once you are far enough down the road from it. In the meantime, we must trust life and our hearts enough to listen, to know that the answer will find us. And if we are fortunate enough to have a friend who knows and trusts our heart also, it also good to listen to that friend of wise counsel.

The answer that comes may not always look like something we think it should or hoped it would. Sometimes the miracle comes through the hard work of growth and willingness to change. It may not be convenient. It might be painful. Yet in the still small voice of yourself, the places that whisper, you know it to be true if you are listening.  You know that if you do not heed the whisper, the inner knowing underneath all the questioning, second guessing and vacillation, you will miss something very important in your life—yourself, your reason for being here.

In an alternate version/universe of yourself, you decided to stay against what your heart knew to be true, to play it out, and it had catastrophic consequences. In this universe, however, you will get to live and thrive because you left, or because you were left. You have something else you are supposed to do, that waits for you to walk its way. And maybe you might not have found your way had you remained frozen where you were.


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Dear Miracle

This week, having been a little unsettling, I accept myself in whatever state I am in–doubt, sadness, joy, pain, bliss, I’ve run the gamut. There is room for everything. I am perfectly imperfect. I’m going with that.

This week, I accept that words have eluded me as I have struggled with my imperfect attempts to be brilliant here.  After much effort of starting, stopping, stilting, nothing until stop–I’ve felt like a too hard eraser that stubs across and rips at the page. I offer this instead, a poem in honor of this sacred life and being–

Dear Miracle Poetry Artwork 037copy22jpg

Let the soft animal that is your body,

rise up from the earth.

You who live on the edge of infinity and stars,

feet on the ground deeply rooting into black soil beneath you,

feel as emerald earth rises up through your bones.

This animal that you are, that houses you,

needs stroking, needs petting,

needs feeding and nurture.

Let it purr.

Your animal soft or sleek is perfect,

this suit of blood and bone and flesh—

born from Earth and stars

—that houses the light of ten suns.

This animal that is your home for such a brief time,

that gives you arms to surround and hold close with;

hands to comfort or create with;

legs to run, to climb mountains or merely to move towards

a crying child; and

eyes that mirror the heart beating inside your chest.

This being-ness so full of miracles

in every miniscule act,

in the little lion that roars when its hungry;

in the vast army of red corpuscles muscling their way

through your body,

its vast arterial highway—

down to atoms and quarks in joyous dance

and light that explodes in ecstasy

in the cosmos that lies between.

As the heart flows into the body in

muscle and skin and lungs that breathe;

in fits of laughter when your eyes water

and your beautiful cheeks can take it no more

and your body is doubled over with pleasure—

until the last day your animal serves,

until earth reclaims your house,

and your light is freed, what shall you do?

Till then, here’s a clue:

Love the animal you find yourself in.

Praise it often for giving everything you need and more.

Why give it less when it asks so little of you?

Just a little fresh air and sunshine, some good food,

laughter and friends to hold near,

some cleansing tears—

Dear Miracle:

Choose to be an opening everyday

through which love lives.

© 2010 Susan Wolfington