Dear Miracle

Setting free the beautiful truth inside.


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Water and Salvation

How completely unlike herself, you think, smiling,

and by now you know better than that— Grace

juxtaposing beneath the black swirl

of clouds while she in haste unfurls herself,

presses hard against the glass,

tap, tap, tap, demanding,

Quick, come look, good morning! Hurry please!

 Looks at her watch,

 We haven’t got all day!

 Covers thrown, running out the door to see

her sun struck glow in the trees, alighting the hills in flame,

mere minutes before the drenching rain.

 

You’re left aghast, and she trails off as though nothing had happened, and

you suspect she’s been lying in wait all night.

 

This, a singular act of benevolence you’re chosen for, again and again.

Your fate, you say.

Striking when you’re not looking, she knows where you are.

And suddenly she’s there begging for witness, posing this way and that,

when you were just minding your business,

demanding you grab your camera or pen.

 

She devastates your heart with her wildness.

Bearer of all that’s untamed, you’ve become uncultivated, mad—too much

for any one person you say.

You must give it away, standing on corners, reciting her scriptures

in lines and pictures—offering her sweet-scented petals, like small prayers,

like small acts of kindness to anyone

in desperate need of water or salvation.

 

Shoshana  Wolfington


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When Everything Falls Apart, How to Fall Together

crossingthecolumbia22Last year my sister and I took a long anticipated trip to Cabo San Lucas. Landing at the airport in San Jose at the southern tip of the Baja California peninsula, we rented a car, anticipating a happy drive to our resort. I brought my trusted electronic GPS with me in order to navigate our way there.

Zigging when we should have zagged at a fork in the road, we became horribly lost along the way. The GPS wasn’t any help at all as we found ourselves out in the middle of the Baja desert staring at nothing but cactus, sand and sun. The red car icon on the screen showed us going round in circles in one spot while the female voice instructed us to “turn right at the next alleyway.” What? What alleyway? Where? (We’re still laughing over that one!)

We ran out of road at a half finished freeway end zone that dropped off into nowhere, wild eyed and asking directions in English from workmen who knew only Spanish, who then pointed us down a dirt embankment into a dusty, dry flood zone.  We were incredulous. But then more incredulously, we drove down that embankment because we didn’t know what else to do, soft pillows of red dust kicking up everywhere as the back end of the rented sedan wildly fishtailed about, not misconstruing the overheard Spanish “loca” (crazy) as we drove off.

At a loss to know how, the flood zone got us there—eventually. Eventually, and as we later learned, the GPS had righted itself taking us on what we thought was a wild goose chase while we zigged and zagged between crumbling adobe houses, abandoned construction,  and third world city boulevards, and children in the streets while we pretended we knew where the hell we were. Then suddenly, there we were—right in front of the resort, where after checking into our rooms with much too much luggage and exhaustion—sand, sea and salt rimmed Margaritas beckoned with relief.

It’s been a wild ride these last months that have left many of us attempting to turn right at the next alleyway in the middle of foreign deserts, our psyches and emotions left going round in circles. Personally, I’ve run the gamut of inhospitable feelings and disbelief. I’m exhausted. Isn’t there a Margarita somewhere on an island resort waiting around the next corner?

And frankly, the pile of unfolded laundry on my bed isn’t going to fold itself. The piles of paperwork aren’t going anywhere until I attend to what needs attending. There are impending deadlines to meet while I stare off into space or sleep late trying to insulate myself from pain, while my fear or guilt tell me to do something now—anything, no matter what it is.

This is often how trauma impacts us at first.

We are a traumatized nation at war with itself while the whole world watches in horror. And I often feel like the first world I knew is heading into some surreal third world landscape I don’t recognize anymore.  

Then I realize that in order for something to live or be born, it is often true that something has to die. Death and birth is the natural order of life. And when what fails to work anymore, life will find another way. Chaos and order coexisting all at once. One way dying while another is being born. Yada, yada—I could write a whole chapter on that one subject. It’s painful. People suffer, even die. You know. Our egos and ideologies threatened, our existence, too. None of it is personal, but it sure feels like it.

Presently and at the same time everything is going on, I’m actively resisting the notion to intellectualize myself into a nihilistic state of stupor, or numb myself in other vice. I’m fighting to stay awake. I don’t want to miss my life or fail to connect to the suffering or joy of another.

Where true value lies is remembering to consciously breathe, meditate, pray and listen, take time out of each day in order to decipher or intuit what is yours to do, your personalized marching instructions, your “true north”, as they say.

I know that as humans we react to trauma in the most human of ways. We must grieve, allow ourselves to experience its stages in order to heal. Life must wait. It isn’t helpful to hear others tell us to calm down—which can feel for us like a manipulative tactic to alleviate the discomfort of another who is not yet grappling with their own pain.

After all we are humans, not machines.

Against a backdrop of black landscape out there, there is a still a wide vista of blue sky inside myself. In the spaces in between I choose to create, be it a minute or an hour or more, in between the crazy, the chaotic, the confusing, is where our internal guidance lives. Learning to lean in and listen is what saves us from the clamoring voices that demand we do this or go there or be quiet. Not always that we receive clarification in the exact moment of quiet breathing or prayerful listening, but that the stage is set for direction to come, often in the most unexpected ways. We learn resilience here, how to bend in hard winds. Directional leading tells us what is ours to do and what is not. Like the Wheel of Fortune in the Tarot, it is in the hub of that wheel that shelters, knowing that all is okay no matter how harsh the storm, or who might be coming at you with fear in their eyes.

I know. Easier said than done. But it’s a conscious practice. I still fall out of practice though even after practice over many years. Why do I do that? It’s the human part of me.

I’m learning it’s okay to fall, even as a nation. Failure strips the veneer off. It’s the great revealer of what’s been hidden. Healing cannot come until you uncover the hidden that has been having its way with your life or your nation planet. It’s the beginning of the end to what hasn’t been working. This could take a while though while that which has been hidden fights hard for its existence or way of life.

My GPS always knows right where I’m at, at any given moment even when I am feeling wildly off course, flailing about or melting down into a puddle of emotion. I always trust I will, however, settle down. My own true north always knows where I’m at, always comes for me to lead me back. It is always talking to me even when I’m not listening. It could say, sit still, rest, prepare, learn, take care of yourself, eat right, move now—fast, go, stop, you will be okay, you are okay, talk to someone, talk to and help the person next to you, remember what and who blesses you, write that letter, make that phone call, here’s who to see or where to go, write that book or poem—here’s the first sentence, run fast, don’t worry, trust, sleep, be careful, watch out, see the doctor, don’t go out, stay in, it’s okay, love yourself, you’ll learn, find grace in your fall, you haven’t failed.

It is intimately connected with every moment of your life. Helps you to open your heart to the world, feel the magic of and get inside of your body, identify with the suffering of another, disengage with suffering that doesn’t belong to you without losing your compassion. It’s all there. Everything you need as a guide to your life is inside of you, guides you to the next step, the next thing to do. May not give you the second step until you have completed the first. It has kept you alive to this point even if you’ve failed to see it. You’ve survived until now for something else you’re supposed to do or be or flower into. It’s fierce. It brings clarity of vision you didn’t expect in ways you couldn’t have foreseen. It can save your life, bring you home when the time comes.

Last night, I was reminded in conversation with someone dear to me about making a commitment to myself to listen more to that still small voice that knows. I am making a commitment right now that every day for the next week, I will start my day by listening in, by being still, by breathing consciously in and out, by praying for direction, clear hearing and vision. Be it for a minute several times a day or an hour when I awaken, I will listen for my marching orders, for what is mine to do. At the end of the week, I will commit to another and then another. One day at a time.

Today I am not going to rush out into the world in attack mode without hearing what it has to say first. It might only be a quiet hint, a sign, an intonation, but I have learned to recognize that voice through years of practice. It always comes with peace, with expansion of being and not contraction. There is grace in it even if the work is difficult or the suffering around me heart rending.

What is important is to keep my heart open and my ear to the ground. This is how we work for the greater good. This is how we heal in time.

And I’m wondering—will you join me?


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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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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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Happiness—Stand Here

IMG_8627Stand here, where you are right now.

Stop what you’re doing and just notice.

Put your phone down, your gizmos and gadgets

and pay attention.

What is around you?

What do your eyes see?

A bare leafed tree?

Unfolded laundry?

A single apple on the counter?

What is here now?

What do you hear?

A barking dog?

The voice of a child?

The wind in the leaves?

This is where your happiness lies.

Not there or over there or something just beyond your reach

or something left behind.

You are here now.

You have already arrived

if you will stop and notice where you stand

and let be what surrounds you with your full attention.

 

©2014 Shoshana Wolfington


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Talking to the Rocks in My Head

Curmudgeon Rock

Some years back, I attended a “Shamanism 101” weekend workshop. Among several things I learned was how to read a rock.  Crazy, huh?  That’s what I thought, too.  Not having tried it since, I was curious to find out if it’s just the rocks talking in my head or if it’s for real, and so I have decided to have another go at sharpening my rock reading skills. From my garden, I’ve selected a quite ordinary, nondescript looking rock. (It’s the one in the center of the picture with the burnt-out eye sockets.) Sitting it on the table, I begin to examine its rugged exterior.  Going so far as to get my magnifying glass out, squinty-eyed, I peer studiously at this triangular shaped rock.  Hmm…what is this?   Shapes start to form upon the rock.  Am I seeing things?  Have I officially lost it entirely?  I laugh at what my family would think if they could see me now.

It’s as if there is a kind of alchemical force at work in this rock as it begins to shape shift right in front of me.  Here buried into its craggy, triangular shaped face is a burnt out looking eye—could this be a kind of scorched All Seeing Eye from too much light pouring through?   Now aligning in a place next to the first eye is another eye forming.   Between there’s a hump nose, and below an inverted V shaped mouth.  I can see there’s no easily winning over the affections of this rock as it seemingly studies me in return.  Could there be some semblance of personality in this little craggy curmudgeon?

Ah, now redeeming itself, I see “two” cat heads with whiskers, no less, on the one side of its head; a tree on the top side; a kind of earth on the underside.  Feminine wisdom, it says to me; there’s the masculine, too, yin and yang balancing in the number two.  Could it be there is a need for more balance in my life?  This unassuming and down-to-earth rock certainly has quite a bit to say.

Feeling silly, but after a bit, I think I’m forming a relationship with this rock—this rock that is born of great struggle from the Mother Earth herself. Disconcertingly, I also begin to feel as if I’m being scrutinized by the All Seeing Eye looking back at me.  I look again—it’s been a long journey from where it began.  There are gouges and scrapes dug deep in its skin; there is the complementary feminine and masculine energy and the tree of life as it reaches toward its divinity.  There are roots and rocks, death and rebirth, and flecks of crystal like tiny stars that hint brightly of heaven buried inside.

Fitting so neatly in the palm of my hand, this crazy little rock must have a great many stories to tell.  It’s weighty and in a moment, grounds me, ties me to the earth, then floats me to the stars.  What has it seen?  What does it know in its density?  In geologic time, how old might it be? Born from erupting, spewing volcanoes from earth below, their red hot magma in long rivers cooling into wide corridors of land, shaped and shifted by ferocious winds, massive floods and so many cataclysmic things over millions of years?  Full of gouges and scrapes, it’s been a long journey here to my hand.

In some crazy metaphorical sense, I see it kind of like my life.  What wisdom or healing would surface while I in stillness sit?  At what point would the primal soup of remembering my own divinity come forth?  Gazing in gratitude at the miracle of my own midnight stars, might I find my heart giving up secrets of its own?  Traveling past soil and skin, what discovery would I make about myself that is surprising or beautiful?

What privilege this life, this body and soul born of earth and stars, rooted deep in rock, infinite ray of light traveling far to be here now; this holy moment looking deep into this rock, looking into me, both so full of mystery, revealing the truth of my heart.  Mystical and mysterious, question and answer, a cosmos of unfathomable nebulae of many colors, the DNA of the universe imprinted upon every particle that we are.  A body formed, spit out from volcanoes, storm tossed on to many shores, the sun’s light encased in our cells.  In time, I’m as old as this rock.  Outside of time, I’ve no beginning or end.   Amazing, this being-ness without end and what rock can teach you…when you listen.