Meditations: Inheriting My Mother’s Garden

There’s only one thing I know how to do when I feel badly – meditate. But it took me years to discover this secret. Years of trauma and meandering in and out of empty wells. When I was younger and attended church with my mother and grandmother I remembered being frightened by the seemingly violent emotion of women in church. They would rock and weep and sob loudly. They would pass out on the floor. Once I saw a large woman “get the Holy Spirit” and she hit her head falling on the alter. No one moved to help her. I grabbed my father’s arm and said “Daddy!! Daddy! That lady!” He looked over lazily and said “Oh. She alright.” I was mad at him for a long time about that and refused to go back to church with him for some weeks. My dad and I were like that: we’d get mad and stop speaking then get over it and go on.

When I saw “The Color Purple” at the movie theatre the first time with Mother and Nanny I didn’t understand Miss Celie and why she talked to God. I didn’t understand the songs in church like “Jesus Is My Friend”. Frankly I always had serious difficulties with Jesus. Well not with Jesus exactly but with Christianity, I never understood. I still don’t despite having a Theology degree from an undergrad Jesuit college. Christianity leaves me cold. I just didn’t get it.

But I had an innate understanding of spirituality, however. Even as a girl I was always happy cobbling together little rituals and prayers that I stole, magpie fashion, from my exposure to other religions. Judaism. Hinduism. Buddhism. Finding yoga and a yogi whose words finally made sense changed my life. My first experiences with meditation were so amazingly successful that I remember feeling suffused with a goodwill and confidence, or perhaps just an old fashioned blessing. Those early meditations carried me through the worst, emptiest, most frightening times of my life. It was the first time in my life I was confronted with human evil. I know nothing of supernatural evil like the Exorcist (and since I get so scared in horror movies that I literally cry tears of fright I hope never to encounter it.) But simple, commonplace human evil is its own terror, the kind that leaves you shivering in the bed in bright daylight fearing what will come next from someone’s spite and general lack of compassion.

Maybe your experience in life is devoid of anything that you would attribute to spiritual resolve. For me I can’t imagine my life without it. I spend a lot of time in meditation asking Why this? or Why that? Technically that is prayer. Meditation is the listening part. Somedays I’m good at calming myself and patiently falling into that Place. Some days though the fear and despair block your attempts. But that’s when you must work hardest.

My favorite thing is when an answer actually comes. Meditation is like going into Bergdorf Goodman as a beggar and having every salesperson from all the high-end boutiques greet you as a queen. “Take this!! And you’ll need this too!!” …”Oh have you seen our newest line? Have some! Oh did you take extras for family and friends? Here!! Here!” (Yes there is probably something wrong with describing my spiritual life in materialistic terms but this is my metaphor. You can go describe yours like Walden Pond or Dover Beach or whatever. My meditation is like Bergdorf Goodman, I say.)

It’s getting amazing answers from the void that are so extraordinary that it sometimes puts me in a good mood for weeks at a time. The other day I had barely been sitting for five minutes when a story idea dropped in my lap beginning, middle and end.
Someone hurt my feelings recently and I’ve spent a lot of time listening for some — what? Wisdom? Answers? Yes. — some explanation. Trying to find a salve for my heart because I feel sad.

I look at myself in the mirror and to see my tiny self. Though my face doesn’t necessarily display my age I know recognize myself as those women from my childhood. The Miss Celies. The emotional crying women in church who held it together all week long until they could make it to Church on Sunday and let their emotions free.
Except that I don’t wait until Sunday. I’ll go meditate two, three, times a day if I can. I keep asking the Universe the same question until I get an answer. In that, my spiritual practices are no different from the way I am in talking to real flesh and blood humans all day long. I like to get RESULTS.

So now I save my emotions and tears and even some joy for entering the Spiritual Bergdorf Goodman of the Universe. Alice Walker’s essay “InvSearch of Our Mother’s Gardens” was probably the most impactful thing I read in college. She talks about the fragile, mental artists who had very little in their material life and such rich emotional artistic and spiritual lives, and I remember recognizing all that she discussed as if it were a future memory. Perhaps I have finally entered that vague future memory at last.

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Lamentation Blue

The wind took my voice as I cried
for the ruins of myself
for suffering by time
refracted, shot through, by a mirror of light
upon the ebb and flow of ocean and tide

there is the scent of grief inside my dreams,
and whispers of smoke upon the horizon
are haunted by ghosts of my home far away
murmuring songs in the key of life by day

we shall travel in disguise from the garden
take me gently – as I live by night –
we will journey to earth’s edge in order to escape
into gratitude’s gentle embrace,
free from rue
liberty, at last, from lamentation blue.

amidst shades of mourning
the twilight sleep of grief wanes and dies
dampens no more mine own eyes.             I beg thee, take me when you go on contradict this fiction of the heart, whilst I weep by the eastern star  anguish will redeem me upon the dawn.

prayers  for all women upon my lips
for struggle and distress, creation and bliss
a palette of grace inside my heart
detoxify my intentions from regret
for this vision quest, vivid purpose to forget the very bitterness of you      and that devil, lamentation blue

On Voldemort, Trump and the Beast of Fear: Fighting The Horcruxes of Despair

Ultimately Voldemort was defeated by the underground network, the Order of the Phoenix. We, the resistance, don’t have a Dumbledore because the Democratic Party failed spectacularly. We only have us. Destroy the horcruxes in his cabinet and his appointees. Fight him everywhere everyday.

Voldemort was a powerful dark wizard but the powers of goodness and light overpowered him because of the understanding of love. There is love among the opposition: we love us, them, and our country but we must fight until love defeats hate and darkness.

Fight the powers that be. No justice no peace. The people united will never be defeated.

Voldemort was vile, vindictive, cruel, and soulless. He had immense powers to do irreparable evil and damage but we as a united force can oppose this creature of evil. Voldemort was unnamed by the people who were oppressed known only as He Who Must Not Be Named or You Know Who by those who feared to invoke his power. Dumbledore on the other hand noted that fear of a name only reinforced fear of the dark.

Trump is the darkness. He has invoked fear among us. He has spoken hate and threatened the peace of the innocent. He has said that our undocumented countrymen are rapists and murderers. He has denigrated and assaulted women. He has told “the blacks” that they are jailed and uneducated so what did they have to lose. The LGBT community has been singled out for punishment through conversion therapy. We have so much to lose under a Trump presidency. The vulnerable peoples of this country have reason to fear.

Just as some wizards moved to the Dark Lord there were many others who resisted. We must resist this whitelash. Voldemort in his final battle sneered at the opposition and promised vengeance for their resistance. He mocked Harry Potter as weak but Potter defeated Voldemort with his own wand.

Trump can damage us but he can can damage himself as well. He is responsible for the chaos, the fear, the hopelessness that we feel and like Voldemort it will strip his soul into pieces. As leader of the free world he has invoked the powers of darkness and discontent but that will weigh upon him everyday because the resistance will wear him out. He doesn’t believe that we have power over him to block. his intentions.

So there will be discontent and grief.

There will be grief.

Grieve but resist.

You may suffer but resist.

He talks a good game to invoke this whitelash, but even they are unwitting to their own vulnerability.

Believe in victory and resist.

The victory is ours.

PostScript: I am a well-versed Potterhead. Don’t hate.

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Arrwork: Illustrious Cry Me a River by Nguyen Thari Nhan

Loneliness is an echo chamber playing the voices of fear, the enemy of one’s self, the battles whose guns ricochet within the soft palate of the mind binding insecurity to the ever present need for companionship, betrayed ~

it is the place where need is manipulated by despair, and hope betrays solitude inside the soft boundaries of the mind where damage manifests as bruises, soft fruit with prints matching abuser’s ~

and inside the storm is the eye of the warrior entrapped in the winds of time and turbulence~

the cyclone is the laugh of madness, murder in the warrior’s mind, where the turmoil saturates what was once peace, sensory bliss. In the storm you fight and learn to spit upon base cowardice ~

I do not fear, I do not quiver in the storm. Lonesomeness girds me tight on its harness, sound regrets among the fallen, notes captured by me which now I own for my cause~

I am chaos embedded within the storm, a careless power from the void emerged, and born flinty like glints of iron ore junked in the veins beneath the skin, only so much restless dust~

In my mind I roam, meander, wander in uncharted territory ever forbidden to the Others who cannot cross past the revolutions of pressure as I do~

This is chaos, the enemy, artificial order where others sit gluttonous, saturated in false promises, slick from regret

While I dance and roar and make a friend of the rain

Broken Sleep

Hysteria by Natalie Shau

hungry dreams
gall and regret
do feed thee fine
the glass darkly
reflects ashes burnt down by time
fear and remorse and broken sleep
face to face
to thyself bid thee meet
to know thyself seek
the darkest nights
and stay deep therein
until thee find
the fire  inward burning
scourge the body, bleed the mind

Wishing Well

Artwork by Natalie Shau

suffering and sorrow are cash in the till
spent like hollow hope wishing to be filled
into sores and bruises who weep
white noise released into hands received
bitters salted by grief
cherished as good will and sleep
pleasure and pain nursed against all that you meet
unchanged always the eternal recipe
the cost of wisdom, the remainders of bad dreams

Treasure Mine

a pleasant laughter beneath the rose motif
a sharp white kiss with the drag of teeth
dusty fingers in a solemn half light
an undercover lover’s shaded movements and flight
call me your love, neither stop nor think
and I’ll come to you windblown, in darkness, with rich wine to drink

I am a dark stranger and a holy prayer true
with barbs and a cross I will pierce me to you
I constructed this love from creative dreamtime and jewels
leached this power from the hearts of seventeen fools
and now we belong to a tribe of just two
so stay here in my twilight where together we may hide
murmuring northanger and soft, cocoon and treasure mine