Posted in Essay, First Peoples, General Interest, Michael Watson, Nature

Walking In Beauty

Lake-ChamplainThe fog is lifting, revealing a lovely spring day.

There is a Navaho word, Harzo, which can be translated as a life in Balance and Beauty. Balance and Beauty are complex concepts, changing as they move across tribes and cultures. I’m not Navaho and only understand Harzo as it has been explained to me by friends and colleagues. My felt sense of Harzo comes from living in the mountains of New Mexico as a grad student. There one is surrounded by Beauty and Vastness, and reminded of the insignificance of one’s self. It is not that we are unimportant, rather, we are simply part of the unimaginable Vastness of Nature.

One of the challenges many urban folks face is no longer recognizing our place in Beauty. We are drawn to the picturesque, yet so often we are unable to experience ourselves as part of the Beauty of Nature. Perhaps this difficult is rooted in our use of English. I am told by those who speak our tribal languages that most Indigenous languages in North America are verb based. The landscape and the living beings who live there are understood to be complex, evolving processes, rather than things. One is simply a process within a context of other and greater processes.

Walking in Beauty encourages us to recognize our relatedness to one another and All-That-Is. It is a good road that teaches empathy and reciprocity. As we live we begin to understand there is Beauty before, behind, and all around us. We also learn that we are unimaginably complex, filled, as is the world, with nuances of light and dark, and that, too, is beautiful.Trillium

Beauty exists even in the darkest of times and the most violent of places. Walking in Beauty implies remaining open to its presence and influence even when we are afraid or suffering. This can be a difficult task. My Navajo friends families’ held stories of The Long Walk, a trail of misery and suffering, a time when the Beauty of the Navajo homelands was lost, although the memory of Beauty and home was not. Eventually the Navajo went Home to their land bordered by the four sacred mountains, the place of Beauty. Sadly, that place remains under siege.

I imagine most of us have stories about the loss of Beauty, about exile and suffering, and about the journey Home. As I write this, a development project threats the natural beauty of our neighborhood, and perhaps the cohesiveness of the community itself. It is an old story: greed and avarice distract a few powerful people from the Beauty of place. So often, development is simply a code word for the further acquisition of power and the endless search for more wealth. Perhaps greed is simply a part of human nature, sometimes held in check by a collective focus on the good of the whole, and other times freed to wreck havoc on the world. It can only exist when we forget we are totally and irrevocably interconnected, when attachment and empathy fail, and when culture condones placing one’s desires over the good of the whole.

Evening-Sky The sun has broken through and the sky is a brilliant blue. Over the lake a layer of clouds, white and bubbly, hangs. Trees and gardens are  abloom, and the scent of lily-of-the-valley and lilac saturates the air. The day is beautiful. May we walk through this day in Beauty, together.

michael drumMICHAEL WATSON, M.A., Ph.D., LCMHC (Dreaming the World) ~ is a contributing editor to Into the Bardo, an essayist and a practitioner of the Shamanic arts, psychotherapist, educator and artist of Native American and European descent. He lives and works in Burlington, Vermont, where he teaches in undergraduate and graduate programs at Burlington College,. He was once Dean of Students there. Recently Michael has been teaching in India and Hong Kong. His experiences are documented on his blog. In childhood he had polio, an event that taught him much about challenge, struggle, isolation, and healing.

Posted in Jamie Dedes, Poems/Poetry

Life, Death, and Poetry

Monterey Cypress at Carmel-by-the-Sea
Monterey Cypress at Carmel-by-the-Sea

the mindful peace of the cypress beckons,
she bows in the wind but doesn’t break,
she knows well the moments, but nothing of time
her poetry is written in presence, not words

in this business of life, of death and of poetry
today is, i think, best forgotten ~
just a figment, after all, an old locked-room mystery,
stored among a million neurons, a trillion connections,
soundproof, but for the occasional cerebral accident
with its quick crack of a gunshot fading into a yellow eye,
watching with an understandable fatalism

life, as it turns out, is a matter of imagination,
or folly, nurturing the seesaw of grief and joy,
the contrapuntal pulls of yin and yang

we can reframe, but we can’t rewrite
there are no encores

this business of life, of death and of poetry is what it is
and the past is not a salve nor the future a savior,
the same sun that warms words poemed into life
will dry our skin to leather and weld it to bone ~

moss, says the poet, will cover up our names*

it’s best then, i think, to mimic the cypress
to let go the days, the clutter and the noise,
to bow – but not snap – in the wind,
to know well the moments, but nothing of time

– Jamie Dedes

* I Died for Beauty (“Until the moss had reached our lips,/And covered up our names.”), Emily Dickinson

© 2013, poem , Jamie Dedes, All rights reserved
Photo credit ~ Amadscientist via Wikipedia under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license

Photo on 2012-09-19 at 20.00JAMIE DEDES ~ My worldly tags are poet and writer. For the past five years I’ve blogged at The Poet by Day,the journey in poem, formerly titled Musing by Moonlight.  Through the gift of poetry (mine and that of others), I enter sacred space.

Posted in Art, Gretchen Del Rio, Jamie Dedes, mystic, Poems/Poetry

she leaps from the cleavage of time . . .

she’s present
returned to bite through the umbilical of tradition,
to flick her tongue
and cut loose the animus-god of our parents,
like a panther she roams the earth, she is eve wild in the night,
freeing minds from hard shells
and hearts from the confines of their cages,
she’s entwined in the woodlands of our psyches
and offers her silken locks to the sacred forests of our souls ~
naked but for her righteousness,
she stands in primal light,
in the untrammeled river of dreams
the yin to balance yang
the cup of peace to uncross the swords of war ~
through the eons she’s been waiting for her time
her quiet numinosity hiding in the phenomenal world,
in the cyclical renewal of mother earth,
whispering to us as the silver intuition of grandmother moon
watching us as the warm vigilance of father sun ~
she, omen of peace birthed out of the dark,
even as tradition tries to block her return,
her power leaps from the cleavage of time

)0(

– Jamie Dedes

Original water color by Gretchen Del Rio
Original water color by Gretchen Del Rio

©2013, poem, Jamie Dedes, All rights reserved 

Illustration ~ this lovely watercolor painting by Gretchen Del Rio with its girl-tree, panther and other spirit animals seemed the perfect illustration for my poem on the spiritual return of the feminine. The real back-story on the painting is just as interesting. Gretchen says, “I painted this for a 14 year old Navaho girl. It is for her protection and her power. She sees auras and is very disturbed by this. She is just amazing. Beauty beyond any words. You can see into the soul of the universe when you look at her eyes. She has no idea. I loved her the moment I saw her. My blessings for her well being are woven into the art.” Such a charming piece. I posted it full-size so that everyone can enjoy the detail. Bravo, Gretchen, and thank you. J.D.

Photo on 2012-09-19 at 20.00JAMIE DEDES ~ My worldly tags are poet and writer. For nearly six years I’ve blogged at The Poet by Day,the journey in poem, formerly titled Musing by Moonlight.  Through the gift of poetry (mine and that of others), I enter sacred space.

Attn.: Poets and Writers

Victoria C. Slotto’s Writers’ Fourth Wednesday is tonight.

7 p.m. P.S.T. here on Into the Bardo

See you then …

Posted in Essay, Michael Watson

To Err is Human

Window ViewThis morning I was driving home from one of our favorite bakeries via a well trodden, quietly residential route, one I have walked and driven for more than thirty years. I was lost in thought and focused on the many speed bumps that inhabit that street. I was thinking that the latte had been suburb, and the new pastry way too sweet and most likely going to suppress my immune system for hours. Suddenly I was aware I had run a stop light; seemingly the light had sprung up overnight in the middle of a block.

The light is long overdue and should aid elementary school students cross the sometimes busy street in route to their school. Yet, motorists are not warned of a new light, and the light itself is partially obscured by overhanging branches. (Often the city puts up warning signs for motorists approaching new stop signs and lights.) The light seems an excellent example of a well conceived project inadequately implemented.

I missed the light, in part, because, as I drove down the empty street  I was thinking about writing a post for this blog. Familiarity with the way, and a downward sighted focus on the speed bumps added to the problem. Yet, ultimately, I was a distracted driver and I drove through a red light. Clearly, my responsibility.

I imagine that most of us are doing our best to be kind and attentive to the needs and demands of life. We imagine we have things under control, forgetting our attention is divided, and the ease with which mistakes occur. How often our attention fails and we miss whatever might be important in the moment. How frequently do we become angry with others for doing the same?

Here is a paradox: maybe we take ourselves too seriously. Perhaps we would be happier were we to substitute humor for anger, playful reconsideration for aggression. Humor and playfulness support our presence in the moment and encourage us to forgive one another and ourselves for our misses.  Yes, driving is crucial business, requiring all our facilities and best judgement. Many other tasks are also decidedly important, demanding seriousness of purpose and focus. Yet, we are going to err. Most of the time a bit of laughter is more supportive of learning than is self criticism. A light heart seems to aid the brain in becoming more skillful.

The fretful side of me wonders what other hazards lurk in the midst of well trodden, usually safe paths. Those voices urge focus and attention, reminding me of the real consequences of grave mistakes. Other voices remind me few mistakes are truly harmful. They encourage breath and play, humor as well as focus. Both points of view are important in a world of hazards. I’m wondering where the balance between them lies. What do you think?

– Michael Watson

© 2013, essay and photographs (includes portrait below), Michael Watson, All rights reserved

michael drumMICHAEL WATSON, M.A., Ph.D., LCMHC (Dreaming the World) ~ is a contributing editor to Into the Bardo, an essayist and a practitioner of the Shamanic arts, psychotherapist, educator and artist of Native American and European descent. He lives and works in Burlington, Vermont, where he teaches in undergraduate and graduate programs at Burlington College,. He was once Dean of Students there. Recently Michael has been teaching in India and Hong Kong. His experiences are documented on his blog. In childhood he had polio, an event that taught him much about challenge, struggle, isolation, and healing.

Posted in Essay, Guest Writer

Giulas is a thoughtful, talented South American film-maker and photographer. I have followed his blog and YouTube channel for a few years now. This post is one I particularly appreciate. Guilas gives us something to think about, which he has drawn from his refined spiritual and artistic sensibility. Thanks, Giulas. Jamie

The eternal solitude of the restless Mind

We live in a world with lots of differences. People are dying of poverty by the millions while other people are feasting in fancy hotels in Europe and Asia. People are suffering for not been able to afford dental treatment while people are spending hundreds of thousands in a new shining smile. That’s the world. I know it can get a lot better but i also know it was a lot worst. At times slavery was common. At times killing with no reason was acceptable. It sounds like the world we live in now, right? Look up in history and you will see it was a lot worst. Our life expectancy is proof of that. This is already subject for a lot of arguments but this is not the main subject here. The main subject maybe has to do with the fact things doesn’t get even better. Much better. And…

View original post 531 more words