Fiercely Tender Moments

It’s been a season full of travel.  A flight a month since August. Settle into a breath and some. Focus on my work companioning leaders. Tend to home and heart. Then shift back to preparing and packing. One more to go, in mid-December, and then to sink and surrender into the gifts of winter’s cold and darkness.

Already the anticipation of immersing myself in the making of photo books from two remarkable journeys. Slow dinners of roasted roots and braised meats, best with our favourite fulsome reds, cellared especially for now. Wool and down, fleece and flannel, coats and sweaters, hats and scarves, boots and gloves, took over closets and beds on Labour Day, a month early, but prescient given snow that came well before summer went. Though underneath, until recently, the still vibrant and beauty of autumn. This is the wisdom medicine of such early snows, trusting the hidden beauty remains.

P1040136One of these flights included a trip to Saltspring Island, BC. In October the stars and my schedule finally aligned to attend an annual dream retreat hosted by Toko-pa Turner. I’d been intent to sit in this circle, to learn and practice more deeply the artistry of dreamwork, as a facet of my life work of attending to the inner life to live and lead with kindness, clarity and wisdom.  For three days, this multicultural, multi-generational circle of thirty women feasted on the harvest of our night-time dreams, and the meals lovingly prepared from the organic gardens of Stowel Lake Farm, an intentional community and wellness centre.

Pespectives with Panache, 2018Invited to bring a talisman for the dream altar, and for introductions, my initial choice of a small ceramic evoking Sedna of the deep waters was impulsively over-ridden by Athena, the Wisdom, Warrioress and Writer.  A gift from beloved friends and mentors, with whom a year earlier I was initiate in how to be, witness, and serve in shadowed and breaking times, in a complex circle of chaos and conflict.

She served me well, that statue forged in her Greek homeland, reminding me of tender fierceness and  fierce tenderness. Qualities to embrace and embody. Needed now. Placed on the altar’s corner, she became a presence of “unselfconscious majesty” reminding me of who we each truly are. Need to be. Now. For the duration, she became witness to our sacred dreams spoken in silence, written in words, sang and danced in sunshine and moonglow.

During our final morning, as homage this circle, these women, our dreams, and to what Toko-pa called our “Holy Helpers,” I quietly noticed and wrote, and then offered to the centre as farewell

Fiercely Tender Moments

One sits under the portico. Eyes closed.

Soft breath attuned to soft falling rain.

A colourful blanket wrapped about her shoulders,

keeping her safe and warm in the early morning cool.

 

Another sits writing down her dreams.

Her turquoise heart gift glows with appreciation for a new-found friend.

I can see her as her twenty-year old self. Imagine a long-haired hippy…strong, tall Scandinavian beauty.

 

Noiselessly shuffling tarot cards.

Clunky wooden bracelets a contrast to her long, elegant, gold ringed fingers.

A grace, a beauty that is remarkable, enthralling even.

 

One, then another, and another circle around the dream altar.

Honey scented candles softly illuminate these simple riches.

Taking in, reverently touching. Bowing before soul-filled symbols. Talismans of thresholds.

What is teacher? Healer? Warrioress? How do they feed and inspire my own visionary?

 

Heads bent over journals.

Pens softly scribing night time dreams, day time visions.

Intentions. Reflections.

 

A pause…

Hot creamy coffee sipped.

Buttered toast tasted.

 

Thick rain pouring steadily down, muting the vibrancy of this autumn morning glory.

Kitchen clatter reminds us of home soon to come.

 

Across the room a smile of morning greeting.

Closer still, a touch, an embrace.

Still the sacred silence honoured.

 

We are power in the heart.

Sweet honey in the rock.

PS – This is my first post since I “freshened up” my website. It’d been a few years and was time to refine the focus. Take a look and let me know what you think. Thanks and kindest regards.

Seven Star Sisters

Seven star sisters, each a Venus shining in the eastern morning sky.

 

Skin glows like moonbeams in the cloistered light of the hammam

Soft flesh – thighs, breasts and bellies

Hair loosened, free across forehead, neck and shoulder

Eyes half closed

Surrender.

 

Soaking in the warm and cool

pools of sensuous, history and story, ancient rituals

Tender dreams swirl up and through like the sandalwood incense wafting, scenting, sensing.

 

Exotic music out of time and place

Echoes of flamenco before it came to be

Imagining the route taken before making home in these Andalucian hills.

 

Hot honeyed tea, fresh with mint

a balm of generosity

Dates picked fresh

soft and warm and sweet as this moment.

 

Seven sister stars mindlessly float from hot to cool to hot again

Submerged in an elemental expanse of sky, of water

Footsteps languid on smooth clay floors

Two by two, give ourselves over to firm fingers, strong hands, primal stones.

 

Body aches and heart hurts

Monkey mind of spinning thought and worry

Give way to spacious possibility and healing hope

Up the spine.  Down the leg.

 

Tracing steps.

Following routes.

Coming home.

 

 

Another From the Little Red Jot Book

Sunday, September 3, 2017: at the old pool in the woods of Finca Buenvino, Spain

Ambling along the wooded path, morning sun dapples.

Gentle veer to the left and a slight decline reveals an old, maybe even ancient, archway.

A threshold into invited imagination.

Broken amphora and tree limbs.

The small square abandoned pool, its once white marble stones now stained from cork and chestnut leaves long dead and decayed.  Its once crystal waters, now dark and stagnant.

What story evoked, mystery imagined here?

She pushes the lattice gate, patina green with age, and enters a space out of time, out of place.  Another era.  Another life.

Walls made of stone and stucco.  Moss fans like sea coral across the surface.

A pool.  Square.  Its surface thick with algae.

Amphora cracked and gaping like a heart that never healed.

She remembers.

A little boy lost.

Following his dog, together running, leaping, caught in a moment of sunshine, lost in the reverie of play.

His mother calls, calls, calls. No reply.

Hot, tired and bitten by honey bees, he follows his dog who, smelling the fresh spring water and overcome by instinct, leaps into the pool below. 

Making his way down the slope, now at the pool’s edge, he wavers.  So hot.  So thirsty.  Overcomes the caution of his mother’s warning.

Splashes. Flounders. Grabs hold of the dog who wiggles out and away.

Kneeling by the edge she peers into the dank and murky depths, mesmerized by memory.

Searching.  Finding.

Lost.  Found.

Dreamscape Two – a holy communion

Now the one about the older woman…

She is old.  While taller, by feeling she resembles my Oma, my father’s mother who loved her son, her grandchildren and great grandchildren fiercely.

Always independent, as her husband lay dying of cancer, Oma, in her sixties, learned to drive, maneuvering the freeways, charming the immigration officers as she crossed the bridge to Canada, to us, with her VW Rabbit stuffed with gifts and groceries.  Decades earlier, in the little Black Forest town of Germany, during and after World War II, she worked three jobs to support herself and my father.  Those were her best years, the ones she storied for us with joy, pride and determination.  Until she came to live her last years in Canada, close to her family.

But this woman of my dream is my height and stature.  And she is Italian.

I am in Italy.  I have just finished a simple, homemade, delicious dinner.  I may be with a friend.  I have been staying here for a while, long enough to have become familiar with, close even to the Nonna who prepared this meal.

She has been a teacher to me.  I feel a deep love and appreciation for her in my life.  In my broken Italian, I thank her for the good, good food.  We laugh together at my attempts to say just how good…

”Insalata, ahhhh…. buonissimo!  Si?”

She encourages me, asks me what else I’ll eat.

“Il dolce?” she asks and playfully hugs and tugs at my body to see if I can afford to let myself have this sweet, the sweetest part of the meal, of life?

I hug her and say in Italian “I love you” through the tears I am now crying, through an even deeper sadness that is suddenly coming up from my depths.

Holding her, despite her strength, suddenly I know she is dying.  I see her face and while she is not my Oma, Oma is evoked.  I love this woman very much.  Again, I say, in Italian, “I love you.”

Again, and again.

Epilogue

Last October I awoke quietly crying from this dream.  I was on a favourite island in the Pacific Northwest – it has become one of my heart places – where, without fail, I spend most nights immersed in vivid dreamscapes.

The convergence of mountain, sea and sky energies are a great catalyst for my dream maker’s talents, though I’m not always able to retrieve her creations, so plentiful that I often awake feeling tired for the travelling.  However, that pre-dawn morning, the dream and feelings it evoked, deeply moved me, and stayed with me for hours, making it easy for me to journal, to contemplate, and finally to glean its gift. Even now as I write, it’s easy for me to conjure the scene and its characters, to step back into the story, to taste those feelings.

With reflection I realized that in my dream, in my broken Italian, I had said to this Nonna, “Mi’amo,”  thinking I was saying “I love you” when really I was saying, over and over, “I love me.”  The dream maker never errs.  This was not a Freudian slip.

This wise old woman, this Nonna-Oma feeds me, loves me, plays with me, teaches me.  I eat her food.  I take in her love, her joy, her playfulness.

I ingest her.  I take her into me.  She becomes me and in so doing, is dying.

A holy communion.

A few weeks later, I read a dear wise woman words about the necessity for us each to take back and eat the hope we have projected onto others, to nourish ourselves so as to become our own hope, our own leaders, and our own fiercely loving, joyful, playful Nonna-Omas.

Dreamscape One – “Yes, I am here.”

Did I tell you the one about the older man?

Cultured, well dressed in a European kind of way.  A man who looks like someone I know – a wounded healer who knows how to listen when the body says no.  Older than me, though I always feel myself younger than I am, and not just when I’m dreaming.  (From what I hear, it’s a function of age, this time standing still inside while outside life goes on.)  I suppose an onlooker, someone passing us by as we walked together –  my arm around his waist, his casually draped around my shoulder –  would have thought us well matched.

Perhaps they would have sensed, as do I, something vital, captivating, alluring in how we walk together, under those renaissance porticoes, along cobbled sidewalks, towards that old grand hotel.  Yes, I feel it to be some old city in Europe.  Place of my heart’s longing and desire.

We are laughing, enjoying each other’s company, oblivious to others on the street, those who turn their heads a bit to notice…something…with a smile.

You, who had been my teacher, with whom I had loved and partnered for twenty some years.

You, whose gift of a book then, inspired now in me the creation of a photo book gleaming and glowing with life, colour and beauty.

You, who are delighted to observe how deeply received and well acknowledged my creation at its debut, among all those who gathered.

We climb the old magnificent staircase, bordered by frescoes.  Fifteen hundred years old you replied.  Past antique gilt and glass and wooden bar, where you’d go for a late afternoon aperitif or morning café.  On our way to our room to make love.

I felt I’d found home with him, this place, this time, my creativity.  I felt all was right and good, true and beautiful, despite our age difference and previous roles.  No shame.  No guilt.  No need to hide.  This was a good beginning in a relationship for twenty years.

Epilogue

The day following, and a year ago today – March 30, 2016 – I thought I saw an owl flying overhead as we walked our Annie dog through the golf course. Out of the corner of my vision, I saw a large light wing span and heard the raucous cries of crows.  It stuck because it struck me as odd. When we arrived home, there it was, a snowy owl, perched in the top of the tree next door.

In the thirty plus years we have lived in our suburban home, never before had I seen an owl fly in the neighborhood, in broad daylight, let alone land in the backyard tree next door, as if waiting for me to say, “Yes, I am here.” (I just realized I had intended to write, “as if waiting to for me, as if to say…” This slip is revealing in its truth…its portent.)

Together with my night dream, I took it as omen, having been given a statue of Athena with her talisman the owl perched on her outstretched arm.  And almost a year later, driving home very late at night from the airport, returning from the intimate writers’ retreat on Whidbey Island, there he was again and the only time since, that large mass of of light flying across my sight line as I turned off the highway.  Just as fleeting, though unmistakable in the black of night. “Yes, I am here.”