Winter’s Pause

January takes her parting bow today.  After a respite that melted most of the snow and foolishly tempted both plant and birds into thinking spring was soon to be, I awoke to a once again cold, white winter.  Curious, too, my start to this year as it’s taken the month to imagine and begin to see glimmers of the returning light.

Right now, I’m in the third, middle week of the U.Lab: Transforming Business, Society, Self, a MOOC (massive open online classes) hosted by MIT, featuring Otto Scharmer and his team.  Together with 25,000 people from over 190 countries around the world, we’re participating in a novel, highly experiential process to “learn how to create profound innovation in a time of disruptive change by leading from the emerging future,” by introducing the consciousness – that quality of awareness and attention – as the variable affecting the quality of the results we create in any social system.

“The success of an intervention depends on the interior condition of the intervener.” — Bill O’Brien

I’ve written about Theory U before, described other times when I’ve journeyed down the U, shared how I knew in my heart and bones the quintessence of this work when I first heard Otto present his ideas in 2003 at Shambhala-Alia – even before he called it “Theory U. “ Last year several of us held a study of this course’s featured book, Leading from the Emerging Future, and twice now, I’ve co-hosted a 2-day learning lab, Leading in Emergence, designed as an abbreviated journey though the U.

ulab-overview

So given this “more than passing” familiarity, I was bowled over when last week, for the first time I actually heard that the emerging future needs me, needs us, to be born and to have life. While perhaps pretty obvious to many, I was deeply moved by this.  It’s not that I’m a passive, or even active participant.  I am, we are, midwife to that future that comes from Self, or Source, or God, or pure creativity, whatever you call the embodiment and enactment of love.

I just realized above that I wrote, “I’m in the middle of the U.Lab,” a perfect description for where I really am, both literally in the course, and metaphorically in my life – at the bottom of the U.  Work has been slow to start this year, and at the moment, I don’t see much on the horizon for the next few months.  Perhaps for one of the first times, I’m not too anxious about this.

I spend many dark dawn morning hours sitting with my Peggy dog, imagining we’re both filling up on each other before she takes her parting bow. I remind myself, this is where I need to be now. Every time a vacation bargain crosses my screen, my Magpie-Crow-Raven cousins get seduced by the “shiny,” but by day’s end I delete what I know down deep is only a distraction. I remind myself, this is where I need to be now.  I feel the uncertainty, unfamiliarity and void with letting go of a life-long honed identity that once served well…with cancelling long held dreams that no longer matter …with releasing relationships that use me up.  I remind myself, this is where I need to be now. This year, The Scientist officially became a senior, and I celebrate a new decade, and face the reality that yes, while only a number, 60 is NOT the new 50; that I, he, we are entering into new and unfamiliar territory that we know will be marked by more letting go.  I remind myself, this is where I am right now.  I see how my Peggy dog has become the symbol for all that is letting go, dying, as was so starkly, heartbreakingly, blessedly revealed to me in a dream last week, a dream that when I recall, resounds deep in my gut.

So now I have time to ponder and play with something a dear friend wrote in response to my blog wherein I wrote about having been struck with Bell’s Palsy, an illness that cracked me open, whose effects continue to reverberate, and is, I now know, one of the boons from the threshold I crossed when I took leave from work and traveled to Europe in 2010-11.

“I went along for the ride (in a virtual world) when you went to Europe and I smiled and laughed and remembered my own trip many years ago. I wondered if maybe I was becoming stagnant as I don’t go too far these days and seem to be so very comfortable just being in my home. Then it occurred to me that what better way to live your truth than by getting up everyday and simply living your life? Not as a teacher or mentor or guide, but just living each day with the spontaneity that comes with a brand new day.
I am not saying we shouldn’t give back and share our knowledge, but sometimes life makes us sit back and just be, while we look at the balance or imbalance that currently is our reality.”

Perhaps this is the future that is asking to be born through me now.

For now, letting come winter’s pause to attend.

“Another world is not only possible, she is on her way.  On a quiet day, I can hear her breathing.” — Arundhati Roy

Winter Frost

Perspectives with Panache, 2015I

Some times

in winter’s dark moments I forget

Beauty is just

a breath

a way.

II

It’s as simple as

walking out to

walking in to

calm and a

safe respite.

IIIPerspectives with Panache, 2015

Morning sun

glistening on snowflakes.

Infinite possibilities for

joy.

The birds agree.

Last Sunday of Summer Morning Musings

Coffee in hand, I settle into the corner of my “sanctuary’s” sofa, the best spot for witnessing the dawning of a new morning, this, the last Sunday of summer.

Poised on the equinox, a soft golden glow appears through the willows as the sun makes its way into the sky, only two hours late, yet still early with what’s to come.

Surprising the degree to which wind currents vary in the relatively small space of a backyard.  From the barely evident whisperings among the lowest leaves and draped branches, to a fluttering higher up, and then to the more pronounced swaying in the treetops. Yet nothing like the big winds on Friday night, that came in a sudden and furious rush out of nowhere, stirring up big energies that caused a full moon-like fitful sleep, blowing out summer.

The tapping of toes on hardwood floors and kitchen tiles as my dear old Peggy dog wanders, out of sorts that I’ve taken my place in a room she’s never really felt at home in – except for her mid-morning sun baths – now restlessly waiting to fulfill her role as my office assistant, where she sleeps by my desk and the space heater.

Annie, meticulously cleans each toe on each paw, softly lapping and licking, focused and intent, until the need to establish ground, and hold court by issuing a low warning growl to Peggy’s unsteady and clumsy advances.

IMG_1495Tender indigo lobelia, still flush and iridescent in its outdoor planter while fuschia geraniums and pale blue petunias look weary, having weathered early September cold and snow, and its rebounding heat and sun. The high bush cranberry bushes filled with crimson fruit, leaves finally the promised vermillion after being freed from the shade of the dying forty year old mayday tree. Context is everything.

Quiet and steady thoughts send blessings and loving kindness to family and friends, one about to return from travelling abroad, others in the mountains, several healing from health crises or tending to ailing parents, many riding the waves of transition with grief, fresh or anticipated.

Gratitude for this moment, and for everyone and everything that as brought me to this moment.

And then those thoughts insidiously slip to the next moments’ myriad of things to do and I notice – whoops – how I just lost my balance, how that soft and subtle, open and receiving, peace and contentment – in a moment – becomes tight and closed, shallow and anxious.

Not yet.

Breath and redirection.

Gratitude for this moment, for this new day, the last Sunday of summer.

The Heart’s Twin Sisters

Buddha's Daughter coverMy final summer reading was Buddha’s Daughters, a collection of teachings from women who are shaping Buddhism in the west. (In sweet synchronicity, I see the publication date is my birthday!) I didn’t quite finish, as by the September 2 due date there was a hold from another library patron. I did read enough to know that this, too, might need a home in my own library, though which book to relinquish to make space?

Blanche Hartman, in “Just to be Alive is Enough,” shared a teaching from Tara Tulku Rinpoche on gratitude and generosity. She relates a time when the teacher asked them:

“to think of everything that we thought was ours and to consider how it came to us. Our food, clothing, houses, books, tools, toys, health: anything we can think of comes to us through the kindness of others…Gratitude and generosity generate each other.” (123)

As I read this teaching, I was sitting in my “sanctuary” and paused to look around me. It was true. Everything in that room, on which my eyes rested, on which I rested, had come to me as a gift from the generosity of others. Absolutely everything. Then I looked beyond into the next room and found the same. And as I mentally reflected throughout each room in our home, I discovered much the same.

In that moment, my heart filled to overflow and came through my eyes.

I knew the truth of these words, “gratitude and generosity generate each other.”

Gratitude and generosity, the heart’s twin sisters.

Another Mindless Moment

Seems I’ve been having a lot of these lately.

Tonight, when I was preparing dinner, going through canisters to find some jasmine rice, I came across those plastic measuring cups – the ½, ¼ and 1/8 th cups all nested within each other – the cups that had gone missing for a week or so. I remember the moment after I misplaced them, thinking, “Whoops, they’re gone,” like they’d slipped off the edge of reality. Had I rescued them in that moment, I’d not have had the days since, occasionally searching and wondering, “Where did they go?”

I just texted “The Scientist,” who’s now in San Francisco on a short business trip because he, too, had been a member of the search party. He of the ever- light heart, humorously suggested I admonish “the girls” (our dogs) for moving my stuff. My reply, texting as I laughed, was it was me in a mindless moment, and maybe what I should’ve called my blog!

Millions of mindless moments when I’m cruising on autopilot… preoccupied with some inner non-sense…habitually worrying…or…or simply empty and not thinking of anything at all.

P1000979This just came to me as I typed…mind empty, not thinking about the past or future. Isn’t that what meditation is about?  A bit of that cloudless blue sky…seeing through to it, seeing it through, the edges of a mind full of otherness?