Ramble Across the Sky

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Even on the most blustery day, the mountains are steady

Learn the lessons of the wind and earth

Walk between the two

Let your breath ramble across the sky

Let your body feel the slow pulse of the land, the cool solidity of stone

Learn to be weightless and grounded

To be pulled and anchored

Learn to live between the two

to be achingly alive and free

Beauty Explains Nothing

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sunset, friday night

“Beauty can both shout and whisper, and still / it explains nothing.”

—Mary Oliver, “Leaves and Blossoms Along the Way” from Felicity

These lines caught me immediately.  I’ve been rolling them around on my tongue for days, though part of me wants to erase the second half and still, it explains nothing.  Until this morning, I couldn’t tell you why, exactly, I wanted these words gone, except I didn’t understand what she meant; I wanted to say back, yes, beauty can explain everything.

And then this morning, I read this from Thich Nhat Hanh’s How to Sit

“If you ask a child, ‘Why are you eating chocolate?’ The child would likely answer, ‘Because I like it.’  There’s no purpose in eating the chocolate.  Suppose you climb a hill and stand on top to look around.  You might feel quite happy standing on the hill.  There’s not a reason for doing it.  Sit in order to sit.  Stand in order to stand.  There is no goal or aim in sitting.  Do it because it makes you happy.”

There is no purpose.  There is no goal or aim.  Do it because it makes you happy.  And yet, beneath this is the understanding that the meaning is in the mindfulness.  That beauty or action alone explains nothing.  That they are not, in fact, trying to explain anything anyway.

Amidst the industry and utility of this world, I easily forget the simplicity of being.

I forget that we aren’t meant to explain so much as to experience.

Beauty has its way of catching us and bringing us into presence.  Beauty has its way of bringing us beyond the explanation and into the heart of experience.  And so beauty has no duty to explain.  And neither do I, except to tell you what I’ve learned:

Beneath beauty is breath.

You don’t have to explain anything.  Just breathe.  Do it because it makes you happy.

The Wildness and the Wild

4/6/2016

6:12 am — A periwinkle sky, soft and bright and so translucent it seems to levitate above the mountains.  Which of course it always does, but only now do I see just how the horizon is born from light.

6:22 am — The sky drifts into pastels, pink and peach.  Waylon sleeps curled next to me as I read, and I think I am happy, content, peaceful, except none of these words are right.  It’s something quieter, deeper, something nameless that fills me.

It eases the urgency of doing.

6:32 am — The light has cascaded from the sky onto the mountains themselves.

The mountains are like a farm woman: strong, steady, curves around the muscles.  Sometimes they’re merely noticed, but eventually truly seen, causing the observer to stop and breathe in the beauty, the wildness, the stateliness, the pure bedrock of life at once tangled and ordered; a being large enough to hold contradictions and surprises and still offer comfort in the sheer mass of her embrace.

When I hold my son, I imagine the mass of the mountains in my hug.

When I hold my son, I feel his energy and I realize how much slower I’ve become.  How motherhood necessitates that.  How the wind, which once directed me, now flows through him.  How I’ve come into conversation with the roots of trees.  How I’ve learned to match the pace of mountains.

He is the wildness.  I am the wild.

When I hold my son, I realize I have become a home.

6:38 — He sleeps.  I write.  The light pours down the mountainside.

In another few hours it will reach the west-facing hillside and be upon us all.

No Mud, No Lotus

No Mud,No Lotus

Years ago, sitting cross-legged in a yoga class, my teacher spoke about the muck on the bottom of the pond.  How the muck is home to the roots.  How it gives birth to the lotus.  I sat there, grounding my sacrum to the floor, strengthening my spine, feeling the opening at the crown of my head, and breathed in the lesson.  In that moment, the relationship between the mud and the lotus was so clear.  You’d think as a farmer I’d never forget it.

But I do forget it.  Despite the compost we shovel on our field each year, despite the fact that my livelihood depends on manure, I forget the balance.  I have to re-learn it each spring.

The month of March churned up the internal muck, and I caught myself there, in the opaque sludge of worry, in the heavy suction of resistance.  It took weeks to remember that pushing down to find grounding is futile in the muck.  It took weeks to remember how to trust in letting go.  How to trust in the mud.

Eventually, movement returned.  I don’t know if it was external validation or the wind bringing in warm air and clear skies, or the exhaustion of trying so hard that finally brought me to letting go, but I’m shifting into spring and feel the shoots starting to rise from the murky base.

Somewhere in all of it, I remembered sitting in that yoga class, remembered the space that filled my body as I breathed from the flower down to the roots, remembered that this cycle has spun through me before.  And I’ve woken up into trust, into space, into abundance.

I’ve woken up.

No mud, no lotus, Thich Nhat Hanh said, and I remember that the pond, too, sleeps and must wake each spring.  That the lotus, too, must bloom anew each year.

 

 

Good Medicine

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March came in with a bluster of sustained wind and strong gusts, dropping the temperature 40º in the course of one night.  The house trembled against the gusts, and I laid in bed, my stomach hollowing with each shudder of the posts and beams.  All night I breathed and drew my breath to the earth, to the roots of trees.

On the first of March I woke tired but thankful for the stillness after the storm.  Thankful for the space that comes after struggle.

Subsequent nights have been calmer, the mornings warmer.  On Friday I woke at 5:30 and watched the dark of night soften into a blue twilight, the mountains shifting in shades of blue from persian to azure to lapis and finally to a dusty french blue before reaching the lightness of day.  It was only 20º at 6:00, but when I opened the door to let the cat out, the air whispered of spring and I lingered in the doorway listening to the clear notes of a chickadee calling fee-bee.  

Those simple notes.  Can I describe to you how they woke me up?  Can I tell you how the day before I felt struggle, for no reason except that that I did?  And how this one moment at the door, when the air felt just a half ounce heavier and smelled just a few degrees warmer, when the chickadee whistled two clean notes, how in this one moment my chest flooded with space.

Struggle and space.  Breath in and out.  The cycle can happen so fast.

Sometimes I want so much to do something good that I forget the goodness of caring for myself, of tending to my heart.  Sometimes I want so much to do something good that I feel only the struggle of trying.

Then I remember the medicine that is always at hand:

Waking early is good medicine.

Reading poetry is good medicine.

Letting myself be inspired by others’ creativity is good medicine.

Being in awe is good medicine.

I come back to breath.  I come back to grounding, to the lessons offered up by trees, to the strength of roots.

I come back to the stillness after the storm, to the chickadee and the texture of early spring air.

I come back to the tending of my heart, and I know how fiercely beautiful this world is.

And I know how wonderfully beautiful it is to see it.

 

 

To be alive and full and whole

Rudbeckia evening

To be seen.  To be free.  To be alive and full and whole–the yearnings of soul.

Evening comes and the sun lights upon the horizon, it’s rays like open petals before dusk: an invitation, an opening, an ease of light to quell the ache of longing.

This is Summer

evening light, by Katie Spring

A certain quality of light infuses my days, and I can’t help but fall into it.

These mountains we live across from pour the evenings over us, wash us in mists and sunsets, reflect the first light of each new day’s dawn.

This is summer, this letting go of extraneous matters and responsibilities, this filling up of light, this wordless pull to the outside that quiets the core of my being.

You Can Plant Beauty

planting flowers
planting flowers

You can plant beauty

You can create beauty

Your life is a unique expression of energy

Your expressions are powerful

How do you choose to move?

 

Creatures of Habit

Morning clouds Monday whispered thoughts of rain all morning and afternoon, with undulating gray clouds stretching across the sky.  I was beneath them broad forking the lower field and feeling anxious about money, as so happens from time to time.  As I worked, I listened to an episode of Redefined Life, a podcast my friend Aaron Mead recently began.

The conversation between Aaron and Jeff Shapiro, a wing-suit BASE jumper, played in my ears as I pushed the tines of the broad fork down into soil and pulled back, loosening the bed.  The rhythm of the work slowly eased its fingers into the jumbled knot in my stomach, and as it loosened, the conversation turned to happiness when Shapiro said that happiness is a choice, and that nothing outside of us can give or take away happiness.

The warm air and cloudy sky afforded the perfect temperature to be working outside; the trees in full green framed the field and rose across the hillside into the mountains; my body was moving, and I felt that choice to be happy.

The antidote to anxiousness is presence.  Out in the field, working with soil and plants, I fall into rhythm and it leads me to presence, which in turn opens my body to choices beyond anxiety.  Like happiness, presence and awareness of the now is a choice, and like anything else, the more you practice making that choice, the more you say “yes” to it, the more natural it becomes.

We are creatures of habit.  I’d like my habit to be happiness.

Aaron also interviewed me for Redefined Life.  We spoke about writing, farming, and creating a business.  I was nervous to hear the episode,not quite remembering all that I said, but it served as a reminder to me why I do all that I do.  To hear it, visit Redefined Life online.

What Cannot Be Said

{In celebration of National Poetry Month, I’ll be posting a poem each weekday through the rest of April, and I invite you to join me!  Leave a link to your poem of the day in the comments section below.}

Some questions cannot be answered in words:

Why are you alive?

We can say: because my parents made it so

We can say: to make the world a better place

But there is something more

that can only be felt:

the wind tugging at your limbs, whispering in your ears

the song of air

the rhythm of water tumbling

the immediacy of a pumping heart

dancing the body into freedom

joy