Jun 18, 2016

Blue blue sky

Okay. I see it now.

The silence that stills the mind.
The freshness of the moment.
The death of time.
The green of the grass.
The blue of the sky.

I am awash with the love of a million mothers.
I have forgotten my name.
The fly is my brother.
I stare at its rubbing legs and compound eyes in awe.
Inside I see myself.

Movement has slowed down, my heart is beating slower.
I feel like everything has taken on a crispness.
Sharp as if my lens has been adjusted.
The sun is irradiating the grass blades - oh how they glisten!
The wind is blowing through the branches slowly,
deliberately, as if knowingly, as if a spirit in itself.
My brother too.

How strange all this! I feel at peace.
I have a tinkling hope somewhere - or is it joy?
It is at once curious, amused, quiet, calm but also excited.

I have to meet a friend. I get in the car.
The sky is blinding blue. I can't stop staring.
I don't turn the radio on - this silence is delicious.
All these cars around me are fascinating
and inexplicable - these people around me: why are they upset? why are they rushing?
Can't they see this sky??
I feel so at peace. I park and sit down at a table, outside, I wait for my friend.

I look at the people sitting here too. I feel okay about them, with them.
They are animated and fascinating. This flesh that moves around in space, the voices that come out,
the colour of the clothes. I feel a warmth, a kindness.

I'm staring at the sky. She comes through the gate. She smiles.
Her energy is beautiful. She is beautiful.
I notice the beauty marks on her face.
Her hair is supple. I tell her what I am experiencing.
I have a tinkling fear somewhere: that she will not believe me.

It dissolves.

Hours pass, I do not know. We talk about the most beautiful things.
Our relationship has shifted somehow.
I love her. She is my sister.
I go home.

I forget when my mind returned.
I have not felt this since then but for a few moments of grace (daily, almost, yes. many times just deep gratitude). It has been a few months.

I wasn't sure what it was. I was meditating, I had been meditating consistently for a few days, doing self-inquiry, I was determined, and then it happened, all the noise disappeared suddenly like down a vortex, and then the silence and peace and crispness sort of melted away the next morning when I got up for work. I never mentioned it to anyone else. My meditation practice fell away. I got consumed with life. Things happen that suck me in. My mind sucks me in. I am distracted. I fall back into suffering, desperation.

But I see it now, I think it is a choice. Letting go is scary, I think I'm still holding on to my-self very tight, I know it is a choice ultimately. Practice of making your mind stop helps, but I think you have to be determined.

There is a small fountain at the funeral home at the entrance. It makes a wonderful gurgling sound when they plug it up. Above, on the wall, Mark's mum stuck a vinyl decal, a quote from the New Testament:

"But those who drink the water I give will never be thirsty again. It becomes a fresh, bubbling spring within them, giving them eternal life."

Oh my God. It has been staring at me in the face every morning when I go to work.

Is it possible that the answer can be so underlyingly simple yet so damn elusive, for all the sticky attachments we have piled on top of it?

Is the difference between heaven and hell just a matter of unclenching my mind's fist and unclasping it from my consciousness?

 (whoa easier said than done)

Jun 16, 2016

Domestic Goddess

I am a goddess among tea towels, hand mixers and ironing boards. I battle with dirty dishes and recipe books, piles of clothes looking at me forlornly from the laundry room corner. I listen to audiobooks about Zen Buddhism while sweeping the floor. I watch TV in the mornings.

I am not good at this, I know. I am a wild creature, whose soul inhabits a tree. At night, I dance around the forest, holding my translucent dress up to show my swirling ankles to the moon. Nobody knows. They see me in the morning, with dark circles under my eyes, begging the coffee machine to brew its magic poison. They call me Sleeping Beauty, another name for Bad Housewife. I pin sadly the invitations for baby showers on the fridge, and feel my skin crawl at the sound of "Girls' night. You should come. It'll be fun."

It isn't all pedestrian. Being a goddess of the house has its upsides, too. I have my loyal followers: My husband, performing his worship rituals of chocolate offerings, kisses and Sunday grill sacrifices, and the dog, who follows me around like a royal attendant for a blessing of rawhide treats. Even the potted herbs on the windowsill regard me with adulation, for they know the powers I have over their leafy lives. 

Oh, that the house would clean itself with a snap of my fingers, like Mary Poppins...

Jun 4, 2016

Demeter's Face

Lately I have been feeling a shift in myself, as though I am finally coming up from the underworld where I have sat in the dark for three years listening to the dead recount stories, as though the fog is being lifted. I am no longer feeling entirely lost or hopeless, yet at the same time I have found myself thrust back into the world somewhat violently, as if spat out from the bottom of a well into the dizzying, buzzing metropolis of material Life.

Ahh yes I remember now
the whistling kettle just a kettle, and a bird song just a song. 
The plants at the windowsill gone mute. 
The colours retracting their open palms.
Red is a clenched fist, no longer.
Green is eyes in the trees, no longer. 
The planks no longer sigh beneath my feet. 

I recognise this world, it's simple and facile, like an ice sheet floating atop a vast and abysmal ocean.

For the most part, I have been dragged back kicking and screaming. My days have been filled with tantrums, arguments, self-hatred and stomach knots. For a month I stopped eating, dropped a couple sizes. The grief of emerging from grief.

Yet, my heart, what's known cannot be unknown.The secrets of the dream world have stayed with me. In my womb I have carried back some formless and mysterious seeds from the realm of the inner earth. I don't know what they are but I know they're there.

Some days the idea of them scares me, some days it thrills me and fills me hope.

I think it was the psychic woman. No really, she wasn't full of it, I know she had a gift. I felt her opening up softly, in a room full of constricted, clamped up women. She led us to the source and asked us to drink. She opened up the ample silence and nudged us in, told us to explore. She was gentle but assertive. Sincere but loving. I questioned her motives manifold, but when I closed my eyes I sensed she cared deeply in a free and impersonal way, like a cool summer breeze.

I learnt a lot that day. I could swear she instructed me to let go, but maybe it was my soul speaking. I told her I was afraid of destroying the world, absolutely terrified, and a bubbling laugh sprang up from her belly: "I have destroyed a few myself!"

When I went home that night, after having reconnected with long lost images of my childhood (my uncle's lemon tree, the chalk stones we used to pick up and draw in the street with, our water well that my dad used to water the garden), something inside me cracked open. A few days later we made a trip to the store and bought soil and seedlings. We toiled in the back yard all afternoon shoveling dirt, mulching, planting. Somehow my body remembered how I used to sink my fingers in the soil in our back yard in Lefkosia as a child, planting potatoes, onions, herbs. My nails and clothes were always dirty, my shoes always muddy, but my parents found great amusement in my agrarian obsessions. My body remembered the thrill of digging for potatoes and pulling them up to the surface wide-eyed, as though a precious ore.  When my mother made a potato stew out of them and we all ate it, I felt pride and fulfillment.

My body remembered. That afternoon, hunched over, with the sun behind me casting a shadow, I scooped up a clump of soil to make space for my tomato transplant. At the bottom of the dark earthy planting hole, there it was: Demeter's face, lovingly smiling up at me.

Since that day in late March, I have been going out there at the edge of our plot where our garden is to check on our plants, removing bugs, providing compost and algae food, caressing the leaves and coaxing them gently: grow, grow and be happy, grow grow and bloom, be friends with the sun and drink of its light and give us fruits and give us life. I even find myself singing to them day after day after I come home from work, as my old flatmate Fotini used to sing to our houseplants, who seemed to thrive and revel in her presence and happiness. And out of the deepest depths of my memory came strange songs from a happy childhood, like these (yes, I have sat on the grass in the Louisiana wet heat singing these):

And day after day I watch the eggplants bloom, and the cucumbers sprawl, and the tomatoes plump up and blush. Day after day I feel my body come out of the ether and mould into the shape of a woman. Day after day I feel my roots growing deeper into the ground. Day after day my mind is cast to my cousin and her children, who are turning two this year, who day by day seem to grow taller, whom she sings to and coaxes gently and gives of herself, so that they may grow, grow and be happy, grow grow and bloom, be friends with the sun and drink of its light, and give us fruits and give us life.