Thursday, March 31, 2011

my life as a dog

either i smell like a dog or look like a dog or am a dog...
canines keep turning up at my heels...
though the rains have been off and on and on and off again..
i thought i’d take the long walk to grikos ..
yesterday i was shown the way and rather than lose the scent...

i got off to a bit of a ragged start,
but found the path again and was golden..
all the way to the beach, to the holy rock..
coming up from behind me was the rca / victrola dog, nipper...
greeting him with courtesy, yet keepin’ on keepin’ on..
he continued to tag along..sniffing and lifting and scampering ..

shoo! you go on home now..
off you go..
my dog greek being even less effective than my people greek..

the rains kept keepin’ on,
i was getting wetter and wetter.
nipper kept keepin’ on..wet as well..
all along the road, up the back footpath.. all the way up to chora..

he had a collar and a tag.. barely readable...
soaked, nipper and i stopped at fotini’s for some real greek help..
through reading glasses and magnifiers..
she and a friend and i finally came up with the number..
and nipper’s real name..
it seems this fine dog of rca lineage belongs to a kind priest..
who came right over to collect him..
dog is my co-pilot!

just like that ~ i am dogless on patmos..

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

dunja's world soup

rainy and windy..
perfect day for world soup..

start with greek oregano and saffron
toast them lightly..shifting them around..
add olive oil and ghee..

1 small red onion sliced ever so thin
2 inch piece of ginger
i like it in strands - after i peel the piece..
i keep peeling into thin strands
add to the oil/ghee and saute'
along with 2 vegetable cubes...

in the mix stir in
1/2 cup uncooked basmati rice
1/3 cup of french lentils..
glisten them up
then add 2-4 cups of water and simmer
so the lentils can get ahead of themselves

chop 1/2 bunch of italian parsley fine, fine, fine..add..
fresh ground pepper

2-3 medium carrots sliced..
add more water
let them roil a boil for a wee while..
then add 4-5 small zuchinni sliced..
more water ?
keep a cookin'

here come the kalamatas..
12-15 cut in half and pitted,
please and thank you!
simmer away...
when it's thick and fragrant and ready..
add the juice of 1 lemon..maybe 1 1/2..

serve with a dollop
(don't you love this word?)
of greek yogurt..

kali' oreksi!

here comes the sun......

Tuesday, March 29, 2011



your grief for what you've lost lifts a mirror
up to where you are bravely working.

expecting the worst, you look, and instead,
here's the joyful face you've been wanting to see.

your hand opens and closes and opens and closes.
If it were always a fist or always stretched open,
you would be paralysed.

your deepest presence is in every small
contracting and expanding,
the two as beautifully balanced and coordinated
as birdwings.

the black and orange butterfly in the middle
of the cobblestone path was bowing..namaste..
the wings were folded in to one another..
uncertain whether this being was alive, asleep
or in deep meditation, i bent down..
leaned in to see the presence.

since i cannot seem to leave well enough alone,
the butterfly was soon in my open palm..
she or he..opening and closing like birdwings..

after lighting a slender, golden beeswax candle
to the essence of all that suffers..
receiving again the sweet bread from evthemeia ~
i went straight home, placed the butterfly on the offering bread
and continued the day of writing..practice..

remembering often to peek into the energy
of this butterfly that had landed on my heart..
a dear friend would say:
i was tending to this papillon as a holy task.

gently i would move it from the sun,
chanting the heart sutra -
then on to the green leaves of the garden plants..
reciting the medicine buddha mantra -
and again, on to the moist dirt..
om mani padme hum -
this hushed creature would have no rest with me about...

as the eventide cooled and darkened..
i brought the butterfly in from the roof garden
laying him/her to rest on the stone which also
holds the candle of the holy mother..always lit..these days.
deciding that may be a bit too hot,
i set a shell betwixt the soothe..
the wings slowly, tenderly pulsing -
opening and bird wings..

in the morning, i went to the red candle glow..
where was this butterfly?
adding more light...hidden..
i lifted the candle..
there under the warmth, the brilliance..
in full stretch..wings expanded..transfigured ~
the orange and black butterfly

in memory..
please listen to :
o' connor's - butterfly's day out
essential yo-yo ma

Saturday, March 26, 2011

blessed are the cheesemakers *..or....

levi blues...
you would think
that all the walking up and down
this holy mountain
would make for a finer fit to my levis..
alas! 'tis not happening...

it must be the cheese!
the sheep's feta..
or the savory round of sheep greek gouda..
everyone must try saganaki!
kesseri or halloumi fried in butter..
please see - a grand day out with wallace and gromit
to understand the full weight of the situation...

i know, i know..
the whole dairy thing..
it appears that my northern european jeans are kicking in...
it wouldn't be the yogurt and honey..?

then again.. it could be all the olives..o those kalamatas
i have turned away from halva - sad day in the life -
wonder if it's the belgian chocolate bar i delight in daily..

it's a mystery ......

*a fine read by sarah-kate lynch

Thursday, March 24, 2011

spring gleanings

with love

let a new breeze of love blow through your house;
the Way is opened by Virtue, as it always was.
so clear your path of the harsh growths that separate you,
when all three are in harmony, you'll know what's to come.

the house of thought.. the mind..
in its essence is empty..
that which houses thought..
thought which gives expression to mind..
as the wise ones tell us..
thought is the natural radiance of mind..

when love and compassion are felt from the deep heart,
let's say the middle of the mind..
a new ~ because love is always new, isn't it? ~
breeze blows through the doors, the windows..
and one is free of thought..
it occurs to me that being thought-free
and being free of thought are two very different things..

thought - free is an illusion..
since thought itself is the natural expression of the essence of mind..
often described as the clouds in the sky, the waves on the ocean..
mind would probably never be a thought-free zone..

being free of thought is wisdom..
thought after thought after thought
yet there is no chase, no lingering,
no attachment or follow up..
no fabrication...
no fixating and creating the next war and peace ~
as chogyam trungpa has said:
first thought, best thought.
let it down..
or as my dog owner friends say: leave it!

the great Way is opened..accessible..
by the golden key of merit..of virtue..
never closed to us except by our thought, please..
stringing the story along..

in the buddhist tradition~
one field of merit is sentient beings..all living things..
the interdependance of every single everything!
this field is cultivated by our love and compassion..
the understanding that we are one in the many..
many in the one..
simply just another universal being..
- just another bozo on the bus -
let the breeze of love blow through your house
mi casa es su casa

when I go chasing thoughts, creating movies and story lines..
I end up in a fairly tangled mess..
the harsh growths that separate
you are here, i am there..
you get it, i don't..

the way, the path that is clear..
that has always been clear is the middle way..
we could call it the present moment..
yet that turns itself into a moment that could be held..
grasping at the now..
liberation, true moksha comes when all three are in harmony
the three...?
body, speech and mind? could be...sure, why not?
the three times?
past, present and future....i'd go for that..yes..

this is where we have traveled beyond
our looking back, looking ahead, even resting in the now..
this is empty of anything we could fabricate..
we are awake..we are alive..we are already dead..
we are with love.. are love..
how cosmic..every day ordinary cosmic loving-kindness..

the middle way..
not between two things..

not two

the space.. the space in the middle..
the open house, the open heart..
in vastu, the feng shui of ayurveda,
the middle of the house is left open, empty, spacious..
suchness... as it is..
where nothing happens ~

you'll know what's to come!

unmarked boxes

god's joy moves
from unmarked box to unmarked box,
from cell to cell.
as rainwater, down into flowerbed.
as roses, up from ground.
now it looks like a plate of rice and fish,
now a cliff covered with vines,
now a horse being saddled.
it hides within these,
till one day it cracks them open.

where is the love
that with one stroke
cuts time in two
and stuns it?

~ george seferis

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

critical mass

an editor wrote a note
to an enterprising, new writer:

"you have made the mistake of thinking
everything that is happening to you or
has happened to you is interesting."

i resemble that remark ...
attempting to write every day..
that being the platitude of wanna-be-writers -
i find myself editorializing every mood, action..
new surprize around the corner
waiting to spring me open....
yet.. i do find each happening interesting..
full of the vim that makes for a life..

perhaps it is the simplicity of the place..
the vibrant, awake silhouette of a far island..
the sea and sky that never rests in complacency..ever..
the faces of the elders and the young ones..
hey! the everyones..
the advertisements we hang out for the sale of ourselves..

sweeping..toting garbage to the neighborhood bins..
the churches on every corner..when do they open?
evedokia, one of my namesakes..offering me sweet bread,
pointing out the four apostles so ancient, so holy
on the inner walls of the sanctuary...
the atm machine giving my balance in euros..
cats, cats and more cats..
pockets full of friskies..
what kind of birds are those?
edgar allan poe raven crows

the lizards posing in the creases of the rock walls..
playing blind man's bluff until one will stop to show off
his lime green racing stripes; his long whip of a tail..
meeting the local goat herder, michael
who i envision as the archangel~
the wilde flowers breaking ground with varieties unknown..
pods of red poppies like sallie's petit pointe..
the huge cruise ships skimming the sea surface
gliding into port while all the shoppes scamper to open..
cutting my fingernails..
watching the clippings bake in the sunshine..
( now this is the deep end of interesting )

then of course, the moods that run through the mind..
what if i die here?
will someone come and get me?
the surge of joy i get when yanni honks his bus horn at me..
the dejection when he doesn't see me...
the sincere delight when someone, anyone.. understands my meek greek..
the despair of knowing war is obsolete..
are we going down with the ship..? this practice of benefit?
differentiating every nano-second
between loneliness and aloneness..
solitary refinement ~
i - witness news
o where o where is the stability?
interesting, eh?

it was brugh joy who said..

there are three sets of mental fetters
to give up if you want to be truly free:
needing to know why...

soooooooooo, i just keep writing..
my interesting details..
god being in them.
the amrit of words..
keeping these fingers nimble
for advanced mental gymnastics -
o blah dee, o blah dah....
life goes on...

Monday, March 21, 2011

as above, so below

these were the first words
my dear friend loel said to me
as i walked into her room to see her
upon my arrival from the north..this past decembre.
loel is the mother of my very good pal, b.r.s.
and somewhat like a 2nd mother to me..

loel passed away only two months ago
yet with all the flurry of the worlds these days,
it feels a long, long time without her on the planet..
she was always one to renounce the weight
of the world with her insights and wisdom..
she was on the bead..

in the short time i had left with her,
she often repeated these words to me..
as above, so below
adding..many an edict..
i know you know this, dunja


here is the teaching in full..

the emerald tablet
by hermes trismegistus

as above so below

truly, without deceit,
certainly and absolutely:

that which is below corresponds
to that which is above,
and that which is above corresponds
to that which is below,
in accomplishment of the miracle
of the one thing.
and just as all things have come from one,
through the mediation of one,
so all things follow from this one thing
in the same way.

its father is the sun;
its mother is the moon.
the wind has carried it in his belly.
its nourishment is the earth.
it is the father of every completed thing
in the whole world.
its strength is intact
if it is turned towards the earth.
separate the earth by fire:
the fine from the gross,
gently and with great skill.

it rises from earth to heaven,
and then it descends again
to the earth,
and receives power from above
and from below.
thus you will have the glory
of the whole world.
all obscurity will be clear to you.
this is the strong power of all power
because it overcomes everything fine
and penetrates everything solid.

in this way was the world created.
from this there will be amazing applications,
because this is the pattern.
therefore am i called
thrice greatest hermes,
having the three parts
of the wisdom of the whole world.

herein have i completely
explained the operation of the sun.

some history:
the emerald tablet of hermes is the source
of hermetic philosophy and alchemy.
according to one legend,
the text was carved by hermes on tablets of emerald;
then placed in the king’s chamber
of the great pyramid of cheops in egypt!

although there is some doubt about the original language,
it is in latin that the emerald tablet rose in fame
to claim the key to the primary mysteries of nature.

a recipe for the preparation
of the philosopher’s stone, perhaps outwardly,
it seems that the process described
might well have a more universal application.
nothing less than the process of change itself through which -
nature strives toward perfection. aristotle

(separate and join together/dissolve and coagulate)

of course, this is none other than
the wisdom and practice of yoga.
( ie: yoga vasistha, et al. )

as above, so below..

high praise to loel and her final teaching to me...
i aim to perfect it!

loel b. shuler
d. anniversary
22 january 2011

"it is time to perceive ourselves
as spiritual beings with physical experiences
rather than
physical beings with spiritual experiences."
~ stephen levine - who dies?

Saturday, March 19, 2011

the flirt

the minute i stepped into nikos's shoppe, we locked eyes.
he was waiting at the cheese counter for his grated peccorino.
he was dark, with raven black eyes, short and about nine years olde.

i could feel his gaze follow me as i picked up
tea that is strangely flavored like cardboard
for which i am aquiring a taste..
matches and candles..
(i have taken to keep a candle going 24/7
for the weight of the world and good company)

he shadowed me over to the fruit market..
bursting in to say to the shoppekeeper
something like:
"she is still a looker even if she is olde!"
for which he was thwaped on the head
and sent out..

he was waiting for me..
we walked in silence,
matching our footsteps
step for step
on the cobblies..

when we passed the restaurant i hope
will open soon, he plucked a beer bottle
out of the crate of emptys..
i clicked my teeth and raised my eyebrows..
this seemed to spur him on..
he ran to the wall to fling the bottle as far as he could..

looking back for my reaction, which was considerable ~
he then leapt up on the ledge,
the edge of the rock wall -
climbing higher and higher..
giving me a fright; we are way up here..

he jumped down just in time
to join me in syncopated step..
breathing heavy from his courtship climb..

we reached the crossroads ~
he turned the corner like a soldier
and walked away.

medicine buddha OM practice - mixed media

"the object of all work is to obtain leisure."
~ lawrence durrell / alexandria quartet

if one has the good fortune to have any leisure time
and if one has the propensity for spiritual practice of some kind
and if one has the desire to practice asana as a spiritual practice
and if one then feels so inclined to generate oneself as the medicine buddha
for the great benefit of all sentient beings..
ode to joy!

this is what i do..
having received the initiation
of the medicine buddha directly from
the 14th dalai lama numerous times..
i imagine myself as the lapis lazuli medicine buddha..
every cell is a medicine buddha..
every breath is a medicine buddha..
as i cultivate a motivation for that day's practice,
i generate my resolve:
i will do this practice for the benefit of all beings..

all the poses are infused with that intention..
using the ujjayi breath (darth vadar)
to accentuate the posture..the areas of sensation..heat..
say..knees or hips or thyroid or prostate*
bringing to mind any friends, family, enemies, strangers..
their faces, their knees and needs, their hearts, their shoulders..
perhaps inwardly chanting the medicine buddha mantra..
how astonishing to watch the practice unfold..

i make sure to set no time constraints..
this is easy to do in a retreat setting -
the poses seem to flow so easily from one to another..
i end up adding more and more postures just to get to
the nooks and crannies we all have as bodies
that limit us, pain us, nag us, ache us..
all the while, attentive to the breath, the medicine..
the sentient beings..
knees, elbows, breasts and brains..

as the body comes to rest in the final pose, savasana..
the medicine buddha dissolves in to and out of every cell..
leaving a sillouette in lapis hue..
that too dissolves into the great emptiness
and then i dedicate the merit of the practice
to all beings, all galaxies, all universes..
offering up the fruits of the actions..
out and out and out .....

what is surprising is the timelessness
of this practice..hours go fleeting by in seconds..
well, okay..not quite..
but you get the drift..

imagine! this medicine buddha
could be done in a class session, in aerobics..
even in the kumbiya dancersize..
pure intent..
still, home practice is the best~

turn off the telephone,
send out the dog and cat ..sorry puss and pup!
(remember, you're doing your practice for them
not with them...)
set up your mate with march madness
or spring training or american idol
enjoy a deeply profound practice
that benefits not only you but the full spectrum
of all beings everywhere..

as i came down the steps from my session,
i saw a gift bowl on the kitchen cutting board;
fotini had turned the pear into stuffed cabbage rolls..

* even though in this life i do not have a prostate,
i can imagine them healthy..wherever/whosever they are!

Friday, March 18, 2011

halva halv not

hunting and gathering here for food..
my grasp of the greek is greek to me..
it makes label reading an impossibility..

i know feta when i see it..
and halva..
(which i have had to give up..)
he calls to me from the kitchen in the wee hours..
with that irresistable greek accent
“come to me, dunja..”
o those lovesick blues..

the crackers i bought were gluten free..
sadly they were free of every and anything
that could make them even remotely edible..
yet, eat them i did..salt, you know..

imagine this!
a chicken pot pie wrapped in filo dough
all rolled up and sprinkled with sesame seeds..
could very well be the ultimate comfort food..
then there are the cheese pies ~
o my o!

the restaurant around the corner opens
for the season tomorrow..
my eye has been on its progress..
a young man has been scrubbing and painting..
every day... i tell him i am getting very hungry..
he always laughs ~

i must look like a bit of a hungry dog..
fotini, the caring woman who waters the plants and lives around the corner
brought over garbanzos in olive oil..okra in olive oil..
adding them to my greek made for a flavorful concoction..

when returning her empty bowls,
i added a ripe pear and my kindergarten card..
~ a red heart scribbled on scratch paper..
'even with slender means, the sentiments
of the heart can be expressed.'

at upaya zen center this grace is shared before each meal:

earth, water, fire, air and space combine to make this food.
numberless beings gave their lives and labors that we may eat.
may we be nourished that we may nourish life.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

the mystery of equanimity

a lover of wisdom came to one who secluded himself
in meditation and asked to be accepted as one of them.
the master of meditation replied, “my daughter, may you be
blessed from heaven, for your intention is good.
but let me know: have you attained equanimity or not?”

she responded, “master, clarify your words.”
he explained, “my daughter, if one person honors you
and another humiliates you, are the two equal
in your eyes or not?”

she answered, “by the life of your soul, my master!
i do feel pleasure and satisfaction from the one who honors me
and pain from the one who humiliates me -
yet i am not vengeful nor do i bear a grudge.”

the master said, “my daughter, go away in peace.
for as long as you have not attained equanimity
and still feel humiliation from something done to you,
you are not ready for your thought to be linked on high.
you are not ready to come and seclude yourself in meditation.
go and humble your heart further, genuinely,
until you attain equanimity.
then you can experience aloneness.”
as told by rabbi avner

polishing one's humility is humbling, indeed..
steel wool, spring water, chamois ~
i am the polish; i am the cloth
i am the dull; i am the bright...
it is gratitude that is the elbow grease..

thank you for your comments..
they are a pleasure to me.
and as our mamas have told us:
if you can't say something nice, don't say it!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011


throughout my many lives and until this moment
whatever virtue i have accomplished
including the merit generated by this practice
and all that i will ever attain
this i offer to the welfare of all sentient beings.

may sickness, war, famine, and suffering
be decreased for every sentient being,
while their wisdom and compassion
increase in this and every future life.

may i clearly perceive all experiences to be
as insubstantial as a dream fabric of the night
and instantly awaken to perceive the pure wisdom display
in the arising of every phenomenon.

may i quickly attain enlightenment in order
to work ceaselessly for the liberation of all sentient beings.

buddhas and bodhisattvas altogether,
whatever kind of motivation you have,
whatever kind of wishing prayers,
whatever kind of beneficial actions,
whatever kind of omniscience,
whatever kind of life accomplishments,
whatever kind of benevolent power,
and whatever kind of immense wisdom you have,
then similarly i, who have come
in the same way to benefit beings,
pray to attain these accomplishments.

at this very moment
for all the peoples and nations of the world
may not even the name disease, famine, war and suffering be heard,
rather, may their moral conduct, merit, health and prosperity increase
and may supreme well-being always arise for them.

~written by chagdud rinpoche

this is the last prayer i offer..
each day as a dedication..

it feels very timely with all
that is arising each moment
these days..

may i invite you to join me
whenever/ however it suits you..?
editing if need be
to fit your faith and practice..
it soothes the heart..
opens the door ...

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

it is like that

morning has broken
a traditional song
lyrics by eleanor farjeon
(made popular by cat stevens)

morning has broken,
like the first morning

blackbird has spoken,
like the first bird

praise for the singing,
praise for the morning

praise for the springing
fresh from the world

sweet the rain's new fall,
sunlit from heaven

like the first dewfall,
on the first grass

praise for the sweetness
of the wet garden

sprung in completeness
where our feet pass

mine is the sunlight,
mine is the morning

born of the one light,
eden saw play

praise with elation,
praise every morning

god's recreation
of the new day.

every morning ...
~ when it isn't snowing ~
i go to the roof top
with every stitch of
all my every bit of clothes on..
and sit..
it is about 5 am..
still mostly dark..

a hint of what's to come
strewn across the eastern sky..
baby girl pink streamers,
mauve grey-bleu strips of any clouds
left over from the night's play..

stillness at first..
just the moon whisper and the morning star peep..
in the beginning was the word
it arrives with one lone rooster call..
long interval of pause, pause, pause..

and again..
the herald beckoning the day..
without even registering..
somehow two or three or more roosters crow..
the mourning doves start to flutter,
then the goat bells ring a ling
ting ting ting ting
like a lama's damaru..

more horns and cymbals bust out..
the ravens, the seabirds, the wee tweeters ..
down under deep bowels of water pumps burbling-
yesterday's laundry thweeps crisp in the early aire..

the sky begins to circumnambulate
every colour on its daybreak palette..
splashing, dipping, circling, sloshing..
all the while the sea reflecting a clear mirror
for the yawning, sleepy-eyed heaven..

at first just a sliver, a slice, a slush of the ruby to come..
let there be light
slowly ascending the throne each cloud has prepared..
more.. now.. of the sphere arrives on the scene..
rising in red elegance, ennobling the trailing robes..
aha! i am that i am..
the sovereign sun declares..
i bow..
and begin my morning prayers.

it is like that

zucchini blossoms

i love zucchini..
not the ginormous kind
that our friends and neighbours leave
under our pillows, at our doorsteps,
in the trunk of our cars at the end
of the season..
the fresh silky wee brilliantly green,
no scratches yet blossoms attached kind...
they are a high source of sodium;
thank you very much..

so.... while i was waiting to see if
yannis would let me ride with him to kampos..
and why wouldn't he, if i paid the price..?
i scooted closer to the vegetable truck
to see what all the fuss was about..
the zukes were in with blossoms et al..
a french man was kissing his fingers,
the women were circling their shopping bags..
and i sidled a little closer to ask..
how exactly do you cook them?

o my goodness me o my..
you would have thought i had asked the
2,000,000 euro question..
and everyone knew the final answer..

i received many versions of how to
fry the squash blossoms and the vegetable
seller gave me a bag full to "try this at home"
what a surprise! what a gift!
to be offered food so kindly, so easily, so simply..
couldn't really happen in our supermarkets, eh?
my heart popped wide open..
(which is getting to be a regular event)

just how many zucchini blossoms
can i eat in one sitting..?
i'll never tell..
(delicious with kalamata olives, sheep's feta, cucumbers)
here's the recipe i used..


fried zucchini blossoms
zucchini or other squash blossoms

2/3 c flour

¾ c. club soda

herbes de provence


whisk flour into soda –
adjust proportions so batter
is the consistency of heavy cream or slightly thicker
coat blossoms in batter,
and shallow fry in hot oil
drain on paper towel..
season with salt
Read more:

as i walked by the the veggie truck today..
i hollered over to the gent..
oreao! (beautiful!) with my hands to my heart..
the smile that returned to me was alchemist's gold....

Sunday, March 13, 2011

holy smokes!

two novice priests were debating
their habit of smoking..
wondering if indeed they had
to give it up in order to be truly devout.
they decided they would each write a letter
to the great father superior and get his take on it.

after a few weeks, they met one another
with the replies in hand.
the first priest was adamant that.. yes!
they would have to give up smoking
for a sincere spiritual life..
no, no, no.. the second one replied..
we are in the clear and can continue
enjoying our smokes..

this led to some inquiry as to what
each had written to the high holy father..
the first priest had asked:
may i smoke while i pray?
while the second priest inquired:
may i pray while i smoke?

on the bus that takes me from chora
to the harbour, there is a very big sign
of a lit cigarette with the slash of NO
through smoking!
the first thing yannis, the bus driver does
before he turns the key, is to light up..
every single time ~

he told me today that he has driven that bus
for thirty years..and that he owns the 3 fleet service..
(at least, i think that's what he said..)

Saturday, March 12, 2011

the journey

above the mountains
the geese turn into
the light again

painting their
black silhouettes
on an open sky.

sometimes everything
has to be
enscribed across
the heavens

so you can find
the one line
already written
inside you.

sometimes it takes
a great sky
to find that

first, bright
and indescribable
wedge of freedom
in your own heart.

sometimes with
the bones of the black
sticks left when the fire
has gone out

someone has written
something new
into the ashes
of your life.

you are not leaving
you are arriving.

~ david whyte

tsu-mani tonglen

the holy secret..
the practice of taking and sending

as i wander down the ancient footpaths
from the high hill of chora to the seaport of skala
wild flowers of bright cheer wisp in the gentle wind..
the sea so blue and today so calm..
the warmth of the sun finally gracing my back..

what then of japan?
the wave upon wave of tsunami,
the after shocks that quake again, again, again..
ruin, death, devastation...

i am reminded of a quote by mother teresa..

we all long for heaven where god is,
but we have it in our power to be in heaven
with him at this very moment.
but being happy with him now means:
loving as he loves,
helping as he helps,
giving as he gives,
serving as he serves,
rescuing as he rescues,
being with him twenty-four hours,
touching him in his distressing disguise.

that there is such peace and such chaos
circling the side by side..
the blessed and the cursed...
go figure ~

the only way i know to jump right in
as mother t. advises is to practice tonglen..

with every step on the path,
i breathe in the suffering,
the injustice,
the pain..
with every step on the path,
i breathe out the breeze,
the wilde flowers,
the sea..
riding the breath
inhale, exhale..
inhaling the disgrace, the rage, the war-
exhaling halva, birdsong, sunlight..

in the moment, every moment..
take up the rescue..
be the nurse the world is in need of

waves of loving-kindness pour on the shores,
waves of open-heartedness blow in the wind,
waves of OM MANI PADME HUM sound through the wires,
a great tsunami of blessings..of wisdom, of lightrays
raining down on all beings, animals, fishes, insects, species unknown -
the great mother earth..
waves up and arcing to the heavens..
the starry nights feel the radiance..
they in turn spew out the great grace bulbs
starwaves sparkling down to illuminate every heart..
inhaling the darkness, exhaling the light..
offering any delight..
green tea, paint brushes, new shoes..
taking back the horror, the fear, the tyranny...

giving and receiving-
taking and sending-
just do it!

the quality of mercy is not strained,
it droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven
upon the place beneath: it is twice bless'd,
it blesseth him that gives, and him that takes...

~portia, shakespeare's merchant of venice

om mani padme hum
is the mantra of compassion..
the six syllables completely purify
the six poisonous negative emotions
which of course, are the cause
of the six realms of samsara.....

Friday, March 11, 2011

the holy cave of apocalypse

just down the road from my high hill house,
is the very cave where john, the theologos
wrote the book of revelation...
after hearing the voice of god!

it is a most holy site and many from
all traditions arrive to pay homage,
light candles and rest in the sacred stillness..

the monastery on the tip top..
the holy monastery of st. john
is “still an active cell of orthodoxy”
perched on the wee mountain like a priest’s cap..
it is dubbed a world heritage site.

patmos is one of the smaller islands in the dodekanese.
when i first arrived, the villages of skala
and chora were still bundled in their winter coats..
snow was seen for the first time ever a few days ago..
it is o so cold and windy..
yet the sun rises red every morning...
the blue of the sky and the blue of the sea are inseparable.

everything is in motion for greek easter,
now that mardi gras is spent..
there is a bustle to freshen
up after the long winter’s nap..
the tour buses slowly begin their visitation rites..
shoppes and restaurants take down their woolies
to make themselves known..
hotels are shaking out the bedbugs..
boats are hoisting their sails.. WILL get warmer, it will!


i thank you god for most this amazing
day: for the leaping greenly spirits of trees
and a blue true dream of sky; and for everything
which is natural which is infinite which is yes

(i who have died am alive again today,
and this is the sun’s birthday; this is the birth
day of life and love and wings; and of the gay
great happening illimitably earth)

how should tasting touching hearing seeing
breathing any-lifted from the no
of all nothing-human merely being
doubt unimaginable You?

(now the ears of my ears awake and
now the eyes of my eyes are opened)

~ e.e. cummings

dangerous mountain

the climber reaches the peak in a day ~
but what are you doing here? it’s dangerous!
you pray to heaven for protection,
and the rock wall befor
e you opens like a cave.

being a solo flyer..a solitaire..
brings one..brings me..
face to face with aloneness..
a hole in the wall..
of course, why wouldn’t it?

as thomas merton wrote of his solitary life..
“now as i really confront it..
it is awesome, wonderful,
and i see i have no strength
of my own for it..”

this always happens to me
when i travel to the farthest most~
i see that i have no strength for it..
and yet, over and again..
i take the risk, the challenge..
reaching the peak in a day..
what am i doing here?

to live intentionally, to live deliberately~

for me, to strip away the masks and disguises
that come with the known life..
the friends and family..the street corners..
livelihoods and hoods,
shoppes, shopkeepers and habits of my life..
i want to see what shines through
when the veil is down..

at first, it is always fear and great doubt..
it’s dangerous!
partially due to jet lag..true..
then ~
the total nowness and newness
of a place and my place in it..
for i have no place..
i have not stacked up a pile
of faces, roles and co-spiriters
to settle in with..

there is an emptiness to me..
a minimum of inauthenticity..
innocence and ignorance..yet again..
discovering, uncovering, recovering..
the wellspring of trust ..
you pray to heaven for protection..

i know there is no place to go..
and i know that there is nothing like the unknown..
being thrown into it like chips in cookie dough
to bring out the heat, the sweet
of making things whole.

it’s been said..
we may think that we need to be more/have more
in order to be whole
yet really, we need to let go, throw away
everything that isn’t true, isn’t our essence..

i confess to a great un done ness..
a great hole in my wholeness..
these do come about more than once in our lives..
the great sea-changes of birth, old age, illness and death.
our own and others..
i see that there is always a hole in wholeness..
after all, it is spelled that way..
the practice, the key, the gift
is the ability to accept it..
the what is..hole..
our strength is in that inward measure of space..

kadhosh, kadhosh, kadhosh!
enough holiness...

taking oneself away, apart
where everything is stripped clean, cleared out
where habit, identity, grief are stuffed..
healing might thread together a fresh heart
and the rock wall will open like a cave..

Tuesday, March 8, 2011


backgammon as we in the west know it..
the game of gamers
the only game..

a board game in which two players
move their pieces
around twenty-four triangular points
according to the throw of dice,
the winner being
the first to remove all their pieces
from the board.

tables filled with men..
mostly men..
olde men, young men..
smoking men, drinking men

the click, chip, dash of dice
the pieces whipping away
brash, growly voices hammering one another
forward back..out in
smoke and more smoke..

i learned to play o so many years ago..
in greece..then turkey..then israel..
i was invited to play with the men...
mainly because i could hand roll a smoke with three fingers ~
(see hat trick in older posts..)
there in the purple haze of hookahs and chai..
i was taught the layout.. the count..the catch..the win.

as i cash in on the internet connection
at the chris cafe..
smoke, clash and dash
early morning gammon gamers
it all comes back to me..

milarepa tells us:
there is no end to worldly pursuits..
the game ends when we do..
keep a good heart -
practice diligently!

charmed, i’m sure

unlike randolph who claimed i was charming him
a month ago in the southwest..
costas is bothered by my very existence..

it’s just that i haven’t a clue about anything here..
the ignorance..
or shall we say innocence..
is vast..

there’s the language..
which i am working on..
the bus schedule..
the holidays that happen twice a day, it seems ~
then there’s the euro..
converting dollars to euros and back again..
of course, the food..
what are these things everyone is buying..?
octopus to be sure..

costas has a kiosk near the bus stop..
he seemed the perfect fella to answer each and every
question i have about the nature of everything greek..
he flew up his hands at the sight of me today..
barking and growling .. snarling, i'd say..
backing away with a smile,
i decide to give it and him a rest..

so.... i’ll never know the name of backgammon in greek..

i trust he’ll feel better tomorrow..
there is the question of telefonos..

international woman’s day march 8th

if i were in athens right now,
i would be riding public transport for free!
this morning, the bus was nowhere in sight..
walking down the the sea...
the bus - heading up the hill as i reach the village!

my mama’s death day..
one year ago ..

a few notes from her eulogy..
some poems ..some songs..

sallie’s fruitcake poem
(this poem was written after my father died..
and sallie began in earnest to sell her fruitcakes)

you may think this fruit cake
is just fruit and nuts,
spice, flour, sugar, shortening,
mixed, sifted and cut:

but tied in this package
is friendship and love
and warmth of a kind
as our father’s above.

for family emergency
changed in a day,
this cake as a hobby
to cake made for pay!

as neighbors and kind folk
from church, school and town
began to cut fruit, weigh the nuts
rally ‘round!

they’ve helped make and package
and even sell too,
this cake from our kitchen,
that now comes to you.

sallie’s quilt poem
written november 2, 1932

i can lay aside my studies without a
sense of guilt
if i have a thousand pieces to be sewn
into a quilt.
to be sewing them together from morn
until its night
i must confess its pleasure and forms my
chief delight.
to arrange the many colors so they’ll
make a perfect blend
is like visiting and conversing with an
old and honest friend.
when the thing is all together and the work
is fully done
i can dote upon a friendship quilt with
bushels full of fun.

bits of my eulogy for sallie..march 8, 2010

as it so happens,
my mama was the love of my life..
the 14th dalai lama speaks about
his first teacher..his mother..
who taught him lovingkindness and compassion.
indeed it is so with me as well..

my sister, sara and i are adopted..
that speaks volumes ..
we hit the jack-pot with our mother..
i was always so greatful she never turned us
(me, particularly)..back in!
heaven only knows
she had plenty of cause plenty of times..

sallie had a quality of equanimity
that was inspirational.
she opened her loving arms,
her kitchen, her home, her sewing basket
to o so many.

there is a saying in the middle east
that guest is god..
sallie honored that tradition
with the nantucket inn..
we had to keep the bathrooms soooo clean..
we could not leave our toothbrushes, hairbrushes anywhere..
for teen-age girls ~ that was a stretch..
yet it taught us to place others before ourselves..

sallie had an unfettered joy
deep in the landscape of her being..
she drew from that wellspring daily.
whenever hardship hit our family..
(often caused by one of her daughters!)
sallie would take up her needle and thread
and sew the world aright..
i witnessed this over and over and over again.

a tradition of sallie’s..
never leave home without a hankie..
carrying two was a good idea
so you would have one to give another in need..

it is sweet to me that sallie
left this earth on the 8th..
international women’s day..
also her thimble size..
she was an 8 and
she often had one on her finger..

my mama was always opening up..
like a tulip in the sun..
you have seen them yawn toward the light..
sallie’s spirit was such..
wide open to learn, to stretch..
even when she was unaware
of the expanse she was headed for..

those of you who have loved sallie
have stitched yourselves into a patchwork quilt
of lovingkindness and compassion,
of equanimity and unfettered joy
that wraps its cozy colours around her
and sends her on her way.....

row, row, row your boat
gently down the stream
merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily ~
life is but a dream!

great praise to all the mothers...
all the women of the world..
shine, shine, shine!
happy international women’s day!

(the day sallie died the sky was cloudless and clear)

Saturday, March 5, 2011

a room with a view

“i love a broad margin to my life.
sometimes on a summer morning...
i sat in my sunny doorway from sunrise to noon,
rapt in reverie, amidst the pines and hickories and sumacs
in undisturbed solitude and stillness..
i grew in those seasons like corn in the night,
and they were far better than any work of hands
would have been.”

~ henry david thoreau walden 1854

soon you will be sitting on top of the world
another fortune cookie on my way out of seattle....

always keep the view

Friday, March 4, 2011

benny and joonya

we began our conversation in the elevater..
going down..
to the metro tunnel..
both of us were heading to sea-tac..
benny heading to the florida to patmos, greece..
he called me joonya..
i said we could make a movie!
(watch benny and joon for me, eh?)

he said we were on the lamb..
what exactly does that mean?
benny ‘s definition was that we were escaping something..
heading toward something..
i would have to look that up to be sure..
however, i agreed with him..
we were on our way to an adventure..
escaping life as we had known it..

benny is 74, 22 years of sobriety..
tall, grey-bearded, silver earrings
rings on every socks..brrr!
heading back to a place he will call home..
he had a very large suitcase with FOLSOM
painted on it in oils..he was an artist..
numerous rectangle bags schlepped over his shoulders..
one was a billiard stick..
the others....?

we had both been models for art classes..
benny in the buff, me in costume~
we had both boiled down
our possessions to what we carried..
(never mind that i had a corner full
for the next for the garage sale!)
benny had carefully chosen what he would take
away with him..on the lamb..then he closed up his apartment
and walked away!

he told me he left it a bit of a mess..
i can imagine..though he also said
he left treasures for those who’ll clean it up!

as we were leaving the train ..
he mentioned he was getting a blister..
new socks.. you have any in the bundle your carrying..?

hummmm..let me see..
i have a pair ..what size be ye?
wonder if we can win-angle these to your feet..
we figured...yep!
so he made off with my smart woolies..

then as i said my bless you good-byes,
he rummaged thru the mystery bags
and pulled out a flute? recorder? clarinet?
here you go , girl..look, it comes apart..easy for travel..
benny, benny, benny..
you know i am not gathering..
i am on the dispersing trail..
keep it..please..
offer to one who will play it brilliantly..
thanks anyway..
bon voyage!

heading off..
as i looked back, benny was seated on a ledge..
win-angling his toes into those wee woolies..
my heart popped wide open!

giving really is receiving ~