from BARDO

The stars are in our belly; the Milky Way our umbilicus.

Is it a consolation that the stuff of which we’re made

is star-stuff too?

– That wherever you go you can never fully disappear –

dispersal only: carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, oxygen.

Tree, rain, coal, glow-worm, horse, gnat, rock.

Roselle Angwin

Friday, 16 December 2011

in all these moments I make my home

Times when life is so intense, joy and despair are so close together it's hard to tell them apart. Big loss, like big love, blows your heart open, doesn't it, and then the distinctions between feeling states become not just blurred but almost irrelevant. You realise that they're not just 'two sides of the same coin' but they are the same. And still feelings are only – and what a big 'only' – the way we humans navigate this wonderful terrible world of ours, map our place, register the impact of the fullness and the richness of it all, register our being in relationship to it all, engaged with the delights, engaged with the suffering. They're our natural human response to impermanence, flux, uncertainty. And maybe what matters is not whether we're happy instead of sad, but whether we can let all this take us deep, hold the doors of our heart wider open.

So this morning my response to everything is happy and sad at the same time – and that's ok. I can occasionally remember in moments that I don't have to identify the 'I' of me, whatever that means, with my labile emotional responses – though of course I do, unless I remember the irrelevance of the microscopic dot of 'me' on the face of this one small planet, and remember too that my emotional response to the world is only one part of my wholeness.

How it is today: the lull of a clear high sky for an hour. Then a deep wash of slatey-indigo rushing up from the west, eclipsing the moors; a handful of seagulls flung pristine white against the darkening sky. A rainbow bridging the lane. Brief and insistent smell of the sea, inland as we are, lifting my heart and tossing it out to the breakers. A wild and sudden deluge of hailstones, drenching dog and me. A small residue of hurt from someone's reaction to some words of mine. A residue of hurt for that person, too. A memory of the robin, yesterday, flying to my hand in the Zen garden at Dartington where I sit for a while after the radio show. My fleeting pleasure at the gentle order – raked waves, rocks, shrubs – in front of me, in the face of my own shambolic lifestyle. The kindness and generosity of friends. An alert from a course participant of a poem by Jorie Graham that I didn't know (, search for her name and 'Embodies' – she's reading it). Some texted poetry jokes that make me chuckle. A half hour's lucid and upbeat conversation with my dad – almost like the 'old days', pre-stroke, pre-bereavement; and we laugh. And oh yes another little wild strawberry, and the new gorse flaming yellow in the hedge. A breakout of jewel-red little mushrooms, edible. My mum's handwriting, a small note with the words for 'thank you' in Irish, from years ago. Breakfast with an old friend, he with whom I've shared many journeys. Yes, and the woodpeckers each morning at the feeder... in all these moments I make my home.

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