I’ve been going through some stress-related health issues lately that have prompted me to slow down, to take on less, to listen, to ask for support, in short, to re-prioritize my life and look carefully at how I really want to be living “this one wild and precious life.” (from Mary Oliver’s Summer Day).

One aspect of this is related to the noface collage I did last Fall, an aspect of which I am exploring again here. I realize as I walk this healing path, that I don’t know, really, who I will be on the other side. I have ideas that I will be happier or freer or more able to listen to my body…but really, I don’t know who will emerge.

Like the many different faces of woman Susan Seddon Boulet’s paintings portray in this collage, I want to be open to whoever I am becoming. Maybe my sense of self doesn’t need to be static. Maybe, at any moment, I could embody any of these different faces—and others that I could never dream of.

Maybe my true face is like the yellow circle—full and empty, containing all things and nothing, radiant with potential and connected to all of life.

I want to dance this path with integrity and openness to who is emerging, not needing to know all the facets of who I am becoming.

How are you living your “one wild and precious life?” What parts of you are emerging? Do you feel open to not knowing exactly who you are becoming?

benevolence surrounding

we are
surrounded by

she continually
holds us,
welcomes us
invites us,
re-members us.


mary, queen of heaven,
pray for us

tara, savior of all,
dissolve our rigidity

kuan yin, goddess of compassion,
hold us in loving kindness

brigid of the hearth,
gather us

mary, the magdalene,
teach us sensual devotion

mother of the universe,
encompass us

life practices: winter solstice

My intention is to blog once a season about Life Practices in order to share what I am practicing in my life, and to suggest opportunities to join me, as well as ideas to use in your own practice.

Woodcut by Carol Zaloom

Winter Solstice occurs this year on December 21st at 11:30 pm CT. This is the first day of Winter—the shortest day and longest night of the year. Every day thereafter, the days grow longer until Summer Solstice, when we have the longest day and the shortest night.

Wintertime is the season of rest and renewal for the natural world. Plants stop growing and return to the earth, focusing their energy in their roots or in seed that lies dormant until Spring. Most animals that don’t migrate find comfort in shelter or hibernate until warmer weather. For us, as humans, it can also be a time of rest, a time of going inward to nourish our souls, a time of re-creation. However, as we head inside for the cold Minnesota Winter, it’s often the opposite—we find more and more to do. Not only are the holidays coming, but everything that was set aside over the Summer and Fall now captivates our attention.

The part of us that is in touch with the turning of the seasons yearns for this time of turning inward to nourish our roots, this time of rest. What would it mean to spend time in the darkness waiting and ready for the unknown, quiet and attentive to the unknown? What if we didn’t immediately turn to our to-do lists whenever we had a free moment, thus filling up our time with the known? What if we stopped for a moment to take in the darkening, to rest more, to respond to the invitation to slow down and nourish our souls? How might our lives be different?

Here’s a starting place for a journal exploration, or a short ritual alone or with friends:
• Begin in the dark, sitting in silence for a time, breathing in the darkness and the stillness.
• As you sit with yourself, notice your body and feelings. What arises in you? How is it to sit here quietly with nothing to do?
• When you are ready, light a single candle.
• Notice if there is a change in you with this light—keep coming back to your body and heart.
• Name out loud or in your journal what the darkness and stillness is calling forth in you. You may want to follow your body’s impulse to move or sound this experience.
• Acknowledge your gratefulness for this inward time of re-creation, and blow out the candle.

Please join me and other members of Unity Church Unitarian for a Winter Solstice Celebration at 7:00 pm in the Parish Hall on December 21st. You can find more information below. May you welcome and find grace in this changing of the seasons. 

Singing Meditation, Sunday, December 18th from 7:00-8:30 pm, with Katy and cellist, Anna Vazquez. How can you find the still point at your center in the midst of the chaos we call “holidays”? Come to the St. Paul Yoga Center to sing, meditate, and breathe with us in a peaceful, candlelit space, with warm tea for the throat, the healing sounds of cello, harmonium, chants and rounds sung in community, and the ultimate gift of your own presence.

Singing Meditation is the practice of singing simple chants and rounds from many spiritual traditions as a group and then dissolving into silence and allowing a time of quiet meditation before the next song is begun. Singing in this way can be a practice of coming home to our embodied selves as we allow the vibrations of sound to quiet our minds, open our hearts, and land us more deeply in our bodies, in the moment, physically present. All songs will be repeated many times and all are welcome (no prior singing experience necessary). Read more about Anna’s work and download a flyer. $10-$15 suggested donation.

Do you take time to sing, hum, or sound? Next time you do, notice how your body is affected by the vibrations. Also notice how your heart and mind respond.

Save the Date: In March 2012, my singing partner Amy Fradon will be joining me for a Singing Body Workshop and a Concert of my music. Read more and download a flyer

Collage gives me a really valuable way to get to know myself in a nonlinear way. I’ve been exploring aspects of myself that have typically been less a part of my self-image recently. One such aspect is the one who takes the time to look and listen inwardly, who values intuitive knowing and feminine eros, or life force energy. This exploration feels very connected to the inward time we are moving into with the shorter days and longer nights. I wrote about this collage in a recent blogpost. How do you welcome and allow other parts of yourself to come forward? How do you go inside and listen?

Body/Movement. I also had the chance to explore this theme of allowing more of myself to emerge through movement recently. I had a wonderful session with a bodyworker who helped me to include my physical experience instead of trying to push it away. So often when I notice tension or pain, I notice it, and then want to do things to get rid of it. In session, she invited me accept it, allow it, move with it—include it in my felt-experience, rather than look away or ignore it. From this process, a deeper learning emerged. Including more of myself, I feel less one-sided, more full, more whole, more here. You may want to explore a movement impulse and see where it takes you. How does it make you feel to follow it, allow it, be with it? Does it complete itself in some way?

Blessing Reed

Baby Blessing! I absolutely love performing ceremonies that bring more honoring of our intentions and love into the world! This picture is from my most recent Interfaith Baby Blessing for Reed and his family. He was totally into having blessing oil on his forehead and taste of milk on his lips as we welcomed him into his interfaith family with family and friends gathered. A Tibetan blessing for us all: May all beings moving through this world be showered and blessed with goodness and joy. Let me know if I can assist you in honoring any transitions or special moments in your life. You can read more about my practice of ministry.

Winter Solstice Celebration! Come join this contemplative, family-friendly, participatory, Celtic-inspired ritual to mark the turning of the year as the darkness gives way to the growing light. This participatory ritual will include chanting, meditation, candle-lighting, singing, and cauldron jumping. Kids, bring animal masks and hand percussion (rattles, shakers, bells)!

Please contact me if you have any questions. We’d love to have you join us!

Winter Solstice Ritual

Winter Blessings, Katy

life practices: autumn equinox

My intention is to blog once a season about Life Practices in order to share what I am practicing in my life, and to suggest opportunities to join me, as well as ideas to use in your own practice.
Autumn Equinox occurs midway between the longest day of the year, at Summer Solstice, and the longest night of the year, at Winter Solstice. It is called an Equinox from the Latin “equal” and “night” because (as on the Spring Equinox) the night and day are the same length. In 2011, the Autumn Equinox happens at 9:04 am on September 23rd.

Autumn Equinox reminds us not only to be grateful for the long Summer days of bright light and warmth that nourished our bodies, souls, and earth, but also to orient consciously to the changing season and the growing darkness. We’re headed into a darker, quieter, more internal time as we move toward the Winter Solstice. We can take a lesson from the leaves on the trees that will soon blaze with their last, vivid colors and then start to let go and fall to the ground. They know how to surrender to the changing of the seasons—and they do so with such splendor and beauty!

As this new season begins and we head into the changing colors and falling leaves, into a time of growing darkness, what changes do you need to surrender into? The Summer of expansion, abundance, and blossoming is coming to an end. What quieter, calmer, more inward rhythm is calling to you? Can you hear it and heed its call? Can you allow yourself to change colors and fall like the leaves, if necessary, all the way to the ground? What wisdom is there for you? You may want to write in a journal, or try a short ritual alone or with friends. A ritual could include:
• Lighting a candle of yellow, gold, or autumn colors;
• Sitting in silence and reflecting on your harvest from the Summer and what you are being called to surrender as we move into the growing dark;
• Nourishing yourself with bread, apple cider or other seasonal juice, and any local, freshly harvested food;
• Naming or making a list of all the things you are grateful for (your harvest);
• Sitting quietly and breathing into the support, nourishment, and care you have received that will help you make this next transition with ease and grace;
• Saying thank you and blowing out the candle.

After the Autumn Equinox, the days slowly become shorter and shorter, until at Winter Solstice, we’ll be back to the longest night. May you welcome and find grace in this changing of the seasons.

Movement. Dave and I had the opportunity to participate in a 4-day Labor Day Weekend workshop about developing awareness of the wisdom of the body. It was such a gift to have this time to not be working, managing a home, even interacting with other parts of my life, and to just focus on listening and responding and learning with my body’s energy, flow, and rhythms. I’ve added embodiment practice into my daily morningtime as a way to include this new awareness more in the rest of my day. I had a pretty profound experience of letting go of self- and body-images during the workshop, which you can read about in my noface blogpost. What is your relationship with your body like? Are you aware of your body’s sensations? Do they bring you information? How do you listen?

Collage. It’s nice to feel the inspiration to collage again! I find it to be such a fun and joyful way to make meaning out of my life. Coming back from the movement workshop and finding the images to express what was largely a nonverbal experience helped me to process and understand what I had experienced. And then, as part of the opening of a year-long course in contentment, another collage wanted to be born, exploring my experience of contentment, which I am calling “serenity” for now. What ways do you have to make meaning, to allow yourself to explore deeply, underneath the words?

Laughter Yoga! I am now a Certified Laughter Yoga Leader! 🙂 HaHaHa!! Laughter Yoga is a practice to invite more joy, play, and wellbeing into your life. Because of the deep pranayamic breathing exercises, this form of practice is also called Laughter Yoga, but it does not include any physical asanas and can be practiced by people of all ages who are willing to be a little bit silly. It was started in 1995 by Dr. Kataria, a family physician in India, and is now widely practiced in over 65 countries around the world. Medical research supports its physical and emotional health-giving effects.

I took this practice on to go against my type One identification with being overly serious, responsible, disciplined–someone who rarely has time to play or have fun…It’s been a really important part of my path of becoming more whole as a person. I’m still a serious, responsible person, but I’m playfully serious—and seriously playful! I’m much easier to be around and don’t get as stuck when I’m feeling stressed. And I enjoy my life a whole lot more! How do you embrace the fun, silly, playful part of yourself? Next time you have a good clean laugh, notice how good you feel–body, heart, and mind.

Read more information about my teacher, Jody Ross, in Minnesota, and find a Laughter Club near you. I will be leading an introductory session at Unity Unitarian Church on November 16th, and hope to get a regular Wednesday evening Laughter Club going in 2012.

Poetry. I’ll leave you with a poem that is speaking to me about this turning of the year into Fall. It is an excerpt from Directions by Billy Collins from The Art of Drowning.

The best time is late afternoon
when the sun strobes through
the columns of trees as you are hiking up,
and when you find an agreeable rock
to sit on, you will be able to see
the light pouring down into the woods
and breaking into the shapes and tones
of things and you will hear nothing
but a sprig of birdsong or the leafy
falling of a cone or nut through the trees,
and if this is your day you might even
spot a hare or feel the wing-beats of geese
driving overhead toward some destination.
But it is hard to speak of these things
how the voices of light enter the body
and begin to recite their stories
how the earth holds us painfully against
its breast made of humus and brambles
how we who will soon be gone regard
the entities that continue to return
greener than ever, spring water flowing
through a meadow and the shadows of clouds
passing over the hills and the ground
where we stand in the tremble of thought
taking the vast outside into ourselves.

Autumn Laughter Blessings, Katy

life practices: summer solstice

My intention is to blog once a season about Life Practices in order to share what I am practicing in my life, and to suggest opportunities to join me, as well as ideas to use in your own practice.

Summer Solstice was June 21st!
I had hoped to facilitate a Summer Solstice celebration this year at my Unitarian Church (Unity in St. Paul), but instead we needed to make a trip to visit Dave’s aging mom in Massachusetts. Carol Leborveau, a friend, lead a very simple ritual to welcome the first signs of the light at 4:30 am in the morning (!) in my absence. Only a few brave souls attended, but it was rich and meaningful.

The Summer Solstice reminds us to notice and celebrate the full return of the light. The daylight hours have been growing since Winter Solstice, each day becoming slightly longer until the Spring Equinox in March, when the day and night were equal in length. This full-on light invites us out of the house, into the warmth, into its embrace. The seeds that slowly prepared themselves in the mysterious darkness within the earth and within our souls are ready to bear gifts in the fullness of the light. We are invited into a season of fertility, abundance, vitality, and blossoming.

What is calling you into blossom? As the poet Mary Oliver invites in her poem The Summer Day, “Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?” You may want to write in a journal or create a ritual to explore this invitation. How can you embody the gifts that have been growing in you? Does anything need to be released in order to allow these gifts to manifest? A short ritual could include:
• In the brightness of the day
• Write each “blossoming” or release on a small piece of paper
• Light a candle and say a blessing or intention
• Read one “blossoming” or release at a time, and then burn it in the flame, allowing it to be transformed into whatever form it will take in your life.

Remember that as this day came to an end, the days are now very slowly becoming shorter, until at Autumn Equinox, the day and night will be balanced, and by Winter Solstice, we’ll be back to the longest night. Savor and revel in the bounty of this Summer season and the gift of “your one, wild, and precious life.” Next year, I hope to celebrate the Summer Solstice continuing the ritual Carol started at Unity Church Unitarian.

If you’re interested in creating a meaningful ceremony to mark some passage in your life, read more about my work as an Interfaith Minister below.

Reverending! I feel so happy to be an Interfaith Minister! I just married a couple on Saturday, July 2nd at Irvine Park in St. Paul, Minnesota. It was a perfectly beautiful day in an old part of St. Paul. I get so much joy out of marrying people! The process of helping them to find the right words to express their love and their vision for their relationship is so inspiring and meaningful! And then to consecrate the relationship they are aspiring to with family and friends…You can tell I’m enjoying myself in this photo—the music for the recessional accidentally started playing at the beginning of the ceremony! 

I’m also going to be the Worship Leader at Unity Unitarian Church on Sunday, July 10th. I’ve lead worship a few times now and really enjoy it! The title of my sermon is With One Smile, inspired by a poem by e.e. cummings and the journey I’ve been exploring lately of allowing more gratefulness and joy into my life. I wrote about and collaged about this the theme in a previous blog post. You can read e.e. cumming’s poem in the poetry section below and one of Mary Oliver’s poems, also a pivotal part of this service, in the delight blog post mentioned above.

Here’s a brief description of the service theme: Sometimes opening to suffering is what awakens us to joy—the heart is cracked open to the depth and breadth of life. Another way to awaken to joy is to cultivate the soil in which it grows and is nourished—and we can begin at any time with one smile! Katy Taylor and Worship Associate Jeanne Barker-Nunn take delight in playfully exploring the art of savoring and welcoming all of life.

I’ll also be talking about a new practice in my life—Laughter Yoga. I’m getting trained to be a Laughter Yoga Leader, so you’ll hear more about that soon. But in the meantime, check out local Laughter Clubs near you, and if you’re in Minnesota, this is my teacher, Jody Ross’s site.

Be in touch if you’d like me to facilitate any Interfaith Ministry services, rituals, celebrations, worship services, and more!

Music. I have been enjoying sharing music at my Unitarian Church here in St. Paul—a few weeks ago, I sang a few of Hildegard von Bingen’s luxurious and mysterious chants as part of a service exploring the virtue of Wisdom.

If you don’t know about Hildegard, a 12th century feminist, prophet, mystic, healer, teacher, and abbess, google her! The group that I think performs her music most authentically is Sequentia—see the “Hildegard von Bingen Project.” You can listen to some samples on Amazon if you like. I was blessed to have the chance to study with this group at a Summer music workshop years ago, and have enjoyed continuing to sing Hildegard’s music.

I’ll be opening the St. Paul Classic Bike Tour on September 11th at 8:00 am with 15 minutes of Hildegard’s music this year. The organizer wanted to mark September 11th in a peaceful, prayerful manner, and Hildegard’s music is being billed as “Hymns of Hope.” Hope to see you there! Dave and I may be riding after I get done singing—it would be a great way to celebrate our anniversary!

I have recorded a few of Hildegard’s chants on a number of my albums, with Welcome Brigid being the most recent album available on my site.

Have you tried listening to different music lately? It’s easy to get stuck in one genre that we really like, but listening to a wide range actually stimulates us and helps us to get out of stuck personality patterns. If you don’t normally listen to medieval chant or if you’re used to plainsong, try Hildegard’s music; if you listen already, try something completely different. Notice how it affects you—not in terms of “good” or “bad, but the sensations, the feelings, the thoughts that arise. How can you nourish yourself with music?

The Enneagram is my favorite tool for understanding how my personality operates. It’s an amazing psycho-spiritual tool for really seeing through who we think we are to who we really are, to our Essential Self or True Nature. Check out more about the Enneagram on our site.

Dave and I recently started calling our business “Winged Heart” (see collage below). We really love the idea that the Enneagram along with other practices that we are involved in is about opening the heart to greater freedom and joy. The heart is the “pulsating core of our aliveness,” “the center of our being,” as Br. David Steindl-Rast writes in his book Gratefulness, the Heart of Prayer. Dave’s and my work, both personal and public, is about freeing the heart to be touched, to open, to feel all things—to be wholeheartedly alive!

We are taking a break from teaching this Summer, but we’re looking forward to teaching again in the Fall—see our upcoming schedule which includes a workshop to help us in our psycho-spiritual growth (5 week series, Oct-Nov), a presentation with a new take on the origin of the Core Emotions of the Centers (mid-Nov—date TBA), and a Couple’s Retreat (early Dec).

We’re always both available for consultations with the Enneagram, both individual or couples. We’re also certified to offer the Prepare & Enrich Inventories, which we have customized to include the Enneagram and Nonviolent Communication (NVC) for premarital or marriage enrichment.
Collage. I wrote last season that I was too busy to make time for collage—and it’s still true! I am working on gathering images right now for a piece to explore an old wound from when I was teenager. I usually find that exploring an issue visually engages my process in a deeper way. New insights open when I’m not just analyzing the issue with my mind, but exploring what images attract me, how they want to be placed together, and what the final gestalt is. I’m looking forward to continuing this collage process.

In addition to engaging in collage as a psycho-spiritual practice, I offer workshops, consultations, and collage artwork. You can see more collages on my site and this blog.

What kind of nonlinear right-brain practices do you engage in? Do you make time for them in your life? How do you feel when you do?

Poetry. As you know, one my favorite practices is that of welcoming poetry into my life, whether I learn it by heart, or just read it. If you love poetry, too, you can sign up for my sporadic Poetry/Prayer List. And here’s the e.e. cumming’s poem that’s an integral part of my life and my July 10th Service.

may my heart always be open to little
birds who are the secrets of living
whatever they sing is better than to know
and if men should not hear them men are old

may my mind stroll about hungry
and fearless and thirsty and supple
and even if it’s sunday may i be wrong
for whenever men are right they are not young

and may myself do nothing usefully
and love yourself so more than truly
there’s never been quite such a fool who could fail
pulling all the sky over him with one smile

Summer Blessings on your life practice/practice of life, Katy

life practices: heading into winter

I intend to blog once a season as we head into each season to share what I am practicing in my life, and to suggest opportunities to join me, as well as ideas to use in your own practice.

Winter Solstice Celebration on December 21st!
I facilitate, participate, and sing in this ritual at Unity Unitarian Church every year—if you’re in the area and would like to join us, please do!

Come join this contemplative, family-friendly, participatory, Celtic-inspired ritual to mark the turning of the year as the darkness gives way to the growing light. This year we will also honor the full Wolf Moon and the total lunar eclipse. More information here.

If you’re interested in creating a meaningful ceremony to mark some passage in your life, read more here about my work as an Interfaith Minister.

In your own life, how are you taking in this Advent season of waiting, of going inward? Here is the Call to Worship I gave at our recent Mary service—I offer it as an invitation:

I feel winter calling me inside, welcoming me into its cozy, warm darkness. I just brought in the last of the dark leafy greens from the garden. I’m firing up my crockpot and holding warm cups of tea between my hands. There is a natural inward turning of my attention—towards nourishment, towards warmth—and a slower rhythm is beckoning me.

I usually know myself through my doing. Who will I be if I allow myself to slow down, to listen inwardly, to take in the nourishment of my Being? Who will emerge in the quiet, in the stillness? Who or What is waiting to be born in me?

Music. I have been enjoying sharing music at my Unitarian Church here in St. Paul—a few weeks ago, I was able to sing my Hail Mary during the service on Mary that Rob and I put together, which was a real blessing. Most of my music is about worship, connecting with our own souls, so sharing it as part of a worship service feels very aligned and “right” to me.

Hail Mary is one of the two songs from my album Welcome Brigid that was included on a new compilation CD called Songs of Mary that is produced by Sounds True. The album is stunning—you can find it on my websiteWelcome Brigid, the album that my songs come from, is available on my site here.

Are you bringing music into your life now as we move toward the holidays? What music nourishes you? Singing holiday music can help us move into this season with more joy, or perhaps listening to calming, grounding music that invites you to slow down in what can be a very busy time…How are you nourishing yourself with music?

The Enneagram. As you may know, the Enneagram is my favorite tool for understanding how my personality operates. It’s an amazing psycho-spiritual tool for really seeing through who we think we are to who we really are, to our Essential Self or True Nature. You can check out more about the Enneagram on my site if you like.

My husband Dave Hall and I will be offering an Enneagram Workshop for couples, called Cultivating Deeper Contact with the Enneagram at The Journey Inn, a beautiful B&B in Wisconsin March 18-20. We only have room for 5 couples. You can find details here.

Collage. I have been so busy lately that I haven’t made time for as much collage time as I would like. I really find that the practice of collage nourishes me in a special way. It invites me into creative, non-linear time and knowing, into surprising beauty, moments of delight, deep insight and understanding.

Collaging is also a way that I can engage with an inquiry about something that is challenging me in my life, emotionally, spiritually. Writing helps, but collage gives me another way in that is  less logical, less structured. Recently I have been processing my feelings around another person in my life being diagnosed with cancer, this time a brain tumor. I don’t like to think about death—who does? But this year has been full of folks getting ill and death, including my sweet Teddy Bear lhasa apso, so I’ve been needing to keep myself engaged with this topic.

I share with you my collage and blog post about this most recent friend—there are actually a few about death, the unknown, and the preciousness of life on my blog, but this is the most recent one.

You may not know, but my collages were featured in The Vision Board by Joyce Schwarz, and in the 2nd printing, softcover version one of mine is actually featured on the cover! (You can see it peeking out on the right side.)

Movement. In my busyness, I’m not moving enough these days. I sit at my computer all day, then finish my day-job, and sit down again for working on my work. I’m trying to at least get out for a walk, to run errands on foot, and I do run 2-3 times/week, but it’s not enough!

I wrote about Authentic Movement last time—I’m still doing that and really enjoying opening to new wisdom in my body. You can read about that here if you wish.

Another lovely way to move is the circle dances of Dances of Universal Peace. They are offered every 3rd Sunday at the Friends Meeting House on Grand Ave. in St. Paul. For more information, check out the Meetup listing.

How are you listening to your body’s wisdom? Are you paying attention to tightness, to need for rest or exercise or right amounts of food and drink? Are you allowing your body’s natural movement to inform you, to nourish you? For those of you, like me, who live in northern climes, notice how you tense up in the cold. Can you breathe and relax instead?

Poetry. Another of my favorite practices is that of welcoming poetry into my life. I’m on a few poetry lists that send me poetry into my inbox every day, which I LOVE (Writer’s Almanac and Poetry Chaikhana), and I always have a book of poetry nearby. I also enjoy walking with a poem and reciting it, learning its rhythms and music, eventually learning it by heart.

Here’s a poem for the season by Sister Peronne Marie Thibert, set to music by my friend Elizabeth. If you’d like to get these more regularly, you can sign up for my Poetry List  (when you get to the Contact page, scroll down).

The gate is open
dare we enter
the snow looks heavy, deep,
the woods, dark, deeper still
the Star, we’re told,
is somewhere beyond
on the other side of fear,
of hopelessness
The gate is open
dare we enter
dare believe…

Winter Blessings on your life practice/practice of life, Katy

p.s. If you’re looking for encouragement and inspiration as you move into the New Year, check out my friend Pam’s personal growth email program: Thriving Winter: A Call to Aliveness.

deep power

I thank you, deep power
that works me ever more lightly
in ways I cannot make out.
The day’s labor grows simple now,
and like a holy face
held in my dark hands.

What deep power caused this to happen? A friend and fellow Diamond Approach student has a brain tumor. So suddenly this appeared. I saw him, practiced with him, lived with him on retreat, and a few weeks later he had a seizure. Now we don’t know how long he will live…

In Authentic Movement a few weeks ago, my body moved in such a way as to remind me of my friend. My deep sorrow at the loss of his life. And as I moved, I said metta for him:

May you be held in compassion
May your pain and sorrow be eased
May you be free

My body moved, blessing his brain, one open hand at my head extended to the world, the other hand holding my head in compassion and gentleness, breathing metta in and out.

I had the sense that I wanted to acknowledge his aliveness, his creativity, his brightness in the midst of this life-destroying tumor. How to hold both the reality of what is happening and the truth of his indestructible, beautiful being?

After moving in ritual prayer, in blessing, in metta, in walking meditation, I drew the central part of this collage. It looks like a spinal cord going up to his brain. It is full of not only dark, destructive tumor, but also life-giving color, possibility, and dark unknown.

There is no death. Life cannot die…Death is an end—the end of everything known. It is a fearful thing because we cling to the known. But life is. It is always here, even if for us it is the unknown…We must die to the known and enter the unknown.
Jeanne de Salzmann

The deep power of Being, moving in him ever more lightly, ever more difficult to recognize, but always there. Life is. In some ways, my friend’s days are simpler now—he must harness all his energy to meet this challenge, to feel/do what he must while he is here on this earth in this physical form. Life cannot die. Each day is holy, is lived, is loved, is held in the hands of life, of Being itself.

(Poem: Rainer Maria Rilke, I, 62; Quote: from The Reality of Being, by Jeanne de Salzmann)

mystery–life and death

i’ve heard about the cycles of life and death so much that it doesn’t usually mean much to me.yes, things die and things get born and of course they’re related, but  what does this really mean? what does it mean to me?

now it’s spring and new life is coming in. i’m loving all the different greens. i’m thrilled to see plants that i planted coming up again, flowers, life bursting forth from the brown  earth. my sister’s new baby is one year old this week, a niece-in-law is two, new physical movement is coming to life in me, my relationship with dave continues to grow and deepen, and friendships grow richer…

and this spring i’m really aware of the death that’s here too. in the last month, 4 people in my acquaintance-circle dying, 3 more diagnosed with scary diseases, the death of my dear old doggy, my boss’s dog, my singing partner amy’s dog, and my brother gone missing again into his drug habit…the list seems to be never-ending. and it is, isn’t it? there will always be death…and life…

somehow the two are inexplicably tied together. contemplating this brings up a real sense of the unknown, the mystery, and with that a sense of no control. no control of whether these friends live or die, of whether i live or die…touching into the mystery in both the death and the new life. the mystery means letting go of familiar ways of knowing, of understanding, of being–of not knowing what else is here. accepting that i don’t know how life will be or even is.

Osho says: “Look for the mysterious in life. Wherever you look – in the white clouds, in the stars in the night, in the flowers, in a flowing river – wherever you look, look for the mystery. And whenever you find that a mystery is there, meditate on it. Meditation means: dissolve yourself before that mystery, annihilate yourself before that mystery, disperse yourself before that mystery. Be no more, and let the mystery be so total that you are absorbed in it. And suddenly a new door opens, a new perception is achieved.”

the mystery of new life springing from the earth, from humans, from poetry, music, art–i am open to this mystery. this has also been very true for me in my body exploration–i’ve had to let go of what i thought i knew about myself to enter into a deeper knowing, a more intimate listening and sensing. and it has been amazing and wonderful. it’s easier when  the mysterious is full of obvious beauty and wonder… how to be open to the mysteriousness of death, of loss, of grief, of fear? my mind immediately wants to make sense of it in some way, which is why i suppose i’m writing this…

right now, what i know is the preciousness of life. right now as i sit in my sweet cocoon of a room, with the rain and verdant green outside my window, as i email a friend, as i walk in my gardens feeling the earth under my barefeet, as i sing to a dying woman, as i speak with a dear one, as i hold my fiance’s hand…this life we live is such a gift. i’m sure there’s more for me to take in during this time of birth and death, but now, this is what I am most aware of—my gratitude for this moment of this life i am in.

as my unitarian pastors would say at the end of a sermon, “may it be so, blessed be, and amen.”