there’s a hundred billion stars
to show you where you are
the open hand of space
is holding you in place
-from a song by my friend Pete
Here after this record setting Winter waking up to the whole world outside my Yome glistening; sunlight passing through the prismatic ice crystals into a thousand hues of silence.
Here alone as my beloved is up on a mountain practicing her own sacred silence; alone and fully, utterly, divinely companioned by the Friend the Sufis dance of.
The secret of the life I have been sweating and cowering and weeping to live is that during my struggling someone has secreted into the back pocket of all the emotional baggage I’ve been lugging along a life that is the best imaginable one I could live out on this blessed aqueous earth.
Armored in wool and stripped of stories, I find that this journey into nothing offers the almost inutterably gracious gift of a life I choose wholeheartedly to live until its end.
Time will eat me; may I be delicious for him. I will lose everyone I love and it began happening the moment I was born. Another teacher of my heart, a Permaculture elder whose hand is holding mine whenever I am gentle to a sister weed, who delights with me whenever I garden naked in the sun, who shakes with me whenever I go to the woods to scream, and who harmonizes with me whenever I sing before a meal has become very suddenly sick and in danger of dying. She faces the uncertainty with an open-heartedness that seems no more and no less surprising than the butterflies that came to dance over her mandala garden. She is transforming. Beauty radiates outward.
A month or two ago something physical about our lives was very hard. Maybe it was the cold or lack of water. I told Pickle in great fear ready to give up that under all my pain I wasn’t so upset for my great discomfort, but for the terrifying possibility that this lifestyle turns out to be so excruciating to begin without a lot of money and without a village that when others find out, they won’t want to do it. Beyond the real shame I’d feel for ‘failing,’ beyond the terrible discomfort in my body, there was the worst loss of all: the planet is dying and our demonstration of a possibility will be scratched off the list for anyone who sees what our life is like. We can dress it up and paint signs on it but they’ll know from that sound in my voice: run away from this! take comfort where you can! this life is a mess!
As always, it seems like my healing is the increasingly radical art of staying right where I am.
“Permaculture.” – the art of rooting in place in a way that makes staying possible.
The physical circumstances that brought up my intense despair haven’t changed much yet, but my spirit has. Today I know: this way of life may not be for everyone – but for those it is for: if we can stick with it, under all the suffering a boundless joy awaits.**
I love these 400 watts of power, this tiny little woodstove, this asking sweet neighbors for sweet water, this ability to only afford a dozen young trees for your big Permaculture design, this asking friends for greenhouse space, this absolute necessity to hone with our diamond tears the tools of peacemaking and self-compassion, and this golden miracle piercing the rarest crack in the sidewalk of stories that you are even now trudging towards with your head low like a black bear in a business suit when suddenly choice streams through radiant and sultry saying: “you know, honey – you could choose to leave again but if you want to stay, I’ll be here.”
My life is for learning to stay so I can learn to go. Learn permanence to learn impermenance. Learn wholeness to learn emptiness. When it’s time to die, because I knew what it was to stay, I will know how to go.
** and suffering and thrashing and screaming and hopeless despair…! ***
*** and love as vast as space.
Thank you to all my beloved friends and teachers.