breathe with the earth

Breath comes slow and easy as light begins to filter through, gently breaking up the night. Breathing yet with the earth, calm pervades, questions long released to dreams, and now forgotten. The breath comes as sure of purpose as the reaching rays of light, the unclaspable growth of all the tender, green things, the insistent push of the river.

The breath comes so sure of purpose until the myriad of little startles begin and proliferate, the alerts and notifications, the chirping of the self-holding devices somehow always there. The breath catches, its pace changes, as the chirps and tinkling bells and snippets of music begin to fill the day. Ever ready to make life easier, the beeps and vibrations assume the helm, tracking and steering breathlessly.

Breathing into the palm of the hand, eyes fail to scan the treetops, the skidding clouds, the sun pushing brightly through the blossoming catalpa, the other eyes that would speak if they could, life relentlessly unfolding and whispering away on the stream.

Without fail, night comes and pulls toward sleep. The breath falters back toward that slow rhythm, synced once again, breathing with the earth, sure of purpose as the sun reaches above the horizon.

###

wise one

My eyes open to the soft darkness, instantly aware of the now familiar unease. Closing my eyes again, willing myself back toward rest, I feel the fatigue of this anxiety we are all lugging around. We labor together to haul the uncertainties, the fears stoked to fever pitch and still amply fueled by so much in the gaping absence of trust.

In the quiet, troubled dark, I feel the velvet brush of the cat’s paw on my forehead, so soft and gentle. I can hear his deep, radiant purr. He speaks to me with some other kind of knowing. 

I can find my way back to joy. My heart beats not for my place on this chart, my statistical or economic value, my pool of data. No, my heart beats for the unquantifiable. The ecstatic mysteries of life and love are wholly mine, ours. It is there where all possibility remains. I turn my eyes in that direction.

Slowly, I am lulled back to restful slumber, feeling the cat’s soothing undercurrent of purr close against me.

###

JB

he seems just a mere whisper in the night
a ghostly wraith
i could put my hand right through,
but no,
he’s really there, breathing,
standing unsteadily in the dark cool,
the light of the streetlamp
glinting off his head where hair used to be.

how long, how long will we have you?
days? hours? or perhaps just minutes.
you are barely there
i would put my arms around you
but for fear of breaking you.
you laugh and you smile
as if you are not in the act of disappearing
as if you are not in pain.

look at this long bold man
who forged his path
his own way
doggedly gripping this life even as he
ebbs into a world beyond —
what is it that we are? how is it that we stand
in this place of in-between together?
why must we suffer this collision?

even now,
look at you in the bright heat of the oven, 
hammering, crafting on the anvil
the only thing that means anything
at all.
and just look at this beautiful and cherished thing
you make in the midst of the
incomprehensible.

###

remains

my brother is gone

that well of moments shared
from the earliest of our days
tracing the paths of life 
we traveled together
but oh so alone
remains
remains

i knew you all of my life
until today
and knew you
not at all
a spinning planet
eclipsed by the unspeakable mysteries
that tear lives asunder

still you will be there in those photos
with your tender gifts
your laughter and pride
that boy
the almost frail one
the genius that would not find a home
the husband the father

unseen among them are
those closed doors
the terrible sorrows
the infinitely unanswered questions
making another epistle in the scripture
i pore over the verses
clearly written for a reason

the stilted scribble of your hand
lingers among my papers
while the passing of your life
is somehow
reduced to a text
my heart is full with you
but empty

the boy i thought i knew
the man of whom i knew only the periphery
go, strew yourself across the darkness
a constellation
there always on a clear night
for anyone who might look up
and wonder

my brother is gone

###

dreamless

I walk out to the middle of the field. Like a little kid, I plop down into the cool grass and sprawl out on my back. I just lie there, looking up at the sky. 

It’s one of those super-blue days, and there’s these lines of happy clouds coming across, ensemble, like a choreographed dance troupe. I lazily watch the travel of the clouds, blown along by an insistent wind.

The longer I lie there, the more I feel and hear the wind. It whips wisps of my hair across my face. I can hear the crinkle of the occasional tumbling leaf, remnant of winter, blowing past. 

I glance sideways through the grass and notice the dandelions. I feel kind of sneaky looking through the blades of grass, as if I’m somehow hidden.

But, no, there I am, grown adult, lolling in the grass, just watching the clouds, you know.

I close my eyes for awhile and roll my head back and forth, noticing the strange rainbow I see pass underneath my eyelids. Then I put my palms over my eyes, and I see the most psychedelic blue.

I open my eyes again, and just lie there, sinking down into the grass as my muscles slowly loosen. 

I am in the clouds, dreamless.

How many years has it been since I let myself do this simple, amazing thing?

###

2021: let’s choose health

The new year approaches. It’s the perfect time for all of us to collectively choose a new year’s resolution. What if we all agreed that 2021 is the year we get healthy?

It’s not complicated. For the most part, it’s as simple as transitioning to a whole food, plant-based diet along with getting our bodies into some motion. Throw in some fresh air and sunshine, and it’s a wonderful package that improves our individual and collective health while also addressing the number one factor that can help to heal our planetary environmental crisis.

The data is out there (science, you know) that demonstrates a whole food, plant-based diet can prevent, mitigate, or reverse the big name killer diseases we’ve been living with for far too long — you know, these are all those co-morbidities that have sadly compromised so many with the coronavirus. Heart disease, lung disease, diabetes, cancers, kidney disease, high blood pressure — all of these things and more can be prevented, mitigated, or reversed by simply making the switch from meat-dairy-processed to plants.

The data is out there (yup, that pesky science again), that shows animal agriculture’s negative impact on our personal health as well as the health of our planet. It is the number one factor contributing to our climate crisis as it bulldozes rainforests, pollutes our air, soils, and oceans, and drives species to extinction at an alarming rate. We are all part of this problem and have the power to fix it with a simple lifestyle change that only benefits us.

We spent 2020 collectively fear-focused on fighting Covid-19. We spent the entire year engaging in stop-gap measures, many of which were destructive for people in terms of economics, social fabric, mental health, education, and, yes, even physical health. We could have chosen health during that time, but, even now, many choose instead to simply wait, masked and reclusive, breathlessly placing their trust in a vaccine for which long-term safety is an absolute unknown.

Next year could be different. Let’s make 2021 the year we take a positive, no-fear approach to a better, safer world. Let’s make 2021 the year we actually focus on getting and being healthy — together. 

voices

No more. Who can read of yet another person put to death at the hands of government and not feel ashamed, angry, sad, revolted? This is so wrong on every level, and it must end. These are the leaders to whom the American people have granted power. These are the tax dollars that came out of your pockets put to such evil purposes, as if those aren’t many. We sit, silently absorbing these sick acts as they appear across our screens, supposing we have nothing to do with it. But in our silence we grant these powers to these leaders, we pay the bills, and we must finally recognize our complicity in these beyond-reprehensible acts. We must rise up, together, to speak against these murders and more. Media claims that would-be President Biden will put a stop to it, and that had better be the case. But with more of these murders planned between now and the 20th, cry out, “Stop!”, in the name of decency, humanity. Sadly, this abhorrent issue is one of many where we need to find our collective, compassionate voice and power. America, we can be so much better than this. Let us begin to reshape our country with compassion.

dreams must be

The early morning, still dark and star-strewn, makes the space for dreams — the wisps of the inscrutable ones begging to be deciphered, and, too, the waking dreams of substance, dreams of the heart, the aphrodisiac of aliveness. 

These are the dreams that make us more of who we are, who we must become, as surely as a tender sprout must one day flourish with extravagant blossoms whether seen or unseen by human eyes.

Some of us are happily, if not easily, driven by those dreams. For others, we must allow ourselves to notice them— these dreamy sprouts — then nurture them.

Our dreams prescribe wholeness, not careers or salaries. Especially in a time when we are more and more reduced to and perceived in our roles as commodities, we must dream, and go there, even if in bits and pieces. There is nothing inconsequential about it. Do not look to the status quo to place a value on your dreams.

Dreams, big and small and in between, are crucial to our own lives, our social underpinnings, and to the globe we trod. They are not defined by the marketplace. The shapes and colors and sounds of our dreams make our world shine with love and creativity and freedom, irrespective of what can be bought and sold. They assert our very existence. Dreams are revolutionary.

If dreams die, if we forget how to dream, we must see it for the existential crisis it is. We must find our way back to dreams any which way we can. 

It may mean finding a guide or a friend to help, or it may mean revisiting childhood dreams and experimenting there, or it could mean learning something entirely new to break the hold of the entrenched thought patterns that trap us in our dreamless state. It could be a new language, or a craft, or a place, a history, a skill, that turns out to be the trigger that allows our dreams back into our lives. 

We must try, because dreams must be. Dreams are fundamental to life. And when we fan the flames of our dreams back into existence, we must tend the fire. Dreams hold our gift, to be cherished and honored in love by all. The world needs the revolution of our dreams more than ever.

descent into depravity

Yesterday, the United States almost had its first federal execution since 2003. The scheduled execution was halted by a last minute ruling that questioned whether the intended pentobarbital method constituted cruel and unusual punishment.

Late yesterday, the Supreme Court expedited things in a whirlwind, handing over a 5-4 decision at 2 a.m. allowing the execution to proceed. The dissenting justices question the constitutionality of capital punishment.

Why, after all these years, and in the midst of a ‘pandemic’ where everyone breathlessly watches daily death counts in manifest fear, is the federal government aggressively pursuing the death penalty? 

It solves nothing in any given case. It can only be designed as a demonstration of the absolute and brutal power the government is prepared to wield against its own citizenry, and serves to engender a climate of fear — as if we don’t have enough of that going around. This, while giving societal ills the brush-off.

There is no man or woman who can properly sit in judgment with the power to dole out death. Aside from the fundamental moral void of such a presumption, we have seen far too many instances in which “justice” has been delivered to the wrong person. It is a revolting hubris that presumes the power to deliver death in judgment. It is depraved. It is all the more barbaric in the hands of a government so assiduously courting the disaffection of the people on so many fronts.

Last night’s ruling paves the way for four executions in the near term death queue, with more on the calendar later this year. Given that there have been three federal executions carried out since 1963, this is a disturbingly enthusiastic leap back into this sickening protocol. According to the Bureau of Prisons, a total of 37 federal executions took place since 1927 — that’s a span of almost 100 years. The administration plans to make up for lost time, apparently.

No. Stop. It is time to absolutely abolish the death penalty, both at the federal and state level. It is time to halt our descent into further depravity.