MID SUMMER DREAMING

I have and remember the best dreams that come just before waking. 

This morning, I dreamed of planting a spiralling grove of ginkgo trees… starting at the center and spiralling outwards, adding a new sapling every year. I got to thinking how far apart they should go to have room to grow, though eventually, to grow side by side so close, they’d make a wall around a center. In the center, there would be a pond, spring-fed, and a place to sit in comfort. 

It would all be set in a low place among hills, protected from winds and lightnings. It would be a work of lifetimes, ever growing outward… From a distance, it would appear perhaps, a low mountain in the midst of the surrounding land.

Next time I sit to meditate, I will close my eyes, and go there.

I’ll walk the ginkgo spiral, however long it is,
leaving behind the commotion

and complaining of the world at large,
replacing uproar with the rustle of the leaves
stirred by warm and easy breezes,
and smell the dusty scent of the leaves…

At the center, finally, after however long a walk I need,
the ginkgos growing taller, closer pace by pace,
first a fence, then finally at the center a wall…
I will hear the gently moving waters in the pool…
feel the warmth of the air as I sit quietly,
and listen to the birds in the trees… no doubt doves!
And every now and then, a tui’s peculiar bubbling call… 

What would be your own quiet inner place? How does it feel? What scents and sounds are in it?

STAY ANGRY

Stay angry!
Not riotously,
weeping, screaming hate angry–
but soul-cleansing angry:
Keep burning with the inner fires
that burn away
the blockages and incursions
into your soul that living
in these Dysfunctional States of America
have enabled.
Stay angry,
stay determined,
stay encouraged!
Keep insisting
that what we have gotten used to as ‘normal’
is actually mortal disease
and pretty bandaids.

Blame us all for living
as we have lived,
not just them–
they are victims, too,
mistaught, mislead,
lied to all their lives.
Not yourself,
for tolerating the intolerable
for choosing uneasy peace
over open war.
Forgive us all,
we only wanted to live!

Let anger today
be cleansing, refining,
healing and redefining–
Let anger be love for truth,
love for the suffering,
love for your children’s better world
and for your Self,
turning your courage
to live in this world as it is,
into courage to challenge,
to change!

STAY ANGRY!

Death of The Myth

What’s happening in the US these days is the breakdown of the body of American myths– about where we came from, how we made our lives here, what we did and didn’t do to form this nation. Truth finally is being revealed and acknowledged.

Some have always known these truths, but most of America, brought up on myths and lies that made us look better than we ever were, were nested comfortably in the school-taught beliefs that we were the Good Guys, the Nice Guys.

This process of dissolution of the myths embedded in our belief-systems and minds is the first step to real and positive change. It is true for an individual, it is true for a community: Reality has to be recognized, has to be accepted for a person or a community to actually see the need for change and to inspire the will to change.

This season of challenges, from dealing with an administration that lies and manipulates beyond anything we’ve ever seen in this country, to pandemic, to the war against people of color by white supremacists breaking out of the shadows… We are finally coming to understand in greater and greater numbers that a nation built on myths is unsustainable: Reality is that which, when it’s ignored, does not go away. Reality is the iceberg in the path of the Titanic, it is the coal fire in the hold that no one knows about. We have been working without enough information, with mistaken beliefs, taking those stories we learned in school to be all we needed to know.

Reality is staring us down, forcing us to face the deep roots of how and why we came to where we are today.

I believe in America. I believe in the essential good will of normal Americans. I believe that intelligence and compassion and an innate sense of justice is stronger in most of us, than the need to find false comfort within the lies. Our sense of getting right with nature and each other and the divine, whatever we conceive that to be, is stronger than our fears.

We–the everyday Americans–have been tolerating the stresses and strains of trying to shape Reality to our fantasies, and we are waking to how life, our communities, our nation can be, if only we stop tolerating and own our power to create the world we actually want. We have reached the limits of tolerance of injustice because finally, we are understanding that what happens to others is also happening to us. What our community loses when some of its people are not given justice diminishes all of us.

The Powers That Be are finding that lies can only support illusory power. The High and Mighty are having to remember whose labor holds them up at the top of the pyramid.

This, of course, is not just true of the United States. It is true of every nation led by dictators who want to be gods, creating myths of reality for everyone within their grasp. There are too many of those in the world today.

The Cleansing Storm

 Change comes slowly, sometimes takes a couple of generations for a society to let go of an old and obsolete tradition. It takes time to get it that what was once a solution has become a problem. The stream of time flows placidly because we like it that way, undisturbed and undisturbing.

But sometimes a storm comes and stirs the waters, and floods the banks, and it is an opportunity for the old and settled to be stirred up and cleared of muck. For a while, the water runs clearer and only the weightiest of stones and the most deeply rooted plants remain.

We’re in the storm now, and some real things are clearer than ever, and the need for working with what’s real becomes not just necessary, but possible.

The Third Wish

I woke this morning from a dream in which I had been granted three wishes. 

The first was not too hard to come up with: perfect health! No more neuropathy, no more gout, no more weird-sightedness, no more diabetes! A body full of wellness, all the energy to go and do and dance!  And perfectly-balanced brain chemistry, too, so no more depression, no more dysthymic never-quite-happiness! Of course  there is also the ‘time to enjoy it’ codicil: I don’t want to live forever, but I don’t want to die as a means of escaping ill-health, either.  Yep, the first one was easy, though I am still working on the wording of it. 

The second wish… That would be my super-power wish. Once upon a time, it would be the ability to fly. Now, though, I would go for the ability to understand and speak all languages. Not just human languages–all means of communication used by birds and whales and elephants and… everything. For flying, with that perfectly healthy body, I could always get a jet-pack or something. 

The third wish…  I spent the rest of the dream trying to decide what that would be. Perpetual financial security? Or something about being welcomed, being liked and appreciated, being cherished…  But I wanted it to be something for or about other people. Then I thought about wishing for the ability to diminish fear.  But none of this could be wishing to infringe anyone else’s free will or free thinking or feeling. It could not be about taking away the karmic lessons someone else is here to learn from. Perhaps it should be the ability to give someone exactly the energies they need to deal with their own stuff. Actually, that sounds pretty good. Yes, I might go with that.

The problem with the three-wishes thing is that djinns and faeries and their ilk who offer such gifts–Well, they are tricksy! You have to ask very, very carefully to get what you want, because if you aren’t careful, those little agents of chaos will twist your request into something you really, really didn’t mean to ask for!  But your asking left the door a-jar…

So, what would your three wishes be? And how would you word them?

A SUMMER AFTERNOON

Heavy as hot wet flannel, every breath…
I hate to sit or move against
this August afternoon.
Sticky-damp, clothes cling,
a drag against ambition.

Birds, lethargic, dull,
sing only if they must,
fly ghostlike if at all 
through dusty drooping trees.
Cicadas ratchet on and on–
maddeningly constant;
mosquitoes whine
or strike unheard, the devils!

Roses overblown and bright,
relishing this tropic season,
exude aromas heavy and too sweet.
I languish, scowling, discontent 
and longing for the night–
for sleeping cool and waking
to a morning softly lit, a little chill–
a tease dispelled by ten o’clock.

A distant rolling grumble… Ah!
The thick and heavy air is stirring–
Ozone sharply breaks the roses’ hold
upon the atmosphere–
the light is strange and green and darkening,
and thunder rolls and rolls and rolls again,
bolder, growling ever nearer now…!
A little wraith pops up
where a raindrop slaps the dust
and lightning cracks!
across the canopy of cloud–
and down the deluge comes
drowning wraiths and dust,
silencing cicadas in mid-song,
washing mosquitoes from the air…
I stir, I go down from the house
with gratitude
to greet the storm and lift my face
to the blessing rain.

In half an hour, it is done:
birds exulting, flicker through
the clean and gleaming trees,
they lose the dust that dulled them
drink on the wing
and refresh their song;
cicadas scrape out again their noise;
the roses, freshened, lift their heads and buds,
bejeweled in crystal beads;
A beam of sunlight shoots from west to east
and mists rising, catch the glow…
The heat retires before
the evening coming on…

copyright August 2006, revised June 2020 by CLRedding




copyright August 2006, revised June 2020 by CLRedding

It has never been about “race.”

It doesn’t take a degree in anthropology–which I have–nor a lifelong love of words and the precision of words, which I also have–to make the case that we are all ONE RACE, that there are not multiple races of mankind.

The word is used because it has always been used, but it has always been the wrong word.

The right word isn’t race, it is culture.

It may seem the wrong time to bring this up, to insist on a lesson in language and civics. But this is what makes it especially relevant and important now:

If we call it race then it is a thing based in genetics, in nature over which we have little control, and which by some would be laid at the door of God.

If we call it culture then it derives from purely human origins. And that means we have infinitely more power over it. We don’t have to change nature, or challenge the Divine, we only have to dig in and question our own beliefs and assumptions, our own habitual attitudes and their antecedents.

It’s work… but it’s easier than changing biology.

THE MAGIC HOUR a sonnet of art and age

Stare not at the Sun, we’re oft reminded,
But in the Magic Hour, as the Poets tell
Eyes can gaze and be not blinded–
The day’s work’s done, for good or ill.

The Farmer comes home from the field,
The Baker from the baking;
The Vintner casks the final yield,
The Maker ceases making…

The Magic Hour, the Artist cherishes–
The Hour of rosy-golden light–
The Hour as the daylight perishes,
Before the final fall of night…

The last bird sings, his song transcending
All labors and trials of the day that’s ending.

copyright 2005 by CLRedding

CALIFORNIA SUMMER

I lived three summers, age3 to nearly 6, in northern California. This is how I remember it.

Summer heat–
sweet relief
in darkened hall
beneath the fan,
the rumbling wind,
the storm
that blew the cool
all through the house…
I’d catch a chill and die,
they claimed.
Disbelieving,
driven out to play,
I’d wait
another chance…

Summer feet–
freed from socks and keds
not always
sufficiently aware
of bees among the clovers
growing green in golden lawn…
Dancing barefoot over
dark macadam streets
all afternoon
but in the dusk
relishing
warm sidewalks
before I had to go to bed
the sky still blue…

Summer treat–
popsicles sweet and cold,
bright and sticky–
one stick or two
if pleading good behavior
won the prize
and we didn’t have to share…
Eagerly
we waited
dimes in hand,
for merry music dancing
on the summer evening air…

copyright 2006 by CLRedding

LONG ISLAND SUMMERS

When I was nearly 6, I was sent across the country to live on the outskirts of New York City. That was where I lived the next 12 summers, in Glen Cove, Long Island and then in northeastern New Jersey.

I’d go back
for just a moment,
perhaps as long
as one day and a night,
enough, I think,
to relish what I loved
about Long Island summers:

Scents of ragweed,
seared grasses,
almost-too-sweet roses
in the heavy summer air…

Glittering waters,
hot, hot sand
and tiny shells
hiding in the drying
seaweed margin of the tide…

Early mornings
sun like a glowing peach
soft-lit hazy cool
’til nearly 10…

And thunderstorms
some afternoons
that bruise the air
and break the back
of humid heat’s oppression…

Cicada-noisy nights,
lit here and there
by sudden
silent sparks
of spectral yellow, green
and random
like imaginings
or magic,
to be captured
briefly
in a jar…

It’s the fireflies I miss the most…

copyright July 2006 by CLRedding