Saturday, October 29, 2016

Finally, the Water

Here is what it comes down to –
None of it makes sense.
None of it.
Why do we try, then,
to figure it out?
It is hard
to sit confounded,
to realize
that it is all Mystery.

It isn’t that Mystery is present.
It is all Mystery -   
These trees,
this water,
the rocks,
the complicated patterns
of nature.
our relationships, 
the children.
This ache,
that sorrow,
this vivid green watercress arising
out of the urban creek bed,
and the creek that is flowing,
even in October after four years
of California drought.

shrug your shoulders,
shake your mystified head,
and love the trees,
love the water.
Bless it. 
All of it.
Even the aches
and sorrows.

Mystery is whole,
and it is holy,
and so, therefore,
are we,
the hole next to the tree roots,
the tree roots,
the rock they climb over,
the ivy twining around them
down to the creek,
the bird call,
the traffic sounds,
the smell of rot and dampness.

I am here,
by the water.
And yes, I want
to soothe my soul,
and yes, I am selfish
and want the pain gone.
And yes, also,
I sit here, Mystery.
I sit here.

The squirrel skittering up the tree
makes me lift my head.
I glimpse the magic of
the changing sky.
Words are charms, as well.
I ride them out.

Friday, October 7, 2016

Birth Pains

As if there aren’t enough goddesses at work in my psyche, now I’ve been given Athena.  I accept.  Persephone, Demeter, Hecate, Hestia, and now Athena.  (Oh, and some conversations with Kali, too, but that’s another pantheon.)

I’ve been wanting to write about my experiences the last 3 months since attending the intensive, but it’s been difficult because everything has felt so unresolved, so unclear. Much of it may always be a mystery, but I have come to understand certain things about it.  It may take several blogs, and I may not be as linear or logical as usual.  Maybe that's a good thing!

To make a long story short, after being in the crucible of the intensive (with fires also burning all around Topanga and nearby), I felt myself seized by a headache in the back of my head.  But I’ve grown convinced that it is really a spiritual illness with physical manifestations. I have to treat it accordingly (but be assured I’ve used the allopathic system as well as lots of all kinds of alternative treatments).  

Yesterday, I had a conversation with Deena.  She says something is about to be born.  Like Zeus before Athena sprang from his head, I, too,  have an aching head.

Deena spoke of a statue of Athena at the Parthenon Museum, and I remembered it immediately.  It’s one of the few images of Athena that I love.  As Deena said, Athena is a warrior, but also very feminine, and accompanied by snakes (which many goddesses are).  She is the goddess of the mind, and I’m ready for a new belief system (or an old one, really) to take hold.

If you read my blog in early June, you might remember this image:

That’s where this poem begins (and where I am now):

Birth Pains

there was an image,
a box of mystery,
required and sought –
held in Persephone’s hands -
claimed at the behest
of greater forces -
opened to reveal
ghosts and fear,
shame and diverted anger.

Resisting that which you pursued,
you turned your head
to one side and
threw your arms up
to shield your face.
They formed an X, a cross,
to ward off pain and suffering,
to stop the necessary change
that must follow.

After the image
came the dream:
Fix the hub and all healing
will radiate through the spokes
to every part of the wheel.

Spirit has seized you
like a mama cat
snatching up her kitten
by the nape of its neck.

Here - She says –
Look here –
where you have shoved me  
to the back of your mind.
Your dream spoke true -

I am the hub of the wheel,

Not you.
That was no more than
a false belief.
You were never alone.
You were never in charge.
No wonder you cannot trust.
You chose to believe a lie.
I will hold you here
until you relax into
the embrace of truth
and realize that
what you asked for so fervently
you had all along.

I will not, cannot, abandon you.
Fear will not abandon you, either.
It is my messenger,
informing you to open your eyes,
open your heart,
It no longer needs to run your life.

Shame?  Let it go.
You don’t need it any more.
Keep it.
Use it righteously.

This may be unexpected.
Wake up.
The box is open,
and everything
is now released.

Zeus had a headache, too.
And Athena was born.

Friday, July 15, 2016

Family Dinner

A new poem.  Don't let the innocuous title mislead you; this is not an easy poem.  The theme will not be unfamiliar, though, if you've been reading this blog or know me at all.

Last night, family dinner –
            filet of sole with lemon,
            fresh corn from the farmers’ market,
            strawberry, tomato and basil bread salad –
the husband cracked his tired joke –
            I don’t know what day of the week it is –
            Kiss my ass, I’m retired!
And the adult son responded
            with eye-rolling disgust
            and a sharp retort.

I understand.
I used to work the soul-wearying,
            regimented 8 to 5 -
Year after year, hurried, stressed, relentless,
            no matter that the work was good work
            and chosen.

But now, the next day,
            after a night’s rest and some slow laps
            in the pool at the Y,
A response forms beyond last night’s
            head-nodding sympathy.
There is a price you pay for this
            slice of leisure time, this
            rest from labor in the world’s marketplace.
I will tell you what it is.

The body begins to break down,
            for some seriously, for others slowly,
            but relentlessly.
You wake up in the morning and immediately assess
            the state of the joints, muscles, digestion,
            headache, mood, whatever.
Every day.

Energy is no longer so abundant.
There is a growing list of things
            you will never do again.
Your parents have left this world, and so
            you are on the front lines
            of the confrontation with eternity.
You wonder if you will die first, or
            if your spouse will wing off, leaving you pierced
            with mourning and fear.
Time no longer feels long and languorous.
Helplessly, you watch the days pass.
            Another night, reading aloud to the husband
            from a book on Tibet.
Another morning, writing in your studio downstairs.
Privilege, yes.
Gratitude braided with angst.

So, yes, we have the luxury
            of a pension and health insurance.
But the clock is ticking, the sun rises
            and the sun sets,
and we edge ever closer
            to the unyielding abyss.

I know - I seem to be obsessed with issues around aging.  My friend Jane Keene and I are preparing a series of events for women who are also thinking about such things.  Here's the flyer for the first one.

Jane Keene and Maya Spector Present:

The Flame of the Wise Woman

In the first of this four part series, over the next year we will
re-imagine who we are at this elder stage of our lives.

Using mythology, ritual, writing and good conversation, we will consider how we tend both inner and outer flames
and affirm our passion and purpose.

When: July 31st, 2016 from 2:00pm-5.00pm
Where: Private home in Oakland; reserve your space
and we will send you the location
Cost: $20.00 in advance or $25.00 at the door
or send check to: 164 Robles Way #143 Vallejo CA 94591
(please include your email address)

Please RSVP as soon as possible as space is limited.
Jane Keene