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 

Friday, July 1, 2016

Reflections on the Intensive

All week I've been wanting to write about the Healers' Intensive with Deena Metzger, partly for my friends who may be interested, but also so that I can begin to integrate everything that transpired.  But the intensive was so intense, in so many ways, that it's taken me a while to settle down from the headaches that began there and continued when I got home.  The material alone was challenging and deep, but there was also a summer solstice ritual outdoors in 112 degree heat, dense and smoke-filled air from the Santa Barbara fires, and another fire in Topanga itself, threatening an evacuation that fortunately did not happen.  Intense. Yes.   Finally, I'm feeling ready to write.

So, this morning I drew a SoulCollage® card to help me begin.  It was the card I call My Healthy Heart.  Perfect.  Where else to begin than with the heart?

The core of the intensive, as with all of the work I've done with Deena, centered around western mind and the chaos and violence it has created.  No surprise that it pretty quickly led to feelings of grief.  What other response, really, can there be?  We spent most of a whole day speaking in Council about how and where we're heartbroken.

I came to Topanga with a dream.  It was the opening dream for the week's work, and is at the core of everything for me (and I think for the community).  In the dream, I am with a friend discussing the healing properties of some substance, when I am given an image, a symbol, and some words along with it.  The image is of a hub with spokes going out from it, rather like a wheel, but not round on its edge.  The words go something like: Fix the hub and healing will radiate out to all parts of the structure.  I've never had a dream like this before.  I began to understand that, with my own physical healing, I've been trying to fix the parts but missing the core.  It then became very clear to me that my illness has been, at the core, spiritual, with physical manifestations.  (I know this may sound like, duh, but you know how sometimes you finally get the obvious.  My acupuncturist has pretty much been trying to tell me something like this for ages).

And what is the illness?  I surmised and Deena more or less agreed that it is about being disconnected from Spirit.  Disconnection was a big word for many of us in the group - from the earth, the wisdom of the natural world, the animals, the ancestors, Spirit.

Deena's work is to have us question.  Everything.  All our assumptions, all our so-called bottom lines.  We are so infected with the western acculturated mindset that we often don't even realize it.  You know - the old fish in water analogy.

How do we connect or re-connect with a more indigenous mind and heart?  According to Deena, we don't and can't really understand what it means to regard the earth as our mother, though we bandy the term about.  If we did, we would live differently.  And though we have much to learn from indigenous cultures and people, we can't be them or co-opt their particular ways.  Can we learn from them without stealing from them?  Haven't we stolen and destroyed enough?

All anyone can do is live with the heartbreak and forge one's own pathless path.  For me, a big part is staying in connection with Spirit (however you name it or think of it).  The earth is besieged.  We often live our privileged lives as though it isn't.  So, what do we do, then, to stay conscious and not collapse in despair? What we worked on all week was to understand what we are each called to.  To listen, to find out what Spirit wants of us.  It isn't easy, especially if we think we can do it without the support of community.  There is certainly no support in the broader culture for it.  But those of us who think in these ways have to be in Council together.  We need to hold each other in this work.

My particular heartbreak?  It's for these beloveds and the world they are growing up in.