Thursday, December 08, 2005


Fall Song ~~by Mary Oliver

Another year gone, leaving everywhere
its rich spiced residues: vines, leaves,

the uneaten fruits crumbling damply
in the shadows, unmattering back

from the particular island
of this summer, this NOW, that now is nowhere

except underfoot, moldering
in that black subterranean castle

of unobservable mysteries - roots and sealed seeds
and the wanderings of water. This

I try to remember when time's measure
painfully chafes, for instance when autumn

flares out at the last, boisterous and like us longing
to stay - how everything lives, shifting

from one bright vision to another, forever
in these momentary pastures.

Sonnet V

Weary with toil, I haste me to my bed,
The dear repose for limbs with travel tired;
But then begins a journey in my head,
To work my mind, when body's work's expired:

For then my thoughts, from far where I abide,
Intend a zealous pilgrimage to thee,
And keep my drooping eyelids open wide,

Looking on darkness which the blind do see

Save that my soul's imaginary sight
Presents thy shadow to my sightless view,
Which, like a jewel hung in ghastly night,
Makes black night beauteous and her old face new.

Lo! thus, by day my limbs, by night my mind,
For thee and for myself no quiet find.

~~ William Shakespeare

One Saturday a month I do a meditative walk with a group through this beautiful wooded area around a lake. We go rain or shine, no matter how cold or hot or windy. So far we are experts damn cold and bloody windy. But being a hardy Canadian, and having lived in good ol' Thunder Bay (bloody damn cold & windy in winter) I scoff out loud, and shiver within. That's what bravado gets you. We generally start with a reading, or a task, something to guide our walking meditation, then we set off. Of course there ARE "rules". I break fewer of them now, perhaps I should keep a chart to mark my progress. The first week I was trying a very daring babysitting experiment, (read: insane) I was letting my 12year baby-sit her siblings, and for this reason I was carrying a turned on cell phone (rule #1 no cell phones) which rang 3 times, loudly, and I answered (rule #2 no talking) the third time I said to Catherine in a voice slightly above a hiss that I was SUPPOSE to be meditating – Catherine being the wee hippie Unitarian preteen that she is was suitably horrified that she had interrupted someone mediating apologized and hung up immediately. Naturally during all these conversations that I was not supposed to be having I lagged seriously behind the group (rule #3 try not to lag too far behind) – but I'm a lagger on a good day when I'm in the woods. So now I'm not thinking about our reading I'm considering where I could put the velcro wall in the house to use as my next babysitting option. (okay it wasn't an official rule, but I docked myself points for un-zen-like thoughts of velcroing my kids to a wall during "my time"). So, am BAD meditator, the only way I can do it at home is with music, so now I end up with several concurrently playing songs in my head, none of which I like.

Then I step in dog poo - thank god it was frozen. That had to karma kick back for being a rule breaker. Last rule, but I didn't officially break it - I just longed so much for my camera (no cameras - NOT a fair rule) grumble grumble....

The following month was colder with snow, but my behaviour had improved AND did not have toresort to duct tape or velcro for the kids (dad was home - whew!). Our job this time - collect seeds.No problem. Right. I have to have a problem, I can never conform. Collected about 4, and then thought, wait! I can't take these birds, and rabbits are eating them - bad conversationalist! Have now been identified as rebel in group. Of course it turns out we're planting the damn things and returning them to nature, sigh. Rebel without a cause.... Number of rules broken was slightly lower. No cell phone (very good! - hate the damn things anyhow), but I did talk (see rule #2above), I was sitting very quietly (and thus seriously lagging behind - again - rule #3) looking a group of birds feeding on the ground when a nice couple said good morning and asked why the paper bag, well what could I do? Pretend I didn't hear them? Feign deafness? At least I spoke quietly, I mean that HAS to count for something - right? Still grumbling about my camera at home - could have shot at least 2 rolls - am seriously considering smuggling it in. Still had music running through my head when I am suppose to keep my mind clear... Long December by Counting Crows - at least it was appropriate.

Actually I really didn't keep my mind on the "seed theme" it went off on its own on a music theme and could not get off it. Everything sounded musical that morning. The wind going through the leaves that even in death were still clinging to their trees, the birds feet through the leaf-litter coated ground, the three women whose voices I heard long before I saw them, they had this lyric song like rhythm in their speaking that I just wanted to keep listening to (and yes, you guessed it I DID speak to them, just to be a brief part of their song), then there was the swish of roller cross country skies going by, the breath of joggers in-between their footfalls and my own very quiet steps (careful not to tread on any of the rabbit foot prints. So maybe I did mediate - just a little....

The best part is after freezing our noses we get together for teas and yummy food by a roaring fire, and if get there early enough you can have the seat by the fire, because even if you are from the Great White North, you can still get very cold and really like sitting beside a very warm fire with hot tea and a warm muffin.

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