What is Disaster?

I wrote this short, unedited piece in my kitchen last week. In a flurry of madness to close the oven, wipe my hands, find a pen and give the words life before they abandon this host and move on to one more ready to receive them. The “bite” of a poem is a fast and fleeting as a fish on the line, if you are not ready, and your hands not fast, you may miss out all together. I have learned to drop everything and write, a charming first line beckoning in my mind seems to stale and sour if kept trapped for later in the notes section of my iPhone.

This poem is a response the fires burning in the amazon, and in my own life. I too, just as the Earth herself am in a massive die off, much of what I have held solid now melting away before my very eyes. I think of Joanna Macy’s language frequently, it seems business as usual has broken in my own life, and this is a great mercy. Could it be the great turning has come? Both within and without?

Disaster

They say on the news that the Earth is burning
the Amazon is on fire – Earths lungs scorched and charred
in a wicked rain of dust and ash.

I still have to get up and go to work tomorrow
and most likely- you do too
If the Earth is burning up – shouldn’t we stop and pay attention?

My heart longs for reckoning – meaning – action
but my body is so exhausted that I cannot even turn my face away
from that dreadful smoke filled screen.

What is it like to be a woman at the end of the world?
let me get some rest and I will tell you
just now- I am too bone-weary to even begin to think…

The world is burning up – but here it rains in August
my garden could actually use a little more sun
the weather is strange – but is it really a catastrophe?

Or is my own decimated heart
that old woman at work who never knows where she is
my daughter who may never know breath without fear again

These- are these catastrophes?

I don’t know
somehow from where I sit it seems
that both everything – and nothing means disaster

what becomes of meaning when there is no future?
It grows– oh god- it Grows

A woman at the end of the world
learns to love fiercely (she must)
or she has no chance at all.

Marianna  – August 2019 

 

Morning Practice

I am going to start sharing more of my daily writing practice here. I am engaged in the practice of daily poetry writing, each morning before the world can rob me of my time to create and connect. These poems are not very worked, free form and unfiltered.
I have found it so interesting to be doing this morning writing through poetry, my morning writing used to be in the form of journaling. This poetry practice in some ways is more honest, more sincere, simpler and radically raw, than my journaling was. This form of writing allows me to express feeling more directly. I am enjoying the discipline of this daily practice and happy to share some of the writing that comes to being through this commitment to a daily honoring of the muse.

 

How long will it take to heal
The shattered pieces of my broken heart?
I sweep the rubble clean away – then low and behold
once again – disaster.
The roof is caving in and hurricane warnings tell me that
a storm’s coming, always is, on nights like this.
I plant seeds on the good days
days when warmth blooms in my chest
and I can see vision of summer evening – soft tides – soft smiles
I bury the seeds deep , to keep them safe until the grow
after the flood waters have receded
after the strong words have died down.
I place my hand on my chest
a shelter of a sort
to hold close this heart of mine
the temple of my love.
You are not forsaken – I tell her
Life leaves rubble in us all
we sweep and sweep again
we plant seeds and wait
it’s like the garden love-
give time – take time
one day a mighty Oak will grow
just don’t stop planting acorns.
These words are scattered seeds
this page a love letter to my own sweet heart
Take root now- grow.

photo- coast range, near burnt woods Oregon, baby big leaf maple.

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Climate grief- the sorrow of endings

I am stirring inside, something sharp teethed is nipping at my heals tonight. It is more than the restless wind that blows through my sails with some frequency, more than the weary discontent I know so well. This sensation of being pursued is darker, rougher, it has grit and weight. Its alive, real, and vicious. This, this stirring that is following me, brewing inside me, this is fear.

I see it on the news, though I do not purposefully engage in the habit of news watching, I still catch glimpses. Or I hear it on the radio. Homes burned to the ground in California, the fastest moving fire on record, starving children in Yemen, and Congo, and here too, in Oregon many are food insecure, though not( to my knowledge) starving to death. But there are houseless families in the streets, and folks lying on the side of the road in their own piss, as we all drive by. Too busy to lend a hand, or a dollar. Refugees wait at our borders to seek asylum, fleeing lives far darker than I can even wrap my mind around. This is happening all around me, the times are baring down now, its getting hotter and heavier, it’s hard for me to breath….

In the face of these sorrows I have mentioned, and the thousand more that wait in the wings, I feel the desire to run away. To run from the city, find a small patch of earth and live out my years in quite, maybe quite desperation but still, quite. I want to turn away from what I see, from what I feel, from this nipping at my heals, this fear, and maybe even more than fear – dread. Thing is, there is no where left to run, this whole place, our sweet and kind blue planet is heating up, systems changing. Even if I found the little patch of earth to live on, there is no guarantee that summer sun and spring rain will bless my fields, no knowing that life will go on as life has always done.

I have long espoused my desire for an all out revolution. Not just in America, but globally. For the people to rise up and say “No More!” In this dream we come together for the voiceless, we tear down systems of oppression and we are victorious, united, a human family. I have a revolutionary heart, an inner fire and the courage to stand for what I believe in. This has long led me to hold this belief that change is coming, and that we will all be ok in the end (cue the triumphant yet soothing end of scene music.)

I am somehow just now, at 37 years, seeing that this ain’t no Hollywood movie, this is real life, and revolution means blood on the ground, maybe mine, most definitely that of at least one I love. Even if we did somehow come together in the name of all life and stand  against the corruption and greed, would we have any where to stand? I guess I am saying – is it too late for us? Have we passed the tipping point and now all we can do is maybe learn to become human in the face of this heart wrenching catastrophe we face?
And if we see the days has come, and darkness gathers all around, can we find the strength to see this ship down. Or will we claw our way over top of the broken ones, fighting for the last breath of clean air, the last sip of sweet water, the last gaze of cedar reaching her tips high to the sky….

My mind keep spitting out lyrics to The Future by the esteemed and grieved over Leonard Cohen
“Give me back the berlin wall
Give me stalin and st paul
I’ve seen the future, brother
It is murder”
When I feel dark, and dread filled, I long for music that seems to mirror that back to me, or perhaps even increase the intensity of feeling. I want to wade deeper into the mire, feel the sorrow and despair rising around me, put aside all my over used hope and succumb. This is scary, we are slowly, and so quickly loosing the world that we know. And it’s not pretty, and we are not ok, and I am terrified, raging and desperately sorrow filled.

Even here and now, as I write these quavering truths, just feeling the immensity of this fear and sorrow, I find myself wanting to turn it around some how, find a positive hope filled spin. Finish it off with some well wrought words pacifying the gut deep fear for a moment more….I am not going to do it. I do not comply.

I am broken hearted, sometimes it feels finished, but no, life still blooms so strongly all around us. I hold my loves closely tonight…the future so uncertain.

May love be with you all.

 

 

 

We’re going to die one day….

I might not wake up tomorrow morning. Yes I am 37, and in apparent good health, but this is not a guarantee of another day breathing, not for me, nor for you dear reader. No matter your age. Life is precarious. Unlikely in fact, and the fortune that finds us here, me behind my screen typing away, and you reading me on yours is almost to much to bare.
This fact that we are alive, alive! and breathing is enough to make me draw that same breath in sharply with wonder, the awe of it all….but only when I am paying attention. Which I do confess I am not always doing, and more likely than not, even though today I am writing of the incredible power, fortune and beauty of being alive, by tomorrow morning I will most likely be griping about going to work and feeling less than charmed by my circumstances. This seems to be the way of it for me, at least for now.

And yet even in that, the remembering and forgetting, the high and the low, is life.  In the words of Mary Oliver- my one wild and precious life. Which is not guaranteed, it has no warranty, no insurance, no claim, only presence. The only claim is the one I stake, the stake I put in my own fertile ground. How alive am I willing to be while I am still alive? How much can I love being here in this body? Today, it is enough to make me kneel and kiss the ground.

There is so much unlikely fortune at play in my life, small wonders that I so often take for granted, the spices and salt I use with such abandon, the foods in my fridge, my fridge itself! Water that runs clean, well reasonably so anyway, from the tap – warm or cold. I know my ancestors would have been in disbelief at these luxuries. My aim, my prayer is that my life be a living testament to the gratitude I feel for all this I am blessed with. For all this abundance and ease and wealth beyond what most women living in this world will ever see or know. These wealth’s I reference here are only a drop, a small one at that, of all that I am grateful for…truly. And sometimes I am still a shitty whiney human being. Sometimes I am pissed off cause I have to plan and cook my own dinner, and I am tired and worn down and so so lonely.

When I try to write about this I feel lost, spiraling around in my mind, the absolute wonder I have at being alive, the knowing that it will end. I will die, all this, all this beauty and wonder and love and aliveness will be gone…. I know it. I know it, deep in my bones kind of knowing, feel it in my belly kind of knowing. Its not a theory or an inkling, or an idea. I am going to die one day. Wouldn’t it seem, that in knowing this I would stay present to the magic that is my life? That I would each moment of each day be singing praise for all that has been given by this great blue planet and my ancestors that dreamed me into being here? If I am going to die, why in Gods name would I ever watch  a TV show?!

But I do, in fact Outlanders upcoming new season is being eagerly anticipated by me right now. I can’t wait for more Jamie Frazier in my life, or on my screen anyway.
So what gives with this dichotomy? Am I missing something, does my lack of vigilance with how I use my time mean that I am less than stunned by the beauty of this human beingness? I am not sure. I seem today to only have many, many questions. Perhaps there are more question marks in this post than any prior one I have written. I say perhaps because I have not counted and I will not, I have more important things to do! Like sit and type and wonder at the apparent insanity of my own existence.

I just don’t want to miss a thing. When I get to the end of this run, this life of mine, I want to leave knowing I drank every drop. Be it next year or 70 years from now, I want to leave this earth exhausted by the beauty of it all. So I wrestle with myself, with my choices, my done and undone deeds. I suppose it is human to do so, to take a tally every now and then. Thing is, I don’t think there is a score per say, only a knowing, a felt sense of purpose, fulfillment or lack there of, connection or disassociation. All in all I think I am pretty damn present to my life. And yet, there is learning to happen there as well.

As I go to sleep each night, I do take time to reflect on the beauty of my days and ways. As I rise I rejoice to feel breath moving in my body once again. I bless my food and know that it is not a given to be well fed and housed. I know I am here by the grace of those who came before me, my kin, human, animal, plant, stone…. the truth is, if I was truly present each moment to the majesty this all is, I would be weeping on the ground. It is to beautiful to ever fully grasp it. This life. To precious for words.

May I wake up tomorrow, another day to learn and love, and maybe even watch a little Outlander.  May you wake up as well. And if the Gods are willing, someday perhaps our paths will cross, and we can speak of such things as life and death, beauty and sorrow, the meaning of it all, the majesty of this life. Until then, may you be known by your old ones, and may you in turn teach your young ones well.

Marianna

 

In Defense of a Simple Life

I can’t sleep. Up too late with thoughts running circles round my mind. It seems that life is moving faster all the time, each year, no, each month, swifter than the last. I can’t catch up. Here, in this culture where woman wear busyness like a badge of honor, I just want it all to slow down.

I an eternal optimist, I can’t help it, I try to be surly at times but to no avail. I always optimistically believe, despite evidence to the contrary, that I will have more “free” time, sometime in the near future…but sometime is never here. It looms, ever in the future, just out of reach, I could almost touch it if I just reach a little bit farther.

The ideal of the woman who can do everything is a crock of shit. I know this,I feel it in my bones. I know how marketing works, how swindled we all are. If it isn’t a fashion mag we are comparing ourselves with, its that perfect remodel on HGTV. There is no end to the cascade of false ideals dumped on our doorsteps each day. How can we know what is real amidst this storm of consumerist coercion? It insidiously creeps into our minds, thoughts we thought were our own, when opened for examination have no origin in us. This is madness. This drives us to madness.

I myself, am in a daily struggle. The desire to “produce” more, be it income, social capital, or even beauty. Weighed against the truth that I am tired, and I don’t want to play the game anymore.  I cannot hold it all up, and hold it to the standard that I desire to. Things begin to crumble. I cannot be it all, I cannot do it all. I feel this, and I am in a two income family with one grown child. What must this feel like for my friends with little ones at home and bills piling up on bills? Is this the equality we have been fighting for? Somehow it feels like we have missed the mark. “killin it” seems to be killing us.
And yes, of course this is a grand generalization, and I can only speak from my point of view. Still, I see so many women suffering under the delusion that we can multi-task our way to a picture perfect life, that it is time to pull back the curtain on that lie, expose it’s ugly underbelly and begin to engage in some real revolutionary work.

Could it be that in my relentless pursuit of becoming, I have lost myself? Lost the thread I am meant to hold throughout my life, the thread that William Stafford calls to us to cling tightly to? If this is what matters, and I think it does, what has to be sacrificed? What must I lay down in order to have a hand to hold the thread in?

There is this thing, called “too much” that surrounds us. We are so inundated by the cultural messages of acquisition that we fail to see how deep this patterning is. Peers of mine who eschew the commercialized ideals of the “American Dream” (who knows what that even means anymore) still ascribe to the doctrine of acquisition and hope, through a Hodge podge of progressive spiritual ideals that are in fact selling us the same thing. Meet the new boss, same as the old boss. I am not above this, how many weekend courses have I taken trying to become a better version of me? How many crystals and smudges do I have right now in this very room where I write? Spiritual capitalism at its finest.

It seems that the only way to get off this mad train is to turn and face it looming behind me. To stand firmly in my two shoes and say “no more!” I am unwilling to trade growth for depth any longer. I am unwilling to sacrifice the sanctity of my life to meet some ideal that is not even my own. I will no longer be 3 miles wide and 2 inches deep, I want to be a  well, a spring,  dig deep and find sweet water, here.

I am learning to identify barriers to connection in my life, competition is one, perfectionism is right up there as well. What can I reclaim, or claim for the first time to bring sanity back into my life? I’ve been thinking on this and simple as it sounds, and not surprisingly, I think it has something to do with vulnerability and acceptance. If I can learn to see all the ways I am striving towards unreal expectations or doctrines, than maybe I can turn myself around. Connection is the antidote to bullshit, in fact,  I am pretty sure it is the antidote to all the woes of western civilization.

When I allow myself to be vulnerable, to show my multi layered imperfection, I am open to connection. I can have friends at my house that is messy, I can eat with joy and abandon without concern for what others think of my size or shape, I can speak my mind and heart, not tip toe around others. Which in this PC world feels like it is more an more necessary. Truly, it is not. Disagreeing with someone does not mean you don’t love them. In fact, differing opinions are a healthy thing, if we are all the same it is pretty boring out there.

So I am learning to be uncomfortable, to listen when the feelings of ” I need to be….” arise. It takes so many forms, there are so many things and ways I have been taught I need to be to, to  be worthy, to be accepted. It is a lie. I am, and will be, a whole healthy human woman, even if I don’t meet the standards, even if I look a little frazzled at the edges. I am taking a stand. Because you know what? No one else is going to do it for me. I am going deep, holy well deep. I plant my feet on this soil I call home and I will stay here. I will joyfully  grow my food, raise my hens, sleep beside my husband. I will listen to the quite yearning of my own sweet heart, and stay, home. I will, day by day divorce myself from the system that says I must be more. I am enough. I am woman,  I am home, and I am grateful.

Marianna Louise Jones

*image is of St Fumac’s holy well, Canmore Scotland

 

 

 

 

 

 

Longing for Home

There is living in me a deep yearning. It pulls at me, like the ocean waves dragging back out at low tide. The intensity changes, the force ebbs and flows, but the tide always comes back in and goes back out again. I am not sure quite what the yearning is for, it is a somehow felt sense that there is more than all of this. More than work and play, more than family and obligations, more than creative work, even more than joy. It is a pull equal to the calling of the magnetized lines of the earth that call to the flocks of geese that make there way south in the winter, spilling out in long v shaped formations through the sky overhead. There is something missing, we have lost that which makes us human, I do not know my way home anymore, I do not know if home exists. Not here, not now. How do we make home alive again? How do we learn to become human?

A wise man once told me “hold on to your NO.” This is the “NO” that screams in the night, that this is not the way it all should be, we are built for more than this. We have been robbed. This is the “NO” that echoes in my bones and pulls at my heart like that ebbing tide. People talk all the time, this is wrong, that is wrong, it is all wrong. Hell, I am one of those people….but this “NO” is deeper. This does not speak simply of what is wrong, but of where we went wrong. What befell a people whereby more than half the women take medicine to make their lives palatable? Whereby children are drugged to sit in school all day, forced to ignore the innate wisdom of their own young bodies urge to be free? Oh, wait, there I go again…asking what is wrong, it’s a beginning I will give you that, but a sorely one. My skill at deeper questioning is still a developing one, I am a fledgling, seeking meaning, falling hard onto rough ground.

As Painful as it is to hold this aching longing in me, to feel the resounding NO! that echoes in the air… there is beauty here too. To have this heart that sees the folly of our cultural doctrines and searches desperately for more, is a true gift. If I could not feel the pull, I would not dare to ask the questions, or to embark on the perilous journey of seeing what is hidden, hearing what is silenced, feeling what hurts so deeply. The cult of hope and potential would have me firmly in its grip. As it stands I have found a chink in the armor of this empire, a small fissure in the stone of cultures wall. I can place my finger tip there, and feel a breeze on the other side. The whisper of how it all could be. I have abandoned hope, but I have something much truer, faith. I have faith that we can learn, and unlearn, break down and build up, fetch and carry. Grow a new way of living in right relationship with the wild eyed world we dwell on and in.

I hold my “NO” close to my breast, I hold it like a soft flame, tending it from the wind that blows, like a tiny rabbit, so small yet so strong. My body feels the “NO”  and tells me when I must remember to kindle it alive. When I am torn between ease and rigor, when I might choose the shortest way but the longest is the truer path, when I might say what I do not mean but mean what I do not say. My “NO” beats loudly in my ears and whispers sweetly but urgently…”Don’t go back to sleep….”

Sometimes I do not know where to turn, what comes next, how to proceed or believe. Yet I do feel the silent aching pull of my body, calling for home. I know ways to connect and give. I know the power of 3 breaths in silence before I act. I know that others too feel the call for home, for something more than all this chaos. All these busy days and sleepless nights, torrents of noise and light, the stars hiding their faces behind the glow of cityscapes electric fog. From a 1000 miles away I can feel your hand reaching for mine. I can feel soft soil calling for our feet to bless her with their footprints. I can hear a soft high fiddle that plays as we gather around the fire at night, voices joining with her stringed melody. I know the feeling of your body warm and swaying next to mine, hand in hand. Visions of home calling us. I can taste it on my tongue. I am hungry.

 

Consequence ~ Grief and Wreckage in my Joy Filled Heart

The deep work in wondering, sorrowing and learning that took place in the most recent session of Orphan Wisdom School, with Stephen Jenkinson, is starting to settle into my bones. Just beginning to form into something I can begin to speak, or write about with some semblance of coherence. What happened there last week, or was it longer than a week now? What magic distilled in the hallowed mead hall has been imprinted on my mind, heart and spirit? This I am still in deep wondering of, and will be wondering until again, we meet next spring at the Iron God of Mercy Farm.

So much is existing in me, my mind feels swirled, upended, fractured. I can only begin to piece by piece digest all that was, in such radical hospitality, placed upon my plate. I had the blessing yesterday of a few hours in the company of my good brother, Gabriel, 9 years my junior. To sit and talk and share, my notes on my lap. He willingly, and even eagerly dove headfirst into the wondering with me. The type of wondering where each answer begets another question, shimmering in the distance, floating in the corner of your eye, tantalizing and untouchable. I longed to stay up all night after our conversation, reading, researching, etymologizing…

One theme came clear for me as a result of being gifted the time and attention to wonder allowed with Gabriel about the mystery that I have entered into in the teaching hall. Consequence~ my own, my ancestral, my lingual…so many layers rolling out before and behind me. It feels too much, too real to be true, too much to bear. The world is too much with us…from my notes, I did not write the name of who originally spoke or wrote these words, but they feel too perfect for this moment to not give them voice upon this page.

Consequence and animism live together in my current inquiry. Let us see if I can bring these concepts here in any from that could be understood by those not sitting beside me in the hall, I will do my best and if I lose you, the time is not yet right for me to speak these words or you to hear them. So be it.

For all of our time here in human form on this planet, until the very recent past and our current time, humans have lived not separate from the natural world, but in, inextricably linked, to the more than human realm that surrounds us. A lived form of animism, breathing within and around us was our way of being and relating to the world. The reductionist Newtonian way of seeing the earth and all creatures and forces that reside therein is a construct so new in the scale of human life, a blip, a heartbeat….the blink of an eye. Yet to us, who live as we now do, days when everything, no everyone( I do not mean only human ones) was infused with the power of life, seem far away, perhaps even trivial or uneducated. We see our way of living and thinking as the right way, the cultured way, the scientifically accurate way.

I can attempt to wrap my mind around animism, in fact it stirs in me a knowing that was strong in my childhood. I knew the trees had fondness for me as I did for them, I knew my fairy houses loved being tended by my small hands, that roses offered their sweet smell and perfect blooming bodies to me in an act of benevolence, and I awed at how the moon followed me as I gazed at her face from the backseat of our station wagon. These remembrances could easily be perceived as a child’s dreaming’s, fantasies of an overactive imagination, or a girl who loved Anne of Green Gables just a little too much. But no, this was real for me, and learning as I have, that this is how most peoples throughout all of time perceived the world, brings singing into my heart again. Our world, our home, this earth and all that rests on and in her, is alive and singing back to me. What a wonder, what a forgotten treasure, and….what a responsibility. Consequence.

In seeing this, it becomes so achingly clear that how I conduct myself in relation to all beings, not only animal, or plant, but All who live here, in all their varied forms, actually matters. It matters a lot. If life extends beyond the human, animal and plant kingdoms, into the realms where life may be harder to recognize as life by my human eyes, then the wake I am creating is far vaster than I have ever know. This realization brings great sorrow to my heart. I feel how hard I have become, how practical. How I participate in the genocide and destruction of fellow life mates, for the sake of my laziness and convenience. Again, I feel I should explain, I mean all that exists here beside us on the earth, from a hand carved wooden spoon, to a spatula from dollar tree.  All these ones we see as only objects, bereft of soul or meaning, all these ones we have forgotten or cast aside. After all, nothing comes to us save through the generosity and sacrifice of our earthy mother. It is all made of her body in one form or another.

I have this sense of thawing out, I have been cold as stone. Growing a granite carving in my chest where perhaps once a beating heart lived. The cold stone covering and numbing so that I don’t have to feel the sorrow we inflict on all around us. The emptiness and poverty of living in a world we see as dead, inert, and soulless. Could I survive in my present way of living if I felt my wake for what it is…
I am finding out. As I allow myself to really see and feel the life I have succumbed too, tended and accepted as my own. The cold stone of my heart melting, allowing the harsh truth to enter my consciousness, the ice drips into my belly, and cold tears run down my cheeks.

It is all too much. My own life, your life, all our lives. Broken from the chain of being into which we were born, fractured from the very life that sustains us, false separation and despair cloaking us from our sweet communion with our living earth, our kin, our birthright. How can I now seeing this survive here? My mind keeps travelling back in time, to our first June night in the teaching hall, when Stephen said “First, I will simply say I am sorry” Many of us laughed. It seemed then a lighthearted thing to say, almost in jest. I had no idea how true it was, how he knew then what now I am just learning. That to embark on this path of learning will cause an inner crumbling of all we thought we knew, of much that we have held dear.

There are things that in seeing cannot be unseen, perhaps you can hide your eyes awhile, hide from yourself for a time, but truth once seen will demand to be seen again. To try to un-see or rationalize or ignore is only a recipe for greater suffering and disaster. It is crack head wisdom, searching for just one more day before you make the terrifying change, before you feel the pain.

The maw of western cultures open, hungry jaws looms in front of me. Demanding to be fed.  Fed by my worry, my adherence to the clock, my chronic sense of not enoughness. Simultaneously the sweet earth calls to me to be seen, the breezes kiss my face, the arborvitae I pass each day on the way to my office wriggles with excitement when I stroke her green body, just as my dog does. These parallel and conflicting realities are both residing in me. Waves of  cognitive dissonance washing over my shores. I am shipwrecked.

My efficient process driven mine is looking for a quick fix, a 3 step process to incorporate animism into my life and arrive at a place where once again my future is planned and steady. This part of my is pissed that I am not complying to its plan. I am not complying because God knows it will not work, there is no 3 step process, hell there isn’t even a 12 step process for this! There are no answers now, only more questions, more ponderings, more palms to the forehead, more tears. I do the only thing I know to do, as small as it may seem. I sit here, typing on these small black keys, finding words to fit this screen, finding out what I need to say as I add line after line to this page.

I made some tea just now, boiling water in my sturdy stainless steel kettle, a prized possession, or should I say, a good friend.. the water boiled quickly, steaming from her spout as I poured over the tea bag. Algonquin Tea – Lucid Dreaming. Herbs from far away now brewing in my mug. A friendly mug, shaped to rest in my hand just so, shaped by other hands, hands I do not know and have never touched. I know this mug so well, the familiar shape so comforting, the warmth of its touch. I love this mug, who brings my tea and coffee faithfully to my lips. I have never heeded how much life is here, in all these years I have never really seen this vessel that serves me so well. Smooth tea, smooth warm lip of the mug meeting my lips, a kiss of sorts. How tender my heart feels in seeing this, in seeing her. Her green curves are subtly female in form. I am awash with gratitude.

I think I’ll take it. Settle in, let my stone heart melt and feel my life. Let my mouth make love to the sweet form of my mug and the smoothness of the tea that slips in to nourish me. I think its worth the pain, of seeing how destructive I have been and will be still, how callous and brash. I can grieve my blundering ways and move forward with contrition. Open to learning how to be a human in this living world. For now I seek communion in this tea, and comfort in a book and my welcoming bed, who oh so gently holds me as I take my nightly rest.

  • the above quote in italics  is from William Wordsworth…This was brought to my attention by a another scholar who has become a dear friend, and who apparently takes better notes than I do! Thank you Jess.

Hank’s Poem

This poem was left as a reply to my recent post,A Measure of Worth. Hank has left me poetic responses to a few of my posts and I always treasure his skill to respond to my musings with his own mythopoetic beauty. This one I felt called to share and do so here, with his permission. This makes Hank Delison my first guest poet on the blog. It is with great joy I share this poem here. If you have not read the post I linked above, please do, and you will see the powerful lines of connection that Hank weaves here. A big thank you to you Hank, for your support of my blog and your willingness to share your poem here. The thistles on the header are in remembrance of our mutual Scottish heritage ♥

Worth is a false idea, it is empty.
It was invented a very long time ago
To control behavior.
We accept it as we accept the mountains

There must be a scale
From worth to non-worth
For worth to exist.
And there is no such scale.

For such a scale to exist
There must be a worthiness judge.
For thousands of years people
Have tried to create a worthiness judge.

We have called these judges
God, Gods, Goddesses.
But they have all been false,
Because they are all human made.

But God, Gods, Goddesses are useful.
Priests, holy men/holy women use them
To mold their bit of humanity into
An understandable controllable whole.

What if you do not accept
Worth as having meaning?
What if you accept yourself
As who you are?

Without worth?
Beyond Worth?
Outside of worth?
Worth-less?

Then you cannot be controlled.
You
Are
Free

Delison 2017

I too, am Animal

I wrote this poem last May. While away at my first solo writers retreat. You can read more about that experience here,  A New Old Forest, My Birthday, and the Power of Following my Heart, a few poems are in that post as well. I am sharing  this poem today as it seems to connect so well to my post from yesterday, A Measure of Worth. This inquiry around worth has been burbling inside me for some time, asking to be examined. I do not usually write in rhyme, but for some reason quite a few of my poems from this particular retreat came in the form of rhymed couplets, I do not know how I feel about that, to be honest… but here it is. I desire to share this anyway. Rhymed couplets and all .

I too, am Animal

Swallow does not question God,
he just proceeds to fly
Bear is steadfast in his good,
he needs no reason why.
Deer knows she is worthy,
it was built within her bones.
But somehow, I have lost my way,
can find no path to home.
Otter plays and feeds herself,
she does not need a list.
To track her time and plan her days,
to make sure nothings missed.
Yet it seems that I have chosen,
to live another life.
Away from being animal,
in worry, debt and strife.
I doubt my good, I cannot fly,
I rarely play or fish.
I live my life within white walls,
And always have a list.
To check a box, to prove I’m good,
To set the markers high.
So that I deserve a place to live,
I rarely question why.
Yet somethings shifting in my bones,
I am seeing crystal clear.
That I have picked the short straw,
I would rather live as Deer.
Or Bear or Otter for that part,
live free and take the risks.
Then settle into servitude,
and securities deadly “gifts”.
I’ll tear my hair from its confines,
Let my face grow brown with mud.
And sun and wind and wildness,
feet planted on the ground.
I’ll bathe in rivers cold and clean,
until my skin is pink.
And live on wild berries,
and the shoots and leaves of green,
I return to the Earth,
And her enormous lap.
To suckle on the breast of God,
And never to look back.
Oh, culture you have tricked us well,
But you have not won just yet.
I return to the wild now,
With no pains of regret.
Welcome me home-
Sweet green ground.
Take me as your own,
The bride of life,
The soils wife,
Marvelous and brown.

 

~ Marianna Jones 2017

 

A Measure of Worth

What does it mean to be worthy? This thought has been gathering in the corners of my mind for some time now, and in fact I have done some writing on this line of inquiry, but nothing that seems to articulate the true question I have fermenting in my heart. It is not how does one become worthy, but what does this worthy even mean, and where did this concept originate from?

In Indigenous cultures living their original life ways the idea that one could be worthy or unworthy would seem preposterous. Being human, being alive, you are obviously part of the fabric of life and therefore belonging to your people, sharing in life and community, and the joys and struggles therein. I am reminded as I write this of the stories of early missionaries attempting to bring the concept of original sin and baptism to native populations, who were so thrown off by the idea that they would just laugh at the missionaries. It was preposterous! Of course babies are not born as sinners, what an insane concept that it. I believe those cultures, so much older and wiser then our own, would have had the same reaction to this idea, spoken and unspoken that we all carry here in the west, that we are somehow unworthy and can attain worthiness through actions and appearances. Through becoming something other than what we are right now.

The etymological roots of the word worth come from multiple sources and cultures and vary some through the ages.  Many sources state a connection to value, price or merit. Old English, weorp, has the meaning of high value, equivalent, prized, but also hence, and toward. So you see even woven into the roots of this word we so casually and thoughtlessly use is this idea that we are heading toward something, that we are becoming. My teacher Stephen Jenkinson eloquently speaks about the concept of hope being a cruel sort of tyranny. I would propose that this idea of worth and the false god of hope live very close to one another, perhaps they are even bedfellows.

The idea that hope is anything less than a supreme healing and guiding force has been a hard sell for me I must say. I have long loved and quoted our dear Emily Dickenson’s poem that so beautifully states “hope is the thing with feathers that perches on the soul, and sings the tune without the words and never stops at all.” It has taken some time, sweat and befuddlement to arrive where I sit today, knowing that in hope we lose the moment we are in, forgoing the life we are in for an illusory golden someday that will, as much as we desire it to, never come to pass. When I fall into judgment of how my life looks, when I question my value in the world, my worth, I collapse into the idea that someday I will be more than I am now. This is a false belief.

I do not mean to say that I will never change, no contrary to that, I am changing all the time. I grow older, and a little wiser. I become more grounded and kinder. All this is true. And yes I can make more money and travel, finally write a book, get in better shape. All this can happen. Yet none of this changes who I am , and none of it affects my worth, or perceived lack there of. I am, by birthright, whole. This idea that is lodged in our culture and thereby in me, that I will someday be more worthy, is an illusion, a false god, a decoy.

I believe that trying to be of more worth, takes me away from the deeper work of  trying to be more me. It isn’t just me suffering with this affliction. I would wager that most of us, living in the west, suffer with this same damaged and distorted thinking. Fall prey tp that false god of perfection and attainment, and go to bed worrying about what we aren’t and what we could be, if we tried harder, if we had more self control, if we had a different set of circumstances at our doorstep. I know I do. I know many nights my last thought is a plan of how I will do better tomorrow, and on waking my first thought is how I will do better today. The idea of just being ok with how I am now, and now, and now…seems almost impossible. What would I do with my life if I was not chasing some ghost of perfection and worth?

The self help world does not help. I can scarcely begin to imagine how many guides to finding your worth, creating self worth rituals and becoming worthy there are lining the shelves of the local new age bookstores. The sorrowful thing is that as well meaning as this all is, it is actually nothing more than a distraction and a fantasy. What if we could simply feel that we were already worthy, that we have great value, that we are in fact mandatory to life as we know it. How would it feel to live in that reality? Awesome, it would feel awesome. You know who would not feel awesome about it? The publishers of self help books, the marketers that sell us products, the fashion industry, the car sales lots. The list could go on and on.

The capitalist, puritanical, colonizing voice of our culture sings loudly in our ears, ‘you are not enough” from the cradle to the grave, and we listen. We listen and we purchase. If we stay distracted by this never ending hunt for value and a sense of worth, we will continue chasing our tails in circles in a dark room. It is by turning to face the faceless voice that beguiles us, and challenging it that we can begin to come into right relationship with our own lives and the lives of those around us. You cannot put a price on that. It is valueless, or, is in invaluable.

As a woman living in North America I am personally deeply and darkly acquainted with this quest for feeling enough, and I see it in other woman as well. We all walk around quoting the same two lies, I am fine, and everything is ok. We say it so much we believe it, we say it so much when another woman breaks the mold, we condemn her. We are our own thought police. Living in cages that we have created and enforced, the cell walls of our own denial of suffering. In failing to speak our fears and inadequacies we add bars to the cage, so that less light can come through. All this is part of the ruthless oppression of the concept of worth and the constant searching and hoping that we can become more worthy and more whole.

I do not know how to banish from  mind and spirit the idea that I am unworthy. I do not know how to disconnect from my cultural conditioning and let go of these thought patterns that live so deeply in me. This way of viewing myself and my life may be here for the long haul. Thank god I do know, that I do not have to believe everything I think, and that shame cannot live in the light. It is dwells in the unspoken darkness and does not care for conversation. In being brave enough to dissect in myself this worthiness lie, and speaking of this process to others, I am putting a nail in the coffin of this manifestation of our cultural madness.

Healing does not happen in isolation, it happens in community. In the community that I share my sorrow, grief and shame in, and in my own inner community. I am learning to welcome home the parts of me that I have been hiding from. Learning that the very things I have felt made me unworthy are actually some of my greatest gifts. Retrieving  the pieces of me that I abandoned and beginning to do the work of figuring out why I abandoned them in the first place. This internal family that makes up who I am.

Instead of measuring my worth, I want to feel my life. Knowing that simply being here is enough.. The pleasures of having a body, a quite moment alone before dawn, the unspeakable beauty of morning birdsong. I am as whole as the birds that sing, as worthy of life’s beauty and abundance as the squirrels that visit each day. I do not have to be, do or change anything in order to claim my place in the order of things. I simply and sweetly show up in my life, and today, that is enough.