joy, and undoing the knowing

(12-28-15) My friend unwraps Reese’s bells with the greatest deliberation and sets them before himself on the counter. One, two, three, four. He stuffs them all into his mouth at once because they taste better that way. Tears roll down my cheeks, my abs ache, I can’t breathe.
I laugh every time just remembering it.


(12-29-15) I know him so well but tonight I don’t. A near stranger staring at me earnestly across the counter. I am stunned and speechless, almost dizzy for a moment as my eyes unfocus – who is this man with the scruff and glasses, rubbing his forehead in that way? They focus again and I see him, the man I’ve always known, yet am undoing the knowing.


(12-30-15) I sit with my therapist and give her my stream, or really train of consciousness about the new love that is pouring into my life and my most wonderful retreat at Gethsemani and how very very happy I am right now, sorry to be talking so much about everything all at once. She laughs; this is your time, use it how you want! She has sat with me in my pain and tears, and somehow it makes things better that she sits with me in my joy and shows me that this is just as important. I struggle to believe joy is okay but maybe it is okay because these people are not leaving me just because I am happy.


(12-31-15) I am at home here, in the home of a Friend. My belly is full and my heart is warm, and we settle in to Quaker silence as I settle in under a blanket.
My heart is full to bursting. I must surely radiate this joy from my very being. I wonder if it is okay to feel this much joy. Maybe I should ponder sadness around the world? No, no, no, something deep within assures me, Joy is precious, and not found every day. Share this joy with others. May all beings be happy. May all beings be free. Joy like this should not – cannot – be contained.

Sun over horizon

Gethsemani, 12-24-15

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Brother Tree died last night.
I am the first to find him on Christmas Eve morning, 4 a.m., his body massive and smelling like Christmas tree, strewn across the path. In the darkness he is even more imposing and lifelike, even unto death. The smell screams life, even though his scent is only released because he was broke open.
I stand among his branches, sorrowful at his untimely death. I knew the rainstorm was ferocious last night, I could hear it pelting my windows; but I didn’t know it was this fierce. An entire tree taken down by the wind. I gaze up the short hill at his remaining trunk, raw and ragged, with another branchless trunk piece collapsed beside the base. Brother Tree must have been carried by the wind, and I marvel at how that invisible force can move such a strong and stout character.
I breathe deep, welcoming him inside me, and walk the garden loop. When I circle back, I pay him homage once more and break a small branch off as a treasure, a remembrance.
Someone else will find him when it gets light. Someone else will remove his body from the garden to a final resting place.


(Although as day draws to a close and he has yet to move, I start to wonder if the monks feel the same way I do about him).


I like walking the grounds by the Abbey, my feet treading these Kentucky hills. I summit a mound and look back to see from where I have come, survey the land beneath this queenly post. I smile a benevolent smile on all that I see. And it was good. I feel connected, my feet on the ground, as if the earth lives through me and I live through it. The earth experiences me seeing itself. Yet I am small, a miniscule part of this wondrous creation.
The worms have come out to play, too. Fat bodies taking a breather on asphalt, their muddy homes flooded. Hello, worms. Take care to not be squished. But that is someone else’s responsibility; the worms don’t know any more than to do what they do. I walk carefully around them.



I write in my head as I walk. Some might call that thinking; it is not. At least when I write, my thoughts are focused and directed, even as they make me something of a second-hand observer of what is going on. When I am simply thinking, my mind wanders far away and I am not an observer of the present. Occasionally – for maybe five seconds at a time – I can be present to what is. Openness. Awe. Stillness. Until I start thinking or writing about it again.