I’m back from nine thousand feet up in the Sangre de Christo Mountains above the Rio Grand River. My body feels strong and balanced. It seemed a bit survival-like up there at cloud level. My brain seemed quiet and breath labored as I climbed the trail to the grave site of Murshid Sam Lewis, to pay my respects.I’ve been doing this since 1975. This year there was time for long meditations in the DOME, where I sat on an old-board floor with adobe walls crafted in eight facets. The room wrapped me in an earth blanket of calm and certainty. The dome arched above with its glass star at the top. This architectural jewel is over 40 years old and survived a fire that took most of that mountain some fifteen years ago. It feels like home.
Back in California, I pick up Kazim Ali’s wonderful book Fasting for Ramadan: Notes from a Spiritual Practice. Today I read the chapter: Twenty-Second Day.
I have always loved that a “day” in the Islamic calendar begins with the setting of the sun and continues through to the following sunset…. The body is like a day: it begins with the darkness of evening, ends with the ebbing of light.
Mmmmm. This kind of discovery tastes better than the fresh tomatoes in the garden.
Arabic writing goes from right to left, and its history is defined by a line of ancestors beginning with Grandmother Eve down to those who live on earth today, so the past streams out in front of us and the future flows behind us. Now there is the pattern of a day beginning at sunset and my brain is playfully awake with possibilities. I could work this into a poem and feel the patterns of the ancient desert people as they seem draw close, while I tap into this view of the day and night seen through this new lens.
While on Lama mountain I read a wonderful new book of poems by Robert Bly. I savored it. I gave it away and am now waiting for the next copy to arrive so I can’t check the poem I offer here for accuracy – the title poem from this beautiful and masterful collection:TALKING INTO THE EAR OF A DONKEY by Robert Bly I have been talking into the ear of a donkey. I have so much to say! And the donkey can’t wait To feel my breath stirring the immense oats Of his ears. “What has happened to the spring,” I cry, “and our legs that were so joyful in the bobblings of April?” “Oh never mind About all that,” the donkey Says. “Just take hold of my mane, so you Can lift your lips closer to my hairy ears.”
(From Talking into the Ear of a Donkey, W.W. Norton, ©2011