Sunday, September 30, 2012

Shakin' Out The Nonsense

Ten years ago, my husband suffered a colossal heart attack. As  he drifted further and further away from me during the 40 minutes it took the EMTs to arrive at our home, I had no idea a gift was being offered.

While the particulars vary, most of us experience moments when everything crumbles. Marriages end, jobs are lost, houses burn, people die. Our lives suddenly seem unrecognizable. The outer structure has shattered and our identities hang in tatters.
Thankfully, change is usually more gradual. However, sometimes it is a tsunami that washes us clean of all we thought we were. Destruction is as much a part of life as creation. We may prefer light over darkness and birth over death, but that’s rather irrelevant. Destruction happens. As Paul Simon sang it, “Everything put together sooner or later falls apart.” Everything.
Of course, we are not powerless in that process. Our response is ours, and it can make all the difference. Rather than acting the passive victim, we can seek the gift within the loss. Instead of being broken, we can allow ourselves to be broken open.           
The intense physical pain brought my husband into the moment like nothing else could. And watching him navigate his way along the threshold of death was, for me, a meditation like no other.

This heightened awareness continued through the ICU and the Cath Lab, during that first tentative walk around the block, over the months when the risk of sudden death remained high. Each moment and every breath was precious. And with my husband’s regained vitality, the tutorial continues. This heart attack has become our forever teacher.
In When Things Fall Apart, Pema Chodron writes “…the truth is that things don’t really get solved. They come together and they fall apart. Then they come together again and fall apart again. It’s just like that. The healing comes from letting there be room for all of this to happen: room for grief, for relief, for misery, for joy.”
My husband and I have more room for all these things now. We live more deeply, think more kindly, feel gratitude and joy more fully.
Humans often need a nudge, and life obliges. As the mystic Rumi put it, “Many demolitions are actually renovations.” At least, if we’re smart. In Tired of Speaking Sweetly, 14th century poet Hafiz put it this way, “The Beloved sometimes wants to do us a great favor: hold us upside down and shake all the nonsense out.”
Believe me, there’s no shortage of nonsense remaining. We have, though, let some of it go. And our life is all the richer because of it.
Happy re-birth day, my sweet man. And for the rest of us...let's not wait for a near~death experience to shake ourselves free of a little nonsense. 

Loanne Marie

Here's a link to Hafiz's poem Tired of Speaking Sweetly. I highly recommend it~~so much so that I decided to put it right here!

Love wants to reach out and manhandle us,
Break all our teacup talk of God.
If you had the courage and
Could give the Beloved His choice, some nights,
He would just drag you around the room
By your hair,
Ripping from your grip all those toys in the world
That bring you no joy.
Love sometimes gets tired of speaking sweetly
And wants to rip to shreds
All your erroneous notions of truth
That make you fight within yourself, dear one,
And with others,
Causing the world to weep
On too many fine days.
God wants to manhandle us,
Lock us inside of a tiny room with Himself
And practice His dropkick.
The Beloved sometimes wants
To do us a great favor:
Hold us upside down
And shake all the nonsense out.
But when we hear
He is in such a “playful drunken mood”
Most everyone I know
Quickly packs their bags and hightails it
Out of town.
~ Hafiz ~
(The Gift – versions of Hafiz by Daniel Ladinsky)

Sunday, September 2, 2012


As I drove up the winding, washboard of a road this morning, pieces of me dropped away like yesterday’s clothing. My therapist self~~whish! Married woman, friend~~gone! Busy, competent someone~~no more. Writer~~only in snippets to be woven into coherence later.

I’ve come for a solo stay in the national forest to touch more fully the current that runs beneath and through the particulars of my life. My campsite is lovely, secluded among trees running along a shallow creek. Water dancing over river rock is the only sound I hear.

Stillness returns. Or rather, this space welcomes me back into a stillness that exists always. I settle in, just another rock in the streambed. Here, I know myself as a temporary collection of borrowed components, held together by the thinnest of gossamer threads.
Religions distinguish themselves by belief and practice. As I move through my own spiritual life, though, what folks believe and specific rites are not so important to me. What interests me is if someone can stand in awe, and if that person can risk dissolving into the vast flow, even for a brief moment. If so, we are kindred spirits, no matter our beliefs.
Night comes and goes. Just after sunrise, I hike to the ridge line and sit at 11,000 feet. The land falls away before me only to rise again, undulating to a 14,000 foot crescendo. If someone feels a quickening at such a sight, if a person can appreciate what this immensity means for one small human’s plans, if one can live from that felt awareness, then I care little what story is told to explain it.           
Individual lives are like houses. Some are spacious with a nice floor plan, some cramped and in bad neighborhoods. All, however, are containers for a soul. The essence that we are, and are yet to become, can make use of any dwelling. But with access to that which moves beyond, a soul blossoms.
These houses of ours come with many doors and windows, portals to vastness. Whether wide~opened or shuttered, these openings urge us not to confuse the structure of our lives with life itself. And they offer a pathway into that which endures. 

When we move into that endless field and breathe deeply what is found there, we are nourished. From that vantage point, the houses of our lives seem a bit like movie sets. We may like the movie or not, but the particular plot line is a bit less compelling.
I’ve returned now to a life that waited patiently during my excursion into nature. My pieces came together again as easily as they were shed. Refreshed, enlivened, with eyes clear and heart open, I resume my activities, touching within them what truly matters.


Loanne Marie