Earth: Before I was named I belonged to you.

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I’ve been on the road for ten days, now. First Anchorage, Alaska; now Helena, Montana. Both new places to me. Both places that have offered windows into the sacredness of this Earth we call home.

In Alaska, I had the fortunate opportunity to fly around Mt. McKinley, and Denali National Park…and even to land on a glacier. I mountain biked around a teal blue lake. The land there is powerful. Big mountains. Open sky. It is beautiful. And, the almost-endless light caused me to crave the dark.Darkness never really came. Still light out at midnight went against everything I’d ever experienced about day and night and how they are ‘supposed to’ weave together. I couldn’t ever really get a good night’s sleep. All of the light is a lot of energy to take in. A lot of masculine energy: big light, big mountains, big contrast.


In Helena, it is different. Very different. Immediately upon arrival, I felt a softness. Before being shown to my room, I walked into the garden and just sat for a few moments. I took in the purple iris, the bleeding hearts, and the lilac. One by one, three cats came to greet me. Each one found a spot in the sunshine to stretch out into. The aspen were quaking in the breeze. Everything felt soft and welcoming.

Here in Helena, at the Feathered Pipe Ranch, the power of the land has called to me since I was first asked to teach here about seven weeks ago. I could feel the land calling. I sensed there would be a deep connection. There is.

Each place has its song. Each place has its scent. Each place calls to us in its own tongue.

What an experience to feel the big contrast between these two places. Lately in my life, I’ve experienced so many new places. It’s as if I am being invited to witness the uniqueness of our Mother, how she offers something so astoundingly different depending on where you sit. And, how she, and the brightness of the sun and sky, dance together within this experience.

Some of this can be known by the mind as data and fact and details. Most of it can only be known by feeling our relationship with the land, and by being willing to listen deeply to what is here.

Consider this: everything you receive in order to live comes from Her, from life. Your food. Your water. Your air. Your life. You came from Her and you will return to Her.

I came across this poem, by way of Filiz Telek. Oh how it spoke to me as I stood on that glacier. Oh how it rumbles through me as I sit witnessing Mother Robin feeding her young with their mouths gaping wide, waiting to be filled. In fact, as I watched, one little one sat so long with its beak wide-open, that its head dropped down over the nest into a sound sleep.

::

Earth, isn’t this what you want? To arise in us, invisible?
Is it not your dream, to enter us so wholly
there’s nothing left outside us to see?
What, if not transformation,
is your deepest purpose? Earth, my love,
I want it too. Believe me,
no more of your springtimes are needed
to win me over—even one flower
is more than enough. Before I was named
I belonged to you. I see no other law
but yours, and know I can trust
the death you will bring.
See, I live. On what?
Childhood and future are equally present.
Sheer abundance of being
floods my heart.

Rainer Marie Rilke
From the Ninth Duino Elegy

Soon I’ll be sharing much of the richness and beauty I am experiencing here at Feathered Pipe. Stay tuned.

With love, Julie

 

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Body and Place

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Place.

As I’ve pondered this word (today’s blog challenge prompt is ‘The best place’), I’ve thought of many places I love:

walking in Tilden Park (I live across the street from this wild heaven)

on the dance floor on Sunday mornings at 8:30 in Sausalito with 149 other sweaty and passionate 5Rhythms’ dancers

sitting on the floor in a puppy pile with my three grandchildren, 2 great-nieces and 1 great-nephew on Thanksgiving

doing yoga in my sister’s (the one and only Molly Fox) incredibly physical, and joyously lyrical yoga class

listening intently to my clients on our coaching calls as they share the most intimate details of their ‘one wild and precious life‘ (prostrations to Mary Oliver)

sitting in meditation with the most amazing teachers Lynn Barron, Amma and Adyashanti

simply being with Jeff, the man I share my life with.

I am struck by these things:

how crazy fortunate I am to be living the life I am living

and

how integral being in my body is to the ability to ‘be’ in any place and ‘know’ how it feels to be there. My body is my doorway to place, because I experience place through my senses. I drink place in with my eyes. I touch place with my heart. I feel place through the cells of my body.

and

The ‘best place’ to ‘be’ in is in this body, this sensuous female body that feels deepy and loves completely.

Now, don’t get me wrong. It hasn’t always been the best place to be. In fact, for many years I wanted nothing to do with this place. I stayed way up in my head, or at times, was nowhere to be found even in the vicinity my body.

Now, after much ‘work’ and lots of great body practices, I know differently. This female body is divine. Not just mine. All female bodies are divine.

I remember being at and Adyashanti retreat when he was speaking about the divine nature of all of life. As I listened, I had an epiphanic experience (fancy way of saying an ephiphany, because I love the word ep⋅i⋅phan⋅ic). I suddenly knew, in the embodied way, that my female body, and all female bodies, are divine. We bring life into life in a myriad of forms. Our female bodies are gateways to this amazing thing we call life. If we are in our bodies, we feel deeply, we connect with the earth.

As this was satsang, when the time came for people to share experiences or ask questions, I raised my hand, was called upon, strode up to the mic, and said, loudly and clearly, “I just got that this body (pointing to mine) is divine”. I suddenly heard a chorus of female gasps arise around the room. I obviously wasn’t the only one who had missed this message growing up.

So in wondering about place, I now see, and taste and touch and hear and feel, that body needs to be in conscious relationship with place, any place, to know it.

As Mary Oliver writes,

Wild Geese

You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
for a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting–
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.

This post is part of Gwen Bell’s Best of 2009 Blog Challenge
Day 11: The best place. A coffee shop? A pub? A retreat center? A cubicle? A nook? A BODY!

Image credit: Place of Healing, by Mara on Flickr

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