Tag Archives: love

Many Happy Returns

Birth, Death and Friendship

“It’s all one big day.  The sun is a maypole and we are winding away.

How many moments, reflected like diamonds, gather around you

to light up your way?” – Time to Go/ The Levins

***

The return journey around the sun is an opportunity for reflection. As the date of my entry point into the world approaches again, I have been thinking a lot about how our lives are intertwined.

I have never officially participated in a birthday maypole dance, which is traditional on May Day for some, but while I was living in California there was one morning that passed for one. My wife Julia decided to orchestrate a sweet celebration for me by secretly inviting two of my closest friends to town.  There is a dream like quality of discovering two familiar faces that inhabit your heart but not your daily space suddenly appearing behind a door. Time excused itself and the spaciousness that surrounds all things momentarily expanded, imbuing the surprise with an elongated sense of being inside and outside of myself simultaneously.

This occurred the day before my birthday. There was much rejoicing late into the evening. Music, reveling, creating new memories to laugh about.  Some friendships pick up right where you left off.  I fell into sweet dreams which were shaken up the next morning when my cousin phoned to tell me that my uncle Jeff had passed away during the night.

My mom’s brother Jeff was my holy goof. Sometimes, he would rake his two-day stubble across my face suddenly in an enthusiastic ritual of affection. His natural earthy musk would be mingled with apple cider vinegar, which he would practically bathe in to promote good health. To this day, this act reminds me that love is something that can playfully invade your private space.

Jeff was a beautiful synthesis of Baba Ram Dass and Woody Allen. He had the understanding of how we are more than our bodies while maintaining enough of the episodic-neurotic New Yorker to keep things real. I had just been down to see him in the hospital the week before. He had been singing to the nurses.

His message to us all during his battle with cancer was to be at peace. He had been an actor and a dancer.  Instead of losing a leg and being dismantled piece by piece, he decided it was best to take his curtain call. He managed to be released from the hospital and with his powers of intention, slipped away quietly in the night.

I entered the living room that morning, with my uncle now a part of me. Julia and my friends were there for me but I felt Jeff was with me, as well. Somehow, even closer than before he left. There was an unspoken reassurance that our journey together was not tragically linear.

I put on one of my favorite records, which is Jethro Tull’s Songs from the Wood. All of us began to dance around the living room. I sang along with the lyric, “Join the chorus if you can. It will make of you an honest man.” Again, there was the sense of being inside and outside of myself simultaneously.

The doorbell rang. It was my neighbors and their little girl bringing me a gift. The sun streamed in as I knelt down to receive the wreath of Spring flowers she had woven for me.  My neighbor’s daughter had long blonde hair and little red checks. There were flowers in her hair, as well, and in the golden light, she looked like a cherubic faery. We invited them to join our dance, winding around each other, taking up the invisible ribbons, celebrating the life that was ours to share.

This was many years ago. Yet, even though those friends and neighbors are far away, I am still intertwined with them. As for my uncle, I offer up this new lyric to him and for all of us holding the memory of someone dear while we celebrating our entrances and exits on this grand stage.

“I cried because I lost you.

I lived because I loved you.

I laugh because I knew you.

I’m vast because I’m with you.”

Many happy returns!

 

Drawing power from thin air

Staying connected during times of social upheaval

“Every once in a while, a salesman will enter your midst who knows how to influence you towards something that is important to him and inspire you to see him as the solution. It makes no difference who thinks they are in control of you, they aren’t.  Tap into the leverage of being connected to your own power.”- Ester Hicks

Listening to a  recent talk by author Ester Hicks, a pioneer of spiritual thought,  I was reminded how marvelous our internal resources are.  The stream that flows through us constantly offers us solutions to the problems that crop up in our midst. My wife, Julia, often reminds me not to take on the energy of injustice but to use my love to bring about the results I desire .

“When you connect to your own power you cannot feel fear at the same time. The only bad thing that can happen to you is that you temporarily use some bogus thing as your reason for not knowing your power. When you don’t know your power than you give it to someone else. There are plenty of others that will say, “I will take your power from you. I will let you believe that I am the most important thing in the world to you.” It doesn’t matter which group is in power, they are not ever the vortex through which your good comes but they are often the subject by which you deny your own vortex. You have a vibrational cache that you have access to at all times. The only disempowerment that can come to you is to use anything as an excuse not to tap into that.”- Ester Hicks

In the midst of social upheaval, there are always examples of those who are tapping into their stream, their ‘vortex’, or the energy that observes and is us.

Max Loughan, at thirteen, created a generator that pulls and converts electricity from the air for less than fifteen dollars.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dyRlbXUIscg

When interviewed, he said:

“I just want to invent a better future, I don’t care if I get money or credit, all I’m looking at is to make the world a better place, to advance it.”

This is a boy who knows that energy is not confined to his ego.

Connecting to what is ours to claim may seem selfish to some but our true power takes us beyond the tyranny of our ego’s need for validation and into a poetic state where…

“Everything that was broken has

Forgotten its brokenness…How can this be, but

it is. Every day has something in

it whose name is Forever.”

-Mary Oliver/ Everything that was broken

Going beyond the need for names to define our connection to what connects us, may your alignment give rise to the actions that bestow freedom.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

MLK and “interrelated structure of all reality.”

How MLK stayed connected to love.

It really boils down to this: that all life is interrelated. We are all caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied into a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly. We are made to live together because of the interrelated structure of reality. Did you ever stop to think that you can’t leave for your job in the morning without being dependent on most of the world? You get up in the morning and go to the bathroom and reach over for the sponge, and that’s handed to you by a Pacific islander. You reach for a bar of soap, and that’s given to you at the hands of a Frenchman. And then you go into the kitchen to drink your coffee for the morning, and that’s poured into your cup by a South American. And maybe you want tea: that’s poured into your cup by the Chinese. Or maybe you’re desirous of having cocoa for breakfast, and that’s poured into your cup by a West African. And then you reach over for your toast, and that’s given to you at the hands of an English-speaking farmer, not to mention the baker. And before you finish eating breakfast in the morning, you’ve depended on more than half of the world. This is the way our universe is structured, this is its interrelated quality. We aren’t going to have peace on earth until we recognize this basic fact of the interrelated structure of all reality.

-Martin Luther King Jr.

 

Today we celebrate Martin Luther King Jr.- a man who utilized his stream, or what Mooji would call, “the cosmic current of existence,” to help expand our universal understanding.  MLK was a man of action. His actions were blockbuster without having to shoot his way into enemy territory, punch out the bully or watch as the villain plummeted from a great height. Instead he actively connected to love, to the energy and awareness that manifests as all of us, to help us to see, feel and experience this, “Interrelated structure of all reality.”

You could say that MLK was selfless. He was willing to sacrifice even his life to get us to know that our differences are not only skin deep, mere pigmentation, but that our true Self includes everything that we perceive, and can conceive.

Again, I will quote Mooji to show how the actions of MLK stimulated a whole generation to work together towards our greater freedom.

“If you study and learn as a person, you can only function as a person- maybe as a good person, a skilled person- but when you awaken… you start moving as a whole environment. When something arises that needs to be done, that need is recognized, and a movement to fulfill it begins, and other streams join in until it becomes a river. You see how the forces join together.”- Mooji

How did MLK do this?  Martin did not allow himself to be defined and filled in with hatred of injustice but he would daily pray to be used by love, to live in the manner of love. He made sure to perform regular services for others. He strived to stay in good bodily and spiritual health. He meditated on the teachings and actions of his spiritual leader.  Most importantly and the hardest of all, he prayed for the oppressor.

His knew that love was a non-dual reality that transcends our limited clinging to the black and white.

This morning I ran across this Joseph Campbell quote:

“The Indians addressed all of life as a “thou”- the trees, the stones, everything. You can address anything as a “thou”, and if you do it, you can feel the change in your own psychology. The ego that sees a “though” is not the same ego that sees an “it.” And when you go to war with people, the problem of the newspapers is to turn those people into “its.” “ – Joseph Campbell

Matt Khan in talking about surrendering to love says it starts with taking a vacation from concern.  Not denying the things that are wrong or unjust, just taking a vacation from filling ourselves, our mind and body, emotions and cells with what is wrong.  Allowing ourselves to connect or surrender to love allows for solutions to our concerns to come through so when we come back from vacation, we can get back to work refreshed.

We are all a perception away from being able to act as a unified field.  The victory of MLK is not a victory for the church, or for one people but for all of life.

He knew who he was and his most constructive actions came from that knowing that he was, “free at last.”

Today is a chance for reflection and for being aware of the work that needs to still be done.  Still, in the midst of it all, may we be able to connect to love so that our concerns can be faced without anxiety but with the expectation of solutions we will usher in together. 

 

Committed to choosing one another

Love and creativity within the wedding ceremony.

“I love you without knowing how, or when, or from where. I love you simply, without problems or pride: I love you in this way because I do not know any other way of loving but this, in which there is no I or you, so intimate that your hand upon my chest is my hand, so intimate then when I fall asleep your eyes close.”
– Pablo Neruda, 100 Love Sonnets

“You know you’re in love when you can’t fall asleep because reality is finally better than your dreams.”
– Dr. Seuss

“Love recognizes no barriers. It jumps hurdles, leaps fences, penetrates walls to arrive at its destination full of hope.”
– Maya Angelou

“A successful marriage requires falling in love many times, always with the same person.”
– Mignon McLaughlin

********************

 

This weekend I had the sweet honor of officiating at my nephew Ian’s wedding down in Jupiter, Florida.  My uncle Jeff performed the ceremony for Julia and I at our wedding. Both Ian and I penned our services with our partners, to better reflect our beliefs.

Julia and I based our service on a Jewish ceremony. We did our best to supplant entrenched patriarchal ritual and language with egalitarian and mystical inclusiveness that honored tradition while bridging the gap between our families and the Catholic-Judaic divide. (As a kid I used to say that Judaism and Catholicism were a synapse apart; both of them were motivated by guilt. ) We found the common thread was love.

My nephew Ian and his beautiful bride Claire are best friends happily growning and intertwining their lives together. Their ceremony did not have any religious overtones but recognized that their union allowed them to “understand, support and nurture eachother without sacrificing who they were.”  They lifted the egalitarian spirit high, focusing on their love, which spilled over into splintered factions of the family and embued us all with tangible hope.

They didn’t promise anything  in their ceremony as they don’t believe marriage is about permanence but adaptation. “People, emotions, relationships change.” So, they didn’t vow to always feel exactly the same as they did standing together before us, but they commited to choosing one other every day, moment to moment.

I got to ask Ian if he chose Claire “to be his partner through all of life’s adventures, valuing her being, her growing and her happiness alongside his own.”

Claire got to ponder if she choose Ian in the same way. Both of them responded with those two words, that when uttered in complete earnest ring out like bells: “I do.”

Claire walked down the aisle to music from Wes Anderson’s Royal Tannenbaum’s soundtrack. They led the procession away from the alter to something from A Life Aquatic. Their ceremony and the whole wedding had the colorful triumph of a Wes Anderson movie.

Ian proposed to Claire with our Shakespeare-inspired song “God’s Spies”. Julia and I were further honored by getting to sing it as they swirled just above the Loxahatchee river for their first dance.

The wedding coordinator said she had managed thousands of nuptuals but she hadn’t seen a couple who only had eyes for each other the way Ian and Claire had. As she said this it was hours later. Claire and Ian were both still  dancing. They were reaching out for one another, connecting, twirling and the stars were laughing.

“We are telling different tales. Secrets falling from our lips. When our eyes are free from scales, we can see what was eclipsed. 

… So we’ll ‘pray and sing and tell old tales and laugh at guilded butterflies and take upon us the mystery of things… as if we were God’s Spies.’ “

-Shakespeare/ The Levins

My parents celebrate their 60th wedding anniversary on Ground hog’s day but they also got to dance and have their own festive feast the next night with all their loved ones around them.  A bunch of us sat around late that night sharing stories from our various wedding experiences.

Julia and I head back up to New York today, back to the cold of winter. We face the prospect with the strength of love renewed, choosing one another moment to moment.

May your connection eclipse the cold of tragic headlines and bring you to a place where all you hold dear dances with you in earnest delight.

Beauty has claimed you

Caravan of dawn

There’s a caravan of dawn. Always on the curve.
  Always moving on…
Breaking up the darkness with an aviary song:

“Beauty has claimed you.
  Seasons are changing.
Love makes its debut.  Bowing your heart strings”

Side by side- wide as the horizon,
  
giddy as a bride; the universe inside them. 
Lighting up the streets.  Lighting up the fields.
Splash the sky in streaks of azure, lilac, gold and teal.

“Beauty has claimed you.
  Seasons are changing.
Love makes its debut.   Bowing your heart strings.
Splendor reveals you.
   Nothing conceals you.
Beauty has claimed you.”

Breaking up the darkness with an aviary song, singing:
River of broken hearts
“Gather up all of the broken hearts.
Pour them in a river of tiny parts.
Set them in motion, lighten their burden. 
Head for the ocean. Flow out and over, away from the falls. 
Rising  like mist ‘til  they can’t recall,
Not being  kissed  by sunbeams. 
 Separation is only a morphine dream.

Authentic joy and honesty cut a path right through to me.
Splendor reveals you.  Nothing conceals you.
Beauty has claimed you.”

I close my eyes and breathe you in as if I’ll never have to leave again.
– The Levins
hearts rising up
 

Making friends with the monsters

“All that we see or seem is but a dream within a dream.” -Edgar Allan Poe

“There are four questions of value in life, Don Octavio. What is sacred? Of what is the spirit made? What is worth living for and what is worth dying for? The answer to each is the same. Only love… Love will find a way through paths where wolves fear to prey.”- Lord Byron

Dr. Frankenstein

As Human beings, we have been given access to and are a part of the expansion of the universe, our potential is godlike, we rise, we grasp, we even gain glimpses of the infinite. Still, the one thing we cannot control and that happens to us all is death. It is the great leveler and it drives us. It stirs in us like a phantasm, it dances with us, it calls to us. It causes us to build empires, to reach for the stars. It stirs our longing to create poetry and songs to court it, to postpone it, to live after it.  The true dancers are augmented by it and live before it. But the mad scientists in us long to create something that will defy it. Because love ones are lost, the captain Nemo in us arises to take revenge on all of the war machines that rob others of their loved ones, blind to the irony of this destruction. The poet William Blake said Eternity is in love with the productions of time.  We are all part of the grand play and because we long for the light behind the veil, we are fascinated by the shadow play rippling on its surface.

Our fascination calls to us from the Mountains of Madness* to procure something unexplained, something beyond our mortal frame. We long to face our fear- to see and feel beyond it, to be assured, even beyond faith that there is something more than the terrible treadmill emptying into the void.

Yet Friedrich Nietzsche said, “If you gaze long enough into an abyss, the abyss will gaze back into you.” The void can appear to be an abyss instead of an invitation to recognize our identity beyond form. If one clings too tightly to this mortal coil, the inevitability of shuffling off can lead to despair or worse to a rage that leads to malevolence. Nietzsche also said, “Whoever fights monsters should see to it that in the process he does not become a monster.”

My Uncle Jeff said when he was a boy, he would make friends with all the monsters so they wouldn’t get him.

On a Saturday night while my folks were out, I would arrange all of my stuffed animals on the couch so they could see the TV and watch Creature Features with me. I too made friends with the monsters. My favorite universal classics however, had elements of pathos in them. It was when Quasimodo, the deformed bell-ringer said to Esmerelda the gypsy, “You ask me why I saved you? Oh, I tried to carry you off, and the next day you gave me a drink of water and little pity,” that I knew we were all capable of being monsters and heroes.

HUNCHBACK-OF-NOTRE-DAME-1939-2

Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein monster echoed this understanding 145 years before I was born, “I do know that for the sympathy of one living being, I would make peace with all. I have love in me the likes of which you can scarcely imagine and rage the likes of which you would not believe. If I cannot satisfy the one, I will indulge the other… I was benevolent and good; misery made me a fiend. Make me happy, and I shall again be virtuous.”

Brideoffrankenstein

Many of the classic monster movies offered insight and compassion for the monsters inside us, thrust into life and yearning for love’s absorption.  One of my favorites was The Wolfman.  Maria Ouspenskaya, playing Maleva, the gypsy, alone had the ability to transform poor Laurence Talbot back from his wolf form while the moon was full because of the empathy she had for his suffering.

Maleva and the Wolfman

Maleva:The way you walked was thorny through no fault of your own, but as the rain enters the soil, the river enters the sea, so tears run to a predestined end. Now you will have peace for eternity.”

Because my father was a radio man, he was able to introduce me to the host of Creature Features. At the time, it felt like I was meeting Abraham Lincoln. I thought my dad was the coolest guy in the universe for knowing him. Looking back, I realize that the hosts of these shows were our link to movies that would open the door to exploring the unknown, the chance to make peace with our monsters.

Last night the cool ghoul pioneer host Zacherley passed away at 98.  He not only had a laugh to rival Phyllis Diller but he was important enough to leave us, not in January or a month where he might have been overlooked, but right before Halloween.

zacherley

Long live Zacherley and those who get us to recognize that our abyss isn’t all that terrible. It can be laughed at; it can become a part of the firmament that inspires and thrills us at night.

Zacherley archives:

https://youtu.be/tiTkGiVNt_8

Zacherley on Mike Douglas:

https://youtu.be/Xb5J7qB5w-0

May your All Hallows Eve be merry and dance within your void!

*- a reference to HP Lovecraft’s book At the Mountains of Madness

14 years of Wonder!

“In the place my wonder comes from, there I find you.  In your heart where the world comes from, there you will find me…When you be beside me, I am real.” – Bruce Cockburn/Love Song

This post was written on 8-18-16:

Wedding Photo

Fourteen years ago today I married Julia Ann Bordenaro in the Stephen Mather Redwood Grove and Amphitheater in Berkeley, CA.  It was an enchanted day and certainly the sweetest decision I have ever made.  Certainly the grove of trees provided the perfect sheltering atmosphere and the amphitheater held a theatrical flair that was open for us all to enjoy. The breeze, the music and love floating through us and our company of cherished family and friends was like the summation of a Shakespearean comedy.  Still, the decision I made was to become a soul mate.  Not to be completed by but to make the commitment to a partner who would not settle for less than my true authentic being.

Julia and I have formed a bond that is not conventional and yet feels like we are home, regardless of where we are.  Six years ago, we left our comfort zone in California and embarked on a quest to play music full time together.  We continue to succeed and manage to uplift one another, even while we spend most of our time together on and off the road.  Our policy of only one of us getting to go down the rabbit hole at a time has been very effective. That way one of us can hoist the other up out of the pit of doubts and other beasties the mind can concoct to throw us off course.

We continue to see each other, regardless of how we may be seeing or not seeing ourselves from day to day.  The journey has weaved us in and out of various circles with many beautiful people assisting and joining us as we strive to be the bridge between communities.

To commemorate our time together I will share snippets of some of our lyrics with you:

“You’ve got to move to change the state you’re in.”

“Hold my hand, and I will lead you to a quiet stream. Together we will understand the meaning of this dream.”

“I can see you are me in disguise.”

“I am one of many, I’m not one alone.”

“There’s an intricate weave between seen and unseen, pulsing life into winter until white becomes green”

“When I step out of the story, then I get the chance to see…there’s a bigger picture here, something more than me.”

“Hope brings motion, motion brings change, change is your friend when the going gets strange.”

“I can bench press the world by just letting go.”

“I’m all things at once and I’m nothing at all.”

“Be the particle and the wave.”

“A smile is forgiving.”

“Hey, let’s be big today, we’ll travel all around chasing troubles away.”

“I am here and I am needed, I will stand up and be greeted by what comes my way. I will fill my day with love.” – The Levins

The Levins on Couch poster

I am so grateful to continue to have Julia in my life.

May your bonds be fulfilling and invite you to be a soul mate to yourself, wholly committed to life and spilling over the side; barely contained ; )

“With love, with love, with love”

 

Loving more than the myth

“See all things, not in process of becoming, but in Being, and see themselves in the other. Each being contains in itself the whole intelligible world. Therefore, All is everywhere. Each is there All, and All is each. Man as he now is has ceased to be the All. But when he ceases to be an individual, he raises himself again and penetrates the whole world.” – Plotinus (Greek Philosopher)
 
Hassidic dancing with the Easter Bunny
Yesterday Julia and I honored the idea of resurrection with a breakfast of pancakes, eggs and two Power Puff Girls cartoons. After that, we finished reading an article  by Ken Wilber on Integral Spirituality.
The article, based on his book Integral Spirituality reminds us that religion and spirituality have the capacity of guiding us to both grow and wake up. Even though a large portion of the world has become stuck in a place of needing their group (religion, nation, race etc.) to be the sole bearers of Truth, there is an increasing awareness that we are all here together on the planet and share more than we are aware of.   The need to believe that each holy book is historically accurate and that the stories within them are to be taken as absolute and literal, has caused us to attack one another instead of recognizing our capacity to be and share profound peace.
IntegralSpirituality
After spending a lovely day with friends we read about a terrorist attack on a Christian gathering.  The sting of it, reinforced the sadness of choosing to remain stuck in a level of needing to take our myths or understanding so literally that we are not able to see one another in ourselves.
As the teacher Mooji points out, my concept of ‘me’ is a myth as well. 
At the end of the article we read that morning, Ken Wilber concludes that, “evolution and love go hand in hand…The more we love, the more we flourish. The more morally sensitive we are…”
Wherever you are today, may you be gently carried by love so you can see how beautiful you and those around you really are.
 

 

The Festival of lights and the quixotic dream of love

Within this festive holiday season, is the celebration of Chanukah.  This is a festival of lights which commemorates a small band of local home boys who hid up in the hills and fought huge Syrian armies determined to wipe out all belief that did not uphold the ego of their king. It is a celebration of the freedom of choice.

It is similar to a group of farmers standing up to the British Empire with the dream of establishing a land without a king.

It is not the military victories in themselves that are worth remembering but the victory of the human spirit that has the courage to stand up against tyranny that is worthy of a feast.

There is a group called the Muslim Reform Movement that have these aims:

  • We reject interpretations of Islam that call for any violence, social injustice and politicized Islam. We invite our fellow Muslims and neighbors to join us.
  • We reject bigotry, oppression and violence against all people based on any prejudice, including ethnicity, gender, language, belief, religion, sexual orientation and gender expression.
  • We are for secular governance, democracy and liberty.
  • Every individual has the right to publicly express criticism of Islam. Ideas do not have rights. Human beings have rights.

We stand for peace, human rights and secular governance. Please stand with us!

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As we are facing the fear of a shadow cast by the great armies of separation, let us stand in our small bands for what may seem like a quixotic dream. History has shown us that love prevails. Despite greed, cynical corruption, fear and violence, love prevails.

May the lights kindled in the darkness melt the frost from our hearts.

Stream of Light 7-16-14

For the periods of time when life bears down on us as if an unforgiving force, recognize that we are life itself.  Becoming cognizant of where we are responsible for our own misery can make the difference between loving the process and resigning ourselves to fate.   The sweetness of existence is the recognition of love bestowing love.