Light Soul, Heaving Sea

Photo by Pixabay
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Upon the sea a heavy vessel:
(upon a world of light, a soul)
creaking under press and lull, tug and give,
(adoring mists of morning, bright of dew)
breathing under sway of sea, will of wave—
(blessing branches bending, leaves that blow)
It so endures each turn of rudder groaning
(she sees the turning stars at evening waking)
as prow and hull meet storms and churning
(til eyes and heart retire, yearning…)

Canary in the Coal Mine

Photo by Ray Hennessy
Photo by Ray Hennessy on Pexels
Lovely, sweet bird, a light in the hollow:
clearly no fit, ever so fragile,
bright in the dust, dull under shadow…
such woeful sounds, dreadful song!
Why do you sing, oh ailing soul?
What do your melodies mean?
To what world do you belong,
oh little, light, brittle bird?
For whom do you cheerfully sing?
Ah that you may one day be free!
bright against the sky,
free wherever you alight,
bold without care to brighten the world…
May our world’s loss of you, be a grief averted!

The Fierce Heart of Darkness

Photo by Avery Nielsen-Webb
Photo by Avery Nielsen-Webb on Pexels

Wandering in the liminal spaces, walking between worlds, we meet her. She is the womb of all life, the essence of mystery, the resting place of souls. She is the undercurrent of rivers, depths of sea, eye of storms, the cavernous earth. She is both the soul of deep shadow and the wellspring of inspiration.

The Tao Te Ching sings of her this way:

The valley spirit undying,
ever dark her womb,
ever open her dark womb,
mother of earth, mother of heaven.
Her shadowy veil is only barely seen,
effortless, inexhaustible.
Translation by Caelan Rowan McCuen

It is hard to see what is barely there, but she is always with us. It is hard to keep one’s bearings at the liminal times, but that is when she guides us. She is not to be feared, but cherished; not resisted but embraced.

River’s are powerful, their currents deep, unpredictable.
It’s no wonder they gather myths around them
like clouds around mountain peaks.

Have you ever looked into the abyss, into her eyes? Maybe you have seen her in a terrifying dream, or at a moment of imminent death. Maybe it was in the grip of mortal doubt, or in that most dreadful gap of irrevocable loss. She comes to us in these ways, plays no favorites. How small we are in the tides of her presence.

The sea, the most mysterious of realms,
and all her waters, are inexpressibly beautiful.
When in movement they are passion;
When still, they are a soul mirror.

But what seems dark at first is often just the raw passion of our world, the same that quietly supports us in the calm. Yet whether in calm or storm, the beautiful giving earth is ever she who receives us as we are. We must love her as she is!

Waist deep in the frigid ocean, pelting rain coming sideways,
I saw nine pelicans, weaving, dipping, above gray-turquoise crests—
and seeing them was freedom.

Oh, but the things we do in our blindness, when we don’t even see the world…and yet the she goes on expressing herself, unmoved, ever-giving. It is not any profound subterranean darkness in our beloved world that we ought to fear, but the darkness of seeing only ourselves.

A Buddhist sage once wrote, “The virtues I practice are not my own”. Whose virtues can any of us practice? Certainly not our own—they are the earth’s.


The Queendom of Mother Sun and Daughter Moon

Photo by brenoanp
Photo by brenoanp on Pexels
They are lovely, their Queendom bright
who light the sky through month and year,
who stir the sea in tide and heat,
who meet the land in cloud, and rain, and rest.
It all begins, the year not dawned,
the Sun has gone, our Moon grown old,
the cold has taken, mists have cleared,
the world awaits, awaits, awaits…
and then…
At Dark of New Dark, birth of Sun,
so comes the one to reign as queen,
to shine and warm the world—not yet:
she waits unseen, but from the womb, just born.
* Dark of the month: new moon
* New Dark: Dec-Jan
At Rising next, of Sun Appears
she hears a plea: the soil aches;
she makes new rays, the clouds alight,
and white the sky, her face yet veiled, til soon…
* Rising of the month: first quarter
* Sun Appears: Jan-Feb
At Peak of Fields Thaw comes her touch,
and such an air, so warm a scent
is sent to greet her, now with child:
our old Moon gone, a lonely time, yet hope!
* Peak of the month: full moon
* Fields Thaw: Feb-Mar
* Old Moon gone: the moon is reborn at Winter’s end
At Rains Come Rising, she is near,
not clear, the clouds so heavy sigh;
the sky that bore the sea now rains,
the Sun grows round, she hides, her hour close…
* Rains Come: Mar-Apr
* Sun grows round: the Sun is pregnant with her daughter
At Dark of Rains Yield, First Moon born!
Now warm compassion, thin Sun-veil bright:
alight through Winter, revealed in Spring,
her young Moon marks the hours of her reign.
* Rains Yield: Apr-May
* Hours of her reign: the months of the year
At Fields Sown Rising, furrowed Earth,
dispersing clouds, round flying Moon:
she looms, she rises, tides swell high;
this while we rest, our work so blessed, we sing.
* Fields Sown: May-Jun
At Peak of Sun’s Peak, ascendant Sun:
the mother gives, most generous one;
our Moon her daughter, rejoices bright!
Ignite the dancing fires, share her light!
* Sun’s Peak: Jun
At Fields Thirst Passing, fierce her gaze
that stays the seas til tides recede,
for cedes our Moon her sky, withdraws,
so soft her heart—her seas must take the sky…
* Passing of the month: last quarter
* Fields Thirst: Jun-Jul
At Dark of Storms Break, seas arise:
her skies fall dark, spark bright, resound;
the ground awakes—her scent, her life,
revived at touch of rain—her thirst is sated!
* Storms Break: Jul-Aug
At Passing next, Fields Ripen, blush
with colors full, and fruit and seed:
Great Sleep draws near as breezes cool;
our Moon looms large—we gather what is needed.
* Fields Ripen: Aug-Sep
* Great Sleep: the Winter months
At Peak of Winds Rise, year at dusk:
in gusts, with rattling husk and branch
we dance, our labor past, we sigh;
at Height of Great Moon, so our Sun retires.
* Winds Rises: Sep-Oct
* Height of Great Moon: the harvest moon
At Frost Takes Passing, stores are full,
the whole land quiet, footsteps crisp,
and mists shroud all—the world may sleep:
weep not! Our Moon still keeps her mother’s fires!
* Frost Takes: Oct-Nov
At Dark of Old Dark, old Sun gone:
long beloved night makes new;
to womb embrace our Light returns,
emerges soon, but wait, first wait, be still…
* Old Dark: Dec
* Old Sun gone: the Sun is reborn on the Winter solstice
For so it ends, all breath drawn in, and then…
begins again: from dark of womb, the breath of all!
* Dark of womb: Old Dark and New Dark, also known as Great Dark

Light and Laughter

Photo by Pixabay
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White fire of sun,
that comes, that plays,
ablaze her smiling eyes in mists of morning…
I meet her, bless her skies and breathe:
one breath,
one splash of light,
my soul aflame!
Sweet bath of air,
so clear it bites,
ignites all waking life, delightful wellspring…
My heart, with laughter’s lightness, drinks:
one drought,
my eyes are joy,
my voice is song!
She comes each day,
arrayed in white,
her sight, her breath so sweet, all life rejoicing…
My world in dance to see her eyes:
one glance from her,
one call,
and I am with her!

Oh love, my light, my breath and song, I’m here!

To See Her as She Is

Photo by Snapwire
Photo by Snapwire on Pexels
To see her free…
as a gleam in the eye,
as the air in a breeze,
as a whim of the sky!
Free in her heart,
at her work,
where she stands:
May all that she does show her true!
To see her alight…
is a blessing of hope,
is a star in the night,
is a breath of the soul!
Bright as her mind,
to be seen,
to be known:
How the world needs her truly to show!

Touch of the Stars

Photo by Fabio Marciano
Photo by Fabio Marciano on Pexels

They are always with us, mothers of myriad worlds, lighting countless nights, each the pivot of her own system, pouring out her own flame whether there be a planet there to catch it or not. They are patterns in the sky, bright orbs, guiding lights, shining spheres—our own compassionate sun a sister among them.

I’m so happy for the touch of the stars in my life,
even if their touch is the touch of sorrow.

A star, though equally exposed on all sides, cannot be taken from behind. She is fully herself, so transparent one may not look on her long: a beautiful picture of empowered vulnerability. She illumines all her own, effortless in her generosity, as each shines for her sisters of her mother’s light. Once, upon seeing our own world’s sister (the morning star), the Buddha said:

I and all beings together on earth
attain enlightenment at the same time.
Shakyamuni Buddha

It is lovely to know the stars at the Summer Solstice, just as the sun dips below the Northwestern horizon, and before the moon rises high and bright to add her own magic to the clouds. We can see them only in the lee of our sun’s bathing light, hid behind our own world’s shoulder…oh for the beauty known only in the shadow of the earth!

You must know the number of last night’s stars,
the number of the drops of this morning’s rain.
Hakuin Ekaku

How well do you know the touch of the stars? Have you ever pondered their pattern, felt their tides of sorrow or joy? Have you looked for them late in the evening, or come out to them before dawn? Have you let their light reach you?

But the touch of the stars is the song from which all things were made. It is the fire of all suns, a chorus of radiance, the music of their tug upon one another, their worlds, and their beings. It would be a sorrow to have lived, and to have missed it.


Autumn Ocean

Photo by Artem Saranin
Photo by Artem Saranin on Pexels
Fair Autumn…
Her morning light, so like her dusk—
her dusk, the fading light of year that glows,
and blows her cool winds til leaves in flight,
alight with all her colors fall…
Autumn morning, bright and clear:
your dusky light and crispy air enthrall!
Lovely Sea…
Her cloudy waves, obscure and clear—
so clear as crystal turquoise waters crest,
and catch the sun, then crash in hiss of foam,
til rows of tumult gray give way, show all…
Restless sea, in passion’s press:
your dusky waters breaking call my soul!


Photo by Min An
Photo by Min An on Pexels
under drops, under cloud,
in the air, toward the ground,
and in that moment brief between,
drifting—ever so slowly.
like a leaf, once so green,
then so bright and to be seen—
but now so faded, brittle, brown:
free at last to be lowly.
not unwilling, never wronged,
neither fatefully drawn along,
but for goodness—for the earth!
To my source I go wholly.

The Harmony of Tension

Photo by Stein Egil Liland
Photo by Stein Egil Liland on Pexels

Tension is the nature of diversity, and diversity is beautiful, whether it resonates of harmony or dissonance. Harmony is itself the resolution diversity asks for, and dissonance is the asking. The I Ching says it this way:

After seeking harmony, all things respond to you.
I Ching, Hexagram 14

But harmony is only possible after there has been a parting, and dissonance, the agony of desire, only intensifies as resolve nears, yearns until unison is found. Songs are born of them:

My heart aches,
my grip weakens…
as the world grows more beautiful to my seeing eyes,
and I grow more weary looking through them—
standing here, embodied…
and so far apart.

Genders diverge this way, then long to meet. They are diverse and expressive as they evolve within individuals, cultures, and species like language and thought. They are an expression of who we are through what we are made of, the shape of our own restless flames: they have never been confined to Male and Female.

In our own gestation process, Female is first, Male comes later, a specialization. But they are not two, not only two: they are as fluid as the process they are born from, like the path of water pulled from sea into cloud, then drawn from cloud back into sea, forever in dance whether in sparkle of dew or turbulence of storm. They are like the romance of Sea and Sky.

But in between they are beauty and mystery, neither Sky nor Sea, expressing our world. They are mists rising from rivers, clouds hanging between hills. They are the dust of falling flakes, the flare of sun showers, bouts of cloudburst; they are tricks of hovering haze, spells of steaming hot springs, and plumes of erupting geysers. They are colors of coming and going, songs of departure and reunion.

We are born just as we are into the heat of such tension, springing brightly as sparks from the blaze, leaping lightly as melodies from taut strings. Embrace it, for it is from the chaos of tension itself that harmony is born.