Thursday, December 18, 2008

Synchronicities, A Yarn Of Craft And Art

My Mom picked up her knitting in the last years of her life. She made me and two of my sisters a sweater each. Due to their skin sensitivity to wool, I got all three. I cherish those scratchy, large handmade blankets with arms. When we sorted through the house after her death, we found screwdrivers, keys, tape and lighters in every drawer, cupboard and orifice possible. As well, yarn, needles and knitting paraphernalia adorned the "unders" of places - under the couch, under the bed, under the table... As timing would have it, my friend from college (we met summer of 1985) gleefully shared with me her intention to take a beginner's knitting class. I hastily taped up a care package which her new teacher itemized for her on the first day of class.

While organizing the gifts from my childhood home, the paintings and dishes, the jewels and trinkets, the memories and confirmed suspicions, I thought to take up knitting myself. Now, this is a sharp edge for me. I am afraid of pickles and arts-n-crafts. But, as this is a time to conquer strange fears and idiosyncrasies (I am saving pickles for after India), I put together a bag of yarn and needles for the walk on the crafty wild side. My friend, Danette, taught me how to knit and how to pearl on the eve before I attended the 8 day Zen meditation retreat, called a seshin (pardon the spelling, but it is Japanese, and I haven't gotten around to that yet, I am still fixated on learning Sanskrit!)

During the tour of the Zen Center, I noticed a project in yarn on my room mate's bed. Keep in mind, these retreats are held in what is called noble silence. No talking. No looking at each other. No books, journals, computers, i-pods, news, etc. But, I asked, "Can I knit?" The answer was yes. I knitted and undid, stitched and then unwound the stitches, made and unmade unidentified woolly objects throughout the week. I embraced impermanence like the monks who blow away the sand mandala, like the sand castle architect, like the minute hand of a Swatch wrist watch. I am not afraid of knitting, messy stitches, dropped loops, split thread, frayed ends. I can wield the needle, wind the wool, cast on and cast off.

Whether or not I finish anything recognizable has yet to be determined, but when I returned to my friend's house, after a 2 week separation while I meditated and then visited Sedona, we made the serendipitous discovery that we had selected the same exact yarn from the vast Michael's collection. It is called "Waterfall" and has cascading shades of blue and purple fuzzily strung out in a ziggy shape as it unwinds from is skein. It is mostly polyester and very soft. We sat in her house knitting and pearling while the tiny flakes of snow flunk themselves to the Albuquerque sprawl. I am making a scarf and she is making a hat. And I am not so scared of crafts anymore, but I am still very much in the beginner's stages of making it an art. I have a beginner's mind, beginner's stitch and a beginner's zeal. Pardon me, please, while I get back to the waterfall....

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Spiders and Relics and Light, Oh My!

Did you know there are at least 900 different kinds of tarantulas? They are present on every continent. I learned this while visiting a friend's menagerie of 100 spiders. 80 or so are babies that she bred from here existing pets. I remember having an 8 legged crawl through the tickly elbow spot when I was in kindergarten. And, yup, I remembered just how it felt. Rosebud, a pinkly thoraxed tarantula about the size of my palm, did the honors of walking up the in side of my arm. Spunky, a little bigger and blacker than that, marched hand over hand inexhaustibly nowhere until my friend began stroking her favorite spot, the underside of her abdomen. Spunky stood on tippy-toe and lifted her round body to receive the finger loving.

I learned that mature male tarantulas have little hooks protruding from their two front legs. They use this to hold the female's head away from them while they inseminate her. She has a tendency to bite her lover's head off. But, get this, after insemination she holds the sperm in her body until such a time that she want to create a fertile egg sac, which she may decide never to do! Power to the ... spiders, what an interesting form of birth control. Perhaps we should get those scientists on it right away!

Earlier in the day, I visited the Buddha Relics. The atmosphere was charged with the invitation to move into awareness of boundlessness and connection to all beings. I particularly felt awakened while standing before the bone fragments of the Shakyamuni Buddha. We just celebrated the anniversary of the day he arose, enlightened, from the Bodhi tree last Monday, Dec. 8. He saw that we each are enlightened. We just keep forgetting. Such is life, I guess.

And.... Sedona played tricks on me with the light in more ways than feeling enlightened at the relics! There was a short period in the afternoon when the sky was dark gray to the north and from the south, sunshine reached at a low angle into the shadow beneath the clouds. Juxtaposed against the storm's daunting shadow was diamond brightness. I can't remember experiencing anything like it.

The storm came in gusts of rain and frozen stuff. in the middle of the night, I looked out and could not tell if the world was lit from moon glow or snow. Morning showed me it was a combination of both.

After breakfast with friends, I start the drive to Albuquerque and east.... Sedona still has the address of home above a prominent doorway of my soul.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Entry into (blog) World From Sedona

I still feel that sense of home here in the Red Rocks. Some places on the planet must be wired that way.

we talked about waking from the dream
doing it collectively
doing it consciously
and not psychologizing.
we are getting too old for that
beyond the dichotomy
the duality of this assessment and that
tempered by the dreamer
scattering night into aspects of light

in zen, just sit:
just now is enough
stones have spoken
and breath has offered
the ticket in
to a place always changing but
steady like home
decorated between the beats
of the drum
of the heart

There is family here. We are all doing the best we can, lifting our efforts up to joy, to community, to something we can believe whole-heartedly in, even if that keeps changing.

I'll get the hang of this blog-thing. Details of the days include the strategic re-arrangement of the stuff in "self-storage", there is a lot of room to spare; chanting Vedic style and breathing breath-of-fire style with some teachers, friends and students at 7 Centers; sharing outside the dream at the course Communtiy House, and hearing a perspective of my estranged bestfriend come through the mouth of another dear and wise friend; rite of passage; disolution of bonds that tied me with my Mother; listening to poetry, music and spontaneous play at the new incarnation of the Sedona Showcase with Daniel and Casey, an open mic like none other.

Tonight, I visit the Buddhist Relics with friends and tomorrow.... who knows.