Sometimes all you need is a gorgeous bouquet of white roses, oak leaf hydrangea and rosemary from the garden to make for the perfect evening…beauty everywhere!
Yesterday I wrote about liberation.
Today this idea of expansion keeps floating around in my awareness, in my being. Specifically the (first-hand) understanding that with any part of your life that expands – internal or external – there needs to be some way to accommodate the new space, even if (especially if) you initially choose to fill it with nothing.
The sweet, beautiful, nowhere-to-be void.
We are so used to seeing an open space and immediately feeling the need to fill it with something. The empty wall needs a painting, the extra hour in the evening needs to be filled with watching TV, the tax return needs to be spent before you’ve even received the check.
What about when your soul expands? This can be sparked by any number of experiences – a death, a birth, offering or receiving unconditional love, union with the divine. It’s infinite, limitless, and of course so personal.
When you are cracked open, and you experience yourself (in your own quiet, anonymous way) as bigger than you can imagine, this can be really scary. Because all of the walls you thought were real are now just an illusion. And it’s up to you what to do with it.
This is when the temptation comes in to fill yourself with something, anything to avoid the void. You want others to fill it for you. You start to back track. You’ll do anything for a distraction. It’s very confronting and you wonder if you’ve done the right thing in the first place. Maybe it was better (ie more comfortable) just to be as you were, to stay a caterpillar. Perhaps being a butterfly is not all it’s cracked up to be, it’s too much work to use those wings, to get high, then learn to land – easier to just stay on the ground.
But like anything that expands, there simply needs to be the awareness that a new set of ‘requirements’ is needed. If, for example, you expand your garden, you may simply initially choose to keep the land bare. That’s ok for a while. Enjoy the new space, the new freedom. But the land wants to be planted just as much as the gardener wants to plant. That’s the point, yes? It’s reciprocal, an energy exchange, as with everything in life.
But planting takes some planning, some awareness. If you plant a new field on the farm, you have to consider irrigation. More water will be needed. With this expansion, what worked last week, last month or last year is no longer pertinent. It’s not enough – it needs to grow to match your growth. So you need to plan for how you will access the extra water, and it’s not about getting the water from somewhere or someone else (sorry, but it’s true).
Same with the seeds – just because you have the land, you can’t get lazy about where to find what will one day be your harvest. Because even if someone or something has helped you expand your field, you still need to cultivate, plant, care for and pick what you’ve worked for. I believe that is why each of us is here – to sow our own seeds, stick around through all the ups and downs as they grow, then reap the harvest (of course sharing along the way).
All of these things are already inside of you – the water, the seeds, even the land. We just forget.
It’s the expansion that helps you remember.
When you stop and really consider that you are one person out of seven billion others on a planet that itself is over four billion years old, it kind of puts your life into perspective.
We are truly here for the blink of an eye.
But we spend so much time worrying, analyzing, sitting in suffering debating over what to do…or not to do. We make a big deal out of things. We forget that our lives are simultaneously an enormous miracle – a gift from God – and a tiny grain of sand in an ecosystem that has been, and will continue to be here for longer than we can imagine (long after humans are extinct).
This awareness does not scare me. Rather, it liberates me. It frees me to realize that what I do here for a few quick decades does not make much of a difference.
Let me qualify: YES one person can make a huge difference. There are endless examples of this. But the tiny details that we agonize over, in the long run, really don’t matter.
If we manage to somehow embrace and know our truest selves, share that with others, add a little more light to things, and (mostly) enjoy ourselves along the way, then we’ve had a good life; we’ve done our part.
I also realize that the ‘weather’ patterns of life come and go. Some days there are storms and some days I find myself sitting in a warm field of flowers humming with bees. I don’t know why it changes, but it just does. If it’s in nature, it makes sense that it’s inside my heart, too.
We are nature…we just forget.
I’m extremely grateful that I find myself finally able to not be overcome by the weather patterns. Rather, I just know that they are there, always shifting, and that underneath them, the real me is always okay.
There is immense faith and trust in that. Trusting that if there is rain, rain must be needed. If there is a day of sun, that’s what’s needed, too. Realizing that the rotations will never stop, but if we are smart enough to put on a coat when it storms, and bring out a blanket to lay on the land when it’s warm, there is much enjoyment, magic and wonder to be had along the way.
Funny how we cover things up.
Our bodies are the least of it. Clothes are the thinnest layer.
The thickest layers are the massive barriers we’ve erected between who we really are and what we allow ourselves – or others – to really see, experience or embody. We make this a full-time job.
The way a naked breast (at least in this country) evokes a sense of glimpsing something forbidden, exposing – and sharing – an open heart is damn near pornography.
Being true, simple, just yourself without labels or judgment can feel naked, exposed, uncomfortable. Some may even perceive it as confrontational, rebellious, aloof. Who are you to be uncensored, truthful, simple when I have to spend so much time and energy creating this persona?
Why is accepting – and just being – who we are such a big deal? Why do we go to such great lengths to cover our truth through status, material things and the way we want others to perceive us? As scary as being naked in the middle of a crowd sounds, being truly exposed – pure – in our soul, at least initially, seems like the scariest thing of all.
As I travel further into this space of “here and now,” I can really see and appreciate the simple beauty of just being. There are no ‘stories’ in the here and now, everything just ‘is.’ The dishes in the sink are simply kiln fired clay that held last night’s dinner. There is no poor-me story about the ‘endless housework.’ The whiny child is simply caught up in his own emotion. There is no story about how the job of motherhood is overwhelming. And the light and beauty I know, feel and experience inside myself just is. It’s not something overly special nor is it something to be toned down. It’s just me.
Here and now is not cumulative nor is it anticipatory. It just is. And I am beginning to flow into this space of presence which feels inviting, lovely. Like a warm embrace. The purest kind: one soul to another, me to me.
Nowhere is this more evident than in nature. Nature is the definition of ‘what is.’ The mist is simply hovering around the mountain at seven in the morning, the horses are eating grass, the sage is offering food to the hummingbirds. There are no stories, no barriers. It just is…and it’s really, really beautiful.
The letters linger, languishing on a warm spring afternoon, lusty and full of life. Laughing…always laughing.
The words are like wild weather, wetting my appetite. Wandering into places I almost forgot were there. Watering my source.
The sentences sing songs in my soul. They slide down my throat – soups and sauces surrender into a belly that swells with sweet satisfaction.
Prose puffs from this ancient pen and permeates the air around me. Purple pansies and plump peonies play with all the light.
A crowd forms, chaos commences. We cannot be contained. Vowels voice themselves. Energy starts to rise.
They drip they dangle. They dance. They dare me to discover all that is just under the surface. Dig child, dig!
They wrap around me like tendrils on a wooden stake; radiant rainbow ribbons wrapping a pole in a sunny field, the first day of May.
Blooms and proud petals make a pink puddle at my feet. I can hold back no longer – I dive in.
Oh Life, you and your sneaky ways. I’m glad I give you so much to laugh about in our endless dialog.
Me: “I’ve worked so hard. I’m never not working. I’m almost there, just a few more turns up the mountain before I reach the top and have You all figured out.”
You: unable to speak through howling laughter
One of the things about breaking down walls, old habits, old beliefs, old identities and old stories is that you have to be prepared to sit with what’s on the other side.
And what exactly would that be?
Big. Fat. Nothing.
And what I mean by that is that underneath all the old stories, thoughts, patterns and perceived pain that we invite into our daily lives is…drum roll…The Present Moment.
I know, I know. That’s the thing that we spiritual seekers are told is the Mecca of our journey. It’s the holy grail. It’s the pot of gold at the end of a freaky fucking rainbow.
Well, let me tell you, first hand, at least initially it’s not all that it’s cracked up to be. Because when you’ve torn everything down, torched it all, there is a huge wide open space. Bigger than you can imagine. That’s great, right?
Well, sort of.
Because when you no longer have the option to use old stories as your identity, that means you can no longer can use the old stories as an excuse not to be your truest self. The past now is no longer relevant. And if you are calling yourself out on your shit and letting go of bad habits, that means you no longer can call up your bad habits to go for a round or two. Which means you can throw distractions out the window, so you have to be…your truest self. And if you are embracing total trust and faith (as I have, completely), that means all fear naturally drops away. Gone. Which means that when you think about the future, there is really nothing to be afraid of, so you can’t fall back on the debilitating ‘what if’ either.
Which means that you are pretty much right here, right now. Which is not really all it’s cracked up to be. At least not initially, though I sense it can only get better from here.
Because when you’ve spent your entire life (even in some small way) blaming the past (and living there), worrying about the future (and living there), you have never…actually…ever FULLY been here now. At least not for more than a quick visit here and there.
And, now, speaking from personal experience, being here in the moment is a kind of peaceful, normal, basic, everyday experience. Which feels kind of confronting. Because when you are used to the drama and turmoil of always having a problem to solve, a goal to reach, a person to blame, or a worry about the future – and all of that vanishes – you get to inhabit YOURSELF fully, which is the most expansive, mysterious, beautiful, hi-nice-to-meet-you-I’ve-never-fully-known-you places to be.
I know I’m meant to be here. I know this is ‘all I’ve worked for.’ But now I’m feeling naked without my old identity to insulate me. There is no veil, no place to go, nothing to do. Just be.
Which, I suppose is a perfect metaphor for spring…entering the garden with nothing but your own skin, plucking flowers, dipping a toe in the river, finally feeling around for what this whole thing is really about.
She lived at the end of a cobblestone road. In Provence or Tuscany or tucked away in the Americas. It’s hard to say…it could have been anywhere, anytime. She was a purist: raw materials + love = food. But it was so much more. This was her medicine. She healed herself with the creation of it and healed others with the dispensing of it. The wooden bowls, soft woven napkins, copper kettles – artisans and their wares were her tools. And the edibles – plucked from the earth, the Great Mother herself. She was an artist, a chemist, a builder…the food her medium.
But it was not really food per se. Yes, it was something to eat on a plate, she knew enough to make it look as though it was from this world…but there were magical properties in there. Things not listed in the recipe. She’d peer into your soul and see what you needed: nettle tea, kohlrabi, black kale, walnut oil, a blessing said in silence that she’d quietly spread on your thick, crusty bread.
She’d distract you with her beauty – blond tendrils and bright red lips. Always those lips. Less seduction, more a metaphor…a bull’s eye. She saw through her mouth. Some say the third eye is on the forehead, her’s lay just below her nose. And she really would see you, and know what you needed and add her own particles of love and light. Then she’d transfer all of that that into your mouth under the guise of, “here honey, you look hungry.”
She was right, those who came to her, who were brave enough to make the long trek, often without knowing why, were starving. But their bellies ached for more than basic sustenance. She practiced an ancient primal tradition…cookery, alchemy, or perhaps something more primitive and maternal: a mother bird feeding her own young – mouth to mouth. A kiss.
And the experience would kiss you, make love to you, your entire body from head to your barefoot toes. The aromas, the colors, the light, the beauty. Your body welcoming – opening to – everything she had to offer. Because when you arrive, you have no idea what the potion of the day will be. She doesn’t either. But you make the trek, you climb the hill, get your heel stuck in the stones, pull it back out again, feel the warm wind pulling you higher, and higher, until you reach the belly of her soul, realizing you’re actually on the path to find union with your own.
Jill Lurie for Jules Blaine Davis
The light comes in, buds unfurl and all of this continues to unfold. There are moments when the veil is nearly imperceptible. The layers peel back like the waxy, thick skin of an orange disengaging from its juicy core. Neroli, Navel, Valencia jewels throw themselves at me: “We are right before you, in you, just reach for us, taste all that you are.”
I cannot stop it. I pause for a moment and consider if I have a choice. I suppose I could turn it off, turn on the TV, look normal, act busy. But this is not an option for me, I have to keep moving forward, accepting the gifts that place themselves literally right before me. Inside the pain or confusion or exhaustion of receiving this kind of Life, there is ecstasy, awe and gratitude.
A friend once said to me: “Most people look to the earth and pull a string from the soil, whereas you pull out an entire oak tree.” And she was right. The level of intensity, awareness and union is sometimes beyond my understanding and in moments it can be beautifully overwhelming.
In his poem “Everywhere” Hafiz says:
Through the streets
Throwing rocks through windows,
Using my own head to ring
Pulling out my hair,
Tearing off my clothes,
Tying everything I own
To a stick,
And setting it on
We else can Hafiz do tonight
To celebrate the madness,
Of seeing God
This pretty much sums it up, though I am not on any drug (ever), nor do I drink (ever). I do not have a guru, nor do I meet with some spiritual group. I just see and perceive and experience things – I know I’m not the only one. The synchronicities are crashing over me like waves in an endless ocean and there have been precious experiences that have only further propelled me to a place of light, beauty and Home.
Most people don’t want to go this deep, and I really understand that. And truly, it’s something that we can only give to ourselves. It’s an inside job, but I am extremely grateful for the experiences and beautiful souls that are a touchstone to my continued awakening, understanding and awareness. Thank you.
“Before and After”
I could say
That you helped me
That in you
Is the before and after
Of all of life.
That I only know you
Pulsing inside an endless canyon
Electrifying the air
With citrus and jasmine
And things I barely understand
And don’t want to.
That I’m dancing
Between the good and bad
Kind of wailing.
But if I said
People would think I’m weird
Or on drugs
Or that I’ve gone mental.
So I keep quiet
To act normal.
Sometimes I think I was born in the wrong time or place. I don’t feel like I’m from here, and in spite of all the beauty and love around me, I long to know what’s just on the other side. But then I remember that everything is exactly as it’s meant to be.
It occurs to me that if I’m meant to live a life that perplexes my brain, perhaps it’s a sign to give the thinking part a rest. So I dive head first into my overflowing heart, the one that feeds a river deep within the canyon and connects me with every other living being on this earth.
Today is my friend Marylee’s birthday – The Bee Lady. Though she died eight years ago when I was pregnant with my son, I still think of her every day. She is always with me, in me. She taught me so much about love, friendship, eternal connections between two people, generosity, beauty and fun. We spent most of our time together either in the garden, drinking tea or pulling some crazy rabbit out of our hats.
She died in her mid 50’s from cancer. At first I was really angry that she died ‘too young.’ Now I’m just really grateful that I knew her. She was like a mom to me, the one you always wished you had, but I actually did have her. She was fucking awesome.
Life, like any garden, is a series of cycles. There is a force so much greater than us pulling us through. It’s like the force of the sun on a field of sunflowers bringing them up from under the soil, coaxing them to bloom and reach their fullness, sharing their bounty with the birds and those lucky enough to witness their beauty.
Our minds tell us what ‘makes sense’ or what the time tables of things should be. But it’s not up to us. We think it is, but it’s not. I don’t love that part, but I’m learning to be okay with it. It teaches us to appreciate what we have when we have it and to fold the love into our hearts, where it can stay and grow.
My friend, our life together and this life after her passing has taught me to embrace beauty and find peace with the bittersweet, knowing that it’s all part of the process. I would like to send love today to my dear friend and to all of those who have touched my life in the most beautiful way, offering me love, whether we speak every day or I know you in the silence. You know who you are.
And in the spirit of my friend’s birthday, and National Poetry Month, which is this month, I’d like to offer my book of poems to anyone who’d like a copy. Please email me your name and address to jill (dot) lurie (at) hotmail (dot) com and I will gladly send you one.
Where are you now?
Do you dance
Between the shores
Of the ancient Channel Islands?
Do you sing on top
Of a coconut tree?
Do you kiss me goodnight
Without my knowing?
Now that you’ve left your body,
How does it feel
To be so free?
poem/photo: Jill Lurie
I am grateful that my life seems to be a series of ‘accidental’ experiences that tend to work out quite beautifully.
Last weekend, on my way to my canyon hike, I spontaneously stopped at Malibu Cross Creek Mart for a coffee, ended up having to park on the far end of the property, ended up needing to walk by Diesel Books and (of course) ended up going in.
That’s when I heard about a new book called “Making Piece” about a woman’s journey back from immense grief, and what she did to heal and create a new life for herself. The back cover talked about the bitter sweet, which is a theme for me right now, so I bought the book and have been savoring it over the past few days.
The book party and signing is tonight, so of course I’ll be there to meet Beth Howard in person, hear more about her story and to simply show up in support of a fellow writer and blogger. Offering support to someone else is really so easy – even to a stranger. Besides, I was told there would be pie, so that seals the deal for me. If you are in L.A., it’s at Diesel Bookstore in Malibu at 7PM,
And in the spirit of pie making, I’m sharing some photos from my ‘birthday party’ last August where I held a pie party, asked everyone to dress up and bring a pie to share instead of a gift for me. We had so much fun on that warm summer afternoon!
May it inspire you bake a pie, read a new book, support a stranger…and share your gifts.