A Big Bang Theory of Tears

 a poem in memory of my daughter Hannah

for every mother who grieves

 

Slip inside the space of

just one tear.

See its spans expand,

as salty crystals spur and shape

the laced, Lothlorien lattice of the roof.

 

Howl through the holy halls

your child’s name.

Etch your memories on these salty walls,

these salty, travertining walls,

insoluble and true.

 

Scream the horror

sticking in your throat:

“All is NOT well!

All is NOT well!

And all shall NOT be very well!”

 

And well

and well,

and wet the briny altar once again.

So spires beget spires beget spires…

 

Let the waters swell and swell,

and swell an invitation

to Samsaran seas.

Then hush for the “Hallowed is a mother’s pain”.

 

Weep another offering to this universe of grief.

Doming and spiring more crystal cities across a stretching plain,

the crusted, creasy cotton of a white and pillowed plain,

cathedral cities reaching, reaching,

And reaching further still,

but never spanning far enough

to hold your child’s name.

Virtue

Morals develop out of necessity.  There is no inherent virtue in washing dishes immediately after dinner (or at least, before bedtime).  No, we wash dishes before we go to bed so that we don’t inadvertently entice bugs and mice into our kitchens and food stores.

What necessities are at the roots of other morals and virtues?

Why do we insist in making virtue out of practicality?  As a way of passing down gained knowledge?  Is it impossible for us just to tell our children, “Hey, we need to wash dishes after meals so we don’t get bugs and mice”?  Why do we feel virtuous about things like orderly homes and clean kitchens?

Getting My Hands Dirty

We can dream and dream and dream, but at some point, we have to get our hands dirty.  I have officially signed up for a 4-day earthbag workshop at CalEarth.   The workshop is still two months away, so in the meantime, I continue to educate myself.  I continue to read and reread Earthbag Building, by Kaki Hunter and Donald Kiffmeyer, and A House of Straw, by Carolyn Roberts.  I dream and draw possible floor plans for my house.  Oh, and then there are the internet videos.  There are many good videos about earthbag building, but one that I find inspiring is about Lisa Starr’s earthbag home:  Woman Builds Breathtaking Sustainable Dome Home by Dylan Magaster.  A very helpful series of videos is by a family in which each of the four children were encouraged to design and build his or her own earthbag room.  Their website is called My Little Homestead.  Entertaining, educational, and inspiring!

Okay!  Enough with the links!

Another thing I have been doing is looking at land on the internet.  Yes, LAND.  And I finally spoke with an agent.  We had a lengthy conversation, and I am hopeful that I will sink my feet into some real dirt very soon!  One place I really like (via the internet) is in El Rito, on Wild Onion Lane.  Love that name!  But it is way too early to get my heart set on a particular piece of property.

And!  I came across the blog of a young woman who has walked this path ahead of me.  She lives somewhere north of here, and I hope soon to meet her in person, see her lovely home, help her with her current project, and learn from her experience.  If she doesn’t mind, I will try to remember to link her blog here, so you too can see what she had done with her own, bare hands.

Lastly, today, after I niddy-noddy some yarn and set the spin, I am going to start building a small model of one possible house plan.  I imagine myself playing with complex designs now but ultimately deciding on something very simple (read less expensive).

Okay.  Off to get my hands dirty!

Prajna, Logos, and Intuitive Wisdom

Prajna is the sixth paramita. The term Prajna is from the Sanskrit and is composed of two Sanskrit terms: “Pra” which refers to “that which is before,” and “jna” which refers to knowledge. The compound of these terms then means “before knowledge,” “root knowledge,” “profound knowledge.” It is often translated as “perfect knowledge, intuitive wisdom, understanding, intelligence, discrimination or judgment.” When we compare this with the Initiatic Kabbalah, we see that Prajna refers to both Binah, which is Hebrew for “intelligence,” and Chokmah, which is Hebrew for “wisdom.” Prajna is the intelligence of the Logos, a kind of knowledge or understanding that is beyond the mind, beyond the intellect.  (written by Gnostic Instructor at Prajna.  The Wisdom of Emptiness)

A few weeks ago I spent five days at a Buddhist retreat called Prajna Mountain Forest Refuge.  I was going to sample the Prajna life and to consider being a caretaker there for some indefinite period of time.  While I was on the mountain, I came across a book about tiny homes and my interest in natural building was rekindled.  My goal here isn’t to write about my experiences at Prajna except to say that I felt a definite “no” about going up there to live.  It wasn’t a logical “no”.  There were no “reasons”.  I just knew that it wasn’t what I should do.  Perhaps the universe really does speak to us.  Or maybe it is just that I was alone for long enough to hear my inner voice speaking.

Since I have been back, I have pursued my interests in knitting, spinning, and Heidegger.  I have also been learning about earthbag buildings and how to build them.  I have spent a considerable amount time thinking about taking classes at Santa Fe Community College in green building, sustainable living, and adobe construction.  But today something changed.

I was sitting down to spin and started browsing through YouTube to find a lecture to listen to while I worked.  I almost immediately came upon a TedX Talk by Barbara Sher.  The talk is called “Isolation Is The Dream-Killer, Not You Attitude.”  Well, that sounded interesting.  Isolation??  Hmmmm….  Without going back to clarify, I will list here the points I thought were important:

  • We know what we want to do.
  • Once we identify our dreams, we need to ask others for help. People have resources and the only reason we aren’t aware of them is because we don’t ask.
  • Now is the time to make our dreams happen.

As I thought about her words, I realized that going to school or helping Chris to build his little house is just a way of putting off my own dreams, meanwhile spending all the time and money that I should be spending on making my goals happen.

There was a funny little confirmation that the “universe” might be talking to ME.  I was reading a little story on Barbara Sher’s website.  While Sher was at a book signing in a small town, she met a woman who had been putting off doing something because she thought she was too old.  That has been my excuse (for most of my life) for not doing what I wanted.  The strange thing is that the book signing event took place in Sheridan, Wyoming.  My hometown!  There aren’t a whole lot of us from Wyoming, and there are a whole lot fewer from Sheridan!  Hmmmm….

I have spent all afternoon thinking about this idea.  Here are some initial plans.

  • After doing some research, buy a small piece of land
  • Buy a motorhome to live in until I can build the house
  • Build some kind of pen for the dog
  • Build a small structure (outhouse, shed, alpaca barn??) as a practice project and also, perhaps, to live in, store my stuff in, etc.
  • Get a well and septic put in
  • Start building a house

I would really like this house to be off grid:  solar, woodstove, satellite for internet, etc..

I think I can do this!  And I think it would be a good idea to record my progress on this website.  Maybe this project needs its own page.

I started this entry with a quote about the word “prajna”.   Maybe we all need to get away for a few days to listen.  We have this “intuitive wisdom”.  I believe that we all have an inner voice that speaks to us when we are willing to listen to it.  The “world” almost always tells us NOT to listen to that voice.  But we know what we want to do.  And there is no good “reason” not to do whatever that is.

It seems odd, at first, that this writer equates the word logos with this intuitive wisdom.  We get our word “logic” from this Greek word, of course.  And all of our –ologies, too.   Logic as we normally comprehend the word is all about having sound reasons for all the choices we make, and almost always, we are expected to include money-making potential among our reasons.  However, the Greek word really does have a deeper, pre-knowledge meaning.  Heidegger, in Being and Time, says that logos is apophansis, or letting something be seen by pointing it out.  He is talking here about seeing entities, but ultimately, he thinks that early Greeks had an understanding of the world that allowed “what is” to show itself, rather than humans imposing their own ideas of the world onto what they could see.  I think this applies to this prajna kind of thinking, this allowing some deeper truth to reveal itself, despite our own tendencies to impose our “reasoning” ideas on the world.

 

 

This Solitude of Cataracts

This Solitude of Cataracts  by Wallace Stevens

He never felt twice the same about the flecked river,
Which kept flowing and never the same way twice, flowing

Through many places, as if it stood still in one,
Fixed like a lake on which the wild ducks fluttered,

Ruffling its common reflections, thought-like Monadnocks.
There seemed to be an apostrophe that was not spoken.

There was so much that was real that was not real at all.
He wanted to feel the same way over and over.

He wanted the river to go on flowing the same way,
To keep on flowing. He wanted to walk beside it,

Under the buttonwoods, beneath a moon nailed fast.
He wanted his heart to stop beating and his mind to rest

In a permanent realization, without any wild ducks
Or mountains that were not mountains, just to know how it would be,

Just to know how it would feel, released from destruction,
To be a bronze man breathing under archaic lapis,

Without the oscillations of planetary pass-pass,
Breathing his bronzen breath at the azury center of time.