Dimension

3 cats asleep on the couch.

Suddenly Sammy hears a sound, looks up at the screen and with a miaow pulls himself up out of his sprawl and begins to stalk the magnificent hummingbird.  Creeping slowly toward it and when it doesn’t fly away he leaps up and begins to whap the bird.

The other two cats are startled by his intensity and look at the screen with curiosity, wondering what he sees.  They don’t see the hummingbird.

…..

And, I wonder, what screens am I staring at but not seeing?

All One.

Extended

Red sky in the west, I am sitting up on a massive rock next to our campsite.  The clank of cooking pots and soft Kiswahili below the thorny cover of trees to my left.  Off to the east someone barks.

Once.  Then again.

If I were to draw this sound it would be like trying to illustrate the sound of many piano keys on the far left struck forcefully, all at once, with the palms of my hands.  I’d use crayons of brown, indigo, amber, pressing hard into the paper.  It is so distant, that I would have missed it in the chorus of sounds from our kitchen tent and the chirping of the birds here.

Again.

And then I see him – a lone figure way out on the far horizon.  Sitting on a massive rock jutting up from the jungle of trees between us.  Through my binoculars I get a closer look.  Big male baboon.

I call down to Douglas, can you hear that guy over there?

Yes, he says.  He probably sees you and he is letting the others know.

Well hi Mister Baboon. I see you and I am letting the others know.

All One.

Calling in our Pride

So early and dark it may still be yesterday, I am snuggled in my bed listening to at least 2 lions roaring in the distance.

Announcing their place, calling in their pride.

And hours later, still pre-dawn, we are bundled up in the welcome chill, driving slowly along the dirt road a kilometer from the Ndutu lodge, Douglas intent upon finding us a good spot from which to see the sun emerge on the pink-orange horizon.

And then there he is in all his lion-ness.

Sitting on his haunches on the road, looking around, flicking his ears.

Here I am, he says.  Not questioning, not searching, not wondering about his purpose or his place in the order of things.

And then he starts roaring.

A lion a few yards out roaring in your direction is like nothing else – really LOUD, vibration rumbling through my chest, sending hair on my legs tingling, I can feel his roar in my teeth.

And now just as the sun peeks over the eastern horizon, he begins to walk slowly by us, grunting.  Embodying Lion in his domain, at ease.  Even the Thompson’s gazelle senses calm, as he trots up for a closer look at this King, tail flicking and ears pricked.

Later I write, what would it be like to be that comfortable in my own skin, to be that out-loud about who I am, where I am, claiming my place in things.  And then about this gazelle, walking toward Power, with curiosity.  What about that?

All One.

Leopard

Leopard in Tarangire. John McConnell.

Leopard napping in the tree, draped along the large limb, legs and tail hanging loosely in the shade of a hot afternoon in Tarangire.  So many spots.  20 yards.

He does not turn at the sound of our vehicle, nor when the ignition is turned off and each of us, whispering, slowly stands up on our seats, eyes wide, to look at him.

Then he lifts his head and yawns.  Rubs his cheek along the branch, then up and a big stretch, kneading rhythmically the limb with his claws – languid, easy.  Such a cat.

And then a straight on gaze –  clear, direct, yellow, unapologetic, wide open.  A jolt of electricity hits my chest full on and travels up my back into the hair on my head and down to my feet.  He moves toward the trunk of the tree, and like the easing of a tide descends with languid long tail out this way and then curling back along the trunk, drops to the ground.

Binoculars are for looking, however now it is time for seeing and being seen.

And for a moment all we see in the tall swaying grass is the fluffy white tip of his tail.

Emerging, then, all at once, rippling spots and an ease and grace and such equanimity as he pads toward us.

And we are still and here and not here and then here again.

Breathing, as he walks to the tire and then around the front and across the road and once again into the tall grass on the other side.

We follow the white fluffy tip of his tail for a few yards and then as a light breeze bends the grass in the late afternoon light he disappears.

All One.

Traffic

Awakened to an unexpected snowfall here yesterday. 

Dark in this early morning, very quiet.

(Note to Self: If I EVER feel disconnected from this, from Life, from Art, from Beauty and the Sacred, get my butt outside into the 3am night!)

Falling flakes illuminated in the street light.

Donning my puffy coat, I wander out back along the path through our bedecked firs.

I notice someone has been here.  A lot of someones, or else one someone who has been quite busy.

There are trails of tiny tracks zig-zagging throughout the ferns, up and over and around the nurse logs, circling the stone cairns.  Too dark to discern who they might belong to, though I can see enough to realize there has been much activity, much traffic, much business conducted.  

So as not to interrupt this commerce which may still be going on for a few hours yet, I back slowly away from these trails and follow my breath and the snowfall back to the deck for a few more moments before heading inside for my first cup of hot milky tea.

All One.

 

 

 

 

Meeting Owl

Early Monday morning very dark.

I am walking along the trail adjacent to the horses.  The palomino ambles over, visible in moonlight.  His friend the dark horse is invisible to me, though I can hear him chewing and snuffling in the middle of the field.  The light horse breathes warm sweet air, looking for a carrot and when I offer only my breath back he stills himself with his nose over the fence.  I tell him about meeting Enzo and my intention to listen to my heart.  More breathing.

I walk on to the end of the trail and turn back.   So quietly I would have missed it had I not looked up, an owl lands on the fence to my left, less than two arm’s length away.  If I were to lean over and stretch my arm out I’d be able to touch him. I am still, holding my breath, my entire body tingling, hairs on my legs prickling and sending waves up my low back and up my back and into my wings and my scalp zinging little pricks of light and electricity.

He looks right at me, impossible wide dark eyes, blinking.  I look back at him, my eyes wide, blinking, still not breathing.   Turns his head a complete 180 to look behind him to the north, for quite a while, then looks right at me for the rest of my life.  By now my eyes are as wide as they’ve ever been, fluttering in my chest, I wonder if I am sprouting feathers.

Huge owl.

He shrugs his shoulders, crouches a bit and spreads his wings jumps off the fence right at me, wings overhead and the whoosh of wind hits my face and I say a soft “woo!” as he turns just inches over me and lands right back on the fence same place, the entire circumference of his flight in this 4 -5 foot circle.  Perches and looks.   I am trembling.  “I see you and I am listening.”  I bow.   He sits for perhaps half a minute longer blinking and looking around and then a silent whoosh of wings  and he heads along the fence line north.

I stay perched where I am a few more minutes, and then walk on silently, powerfully.

Sky still dark with gray in the east…

Here, Now

Hello!

WHALE!

Whoops of delight and laughter as we tack in high winds and salty spray to join these Orcas speeding up the passage in 2s and 3s.

And then they slow down, shift their tack and join us – leaping high out of the choppy seas just yards off our port deck.  Again.  Again.

Completely unexpected in these waters at this time… we hadn’t been looking for them.

And then later I wonder if a hidden part of my Self had indeed been looking for them, perhaps even known they were here with us all along?

We’d been in the rhythm and ebb and flood of the tides, the winds, magic and mystery all reminding us that we are in right place, at a right time in our lives, our work, our play, our journey.  Coyotes chortling and cackling across the harbor, loons wooing us from our muster at breakfast, and now Orca dancing and flying in the waves.

Captain Daniel as we near home port: “This was no ordinary 3-day journey we all just experienced.  It only happens this way when all of us are in harmony with ourselves, each other, with the ship, and with everything.

Back in my own bed last night, I feel the gentle sway of the deck in the waves.

All One.

Hummingbirds II

We are descending from the Andes through the cloud forest en route to the outer edges of the Amazon jungle.

Cuqui mentions there is a hummingbird lodge a few kilometers down the road.

We pull in to the parking lot, and she goes through the gate to inquire if they are open for visitors.

We stumble stiff-legged out of the bus blinking in the mist, wondering if there is a public banos to use when suddenly a black and white hummer the size of a sparrow vrooms past us.  And right behind him another guy zips across the lot to hover at another feeder, this dark brilliant green with a violet head.

First sighting

Grogginess disappears and is replaced by exclamations of “Oh my God – do you see that one?!”  “Look at that one!”  We’ve never seen anything like these guys.

We hold our breath, not wanting to blink and miss anything.

And we’re still only in the parking lot.

The gate opens and we wander through and along the cobbled stone paths a few steps at a time, with brilliant hummers hovering around us, parked at a splash of red here, pink there.  We have entered a magical kingdom, a magical bird-dom ruled by birds that defy logic and reason.   And for several moments we delight in our surprise, tears come to our eyes and after the initial calling out to each other to come see and look at this guy… we fall silent and just quietly breathe each of us still in a nook or pathway observing the steady parade of acrobats and artists buzzing, vrooming, hovering, perched.

All One.

(images by John McConnell)

Ok breathing now

Stillness

Sand Painting

"non-attachment" © Jeanette French 2011

The beach – our canvas –  is clear; sand hard packed from the winter high tides.

Hauling large stones to positions on the medicine wheel labyrinth emerging from the sand.

And the smaller stone beings – mostly black and dark gray and smooth and flattened – find the spiral pathway between these positions.

Bodies bent over, attending to the placement of the rocks and stones, crafting altars out of stone piles.   Feathers are added, the rare red and yellow stones are placed.

Someone yells, “water” and we run toward the East with haste and with laughter as a wave washes up and over much of what we have just placed, pulling stones and altars and feathers and driftwood back toward the West, into the Ocean.

The wave recedes and we walk into the wet sand to collect the art pieces now strewn about the beach and re-turn them to this sand painting.

Beings show themselves in the form of driftwood sanctuaries, each one has a personality and its own medicine for us.

3 more times, as we straighten up from the sand to declare “done”, a wave washes up and remodels our work.

And so we leave it to Mama Cocha for the day and climb the stairs up the cliff to have a cup of tea and warm ourselves by the fire.

Returning later to the canvas under the gaze of Bald Eagle.

A high tide has flowed and ebbed through and around this place.

A portal has emerged from a sand painting.

Temples emerged from altars.

All One.

"Stone person temple presence" © Jeanette French 2011

On the Night

I am awakening to the power and magic in the Night.

To be awake at a time when I am “supposed” to be asleep is an Awakening.

False Beliefs arise unbidden at the thought of staying up “too late” or waking up “too early”.

They are – I’ll not get enough sleep and then I will not be able to get it together for work, the bags and dark circles under my eyes will become permanent, I’ll get sick, this will become a habit and I’ll never be able to sleep, sleeping through the night is the goal, et cetera.

But Magic is happening in the middle of the Night.

And the more I happen upon it, the more I want of it.

What if the goal is not to sleep through, but to be awake to the magic and the mystery.

Drinking wayusa tea with the indigenous Achuar of the Amazon rainforest at 3am, every morning.  We from the north are a bit freaked out the night before when we learn we will be getting up this early.  And it turns our northern way of being upside down – to start the day by sitting around the fire, being together, before any chores, any meal prep, any make-up.

Taking a 4am anchor watch aboard the tall ship Adventuress and noticing the phosphoressence lighting up with each ripple in the dark harbor water.  That we unexpectedly dragged anchor an hour later and needed to urgently pull up and reset it in pitch darkness – awakened all of us to the beauty, power and response-ability of a life on board.

Driving down Interstate 89 in New Hampshire at 3:45a just a handful of hours after a toast to classmates and a few hours until my flight out of Logan… fog thick as soup and not a single other driver on the road, the only measure of distance being covered was the crackle on the radio becoming a clearer and clearer signal as I neared the Massachusetts border.  Liane Hansen’s familiar voice accompanies the red-dawn in the east and I pull into the Budget car return as if arriving from a rite of passage.

And then just this very morning I awake in darkness to an unfamiliar sound… a tiny voice – is it a squeek from one of the kittens in the other room?  I hear it again and then I am very awake.  It changes from a squeek to a call – could it be a coyote?  The call shifts from the north and now it comes from the east.  I extricate myself from the bed, careful not to dislodge Linus who is an orange ball of cat curled up between my knees, and pad slowly out to the main room.  Of course there is my husband all cozy with tea and the fire crackling (I am disoriented by this and ask, is it late at night or early morning?).  The call comes from the trees, a bird unseen but heard clearly.  Someone new to our neighborhood announcing his presence.

I am awakening to the power and magic in the Night.

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