Dancing with Fear

We had a great thunderstorm here a few nights ago. The flashing, crashing, wildly chaotic symphony of lightning, thunder and wind had the trees in my backyard swaying and gyrating in ecstasy. They seemed to revel in the chaos of it all, even though wind and lightning can often lead to their demise. Just within the past couple of weeks, two large parks in my area lost hundreds of trees each in microburst storms with winds up to 100 miles an hour. Our wind here the other night was not nearly so powerful, yet my trees seemed to move with frenzied anticipation of just such a possibility. It didn’t seem to me that they feared that eventuality. Instead they seemed to just dance with the amazing energy of it all. They soaked in the ion-charged rain water, which somehow greens them more quickly and dramatically than any drip system or garden hose can.

I have a Night-Blooming Cereus cactus in my front yard that blooms in profusion after each rain, no matter the season. After a good rain you can expect to see a dozen new blooms the next morning. No matter how much I water it by hand, that never happens. Only the rain can bring on that burst of growth.

Like the trees, I’ve always reveled in the rain—especially the monsoon storms here in this desert land. Maybe back east or up north where the rains tend to come too consistently it is easier to grow tired of the downpours. And obviously the hurricanes that have battered our coasts are another kind of storm altogether. My prayers are with everyone in Galveston and the Houston area as Ike bears down upon them. But here in the desert where, in recent years, the storms have been too few and far between, every drop is a blessing and a miracle.

I used to run barefoot and fully dressed into the soaking downpours when I was a child, heedless of the lightning. Now my adult self keeps the inner child in check, ensconced beneath my patio roof admiring the wet and the wind from dry safety. The child in me still wants to run out into it and dance the same frenzied dance as the trees.

I may be hiding out high and dry these days, but storms like this still energize me. Perhaps it’s the blend of Sagittarius (a fire sign) and water baby (I grew up in a swimming pool and love the ocean) in me that makes the fabulous mix of fire and water in the sky so mesmerizing. There is something so primal about a thunderstorm. It’s all sound and fury, wildness and chaos followed by the gift of rain which the hungry desert soil soaks up and turns into new life.

Sitting outside through this last storm put me in mind of an experience I had earlier this week. Each morning I walk to the park that is not far from my house. Once there, I pause to meditate for a few minutes on a bench by the playground before walking back home. This particular morning as I sat with my eyes closed, I heard voices approaching. As they drew nearer I could hear an excited child’s voice begging, “Grandma, push me on the swing. Push me really high!” Grandmother tells the child to hang on tight and soon I hear the little voice squealing with fear and with pleasure, “Oh, oh, oh! I’m going to die! I’m going to die!” Grandma slows the swing down and starts to calm the child, but immediately the child cries, “Push me again!”

What is it, I wonder, that continually draws us to the edge of our fear? What is it that we relish in that experience of dancing with winds that might topple us? We go to the edge and we back away, but we are drawn back to that edge again and again.

I think it may be exactly what we come here to experience: our ability to press through our fears seeking the next level of what we can cope with, assimilate, understand and grow from. When the things we fear most come to pass, we find that instead of falling apart we emerge stronger and clearer in our own Truth.

The fear of dying is on my mind a lot these days. My Dad’s health is failing and I’m watching him and Mom struggle with the letting go. It seems simpler to me than it used to, having lost Cameron and then realizing I hadn’t lost him at all. I suppose it is the biggest fear we ever face – our own mortality or the mortality of someone we love. But I am so certain that we really aren’t mortal at all. We are eternally evolving souls with so many stories to live. Like the trees, we can dance with the threat of death and grow stronger and greener by doing so. Like the little child on the swing, we can swing higher and higher until we are brave enough to just let go and fly.

When my day comes, I plan to run into the storm gleefully, barefoot and fully dressed. I will dance with my fear and awaken full of new blossoms, full of new life.

Wishing you peace on the journey. . .

Risking Everything

At Mosswood Hollow during Dream Teacher Training this past week, Robert Moss gave us a series of questions to ponder that would help us to define and connect to our Personal Truth. One of the questions he posed was, “What would you risk everything to defend?” He drummed as we each journeyed to find our own personal answer to that question.

As he drums, I discover that I am unable to answer the question. In the space where I am looking for answers, I find more questions, like, “What does it mean to defend?” and “What does it mean to risk everything?”

If I risk everything to defend something, am I not also risking the very thing I claim to defend? Am I mincing words? Is it just semantics? Perhaps it is the word “defend” that bothers me, as I have been, in recent years, so focused on letting go and practicing non-attachment. “Defend” sounds like hanging on, to me. It sounds like fighting and posturing and the opposite of allowing. Is it wimpy and ineffective to defend nothing? Does it mean that nothing is important to me? Not at all. There is much of beauty and innocence in this world that I would defend, to some degree, but not at the cost of greater potentials that I cannot see. My own sense of what’s right and important, my own sense of “how things should be,” may be very limited compared to what is possible. If I’ve learned anything over the past few years, it is that the bleakest of situations, those against which we kick and scream, often carry the biggest gifts if we will only open our hearts and hands enough to let go of whatever we’re holding so tightly.

The question annoys me and leaves me stirred up—and therefore it is an important question. The question holds a paradox—and therefore it is a sacred question.

The question hangs with me through the rest of the day, and on into the next. I begin to see all around me, in this peaceful 40-acre retreat center, how nature’s creatures move quietly through the process of letting go, always on the border of becoming something new, not defending any current forms but spiraling through a constant state of metamorphosis.

Eventually, the following words came through . . .

Risking Everything

What would you risk everything to defend, he asks?
An odd question to ponder

In this land of the antevasin
In this sacred hollow
Where dreamers walk between the worlds
Where mortars turn to thunder and shrapnel turns to rain
Where pond skaters dance in perfect concentricity
Balanced on the tension between sunlight and water’s deep
Where abundant lilies hang heavy with seed
Their suckling roots digging deep
Into muddy mysteries at water’s edge
Where tadpoles lazily dream their tadpole dreams
Never imagining the wonder of the legs to come
Where bees rise, pollen laden, to carry their treasure
Across the green sea of meadow to foreign shores
Where blossoms morph into berries
Which will fatten Bear for winter
Where leaves, just now,
Are trying on their richest gowns
Anticipating their date with Autumn
When they will dance,
Giddily and freely,
Into the unknown

The Gatekeeper here,

In this land of border dwellers,
Is an ancient Tree Spirit who,
Becomes the bulwark for that which will,
One day soon,
Swallow her
Even now, her piney juices
Flow freely into alien veins
Berry Vine
Their probing tendrils reach beneath her ancient bark
To harvest her deepest secrets
And make them their own

She is Life swallowed by Life
Life becoming Life
Feeling no fear in her becomingness
Savoring the cool protective verdancy

Of her cocoon
Not knowing, or caring,
If wings are in the offing

It’s not the risk of everything that bothers me

It is the word DEFEND that feels so foreign here
From what is anything to be defended or protected
When nothing is ever lost, but only transformed?

I’d rather ask,

What am I willing to ALLOW at the cost of everything?
What am I willing to risk to dream at the edge of becoming?
An antevasin, a border dweller
Defending nothing, savoring everything
With heart and hands open and ready to release
As I continually wake from one marvelous dream
Into the next

View a video version of this poem at http://budurl.com/zacu
Wishing you peace on the journey . . .