Category: Uncategorized (page 1 of 2)

Meditation: 21 January 2018

[I have a backlog of these to post- going in reverse chronological order…! Audio & pics up soon.]

In a time where visions were rare, a young boy is ministering to an elder. Twenty-two years ago, when my vision was gone, an elder is ministering to me. In the night, the boy hears a voice calling to him- not his elder, but the voice of the Holy. In those days, I felt a stirring, a pulling- I didn’t know what it was. When the voice came again, the boy was instructed to answer “Speak, for your servant is listening.” The elder in my life, when I was just awakening from a great fog, taught me, too, a way to answer to this pulling; it saved my life. “Speak, for your servant is listening.” Say it with me, “Speak, for your servant is listening.” I think we’ve all, at some point, been a Samuel- receiving some mysterious calling- and an Eli- smiling on while another for the first time is being drawn to the Holy. When else does the Holy draw us in, when suddenly we’ve nothing to say but “Sign me up?” Perhaps when we’re slack-jawed in wonder: shooting stars, catching a peek of a blue heron, gazing into the eyes of a newborn… “Speak, for your servant is listening.” Perhaps when we’re driving back to sweet Carolina, and we see those mountains first rise on the horizon, and know that we’re home? From anthropologist and Zen teacher Joan Halifax: “Some of us are drawn to mountains the way the moon draws the tide. Both the great forests and mountains are in my bones. They have taught me, humbled me, purified me and changed me.”

Well, Jay that’s all warm and fuzzy- all this calling and answering, now what? What are we getting into? Does the Holy occasionally make prank calls? You bet. Sometimes- the call is a wrong number, a false start, a time you think “I’m really feeling drawn toward this” then, eh- not so much. On the contrary, the calling can be a constant drumbeat, and we can’t do it all. I used to answer almost every call, “Speak, for your servant is listening- please hold.” “Speak, for your servant is listening- please hold.” Before long, I’m a burned-out husk collapsed on the couch, and a booming voice says “Stop answering! How can you serve anybody when you’re so fried that you’re not even serving yourself?” “You mean I should… delegate?” “Yup, that.”  Lesson learned… Responding like you’re the only operator at the Cosmic switchboard will eventually turn any help you give into cold and untouched word salad at the potluck of life. We also might not hear every ringy-dingy, and the Holy doesn’t always leave a message. But the Holy keeps calling until we push through our reluctance, choosing to answer. That choice may appear insignificant- yet little choices, like acorns, can become mighty oaks. Today, you’re on the branches of a tree you planted long ago, a single choice you made that evolved into all this. And it’s not just you doing all the answering- the Universe has seen fit to have you in it; what if Holy is also saying “Speak, for your servant is listening.” What if? Breathe deeply.

Some of us are social media people. I like hanging out on Twitter- it’s pure chaos- like life- but much shorter. Some of my favorite Tweets lately:

“Do people who jog know that humans aren’t food anymore?”
“I once dated an apostrophe, but he was too possessive.”
“‘This isn’t my first rodeo,’ said the guy at his second rodeo.”

Then, this: “Go home 2018, you’re drunk.” This tweeter’s already fed up three weeks in, I get it, each day gets weirder. What if frustration is a bridge to empowerment? What’s empowerment without first being powerless? That’s how one call started that has since changed our culture, if not a generation. The call was one that left many feeling disillusioned, so they summoned a new power from which there is no turning back. In that spirit’ let’s remind ourselves of Margaret Meade’s wisdom from this banner, day it with me: “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed, citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.” One year ago today was the first Women’s March, but yesterday- WOW! Originally planned as a march on Washington, the movement has spread around the US, and the world. If correct, 5.2 million or 1.6% of Americans marched in 2017, an amazing number. Our motivations are different, but together they become prophetic.
Trickles of justice become waterfalls. Ideas to reform become legacies. Taking individual stands stir spellbound societies into new awakenings. A one-day protest has birthed countless better angels mothering the future. You’ve heard this coming! What’s a good anthem for a hopeful future? Written by Christine McVie of Fleetwood Mac, this song automatically releases “Hopamine” into your brain and fires you up for better days, let’s sing:

If you wake up and don’t want to smile,
If it takes just a little while,
Open your eyes and look at the day,
You’ll see things in a different way.

Don’t stop, thinking about tomorrow,
Don’t stop, it’ll soon be here,
It’ll be, better than before,
Yesterday’s gone, yesterday’s gone.

Nathaniel says to Philip, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” Philip says, “Come and see.” Can anything good come out of 2018? “Come and see.” Can anything good come out of the endless dehumanizing news cycle? “Come and see.” It’s up to you. Take that walk. When you come and see, what do you get? “You will see greater things than these.” That’s what Jesus says to Nathaniel… “You will see greater things than these.” “You will see greater things than these.” Who in our community is calling for greater things? Our neighbors are calling. Our children are calling. Disparities between rich and poor in Buncombe County are calling. Our immigrant community- to which we are all connected- won’t report crimes fearing deportation- they’re calling.
We hear the cry of the nation but right here in Western North Carolina you’re a part of greater things through your support of our work at Jubilee, by pledging and feeding the hungry. It’s the everyday things too- remembering to smile. Letting go of the phone for a while. Any way you can be a helper is one step forward, and when together… you go arm in arm with more helpers and those struggling in the trenches… you become a rolling wave that will  wash over racism, wash over nationalism, wash over classism, wash over inequality of gender, wash over inequality of orientation and ability… you’re fulfilling an age-old call to truly see things greater than these!

Why not think about times to come,
And not about the things that you’ve done,
If your life was bad to you,
Just think what tomorrow will do.

Don’t stop, thinking about tomorrow,
Don’t stop, it’ll soon be here,
It’ll be, better than before,
Yesterday’s gone, yesterday’s gone.

This isn’t about putting a happy face band-aid over our boo-boos and daydreaming of winning a Bahamas cruise. This is hard work- how we choose to make use of our precious time, and why we say yes to the seemingly impossible, and yes… to mending old wounds. Many folks don’t get that cruelty mocks the miracle of the time we’re given, so we make the best use of ours by setting an example of seeing and being greater things than these. But, if you’ve been hurt, there’s good reason to doubt people rushing at you. How to repair that broken trust? While fear stays in fashion, what’s the next big thing that heals? While there’s no single correct answer, each of us has a part of it if we just listen- just listen- there’s 7 billion answers out there- if we just listen.

All I want is to see you smile,
If it takes just a little while,
I know you don’t believe that it’s true,
I never meant any harm to you.

Don’t stop, thinking about tomorrow,
Don’t stop, it’ll soon be here,
It’ll be, better than before,
Yesterday’s gone, yesterday’s gone.

Twenty-two years ago, this week, I answered a very painful call. It came in the form of a dear friend who had overdosed and died, and it shocked me into a brutal reality; the way I’d been barely living could’ve taken me with him. In one day, a lifetime of reckoning fell like scaffolding around me. Not knowing what else to do, I sought to reclaim long-lost spiritual connection, and I was almost immediately taken under the wing of a mentor who recognized my brokenness. An elder- an interim minister of a Unitarian church in Delaware- ministered to me- he answered the weak and unsure call of a spiritually dead young man, he awakened my soul and taught that good people and communities do exist in the world. It’s because of him that my best friend and I began a journey, moving to Asheville, then I became a grateful Jubilant. Jubilee- you’ve restored my soul, but how many thousands more…? How many thousands more? You better believe that you, Jubilee, have an amazing healing power, an amazing redemption power, an amazing justice power, for the joy of human love you’re a force to be reckoned with in this world. When you step out that door today- trust that Creation will speak- because you are listening- and trust that together- we will ALL see things greater than these- together! Come and see!

Don’t stop, thinking about tomorrow,
Don’t stop, it’ll soon be here,
It’ll be, better than before,
Yesterday’s gone, yesterday’s gone.

 Ooh, don’t you look back,
Ooh, don’t you look back,
Ooh, don’t you look back,
Ooh, don’t you look back.

[w/m (c) 1977 Christine McVie]



We are the tentpoles that hold the night up
like the clerk says at the store under the
flickering lights, “Someone’s gotta do it.”
We scribble and scramble under the 12AM
clarion call, a division between dream’s
heroes and a dumb clock’s limitless zeroes.

We are the janitors of glittery whimsy,
circling the edge of horizons for all
tomorrow’s parties, all yesterday’s
shipwrecks, we sift through thoughts so
you can press one thank you for
optioning to possibly stay awake with us.

We are the scratch and dent products
who still manage to show up on time,
we know well the cadence of crickets
while your snoring just patented a
lifestyle product- we dutifully take
placebos as ZZZs do-si-do around the planet.

We are the sleepless but not without
rest, we have whimsy and carefree
colors that could give a wink about
another minute unaware of our teetering
trepid feet, there is thrill and thrall
in not sleeping at all, damned if I miss a beat.


A sucker for your long golden light
somewhere about 7pm, interrupts my
thinking about chopsticks, how to
hold the rice better, or do my
hands just tremble slightly
with age? The year doesn’t.
Look at this light. How it
stills the clouds, and people
seem to walk slower as if we are
bathing in it. Why not? Two weeks
ago, I drove to a small town, French
and historic, in Missouri. It was the
Journey really, but it was all about
two minutes forty seconds of solar
bewilderment, a moondance, such
light as that- we just stopped
being adjectives, eclipsed.
Linger longer, you golden
kiss, do you know how
your protons make me
giddy? I get to
experience you
in a life, in
time, for
now I’m
in your amber
and for some reason
I always remember Septembers.

Just this

Theatres, when empty, do not create drama in its absence. Leave it to humans. Strive- as much as you can- for whatever gradients of emptiness you find fulfilling.

Sighting in the Wild

I’ve been seen in the urban landscape, making mouth sounds. Clicky, what the hell:

  1. Issues
  2. Hermit Kingdom
  3. Feels (edited version of 39 Feels, previously published)
  4. Man Enough

Let It Be That Kind Of Rain

Let it be that kind of rain
enough arrhythmic percussion to
make any of us that want our own
music to be heard to shut up and
listen to an expression older
than any feeling, any sound.
Let it be that kind of rain
that washes the window of the
hesitant dirt of amassed waiting
loosed for tonight the firm grit
of quivering endurance giving a
blue dawn effortless clarity.
Let it be that kind of rain
cedes from one water to another
tiny islets of dreams gone from maps
little floods will sometimes divulge
magic geographies just as closing
the umbrella soaks you, do this
just one more time if only in a
sweet slumber of unknowing
let it be that kind of rain.

Fer Crahn Awt Laud!

Goodness gracious, pipe down! Let’s address the facts as we know them:

  • I’ve not gone anywhere, just creating community, moving an entire residential program, an’ all that ye squabs!
  • #AVLWordfest begins this week! Certain entertainments I’ve offered here will be offered there, and you better pay up, it’s all for charity! Really!
  • Mean people still suck.
  • Yes, this is the language of the street. Anyone arriving here for the purposes of #HeavyVetting ought not to read posts made after 2am EDT (ahem, not speaking to an audience), rather they should contact either my coterie, subconscious, or cotillion for all the dish.

Regardless, the world as we know it ends on April 19th or 20th, as it does every year. Please carry on.


Cosmic Lab Rat

Every now and then, another physicist comes up with a cosmological model that either insinuates or plainly states that we’re living in some kind of simulation. Not some wingnuttery, but solid peer reviewed, Ivy League stuff. While it’s not my inclination, it makes me wonder- it’s so bizarre right now, our cultural climate and how we made choices, what lights up our brains, that I feel at times like some kind of cosmic lab rat. Throw a variation here, dial novelty up to 11 there. See what the rat does, those in his sphere, his other interconnected bubbles. It’d be fascinating to observe all of this madness from that vantage point. If I am indeed in the exceedingly rare chance a cosmic lab rat, I’d love to tell the experimenters to sod off.

The Sparrow, The Crumb, and a Certain Wednesday After

We really needed eggs, biscuits, and coffee.

It was a start on a morning that was, finally, chilly enough to feel right for November. Neither my friend Felicity nor I looked at our phones much. Nor did we say much. That is the hallmark of a great friendship- you can be quiet together, explosively sneeze without embarrassment, disagree here and there, and not give two shakes of a stick how we “look.” I’m lucky that I have several close friends like her. It was Wednesday, and we said “fuck.” A lot.

The food was good- great even. Yet it wasn’t… elevating. The sky was a penetratingly blue azure- yet I couldn’t marvel. The music was melodic enough, but I wasn’t there. I wondered if this was what it felt like coming out of a coma, or if there was a glitch in the system that the Harvard kids say is the computer simulation we call life. Perhaps I got off at the wrong multiverse. Something just wasn’t right with the world I knew a day ago. It wasn’t a jump to the left or a step to the right*, but something had warped. For true.

Reports were already coming in after the unpopular election of the least qualified and most demagogic person ever selected President. Muslims intimidated. Women and African Americans stalked, children afraid to go to school. Swastikas in graffiti. A former President once spoke of “Morning in America,” as an inspirational invitation to unite- here we were, about 11am- despite all appearances, it was Midnight. On the sunlit streets marched lynch mobs disguised as everyday people, and the violent rampages on the town square of yore took place in the palms of hands aglow, feverish thumbs on keypads. Nooses and pitchforks are all around us, next to us in the grocery store, so discreet, neat, 2.0.

“The bomb in the baby carriage was wired to the radio…” **

I don’t want to talk about politics, or what we must “do.” I don’t want to rehash the vitriol that has already attacked our emotional immune system, toxins that are going to be long to clear. I hold space for everyone protesting, for Standing Rock, for Black Lives, for immigrants, for everyone who’s been identity assaulted, for gender violence, for it all, for it all, for it all, over and over again. We know this- we are coated in it like tar, and live in fear of the feathers plucked from the peace doves to be thrown on us as we await our inevitable day of confrontation. I just can’t.

I want to talk about a little sparrow.

We ate, perhaps sloppily, and coffee did the best it could to rouse my synaptic gaps where nary a thunderhead of productive thought could manifest. Something caught Felicity’s attention. Hopping along the enclosed porch of the breakfast place was a little sparrow, who’d just found a morsel of dropped biscuit. Suddenly, joy. Out came Felicity’s camera- the colors, the lighting- and the joy- were all perfectly in frame. I dropped a bit of biscuit. Over scuttled the seemingly chipper sparrow. One crumb fell through the floorboard, and the bird’s head was cocked quizzically- as if to say “that didn’t go right, did it?” I dropped another, and up the beak it went.

It’s as if all that tar melted right off, and that blue sky and the music- all of it- regained the beauty it’s always ever had. That sparrow did not sit in judgment of those crumbs- or our appearance. As far as we know, that day was neither a good nor bad day for the sparrow- it was just “day.” If shots were fired, the sparrow flies away- it does not tell us who was right or wrong. It flies, and comes back. It does not know why we shoot each other. It does not know what makes us cry, it just sees us pass above and below, doing the people things. The sparrow does the sparrow things. There are things to eat, nests, eggs, songs, death, nestlings. There may be so much more to it. Yet that’s as far as we can see. Not forgetting crumbs.

How can I be more like the sparrow?

If only my brain could shrink to pea-size, which I’m certain it is on its way to doing. Of course, if only I had wings. But truly- if only I could live outside of time, names, and beyond emotion. If I could live without the eternal hall of mirrors that is the concept of control. If I… the litany of wishes between the self and the bird. In its graceful sparrow-ing, what peace, what a lesson of serendipity as we stepped back out into the bright morning that was sharply traced in angles of what I am told to believe are truths, yet within the soul I resoundingly proclaim allegiance to are the circles and arcs of maybes, mysteries, and who-knows-whats.

It’s as close as I can get to being the bird brain I dream of. I wrote later that day of claiming the right to be angry, yet acting from a place of justice. Sparrows, and their ilk, from my observation only ever appear to get mildly perturbed- and that’s an interpretation through human lensing. The anger thing didn’t go down well, because this is Asheville, and hashtag All You Need Is Love. While I generally agree, it’s another frequency of on the3 open dial of being. It’s humans that call this a higher vibration. The sparrow wasn’t sporting an “I voted” sticker, nor clinging to a chakra-cleaning shamanically sourced love crystal, it was in the only moment it could possibly know- as far as I know. I love our capacity to complexify, as it continually facets the ever-infinite diamond of perception. Yet the other side of complexity is simplicity. Just being. Sometimes a sparrow scouting for breakfast precipitation is nothing more than that. Is the same applicable to our propensity to make crazy out of bales of sane? Jumping Jehosephat yes. I wanted the sparrow to mean something- to me- and “poof!” it did. I got what I needed, and the meal- certainly the company- were balms in a weary land.

We most certainly are stronger when we love. We are also acknowledging the reality of our animal-hood when we are angry, or are afraid. It’s all okay. If I’m to sit in judgment before a sparrow, I’m most certainly, okay, and you are too. The worst and the best of us all are okay, especially if we drop just a tiny crumb. Isn’t that something we’re all looking for? Just waiting for a tiny crumb to fall from the sky, feed us, give a moment and our lives some purposefulness? Then we can skitter off to the next place, complete our cycle.

Do what we need to do. If it were that easy… I know. I’ve been poured into a human mold and my role is to do the human things and feel the human way. Whenever possible, in my own way, my role is to transcend those bounds and offer comfort and selfless support to those who are in any way immobilized. That’s the hat I was born with, and while the haberdasher has many styles to choose from, I know this is the hat that I’ll die with. I accept it. It’s not an easy look- I make do with what I got. While we all move through this process, feel what we need to feel, let’s test our bounds and see what life’s like outside the bounds. Maybe we’ll find unexpected breadcrumbs falling from the least likely of tables. Or it could just be like many of the mountains around me this Saturday that the world will be on fire. Let peace find a perch in not knowing yet.

Fly where you must, and find grace in small moments. It’s still there. So are you.

* “Time Warp,” from “Rocky Horror Picture Show,” w/m (c) 1975 Richard O’Brien
** “Boy in the Bubble” from “Graceland,” w/m (c) 1986 Paul Simon

Better Angels

Our better angels don’t operate- as it always has been- on the timespan we’re used to. We talk about the “long arc of history.” We’re in it. We just have no reasonable understanding of where that takes us now. People ask: “What do we do now?” Do what you need to do for today. Walk. Cry. Write. Yell. Feel this. Or not. Think about moving abroad. Or dig your heels deeper in and get ready. There are no rights ways, no wrongs… yet there are no wrongs greater than the ones we in our heart of hearts stand against as injustices. Find your sore spot. Lean into it. Think of everyone else who is more sore today, more wounded today, more disenfranchised today. There is a foundation to build from. Will we know what it will be right away? Probably not. But the better angels begin by being good to one another- even in our thrashing pain and anger. Both can occupy the same space- both came from the one same point of origin that creeps ever back up on us.

You woke up breathing- that’s a start and a very rare, tenuous thing in a Universe as huge as ours.

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