gods country

god’s country


years ago

i dreamed at night of missed deadlines.

lost papers and

frustrated longings,

a need to bust out of the confines

of a business suit,

nightmares of sadness,

and fear that the veneer

of perfection

invested in so heavily

would crack

and someone would know the truth

about me


now, years later

I dream at night of missed deadlines

bill unpaid and

mistakes made,

frustrated longings to be heard

amidst the noise of the crowd,

sadness and fear

that others would never know

the truth about themselves

and that i am incapable

of revealing it


somewhere, along the way,

on the road between

being boxed in

and living outside the box

there was a mountain


not one, or two, but many

so tremendous in their presence

photographs could not capture their essence

a journey across the continent

an experience of vastness

previously unmet on the tiny island of concrete


in a land of blue skies that never ended

for miles

and miles and miles and miles

red rocks, crashing rapids

kind waitresses serving home fries

in rural diners



first west and then east

one day

an endless river

monarch butterflies

crossing my path

en-route to the warmth of southern skies

(is it good luck,

I wondered then,

to be

in the presence of a miracle?)



god’s country on the outside

inviting surrender, an opening, to

god’s country in the inside

a willingness to take those mountains into the heart

and find that they already existed there


this mountain

those butterflies

those rapids

delicious home fries

created maybe in a day

by a love so huge that this was all in a weeks work

or maybe less, or maybe more


this body, a billion cells

muscle, tissue, bone, and blood

interacting in an unmappable


a tiny microcosm of the beauty

of the infinite “out there”


humility revealing itself to be

not a sense of smallness

in the presence

of that vastness


but rather a sense of

belonging to that vastness


created by love in a day

maybe more

how could one not be humbled that

the love that created a mountain

pulsed blood in our veins

and created each of us

somewhat different than the rest


not an accident!


this one full of heart and frankness,

that one short, stout and easy going

another beautiful, brilliant and a prisoner of pridefulness

that one a little curmudgeonly but full of generous determination

another fearful, sweet and sincere


how could there be a mistake in this?

it would be like saying those mountains are too big!

or that Don Giovanni has too many notes



revealing itself as

not making less of ourselves,

but rather

the opposite-

a willingness to

to open ourselves large enough

to receive a gift –


an experience of the magnificent perfection

of all that is.


baby elephant walk not

It was really cold, or rather, I felt cold.  The sensation of ice cubes moving through my veins concerned me.  Am I getting sick?  I thought.  And the depression, where did that come from?  Depression has not been my companion for years.  I feel fairly happy all the time, a by product I suppose, of years of yoga practice.  But the feeling of a giant brick on my chest was weighing me down.  It was 1:00 in the afternoon.  Excited as I had been about the afternoon I was about to have off, I took to my bed and uneasily, sorrowfully fell into a fitful sleep.


And then, the dream.


The event was magnificent, something befitting Cinderella.  The dress I wore….the most beautiful one I own, my hair?  Coiffed into the perfect shape.  I was on a very special date, or so it seemed, but the gentleman who was leading me by the arm (who I had never seen before) was not  kind to me, not at all, and none of the people around seemed to notice there was anything wrong, even  though they were looking right at me.  I was totally vulnerable.  I wanted to leave this man, and yet my feet felt like cement blocks.  Looking down I saw my slender feet in sexy black shoes with ankle straps. Mystified that my feet would not follow my bidding to move, I tried again, and lo and behold the sexy ankle straps transformed into ankle cuffs.  My feet were chained together so I could not escape


I woke with a start. “Whoa” I thought.  “I hope that was not a premonition”.   I head out into the chilly rain for an enjoyable afternoon.


As I returned, I parked the car and head home past Newark’s prized Prudential Center.  Children waving lighted wands had been filling the streets for the last day or so, doing I knew not what.  Up ahead, a slender person wearing a grey elephant costume was kindly engaging passerby and chatting.  Coming closer I saw that she was holding a picture of elephants on chains.  Ringling Brothers circus was in town.  They arrived the previous night.   For a moment, the child in me flashed on circus parades through the street and then the woman in the animal suit reminded me, these animals do not have happy lives.  I really didn’t want to hear this.  Not because I don’t believe it, or because I don’t care, but because I’m tired, like everyone else.  Wanting desperately to close my eyes and ears to evidence of a universe populated by cold hearted beings, I listened briefly and went to move on.  The elephant woman’s companion was having difficulty with the television needed to show the video of the mistreatment of the animals.  I was inspired by these two, their calm dedication, their lack of anger, their calm fortitude.  The television kept falling over.  I tried to help him.


“Can I help you?”  I said, offering to head home to get duct tape to hold up the TV. “ I live only a few blocks away.”


“I just need someone to stand here and hold the TV”.  I can do that I said, not really wanting to, but how could I leave them there in the cold?  I said I would take my things home, get mittens and come back, which I did.  The television in question was now completely kaput.  The duct tape was a moot point.


So the only other assignment possible was standing and holding a sign.  Once again, my reluctance surfaced, but, well, I knew better, you see.  I couldn’t leave, even though this was not how I wanted to spend my Friday night.  Not at all.


I looked through the selection of signs to hold , and there it was, the picture.  I don’t know how old she was, but for an elephant she was tiny and very cute, until you looked a little closer.  Someone was whipping her on the head and…yep…


Her, not as slender as mine, ankles were cuffed together.  Her head was bowed in submission.


And so I did.  I stood and held the sign.  It was intense and very uncomfortable.  Embarrassing even.  But the dividing line between her and me had been severed by that dream.


It was amazing to me, there in the frigid cold, watching the crowds arrive for the circus.  Families with clear ancestral lines to slavery walked by one after another, I wondered if they connected the image in my hands of whipping and chaining with the suffering their great great grandparents experienced.  And then there was the woman who smacked and shoved her child right in front of me. My goodness, I thought, we don’t treat each other all that well do we.  It was doubly sad.  I wished they could see.  You can choose kindness, it is possible.


Of course during the duration from time to time I piped up with a vocalized “boycott the circus!!”  But at a certain point I had to fall silent, for a long time, watching all those people.  So easy for them to turn away and not understand.  And then, bubbling up from some deep cavernous space in my chest the song, the melody, the only way I know to really express how I feel.  So I started to sing, first in Sanskrit, then in English.  “May all beings everywhere be happy and free”.  And I started to cry.  And then this thing happened.  Oh, I’d heard about it.  You know, read about it in books.  But there is was.  My heart quivered.  Wow. After all these years.  Just like they say.  That elephants suffering was my own.  I feel her a few blocks away as I write this.  This isn’t a brag…I just want you to know she is hurting.  Of that I am certain.  And not just physically.


I looked over at the woman in the elephant suit and we were both crying.  And there it was…you know the remaining time passed quicker with the singing.  I wondered if they really thought I was mad and maybe I was.  Well, maybe I am.


I arrived at my comfortable home, new fluffy red quilt and Lakshmi the kitten curled up in her matching fluffy red kitten bed.  Sipping tea before bed.  So much for my plans for the night.


And then the chill arose again, like ice in my veins, and the fear and the feeling of heartache dwarfing the feeling of comfort.  I checked the thermostat, the room was warm enough.  There was nothing to do but climb under the covers and go to sleep.  And I wondered as I fell asleep, if my friend, the baby elephant, was cold.   Of course, they must keep them outside, and it was really cold out, and wet.  But then, perhaps I was feeling the cold of the ice in the veins of the man with the bullhook and the whip.


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It was still dark when we arrived, our bright rambunctious group awoke at 4 or so, and after gulping down the caffeinated beverages lovingly supplied by the hotel staff, extra early by request.  We tumbled into the van and head to a different patch of sea from the one where we were staying.  We head from Nosara to Ostional.


Upon arriving, we walked through the tiny town and out to the beach, silence hovering naturally over most of the group.  


Under moonlight, the beach is transformed from a sparkling backdrop upon which happy humans frolic in their various ways, into a landscape of ancient memory.  The watery depth of the ocean dominates the landscape, lit up by the light of a brilliant full moon.   When all humans are asleep mother nature pulls out her finery and starts to dance.  She reminds us where we all came from, animals arising from single cells floating in the ocean.  Something ancient begins to emerge from my memory.  We are part of this planet, of the life that emerges, exists and recedes, and has done so for eons more than I can ever imagine.  


They begin to emerge from the sea, first one, then another than another. Soon many,  flipper by flipper making their way up the beach on appendages designed to move them through water.  The effort is tangible, recalling every experience of love’s labor in life.  One has wonder how conscious they are of the contribution made by the trek up the sand to lay their precious eggs.  The sacrifice all mothers make to perpetuate the species of which they are members.  The pain, the struggle, the effort.


The love, immense and infinite, embodied in this task of birthing and mothering.


I am there with a group of mothers, one of the few in the group never to have participated in the ritual of giving birth.


After clambering way way up on the beach, the digging begins.  flippers moving quickly, spurts of effort punctuated by pauses for rest.  We are told by the guide that the mothers dig two holes, the first being a decoy for the one she buries the real eggs in.  The nests are surrounded by vultures, waiting to prey on the tender treasures.  But still these divine mothers plug on in their task.  The eggs are laid in the nests and covered over.


One by one, then they begin to recede to the ocean.  The exhaustion readily apparent as flipper by flipper they drag their heavy bodies back to the sea.  More than one of the clearly older turtles pauses numerous times to rest.  At this point the group turns to watch…captivated.  I know I begin to silently cheer them on.   Go!! Go!!!  A few are missing flippers, making the task all that much more arduous.  Relief ripples through the group as each one catches a wave and heads back to her watery home.  These women I am with and our resonance with the turtle mothers awakens this memory of the shared experience of women all over the planet, those thousands of labors of love that are just part of our lives, but keep the life of the planet going.  That keep life going.  

As one of our newly discovered sisters raises her head above the water as she catches a wave, Julia, one of the mothers in the group calls out…”Give us a little wave, will ya?”.  And yes she does, flipper emerging from the surface of the sea in a gesture of farewell.  


The people come, bags in hand, scooping up the eggs before many of the vultures have had a chance to have their snack.  We have mixed feelings, watching this happen.  Apparently this quick collection of the eggs, which are part of a group that are unlikely to survive, is part of a larger conservation effort.   An effort made by humans to preserve the precious species that keep us anchored in the sea of life that all species come from, including ourselves.






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church of trees

externalized heavenscarpet of spiresever-greens foreveran ocean that never endskiss the earthand kiss the infinite ocean oflove insideand outexternalized heavenscarpet of spiresever-greens foreveran ocean that never endskiss the earthand kiss the infinite ocean oflove insideand outexternalized heavenscarpet of spiresever-greens foreveran ocean that never endskiss the earthand kiss the infinite ocean oflove insideand outexternalized heavenscarpet of spiresever-greens foreveran ocean that never endskiss the earthand kiss the infinite ocean oflove insideand outexternalized heavenscarpet of spiresever-greens foreveran ocean that never endskiss the earthand kiss the infinite ocean oflove insideand outexternalized heavenscarpet of spiresever-greens foreveran ocean that never endskiss the earthand kiss the infinite ocean oflove insideand outexternalized heavenscarpet of spiresever-greens foreveran ocean that never endskiss the earthand kiss the infinite ocean oflove insideand outexternalized heavenscarpet of spiresever-greens foreveran ocean that never endskiss the earthand kiss the infinite ocean oflove insideand outexternalized heavenscarpet of spiresever-greens foreveran ocean that never endskiss the earthand kiss the infinite ocean oflove insideand out


externalized heavens

carpet of spires

ever-greens forever

an ocean that never ends

kiss the earth

and kiss the infinite ocean of love

inside and out 

october 2012

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