Monday, December 21, 2009

Bringing Avalon Home


Burrows Island from Mt. Erie (c) 2003

At this very moment eight years ago I was legally taking possession of my island land in the San Juans, WA. I was flying in an inflatable boat across Burrows Bay on the way my island for the very first time. The weather was moody and stormy just like today. The world of islands and forests was so full of possibilities just like today. Eight years of “Dreaming Avalon” have passed away. Life flies in the storms and upon tides that we barely see.

My companion that accompanied me across the rain and fetch has been gone now for four years. She’s no longer just dreaming of eternity. But I dream. Eight years ago I was full of innocent and even na├»ve visions about how to be a poet with healing words and sacrificial actions.

I’ve begun to learn more in these eight years than I could have ever dreamed. Like how love here and now is better than visions of “soon and hopefully.” Like how healing is a circle within oneself not something on a to-do list of karma. I’ve learned a little more about being honest. And also how to be true to another human being without being a sacrificial offering. That’s a lot. And it all started with that fateful crossing on a stormy day… a day that looked like today.

I’m going beyond the fantasy of the islands now, beyond the beguiling but lonesome beauty, beyond he powerful magic that manufactures an illusion of love. I’m going to celebrate that crossing to and from the island by coming home. It’s not eight years ago. Such sad losses and astounding growth in love have occurred in that time. I’m going to spend the next four months honoring the kind of growth and creativity that occur for all of us on earth. I’m going to bring Avalon into me. And then I want to sing with its voice to you.

So I vow to write to you every day through April 19th of 2010. I’ve had eight years to dream. And now I want to tell you about the tides of love deep within the dreams.

This is my last entry on this blog site for now. To honor this experiment of sharing a new site is online: fieldofsevenhouses.blogspot.com

Come into the field with me… beyond ideas of wrong and right. Join me in contemplating what it means to be a human being on earth.

http://fieldofsevenhouses.blogspot.com/

Monday, February 23, 2009

Buying the Farm

Photo: The mid winter remains of last summers spiral.

We will make another acre wide labyrinth of grass again this Summer. This time a triple spiral in the manner of of the sacred Celtic design found in the passage tomb of New Grange, Ireland. Feel free to contact me anytime this Summer if you would like to walk within the singing grasses of the land.

I have also created a small chapbook of poems called Buying the Farm, A summer of Poems.
I'd be happy to share a copy with you. Just contact me at ricksfarm@yahoo.com.
Here are a few excerpts:

Holy Things

Holy things show
themselves through surprise.

Like the island rising
over the shoulder of the road
when I was lost

Your glowing
face at the airport
curb

This white farmhouse
I’d passed by
for years

A poem tipping over
the edge of dawn, before
the newspaper hit the driveway

The perfume of the river
as we flew our open
windows across the bridge

Sunlight spearing
the crystal through
our breakfast table

A covey of quail
in the quivering
snowberry

The foghorn
I heard two hundred
miles from the sea.

The home I dreamed
of moments before
I woke in your arms.


And One More:



At the Dance in the City Without You

The dancing was a writhing sweat.
So many women
watching and searching.
One looks like you,
though younger.
Her desert eyes
deep and lonely
meeting my oceanic glances.

I turn away from her,
remembering that you’re home
with the children while I dance
free, a man all in black
pretending to be
of the city,
while the country claims me
now with coveralls and sawdust,
sickles in alfalfa,
roosters at dawn,
a scarred cat scratching
at the barn door.

The city eyes must
turn north, drinking in starry nights
as we sip beer on the back porch.

You and I are
the dancers in the dark mantle
that hovers above our orchard,
we the committed,
we the field
and the freeway home.

(c) R. Sievers 2009

Thanks
See you in the spiral.

Rick

Friday, February 6, 2009

Vision in the Turning


(Mother Tree (c) H. White)


Snow is in the forecast. But I’m dreaming of summer flying on my scooter. I’ve been considering the magic of vision and intention. How life follows where we look. In this case my scooter has been a teacher for me. There is magic in the art of motorcycle riding, just as there is magic in life choices. An example from riding is that wherever you turn your gaze the vehicle will follow. All the fiery forces of the 580cc engine will be guided by the simple look of the eyes. If you’ve ever driven a motorcycle you’d understand. Set the sight a hundred yards ahead on a specific point. The bike will always go right to that place, as if on its own volition.

I’ve spent the past month tossing in a sleepless haze, studying the challenges of my own mental health, scrutinizing the worries about our family. Last night I dreamt of flying two wheels around the serpentine song of Highway 14. I painted my dreams with the tree stone collide-a-scope of the Columbia Gorge. This morning the realities are still the same but the gaze is no longer a haze. I fly my scooter at night. I make my way the best I can in the day.

I found another example of how form follows vision at home this week. I removed the couch and table from the cabin. In their place I finally set up the easel. I also resurrected and installed the battered painting desk. That desk is splattered with last years dreams of this very place. I want to reinvasion my life again. So I pulled the bottles of paint out of the moving boxes. I figured if art is primary then art should be seen and then followed.


(Sun Flower (c) R. Sievers)

It’s funny that on the day of setting out the paint and tools we began a deeper connection through creating art as a family. The kids kept requesting art time. It just seemed to happen. One night we sat around the table painting. Another night it was Sculpey. Another night we made a communal drawing. We had fun in long moments of creativity this week. I’m curious about how making room for something new and just gazing in a new direction could bring healing through art. I wonder if just the act of putting the paints and pencils out created a new field of possibilities. We loved each other this week through colors. It was like the flying green of the forest and river as I followed my gaze from the scooter.

What are you looking at today? What possibilities are you setting out in your home? What mysterious corner has always tempted you? What colors do you want to paint in your vision?

Rick


Monday, January 26, 2009

Night School


I’ve gone through a two week season of little or no sleep. Night school for the soul. A half cycle of the moon has drifted with the snow through my cabin window. I have tossed in the darkness and shimmering. I thought that this is what it must be like to be born. This is what it must be like to die. There is the pain in the journey. There is the loss of what we must leave in order to evolve. For the dying it is the loss of the bounding heart of a once rich life. For the new babes it is a falling from the heaven they floated within. Then, like today, there is the joy in arriving again.

I’ve had two weeks of no sleep with a strange paralysis in a free association of visions. At four in the morning I was awake with eyes squeezed tight as if to thwart reality. I was tossing and agitated on the journey to a new life.

When I lay there it seemed as if nothing was present but the solar system of my spinning brain. This morning the burring sun of my thoughts fell through my heart into my stomach, lighting me with a staggering peace. Insomnia is often a sign that I’ve broken a promise or neglected the life I was called to. My surrender to my soul work and art opened the door to peace.

I’ve been turning on the wheel, struggling to be born. Last night I slept for the first eight hours of my new life. I slept after the contractions of the spirit, the great push and my reluctance to leave the old ways of thinking and being behind.

I had a dream where I could fly, propelled by the light of the rising moon. But I would fly only if I knew I was made for the flying. It’s not just a belief in flying, or my abilities. It is the empty handed leap off the edge of the canyon wall, knowing that a holy spirit will buoy and move me. I hear the voice of the Beloved in my dreams whispering. “Just leap. Just begin. Just put the pen to the paper and scrawl.” The action of movement itself creates magic and wisdom.

So I ask myself this morning: “What does the sun in my gut say?” Then I leap into the first words that come, unfiltered and unedited. I follow them over the edge. Soon enough I am riding a beam of the rising moon. I am aglow. I see how the sun and silvered shield of night inhabit the same heaven. I awaken in my cabin to the snow swirling a brilliant azure of a cold sky, breathing deep. I have happy moments for the first time in a season.

Whatever circumstance or inspirations come, remember the circle of life. Pause in the hard won wisdom of being in this world and then just begin. The path has only one destination: to be born again and again. Let go and then be who you were meant to be.

Rick

Friday, January 9, 2009

The Storm



A month has passed since I last wrote to you. It was a month of storms, beginning with the squall that chased me south from my residency. We moved through weeks of deep snow and heavy rain. Now it ends with a pile of rubble around my home and flooding within our walls.

I won’t burden you with too many details. After all we all have our storms to contend with. But here are a few of the highlights. An arctic blast brought ten days of confinement in our home due to heavy snow and ice. Then the warm and pounding rains came. Trees fell all along the edge of the creek. In that time the healing space in the cabin basement was filled with the three feet of water. All the power tools were inundated. New leaks sprung from our house roof. The woodstove broke. The cooking surface in our kitchen stopped heating correctly. The heat pump broke on the same day. On the first day out the truck began smoking after it limped home, stuck in first gear. Even more significant, in the family we saw the evidence deep distress in the children. There were waves of anger and screaming trances that shook our sense of safety and comfort. Old traumas raised their dead spirits over and over again in our home around winter solstice into the new year.

The storm has passed, as all storms pass. The sun shines today for the first time in a month. The damage is deep. The earth will heal. The home will be rebuilt. The lives here will be renewed. The fronts wiped out seasons of idealism and hours of work. The field is scraped clean, revealing what was behind all of these herky jerky efforts to make a perfect and safe home.

I’m happy today. The Creator comforts me through the friendships that have also welled up this month. My art group, a friend at work, my two sisters of the spirit in California, my mother in the mountain snows, the neighbors that offer help, Heather. These are worthy of praise and gratitude.

All things change. And a kernel of the original story remains after the flood and the pounding wind. I haven’t written this month because my inner critic could not produce a svelte and eloquent product. The storm wiped out all the perfection plans. What’s left is a holy mess and new space for compassionate spirits and friends to come. There is an emptiness inside me that is full of potential and life.

I’m not going to finish the basement now because a spring has decided to grace the room with its flooding wisdom. I’m not going to build the grand studio on the field’s edge. I’m just going to write at my trusted old desk. And I don’t have the answers that will fix the sad angers that have dripped into our living room. I look around and I don’t know how to proceed or what to do. And that creates a strange and even happy freedom. It’s like the great burdens of being responsible, right and even “good” were blown off my shoulders. That’s the ruthless gift of the storm. We all are defeated eventually by something bigger than us. Perhaps that defeat is the dark gift that strengthens us and brings us into a new season of life.

Now the sun shines on the standing water beside the bent and tattered trees. Looking at my world, my family, I survey the injuries to my surety. The ideals I based my life are sheared like the alder grove along the creek. All my life I’ve based a sense of self on being good, being nice, being meek, and making a vision of heaven on earth. I have striven to be the attending partner, the entertaining and hard working step parent, the spiritual listener, the visionary artist… the one so controlled.

A lovely mentor of mine has been encouraging me to meditate on the attributes of “correct action” instead of being controlled, nice and perfect. Being correct as a human in motion and in stillness. Perhaps being “correct” means being a little messier. Yes, the storm and the sun are worthy teachers. Like the holy muses they have powers beyond control. Maybe I can be more human now. Perhaps that is the other gift of the storm. Sometimes it is correct to say “What I have done is enough. What I am is enough. Let the winds come. Let the ocean fall from space. Let the dramas of others lives rush by in their howling. Let it all be.”

Today I am grateful for the cold sun and the steaming field. Today I am grateful to be imperfect and even stormy in my craft. Today is another day to say “Yes!” to the fate and blessings the Great Beloved brings.

Rick

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Kissing the Joy as it Flies




“He who binds himself to a joy, does the winged life destroy.
He who kisses the joy as it flies, lives in eternity’s sunrise.”

An excerpt from the poem:
“Heaven in a Wild Flower”
by William Blake (1757-1827)


You’ve probably noticed themes of death and life in my tomes. I used this week of creative residency as a template for my last week on earth. I’ve channeled my elder self and asked him to write the wisdom he learned as he returned to the northern islands for the very last time. I have slept very little this week. I felt his tiredness and his losses. I mostly felt his soul still yearning to experience all of life. Last night we walked in the waxing moonlight, with the crimson crown of Orion guiding us on the milky shoreline. I sang our song and shined my small flashlight toward the heart of Orion chasing the moon across the sky. A hundred lifetimes from now that small light will still be on its way to Orion’s heart. But the song has already been heard.

Three years ago today she died, my soul-friend-beloved. Our whole world lost her just as she was reaching her stride as a young elder. Today is a day similar to that day. We’re on the verge of our first artic storm of the season. This could be the day of change for me, or for you. The potential of constant change makes everything more vibrant and beautiful. Like the persistent fragrance of the wild basil below the window, the call of the heron over the bay, the tear on my partner’s waking eyes or our cold house smudged with the curling smoke of a newborn fire.

I want to say this:
People, don’t mistake the platitudes, achievements or even comfort for real life. These are only thought forms. Life thrives between the thought and movement and in the simple things. Love is attention and noticing. Like the eye contact with your daughter at the breakfast table, the spontaneous song on the freeway, the humming bird shivering in the blood red madrone tree or the silence of the phone punctuated with the scratch scratch of the pen on paper. What makes these moments poignant is the obvious fleeting nature of it all.

So many worldly achievements establish an air of permanence and mastery. Rubbish! Something is lacking if any part of life is not seen for what it is. We are God’s moving, living dream. The Beloved Mystery is creating us moment by moment.

And yet, my tiny quivering light still travels toward the arc of Orion’s bow.

She was no dream. Yet after three years, our life experiences together feel like a dream. I remember her. She ignited the poet and dreamer in me. She restarted the heart of Avalon in me. She taught me to dance without worrying what others think. I hope I brought some gifts of joy to her too.

Everyone has gifts to be shared with you. Somehow it’s the fleeting and fallen ones that stick with you. Through happiness or sadness, let the gifts of God be witnessed and cherished as they fly.

I am grateful for this last day to walk the shoreline. A cold snap is falling from the north. My elder self will embark tomorrow on the ferry to his islands. I let him go, until we meet each other again in the future.

Thanks for traveling with me.

Rick

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Heaven or Purgatory

Everyone should get a chance like this. Everyone should have a week to experience their unrequited life, with dreams come true. Here it is for me.

I’ve been softened by the realization that fantasies are not very good company. I have my ritual here, just like I’d dreamed. I live in a cottage on the bluff. The beloved ocean is within view. The good people are in the village nearby. I have the comfort of silent rituals, like the tea pot rocking back and forth with steam. Right on cue. The writing table is waiting like a needy lover, just as it was left last night. Everything is in order. I even have a new book of poetry opened for another divination of my day. It’s my dream life.

Now that I am here it feels as if my family life, the work on the farm, my job and my community on the hill were the life of another person. Like I’m very old and the memories are as dreams. Like death is near (as it is for every poet). Everyone should get their chance at living their “What ifs”. I find that this experience is a way of manifesting a dream. Then I find that heaven is basically like earth. Maybe not so painful here But it is not so succulent either.

I don’t have the heart to complain. But my heaven is not complete. I need a family and friends that can see me. I feel like I’m part of the ancient myth of the fairy. When I’m not recognized and seen I begin to fade into the other world.

My heaven is a sort of creative purgatory. It’s a beauty not directly shared. It’s a stack of tattered story books left on the piano by people who no longer live here. Purgatory is safe. It’s a ghostly comfort to live in that in-between place where I am a witness to every memory and act of nature but not connected with anyone physically.

Here’s another cue: The sun pushes through my window, between the lace of cloud banks. It is my time to walk on the beach. It is my daily time to gather the shiny stones the waves have ground to pieces. To walk and walk and walk. At the end of the peninsula I’ll turn around, like I did yesterday. Then I’ll return to the cottage, to my paper and my ink. If I’m lucky, I'll discover a message from earth in my inbox. The flashing screen saying that some living being is thinking of me. Like a prayer, someone is wishing that my stay here is beautiful and productive. Someone is missing me. But they knew it was my time to go.

I am grateful that I was given the chance to circle back into a life I’d wanted for so long. It’s a temporary landing. But it is enough to know how much I appreciate my current life and love back in the ordinary world. How much I miss Heather. I appreciate the life here too. I have a pocket full of wave polished agate and granite to bring home. And perhaps a story or a memory or a simple dream.

What is your fantasy life like? What is your dream of the perfect home, or town or even mate? What real joy would they bring that you cannot claim right now?

For most of my life I felt like a ghost. I was not quite part of the real world. Committing to someone at home that loves me and sees me was the best decision for LIFE I ever made. If that’s the only realization I find on the beach here, then it is enough.

Rick