I’ve fallen behind again reading Rilke.

Last night I lay on the shakti mat and fell asleep listening to a podcast again. I never thought I was someone who would sleep on a bed of nails. And to be honest, I feel an odd sense of shame when I consider how pleasurable I find it. How reliant I’ve become on the settling into the pain to relax. It’s like the burn from a shot of whiskey – and the slow warmth that spreads through the body. And I suppose that’s where the guilt comes from.

We transgress pain for pleasure – then we pay for pleasure with shame? Again I should speak for myself, but on the other hand, the culture does a very fine job of shaming us for our pleasures.

As far as the shakti mat goes, I think it’s related to pressure points. When I worked as a massage therapist, I would push on a knot in someone’s trapezius and visualize the fibers letting go. Every cell a tiny fist of frustration, opening – vulnerable as a palm. Sometimes it was unbearably intimate.

A palm can hold the tiniest pool of water. Life. I was taught God holds us in the palm of His hand. Just like I’d held tadpoles in my palm once. They were at my mercy.

I suppose it’s my Christian upbringing. The (historically incorrect, but nonetheless powerful) images of the stigmata: bleeding palms. A paradoxical image of comfort and torture from my childhood.

Sometimes I think it’s odd we have a word like paradox. And that we use it to label discrete events when I believe that if there is background music in the world, it is dissonance – paradox.

the snow is silent
but announces its presence
in each step I take –
in the rhythm of the dog’s paws
scurrying after the hare

a mallard takes flight
and the still morning air cracks –
the fog of my breath
hangs for a moment then darts
towards the pale, setting moon

“speak. stumble. be seen. be known, be known.



I love it when the written language can give room to the misinterpretations/multiple interpretations that spoken language can offer our imagination.

“Be(-)loved”: affirmative imperative verb, adjective, noun.

I’ve struggled with what to call myself since I’ve committed myself to a very spiritual practice of “secular” Buddhism. (It isn’t easy to give up the feeling of belonging that labels can provide.) I don’t believe in a Buddha deity. But I’m following the eight-fold path, and I definitely believe in a spirituality of our existence as a part of all things.

I cherry-pick from my personal experience with religions. The childhood faith, which I mourn but cannot accept as a whole cloth faith. And I consistently question my cherry-picking with concern for well-intentioned, but ignorant appropriation.

As part of my morning meditation, I hear the words of a camp song: “Beloved, let us love one another” [1 st John 4:7-8 ] Please don’t look it up. I promise you, what you will find is not what I hear anyway. Words. Rhythms. They burn into our minds. As they are intended to.

But they are also uniquely embedded within each of us – within the contexts of our individual experiences – even if it is nothing more than an intonation of a single word: misheard, misunderstood, misremembered, and repeated enough to become real.


I believe we have to give in to the facts, and the poetry of our past and make it all work for us. I believe this includes the doctrines on which we may have been reared, and the healthy skepticism that personal experience demands for our mental/physical/spiritual health.


I tweak the words to another verse: I rewrite “His” as “It’s” to be more in accord with my recognition of the spiritual righteousness of Nature/God (thus circumventing the bearded old man concept of God the Father of my childhood).

I remember reading once that secular originally just meant temporal or “of this century”, and not necessarily at odds with religion and/or spirituality. With this definition it would seem all religions should encompass a set of secular guidelines for ethical behavior.

I didn’t intend to write about this when I sat down this morning. But aren’t we all digging continually in the wreckage of our own lives and purposing what we find?

Shouldn’t we be doing this always?

I’m taking part in a zoom reunion today with cast members of a production of Steel Magnolias – oh, so many years ago. It’s brought up things I haven’t thought about it years. I find myself ashamed of who I was then (-in a world of pain-).

I was surprised that they reached out to include me, and I feel a bit like I want to make reparations à la some kind of 12-step program. But I’m going to let it go. Let it be. And focus on the moment.

This is who I am in the world today:

10.10.2020 World Mental Health Day.