Friday, 24 March 2017 15:43

Revery

To make a prairie it takes a clover and one bee,—
One clover, and a bee,
And revery.
The revery alone will do
If bees are few.

~Emily Dickinson

Dear Friends, 

Just two weeks ago I was driving up a rough dirt road with my dear friend Erin. We bounced over plenty of potholes before arriving at our mountain top destination. There we met the sunset— a pink and lavender striped sky cascading over many shades of green, the earth revived by rain after a long drought. We had come to the edge of this wild place to sit in a circle with Deena Metzger, a revered activist, poet, and mentor.

Deena called us to together “in these times” to work on behalf of restoration and healing. She invited us to bring our dreams if we thought they might benefit our community. As we told dreams, a new field of information unfolded beneath us like Emily’s prairie—a vibrant place populated by messengers and mysteries. Our dreams created a fertile field for our work together.

Before Harriet Tubman led groups of slaves to freedom, she dreamt their routes of escape. She didn’t dream of freedom abstractly. She relied on her dreams as she did the North star; she used them to navigate. She led hundreds to freedom, but first she dreamt them free. 

Years ago, when my daughter had been dangerously depressed for a long time, a therapist invited me to imagine her bright future. It was hard to do then, but I began to work at it. I dreamt up bright details of a life she might have when she was past her perils. Ultimately I was wrong about many details, but I was right in the only way that mattered. Now she is living luminously as herself. Imagining a bright future led us towards freedom. Dreaming makes a difference.

There are many ways to dream. At Deena’s we walked off alone to listen to the landscape, and later journeyed in the dark to the beat of her drum. River writing is a way of dreaming. With a pen in hand, we write wildly to discover, to explore the feral terrain of our own imagination. The guided practice of Yoga Nidra, taught locally by Scott Moore, is yet another way—one which allows us to wander in hidden realms of our own wisdom. Over the years, I have dreamt in these ways with many of you. I’ve been glad for your company.

At Deena’s, I experienced the exponential potency of shared dreams. When considered collectively, and apart from psychology, our dreams make a prairie of imagery and inquiry. I’m not confusing dreams with reality, just noting they are not less important. When daily life leaves us lacking, when bees are few in the language of Emily, we still have revery.

I may not be Harriet Tubman, but I am willing dreamer. I have faith in revery. The work of our imagination is not wasted. Thank you for sharing your dreams with me. Please keep up your good work. Imagine a bright future for our world and community.

Love,

Nan

 

Published in Revisions
Tuesday, 21 March 2017 17:14

The Story of My Life

“The story of my life is the story of trees I’ve loved.”
~Deena Metzger.
( Read her full poem at the end of this post.)

Could you tell your story in trees? In animals you’ve loved? In places you’ve lived? In memorable trips? In lingering dreams? Choose a lens that resonates, grab pen and and set a timer for ten minutes. Try making a list, or let yourself follow a memory. Here’s something I wrote recently in response to this prompt. Please share your own writing in the comments.

The Story of My Life

The story of my life is the story of seeking light. Every place I go, especially indoors, I consider where the light is coming from and orient accordingly. I face the window, the open door, whatever portal there is. In a restaurant, I will request another table, politely, but insistently, because I need light at least as much as I ever need any other form of sustenance.

The way I kept at my concierge job—all those hours spent wearing a polyester pinstriped pantsuit, standing behind a marble desk, pretending that the world revolved around the dinner reservations of the very rich, the way I persisted under that ponderous chandelier was this: I counted the minutes with my eye on the front door.

I was not counting towards the moment of my departure. ( Like the rest of the hotel help I always left through the basement.) Instead, I was waiting for the setting sun to spill through the large gilded door frame. Until that moment, the dark entry with its Persian rug, velvet chairs and VW Bug-sized vahz (definitely not vase,) was stifling. I counted on the moment when the day’s last light would flood the lobby, amplified by those golden doors. Reliably, the palace museum transformed into a spillway of glory. Light entered unabashed, and everything changed.

Light fell indiscriminately on each of us as bell boys, posh guests and desk clerks were all illuminated. The weary harpist performing “Send in the Clowns” for the seventeenth time that day suddenly looked like an angel from old movies. The light playing her harp was gold on gold on gold. Even the young girls working the lounge in floral dresses so awkward that guests often whispered “are they polygamists?” became instantly elegant, their costumes transformed by the glow. For just a few moments, all that was ludicrous became luminous. 

It didn’t last long, but we would all wake up for it. Momentarily revived from a trance, we could see each other. Sometimes I would say to the Bell Captain “Look at the light.” or “Isn’t it beautiful? “ before we resumed our tired performance. And before the light left he would smile at me and nod because it was.

The Trees Ask Me Home
by Deena Metzger

soon
I’ll sleep each night
with the breath of leaves
in the bed, the cough of eucalyptus,
the restless stirring of fig and lime,
There is so much life here,
rooster as alarm, hawk as sentinel,
coyote as guard, life
and ferment, death is close by.

When the human species deserted him,
tomatoes were what my father planted,
they were his true love.
With their imperative, he spent
weekends in the sun,
so I learned to talk to trees.
I see the song coming, a wing
out of the nest of bitterness,
light and dark. And further on,
those footsteps in the mulch,
that path through the new grove,
must be mine.

The story of my life
is the story of trees I’ve loved,
some are standing, some fell down.

Published in Revisions