[The following is the 100th post here in the Archives and the third installment in the series Excerpts from the Coastal Dwelling.”]

By Day 3 and 4 in my feel-good place, I was certainly more in touch with the feel-good.  I’d overcome resistance.  Had grooved and was moved in the Dance Church.  I’d ventured into the Rise Up Singing! class and harmonized a gospel tune with twenty other singers.  I’d had a cleansing cry with my workshop facilitator, confessing I was mending a broken heart.  And of course, my daily soaking rituals were dissolving layers in ways that only hydrotherapy can do.

So by Day 4, I’d quieted down into a soft hum.  I could sit in the meditation hut for 30 minutes of silence without struggle.  Calm seemed to seamlessly transition from the hut’s round purple pillow out the door into my day.  My mind was clear.  My heart open.

As I walked along the seacliff, an old spiritual of which I only knew some of the words, would surface and lilt through my throat to the salt air.

Swing low, sweet chariot
coming for to carry me home
Swing low, sweet chariot
coming for to carry me home

The song somehow soothed me.  And I was truly home.  In the midst of such external beauty, yes, it was my idyllic abode.  Big forest trees, ocean, mossy rocks, succulents and cascading waterfalls to the sea.  Steaming springs that bubbled forth from the earth.  But it was on the inside that I felt that resting place of ease.  Connected with my truest self – my own chariot – I was home.

In this heightened state of openness – porosity, if you will – the landscape seeped through me.  The rich, wet path along the river was, in essence, my very own heart.  The landmarks I’d been making peace with were more than just a backdrop to the love story of the Rocket Scientist and I.

my love for him is enmeshed in the sound of that river flowing.  He is in the water and the bowing cedar trees.  Our love is grounded in this place.  The trees sing of him, the paths hold the story of our connection, the rocks and lawns tell of the sweetness we found in Love, with each other. This Love is housed in my physical body- my very cells.  The land knows.  It reminds me.

Walking out of the meditation hut on Day 4, I realized that there was no extracting him from the wind in those big trees.  And I did not want to anymore.  The breeze was no longer bittersweet.  What blew through the branches that whispered of him, more deeply held the essence of Love itself.  Love that was shared between a man and a woman but was a reflection of my own heart.  A gateway to a Love more vast than anything that could ever be ‘mine’, yet all that I ever was.

photo by Jessica Dofflemyer - all rights reserved

shine your light
you don’t have to let go of that sweet essence
the connection you made
was your own true Beloved
full and rich with open heart
you stumbled forward
arms outstretched
to touch the grace
in wonder

the essence is alive in you
through you
it’s what
and always will be

Making Peace with Landmarks in the California Sweater

As part of a retrospective on my recent travels to California, I’m offering another installment to the series “Excerpts from the Coastal Dwelling.”  A collage of journal entries, narrative, photographs and random poetic waxing.

Here’s Day Two:

the California Sweater

The pools become my addiction.  I’m called to them again and again.  Three times yesterday in a short amount of hours.  I end the day and begin the day with the baths.  Hot water.  Cold water.  Steep deep.  Let the steam rise from bare skin on cold coastal air.  Every combination.  Quiet.  Speaking.  Silent.  Alone.  Communal.  Wash hair.  Keep hair dry.

After soaking I bundle and seal in all of the healing warmth with socks and boots, double layers and the California Sweater [named so because it’s stored  in CA for when I come to visit].  The wool blanket/sweater I rescued from the giveaway bag – my father’s – the one he got in Mexico twenty years ago.  It exudes the subtle scent of slightly damp wool and the weave lightly prickles my skin.  This sweater is wrapped around me now as I write ink to paper and gaze at the ring – the jade one from Hawaii – its silver casting has turned iridescent turquoise from the minerals of the hot spring.  I really must remember to start taking jewelry off in the baths.

[Though I was cleansing in the waters, I was emotionally steeped in the essence of the love with the rocket scientist that had seeded in that very place the year before.  I was making peace with landmarks around every corner.]

It all came up today – a small cry, really, but one still the same.  We were instructed in our workshop to write our life’s key points in five year increments.  Thinking of the past felt like raw tenderness.  Any recollecting just brought a floodgate of grief for the love that grew from these very grounds one year ago.

These crystalline moments of sweet connection are enmeshed in the landscape here.  I pass the grassy field where we knelt and shared a tangerine while butterflies flit around our heads.  There’s the cliffside bench, the corner tree, that table in the solarium.  I walk past the cabin and the Bottle Brush tree – the backdrop for our happy photos.  The scene’s familiar but he has vanished.

If I was not left with questions I think that I could walk among our monuments with gentle thoughts and sweet memories.  A gratitude.  Can I still find this place inside myself even if the questions are never answered?

Facilitator encourages me to be thankful for what we did share.  She says sometimes things don’t always look the way we thought they would.  And as we write our intentions and desires regarding our livelihood – our place in the world – the doubts arise about dreams. Are they really possible?  Can I trust my heart?

The Honey of Peace

Last month in California, my father loaned  me his special desktop copy of Robinson Jeffers Selected Poems.  I was on a pilgrimage to Tor House, but first, five days in my feel-good place.

Dad's book at the Jeffers' Cornerstone

Within hours of arriving at the land of my solo retreat, I was out of sorts and feeling stuck.  Searching for clues, I flipped through pages of poetry and found the somber piece “To the Stone-cutters” (entire work can be read here).  My journal entry begins by quoting the last line.  One that seems even more relevant now as I try to glean some nectar from the words I wrote during that expansive time.

Here’s an excerpt from day one, as I began to unravel in that coastal dwelling.

“The honey of peace in old poems…”  Robinson Jeffers

‘Dance Church’ is next door and the bass is pumping.  I know that I love to dance but there are reasons I am here, not there:  jet lag, no sleep, bloodshot eyes, bad music, closed circuits, just don’t feel like it.

I peek in the window and be the voyeur that watches but doesn’t want to take the plunge.  Sixty happy people move and jump in a mass of ecstatic wildness.  A man exits, sees my indecision and encourages me to go inside.  I tell him that I am just too tired.

“I was too, but it woke me up…”

Eventually, I enter.  Somewhere around the Van Halen song, “Jump”, (that’s right, ‘go ahead and jump!’) I’m telling myself that I just can’t dance to this.  But then I try it anyway.  David Lee Roth’s mantra segues into something more palatable and I’m soon a member of the congregation, dancing my own kind of freedom.  My state is altered, my body enlivened and I get so into it that when Dance Church is over and it’s time for dinner, I can barely eat.

Later I’m in the hot springs on a new moon in the starlight.  A bath with myself and two women – silent.  After a long while one begins to gently sing:  “When I am in the light of my soul I am home.”

She sings this line quietly for a short time then slowly exits the bath.  More silence, warm water and calm.”

Ahh…the honey of peace in old poems.