Security Blankets and Mala Beads

I kept my “security blanket” until the age of twenty-one.

There, it’s been publicly announced, though for the first quarter of my life, it was something only those closest to me knew.

Gifted to me at birth, my fingers would glide along the edges of that pastel, crocheted blanket (which eventually became a knotted, over-loved ball of unraveling, grey yarn). Round and round the perimeter my hand would inch, soothing me with every fingered movement.

I wasn’t exactly a Linus. No dragging about of the blanket (though I had a brief stint of stress in second-grade that had me stashing it in a book bag, where I would reach to feel it beneath my school desk). Typically, the blanket stayed tucked beneath my pillow, only pulled out at night before sleep.

As I aged, I wondered at my unwillingness to let go of my attachment, and the ritual of comfort it gave me. And though I thought I ‘should’ release it, I resigned to the fact that I simply never would.

One month after my twenty-first birthday, Life made a decision for me. My blanket was stolen at a Rainbow Gathering on Mt. Shasta by an unscrupulous Sicilian hippie named “Many Rivers”. He abandoned it at a collective burn pile where it smoldered with the discarded tie-dye’s of the vacated campers. Only ashes left, an offering, in my involuntary rite of passage.

courtesy of Wikipedia
Rainbow Gathering signage – photo courtesy of Wikipedia

When, much later in life, a mala bead necklace was placed in my hands, the familiar tracing of form through fingers came back to me as a long-lost friend. The calm of movement threading through my thumb and middle knuckle.

So then I wondered. Perhaps I was not a maladjusted, insecure child that grew up to be a young woman, so needy and attached that she could not give up her blankie. Maybe – who knows, maybe – there was some innate remembrance from birth. Perhaps a past life. Had I once been a kneeling Catholic, whispering Hail Mary’s in the church of my small Italian village? Or a monk, cross-legged, in a monastery, chanting in the remote hills of Tibet?

These grown-ups – the devout, the saints, the mystics – they have had their beads in hand for comfort.

The children – they have gotten stuffed animals and blankets.

Perhaps there is a common thread.

For me, the feeling of the texture running through my fingers is what set me at ease. My home base. My calm. Some kind of connection.

These tokens we hold. Maybe they all bear an essence of Home. Offer a settling, a security. One not seen, but touched.


Rumi for Breakfast

Feeling a need for nourishment that would permeate every cell, I opened The Essential Rumi this morning, with hopes of feeding my soul.

With translations by Coleman Barks and John Moyne, Rumi’s words always satiate.  A master chef, indeed.

Here’s an excerpt from “Father Reason.”

“The universe is a form of divine law,
your reasonable father.

When you feel ungrateful to him,
the shapes of the world seem mean and ugly.

Make peace with that father, the elegant patterning,
and every experience will fill with immediacy.

Because I love this, I am never bored.
Beauty constantly wells up, a noise of spring water
in my ear and in my inner being.

Tree limbs rise and fall like the ecstatic arms
of those who have submitted to the mystical life.

Leaf sounds talk together like poets
making fresh metaphors. The green felt cover slips,
and we get a flash of the mirror underneath.

Think how it will be when the whole thing
is pulled away! I tell only one one-thousandth
of what I see, because there’s so much doubt everywhere.

The conventional opinion of this poetry is,
it shows great optimism for the future.

But Father Reason says,
No need to announce the future!
This now is it. This. Your deepest need and desire
is satisfied by the moment’s energy
here in your hand…”

Sand Mandala – photo courtesy of Wonderlane

Dog Spelled Backwards

Maybe you were six
that first time that you remember
sitting on the red cement steps by the ivy
just you and a cattle dog
gifted a rare moment off the chain
all of you

looking into those liquid brown
border collie eyes
you sang softly
caressing velvet ears
rubbing whiskered cheeks
his black damp nose poised
in the words that swirled from your sweet throat
“I love you, I love you, I love you”

a simple tune
from your small mouth
surrounding his rapt head
an essence
soaking through fur

you sang those words
gazing into dog eyes
your own little lashes
brimming with tears
that were not sad
just feeling
moving through your fresh heart
extending through dainty fingers
singing through your baby teeth

the purity of puppy and child
needs no name
though adults may try
and reference

it was so easy
readily received
circulating as breath
between two heart beats

in a moment
down a gravel drive
in the oranges and the ivy

courtesy Andrew Ratto