Monday, December 28, 2009

goddess #18

Marsh frosted over,
fingers numb
The sky brightens
setting aglow the tips of the trees.

"may all beings find peace in the midst of suffering"

The last few weeks has been a time in which many dear friends have been seriously ill, more than I remember being ill at any one time in the past. It has made me acutely aware of suffering and the need to cultivate the peace and stability necessary to be with suffering and to offer healing energy to those who suffer. This goddess too has known suffering. She stands on the frozen marsh - frigid but beautiful - bathed in the warm glow of the morning sun. May all be safe, healthy, and live with ease --  and may we be open to both the suffering and the joy as we enter the new year.


Monday, December 21, 2009

goddess #17

snow blowing in brilliant sunshine
this shortest day of the year
soon the sun will begin it's slow return to the north
and the days will begin to grow again . . .
ah, impermanence!

"may we dwell happily in the changing nature of all things"

It's 3 pm and the sun is beginning to set on this solstice evening. It's the first day of winter and yet it heralds the beginning of longer days . . . albeit lengthening at a snail's pace for the next several weeks. This goddess wanted to go someplace high, perhaps to see the last rays of the sun as it sets, so I took her to the top of Lars Anderson Park. She stands there in the snow, amongst the spreading branches of an ancient maple, looking over the landscape. The goddess, the day, the snow, reminded me of the constant change that underlies all experience . . . how new life arises only as the old passes away, that one breath is followed by another, in-breath by out-breath, life by death, then life again. Even our heart cells are replaced -- with about half of the heart’s muscle cells exchanged in the course of a lifetime!

Monday, December 14, 2009

goddess #16

for Ben and Ted

december thaw

behind the convent
where you used to sing
my heart melts thinking of you
my teachers, my brothers, my friends . . .
may you be well . . .

may all being know how to love and be loved . . .

I recently learned that my friend Ben was seriously ill. He and Ted had moved away some time ago and I had not been in touch for quite some time. They had both been important mentors when I first began going to Boston Old Path Sangha, not only as friends and brothers in the practice, but as luminous examples of how to love well and be loved . . .

I decided to plant a goddess in their honor near where they lived on Fort Hill. The ideal place seemed to be behind St. Margaret's Convent, near their former house and where they loved to sing with the nuns. When I arrived I found that the garden was inaccessible, but I climbed up next to the fence and placed this goddess . . . one who seems to be soaring . . . in a tree that I could reach through the fence. Unfortunately she fell and lost both her arms. I decided to take this as an example of her indominatable spirit and ability to overcome adversity  . . . and replanted her at the foot of the same tree . . . without arms, bloody but unbowed, and  still soaring . . .

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

goddess #15

"snow in the sugar bowl
sled tracks remain
children's laughter lingers . . .

may we remember to touch the joy of playing
in this life and in this world."

Just the day before the hillside was alive with the happy sounds of children sliding down the snowy slopes enjoying the first real snowfall of the season . . . it was quiet on Monday, but the memory made me smile . . . it seemed an ideal place for a goddess who remembers how to play in this world. I am trying to play more and cultivate light-heartedness and joy in myself, in other people and in the world. May you be happy and remember the joy of playing!

Monday, November 30, 2009

goddess #14

"the tinkling of a hundred windchimes
flashes of color, even on this rainy day
bring a smile to all. . .
thank you!

may I ease the suffering of one person in the morning,
bring joy to one person in the afternoon"

Very near to where I live there is a magical tree. It grew over many years, sprouting windchimes and shiny things, spreading light, color, and music beneath its boughs. It is the garden of one of the Brookline "projects" and the creation of a family that immigrated here from Cuba decades ago . . . it reminds me, on a smaller and more delicate scale, of Simon Rhodia's Watts Towers. People are often drawn to dancing or playing within this fantasy world and it seemed a perfect home for a goddess dedicated to bringing joy to those around her.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

goddess #13

"on their journey toward freedom,
men and women
girls and boys
found refuge here

may all beings find refuge on their journey towards freedom"

Goddess #13 stands among the remains of a stone wall behind a church in Yorktown Heights, NY that served as a stop on the underground railroad. I am told that there is a tunnel connecting the church and a house across the street. It is moving to realize that this very contemporary prosperous suburban town has a history of offering protection to runaway slaves who were fleeing north to Canada. At the front of the church a plaque on one side commemorates the members of the Rhode Island Regiment, a company of black soldiers who died in the Revolutionary War in the battle of Pines Bridge, and a Peace Pole is planted on the other side. This circle/square juxtaposition is in the back of the church with no explanation, but somehow it feels like it might mark something significant.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

goddess #12

"Yet another unseasonably warm November day
The quiet of the graveyard
Across the road the vitality of a schoolyard at recess
life and death
side by side

May understanding come to our hearts and we transcend the cycle of birth and death."

Brookline's Old Burying Ground is home not only to some of the town's most prominent citizens, but also to several slaves who were buried in unmarked graves near their owners. This piece of Brookline history has only recently been unearthed. It seems fitting that these bodies, owner and owned, now are inextricably joined, nourishing the verdant grass, soft moss, and magnificent trees of this place. Indeed, being here  I can really feel the spirit of Thich Nhat Hanh's words, to paraphrase, "I am the slaveowner who lives in the big house, and I am the slave that works finger to the bone to serve the master, I am the body feeding the grass and I am the child running on the grass calling joyfully to my friend."

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

goddess #11

"Indian summer
returned for the day.
How glorious to have
eyes that see
ears that hear
a body to feel the breeze,
soak up the sun,
and connect with the aliveness of the earth
and all things that grow"

May all beings touch their own aliveness with awe and gratitude.

Literally floating on a log in the Charles River, goddess #11 is not far from the Perkins School for the Blind, a wonderful institution that dates back to the days of Helen Keller and Anne Sullivan. Walking in the woods nearby made me keenly aware of how precious this human body truly is and grateful for the sensitivity of our senses and to our amazing ability to learn and adapt to changes in our individual and collective being.

Monday, November 2, 2009

goddess #10

"Autumn equinox
Full moon
momentarily in balance
then not . . .

May we all elarn to dance the shifting sands . . .
balancing dynamically from moment to moment"

 Goddess of the the Arboretum junkyard and chipmunk playground . . .
she stands amidst rotting logs carpeted in moss . .
rusting oil tanks and old truck tires melting into earth . . .
a place out of time, out of mind . .  yet completely present . . .

Monday, October 26, 2009

goddess #9

"golden canopy
crab apple windfall
pond view

On the cusp of Scorpio, between my 2nd son's birthday and my father's, I was drawn to thoughts of generations, the flow of ancestors endlessly flowing backward and forward through me and through time.  I planted this mother goddess near Jamaica Pond where I first landed in Boston and where we played when my boys were young.
"may all beings realize their own awakened nature"

Monday, October 19, 2009

goddess #8

"Victory Gardens
exuberant still in autumn sun . . .
thank you to the makers

May we all touch our creative energy and open to the joy of letting it flow."

She stands nestled in the trunk of a Dawn Redwood (Metasequoia Glyptost Obides) that according to a small plaque was planted in 1987 in friendship and loving memory of Gerald A. Flynn (1939-1986) by his friends M. Jeff Zirpolo, Mark Davol, and Richard Orarco.

A passerby told me that Gerald had a huge vegetable garden here, at the edge of the water, and  that he donated vegetables to Meals-on-Wheels and the program that provided meals to those ill with HIV/AIDS.


The Victory Gardens has always been a favorite spot for me. Walking through it today took me back to when I walked its narrow paths ripe with child, soaking in the sun and nourished by the visual richness of this patchwork of gardens. I couldn't resist taking lots more photos of the gardens.


Monday, October 12, 2009

goddess #7

"autumn brilliant
alive to wind and sun
two strong legs
eyes to see
body being breathed . . .

Today, drawn again to hospital grounds . . . this time Franklin Park near the Shattuck . . . a hospital of last resort - a place for people suffering homelessness, addiction, mental illness . . . leaves vibrant in the autumn sun, bright blue sky . . . the ground littered with empty bottles and broken glass - permeated with suffering and the search for solace . . . I am keenly aware of the suffering of those for whom there is never enough to fill the void, to soothe the pain, to bring peace to the fearful mind . . .

"may all beings be free of suffering
and the causes of suffering"

Monday, October 5, 2009

goddess #6

Walking through the site of the former Boston State Hospital, thinking of the lives lived there . . . and reflecting on August Wilson's amazing play "Fences" that I saw last night - I was filled with these words of the Buddha . . . "Life is so hard, how can we be anything but kind." . . . these words are written in goddess #6. She now lives among the brilliant autumn colors, wildflowers, and wildlife that have reclaimed the land of the former mental hospital that was the recipient of so much human suffering.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Goddess #5

The 5th goddess stands in the mud amongst the reeds lining the Muddy River, Brookline. Bikers, dogs and their people, runners, walkers, strollers, lovers, medical workers, leaf blowers and grass cutters, students, parents and toddlers pass close by.  She says, "May our hearts be flooded with forgiveness. Washing away all anger and aversion. Leaving space for love and compassion to overflow."

Monday, September 21, 2009

4th Goddess

Goddess #4 is near Ward's Pond in Fredrick Law Olmsted's Emerald Necklace in Boston/Brookline. Surrounded by running water she is nestled in uprooted roots in the center of a mandala, within earshot of traffic, near paths utilized by joggers, dog-walkers, and fishermen. She says, "Touching the Earth, surrounded by roots, generations flow through me as the stream flows past. Present, past, and future in this one very moment. May all beings be well."

Monday, September 14, 2009

3rd Goddess

Goddess #3 was the most difficult to find a home for thus far. She is now in Union Square Park in New York City. Inside she says, "Breathing in . . . I breathe in the cosmos . . . Breathing out . . . I breathe out the cosmos."

I first thought to put her on the Highline . . . a beautiful wild garden that has been created on an old elevated railroad siding downtown on the west side near the Hudson River . . .but it was way too carefully cultivated, populated and patrolled for comfort . . .

The park at Union Square had more of the feel of real people, and a more casual feel that comes from having been a real part of the city for some time. Around her are a great mix of street people, well-heeled consumers at the farmer's market, construction workers, and artists . . .

Monday, September 7, 2009

2nd Goddess

Goddess #2 is now out in the world. She is in the woods behind Insight Meditation Center in Barre, Massachusetts. Her message reads, "As a mother nourishes and protects her dear children, may we nourish and protect the world, mother and child of us all." As I continued walking the paths through the woods I came upon a lone salamander, a sweet orange goddess of a different kind.