Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Motivation = Miss Marina Star

I want to thank my little sister for inspiration and motivation. I love her blog. It makes me smile and laugh and gives me a small window into the day to day of her life and family who are so far away.

I may not write well, it may not be interesting, but it may help (to borrow a phrase) "keep the cobwebs at bay" and to at least show a bit of what goes on in my days and my head.

Thank you Miss Marina and your gorgeous tribe xxxxoooo

what do you hear in these sounds

I like Dar Williams. One of her songs goes like this:

And I wake up and I ask myself what state I'm in
And I say well I'm lucky, cause I am like East Berlin
I had this wall and what I knew of the free world
Was that I could see their fireworks
And I could hear their radio
And I thought that if we met, I would only start confessing
And they'd know that I was scared
They'd would know that I was guessing
But the wall came down and there they stood before me
With their stumbling and their mumbling
And their calling out just like me...and...

It gives me comfort. "With their stumbling and their mumbling and their calling out just like me..."

She caught it just right. I often feel like I am the only one who doesn't have it right. It being life--how to live. There is this voice in my head and an imp on my back that whispers in my ear and tells me that I haven't made it yet.

I have a "different" life. I have made "different" choices that are at a glance off the mainstream path. What may look like confidence and courage is just me walking my way along the tracks that I have laid down. So, the words of this song give me comfort. I think because good old Dar wrote this that maybe I am not the only one who tries to put up a good front, but inside is worried that everyone will "know that I was guessing." But maybe they already know... Maybe the wall never really comes down.

oh it is an endless circle.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Not Quite Dead Yet

"Spiritually dead"

That is what someone once said about me. This observation was passed on by a friend who did not agree and who was willing to tell me what this other "someone" thought of me.

At the time, I simply thought of Mark Twain's "rumors of my demise have been greatly exaggerated." Nevertheless, that nasty little seed has stayed planted in my mind. Even now, more than ten years since the pronouncement of my death, there is still a voice that sometimes asks: "How on earth could someone think that *I* am spiritually dead?" "I'm not, right?" " I do *lots* of spiritual things!"

In truth though, I am grateful that someone questioned my spirituality. It has made me try not to take that side of life for granted. I do, of course. Work, life, responsibilities press too closely and clamor for daily attention. In our "past" life it was actually easier to attend to the needs of my soul. We hiked or biked most weekends if it wasn't pouring down rain. And we camped a lot. Maybe a lot of people wouldn't see the relationship between "the needs of my soul" and hiking or camping. I probably would not have realized it either if I had not had this time without as much outdoor activity.
And there might not have been a connection if we had not been living where we were. The north part of Wakayama is a really boring place. It's a backward, conservative, rural suburb of Osaka and its only charm is the proximity to good shopping/food and the *south* part of Wakayama. The southern part of Wakayama was my church for nearly 15 years.

In the beginning of my conversion, Shuji and I were lucky to be able to "rent" (we paid by painting and weeding) a small dilapidated house (complete w/bats who didn't usually show up while we were there, but sometimes did) next to a fabulous kayaking river. The village was nestled in between Nara and Mie prefectures, but basically in the middle of nowhere. It took four hours to get there and we drove there every Friday night or Saturday morning for four years (during peak kayaking months between May 1st and October 1st.) The drive was tiring, but the great water and the time we could spend together (away from his mother) was wonderful incentive. --But back to the church part.

This southern part of Wakayama is like another planet. Its mountains are unbelievably steep, majestic and mysterious at the same time and because of their inaccessibility they are very primitive.

We began to hike and bike in addition to our kayaking and discovered places where nobody went--except sometimes other die hard hikers or people making a pilgrimage on an ancient trail. The pilgrimage part got me thinking. Southern Wakayama is considered to be holy. It is criss-crossed with routes and paths that date back 600 to 1,000 years. ---The great-great-greats of the people in the village where we kayaked supplied Edo (Tokyo) with logs for lumber starting about 600 years ago and continued to do so until after WWII.

Picture this: Hiking on the ridge of a mountain, all you can see 360 degrees is a sea of other mountains and the early evening mist is beginning to creep up the sides. A surprised wild boar crashes down a ravine, you hear the mating call of a deer and then silence. There is no one around for miles and miles, but you see the foundation of an old "chaya" tea house that hundreds of years ago, served as a kind of B & B/diner for people traveling from shrine to shrine along this "road". And you could find shards of blue and white cups or rice bowls if you looked for them--artifacts from those who were searching for peace and holiness a long, long time before I ever did.

Anyway, before this runs on any longer--the places we visited and often returned to again and again are some of the most beautiful, awe-inspiring, soul-stilling areas that I have ever encountered. No pew, no bench, no sacrament could stir my heart and at the same time fill me with such a sense of peace. The depth of the green, the smell of the wet forest floor, the lushness of the moss and the rush of the streams will always be church for me.

So, am I "spiritually dead"?

Don't think so. Right now a bit dormant. I so miss our pilgrimages now that we are living so far from them. But we will find new places for calm and for peace, places where mother nature or the universe can fill our souls.

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