Feed on


At the beginning again
waves form and wash over me
collapsing to wash it all away.
Left standing, dazed in the brilliance of sunlight,
wondering who i am in this baptism.
Waves seem to care nothing for the pathetic shell i have constructed
with desperate effort to conceal
my fears, stories, lies and imaginings.
Mother inexorably washes o’er me.

Budding architectural genius
in saggy Hawaiian-print shorts
dilligently builds his castle.
Oblivious to the the waves creeping closer,
he shovels and pats the sand.

Lily of the Valley

Lily of the ValleyOne of the few flowers I remember so distinctly from my childhood is now appearing at my doorstep, clouds of rich, sweet scent enveloping me as I enter. I remember these exquisitely simple little bell-shaped blossoms in sprays growing close to the little parsonage we lived in when I was 7 years old and enchanted by anything tiny enough to fit into my homemade dollhouse. Now as I bring the blossoms close to my nose, the scent evokes the moment I first kissed the head of my new baby son 34 years ago. All anguish, doubt, despair and cynicism melt into the sweet opening of heart that a new baby brings.

In the language of flowers Lily of the Valley represents the return of happiness, and in other traditions it is considered to represent the return of Christ or the vision of a better world.

Lily of the Valley can be particularly helpful in chronic cases of congestive heart failure by increasing heart efficiency, stroke volume, decreasing arrhythmia and edema. Lily of the valley contains cardiac glycosides similar to those found in foxglove (the source of digoxin), but not quite as toxic because it does not accumulate in the body as digoxin does. However, it is still a powerful and potentially dangerous medicine if not used carefully.

Perfumers have tried for millenia to capture the scent of Lily of the Valley, failed and settled for synthetic versions instead. Present-moment living is like that, too. You cannot capture it or bottle it, only experience it in the moment.

Lily of the Valley restores a failing heart, by evoking sweetness and simple happiness of living in the moment.

Dalai LamaIt was my delight and privilege to attend a lecture by His Holiness, the Dalai Lama today. I am captivated by his gentleness, humor and the sureness with which he carries out his role in life, a full expression of grace. Grace in the face of danger and opposition. Grace in the face of disbelief. Grace in the face of seeming despair. Grace in meeting the rigours of a full schedule, every move and expression under public scrutiny. Grace in fulfilling a very difficult calling that must surely have many discouraging moments along the way.

His Holiness instructed us, “The process of teaching and learning are the foundation for enlightenment. The quality of the teacher determines the quality of the instruction.” And I was reminded of the lesson of the flowering dogwood, the lesson of Grace in the learning process we call healing body and soul.Flowering Dogwood

The flowering dogwood, the bark of which has been used as a substitute for quinine for periodic fevers, that is , fevers which return such as in malaria, provides us with the confirmation of Spring’s arrival. The pale green bracts that are often assumed to be petals, turn white as the flowers mature. These four bracts remind us of the Four Directions and the four seasons of the year, those elements that speak of the continuing spiral of life. The dogwood teaches us to surrender, to trust the timing and process of healing. This inner soul work of healing includes learning to release our attachments to our suffering so that we can experience liberation and find room for peace and compassion. This is the process of grace.

Enchanted by the Green

When I left the corporate world and entered the alternative world of Boulder, Colorado to study herbal medicine, I plunged headlong into learning everything I could about herbal medicine that would enable me to heal the world. Energized by my egoic fantasy, I gathered all the facts my head could contain and all the herbs my car trunk would hold. After school I descended from the mountain to save the world around me.

Comfrey flowerMy lofty plans went south when I arrived in the South to hang out my herbalist shingle. I was dismayed to discover that most of the world seemed to be going along contentedly without my help. But the Plants began to work their magic in my life as my own healing progressed. They have provided nurturing support for my changing body, support for the struggles of my heart and foundational shifts in my mind, showing me how to reconnect to the true Self. I am humbled and priviledged to walk among these Plants daily.

As an herbalist, I have learned that the healing power of herbs has little to do with the particular constituents of each plant, preparations or dosages. Plants are living entities of intelligent patterns, physical manifestations of various aspects of the Whole. By growing them, gathering them, inhaling their fragrances, rubbing them on our bodies or, at the greatest level of intimacy, ingesting them, we bring their healing wisdom into our own bodies and souls. As we partake of an herb, its life force mingles with our own. Like a mother nudging a pup with her nose, the Plant guides us to return to our natural wholeness and thereby to the Wholeness.

In exploring the mind-body connection of human health, I have discovered how much the metaphysical aspects of herbs are but an extension of their medicinal benefits to the physical body. I have experienced a paradigm shift from believing the herbs to be a “more natural” choice for treating diseases of the body to experiencing the herbs as complex, intelligent living entities whose wisdom we can tap to guide us to deeper understanding of the sources of our dis-eases. They do not cure anything. Rather, they teach us, coach us and remind us of our own true Nature and how to reconnect to our own inner wisdom.

What is my True Nature?

As I began work on this blog, I have wrestled with my ego whose motto is “If you can’t do it perfectly, don’t do it.” One of my ego’s fondest fictions is that I am not enough and have nothing to offer. But Nature provides gentle and brilliant reminders that the only necessary is to Be and allow Life to flow through the unique expression of my True Nature. Smallwort

This lovely little flower fills corners of our lawn and special little hollows in the woods around Cabin Run Creek in early spring. The Celts called it ‘Grian’, in reference to the sun, and although we call it Lesser Celandine, the ancestors called it Smallwort or Pilewort. Back-in-the-day the root was used specifically, both topically and internally as a remedy for hemorrhoids. The roots appears as tubers, resembling these unpleasant little problems, formerly called piles. Hemorrhoids commonly occur as a result of stress and strain, symbolic of resistance to letting go of the past, letting go of anger and resentments. Smallwort is a member of the Ranunculaceae family, which includes many Plants whose wisdom is that of radical transformation.

Last year I made a flower essence of this little plant, and as I journeyed to the Plant Realm I found a newborn child, simple, naked, robust in health and I Saw that the child had everything it needed to survive and thrive in life. Verse 55 of the Tao te Ching describes the person who is whole and in harmony with Oneness as a newborn child who cannot be harmed, his grip is firm even though his muscles are weak and his bones soft, his vitality is strong even though he knows nothing of sexuality, and he can howl all day without becoming hoarse.

This humble plant teaches us to be born again to that childlike authenticity, to release all our egoic struggles, to return to our True Nature, the natural and simple as the day we were born. Eckhart Tolle says,

“Through becoming less (in the ego’s perception), you in fact undergo an expansion and make room for Being to come forward. True power, who you are beyond form, can then shine through the apparently weakened form.”

Flowing Water

flowing waterAs sparkling creek water tumbles over the rocks, Lao Tzu’s words from the Tao te Ching float by:

“Nothing under heaven is as
soft and yielding as water.
Yet for attacking the hard and strong,
nothing can compare with it.”

The water simply follows its True Nature, its innate intention, which is to yield completely to the law of gravity. In the flow of total alignment with its True Nature water has the power to wear down rocks and demolish anything in its path.

Imagine how powerful each one of us can be against any obstacle by just aligning with our own True Nature.

Waiting . . .

forest friendHair frizzes
Corn grows exuberantly
Mercury turns back
Barely breathing
Barely moving
Pulsing life force within
Scents of rose and peony drift
A temptation to venture out
Into Nature’s oven where
She’s baking new delights
Maybe . . .  just sip lemonade and wait