Relax Completely

Sitting still
in a forest meadow
surrounded by fir and pine

Blowing wind
heard in the tree tops, first
then felt on the skin of my neck and face

Where does it come from?
Where is it going?

My dog lifts her nose sniffing intently
I do the same with a small, feeble nose
Catching nothing, understanding very little

A thousand yellow heads
Arnica nodding in rhythm 
with the wind as it passes through

Passing through what?
Passing through where?

The wind suddenly stops
bird song can be heard again
I lift my ear to the sound, listening

Intent on identification
looking for subtleties in 
rhythm, tone, inflection, pitch

Was that a vireo? 
Oh, a nuthatch but which one?

As sudden as it stopped
the wind returns, noisily
obscuring bird song and discernment

A thousand yellow heads nod
in unison, in rhythm with the wind
seeming to agree with what the wind says

Let go and relax completely.
You don't need to know everything.

by David LaFever

No Path to Here


There is no path that goes all the way.
Ancient words coming forth from Cold Mountain,
from so very long ago, like echoes in a canyon.
 
As I sit beneath an oddly bright gray sky
a breeze softly lifts the pages of this journal
while white-throated sparrows sing all around.
Clear notes and buzzy trills.
 
Meanwhile, high overhead a kestrel circles
announcing its place in the world with a voice its own.
Lik lik lik likliklik!
Leaving no trace across the sky.
 
What did Han Shan mean by no path goes all the way?
And what is this kestrel’s no-trace?
Is it possible for humans to leave no trace
and to travel the no-path path?
 
What about my desire to, in fact, leave a trace,
to have a positive impact on the world
and to leave my mark, something to be remembered by?
Can I leave no trace and still be remembered?
No-trace may be right for falcons but what about humans?
 
These questions and others bounce around
the canyons of my mind and heart
echoes from the past, returning to the present.
And suddenly, as if on the wind, Han Shan’s words come back.
 
There is no path that goes all the way.
 
Immediately I think, “ahh, yes, right.”
We leave the trail behind and continue on a pathless journey
creating no path as we go, leaving no trace.
We make our way, alone and sometimes forlorn
 
connected too and remembering that
the reflections we see
in cold clear lakes and in clouds
are the true shape of our own face.

by David LaFever


Beautiful Questions

What is the right way to live?
A big question right off the bat.
Anyone, absolutely anyone who says
the right way to live is....
Can't be believed, shouldn't be.
Just walk away from them, at an angle.
This question is unanswerable
leastwise in words and concepts,
the boxes and drawers of language.

But, and this is a big but, it must be lived
breath by breath, step by step
and strangely, word by word.
We must speak, but not speak of it
speaking around edges, the terra incognita
of what it means to be human, living right here, right now.
So we talk and we laugh, we cry and we howl,
and all the other utterances a human can make.
In whatever language, we understand deeply,
not by the ear but rather through the heart.

"And yet, and yet....," Issa said.
A world of utterances is a world, not of answers
as is falsely assumed but one of questions.
The trick then is to ask more beautiful questions.
So here we go --

Why is water wet?
Why are my tears salty?
Where does wind come from,
                    and where does it go?
What does it mean to be human?
What is it?

What is the right way to live,
and what is the right way to die?

by David LaFever

Where else could I be?

sagebrush buttercups
Slow down and just breathe
take a breath, in and out
then take another breath
in and out.

Calming, connecting, timeless
and right, right now.

Slow down and just bow
bow deep and low
to the mountain, the river
to the person in front of you.

Gratifying, grateful, humble
and right, right now.

Slow down and just notice
wonder, joyful and freely
about the buttercup right at your feet
and the clouds way up in the sky.

Compassionate, kind, beautiful
and right, right now.

Slow down and just feel
the body sitting here, still
the mind moving and swaying
like a fluttering aspen leaf.

Feelings, perceptions, sensations
right here, right now.

Where else could I be?

By David LaFever

Alright in all ways

Yellowbells
I lay back on the hard ground
and pull a blanket of stars
over my cold body.
I shiver and then
lay back, still.
A warmth from deep within
stirs,
enlivens.
I listen and hear
the creaky voices of frogs
singing a welcome song of spring.
I look and see
stars shooting across the sky
and satellites and a lone plane
blinking red
in the inky black
new-moon night.

I take a deep breath
and feel the earth move
beneath me.
I close my eyes, enveloped in
an ancient knowledge
unnoticeable most days,
most lives unnoticed.

I am, we are, going to be alright.
Always have been, although
we often don't think it.
Always will be, only not
in the ways we have been told
to think.

But yes, we are going to be alright.

In the steady ways
of a river.
And the swirling ways
of  wind.
In the sparkling ways
of fire.
And the dark ways
of night.
In the fleeting ways
of dreams.
And the mysterious ways
of the universe.
And in the deep, deep ways
of the earth.

by David LaFever

Be still. Listen.

An Imagined Letter from Corona to Humans

Stop. Just stop.
It is no longer a request. It is a mandate.
We will help you.
We will bring the supersonic, high speed merry-go-round to a halt
We will stop
the planes
the trains
the schools
the malls
the meetings
the frenetic, furied rush of illusions and “obligations” that keep you from hearing our
single and shared beating heart,
the way we breathe together, in unison.
Our obligation is to each other,
As it has always been, even if, even though, you have forgotten.
We will interrupt this broadcast, the endless cacophonous broadcast of divisions and distractions,
to bring you this long-breaking news:
We are not well.
None of us; all of us are suffering.
Last year, the firestorms that scorched the lungs of the earth
did not give you pause.
Nor the typhoons in Africa,China, Japan.
Nor the fevered climates in Japan and India.
You have not been listening.
It is hard to listen when you are so busy all the time, hustling to uphold the comforts and conveniences that scaffold your lives.
But the foundation is giving way,
buckling under the weight of your needs and desires.
We will help you.
We will bring the firestorms to your body
We will bring the fever to your body
We will bring the burning, searing, and flooding to your lungs
that you might hear:
We are not well.
Despite what you might think or feel, we are not the enemy.
We are Messenger. We are Ally. We are a balancing force.
We are asking you:
To stop, to be still, to listen;
To move beyond your individual concerns and consider the concerns of all;
To be with your ignorance, to find your humility, to relinquish your thinking minds and travel deep into the mind of the heart;
To look up into the sky, streaked with fewer planes, and see it, to notice its condition: clear, smoky, smoggy, rainy? How much do you need it to be healthy so that you may also be healthy?
To look at a tree, and see it, to notice its condition: how does its health contribute to the health of the sky, to the air you need to be healthy?
To visit a river, and see it, to notice its condition: clear, clean, murky, polluted? How much do you need it to be healthy so that you may also be healthy? How does its health contribute to the health of the tree, who contributes to the health of the sky, so that you may also be healthy?
Many are afraid now.
Do not demonize your fear, and also, do not let it rule you. Instead, let it speak to you—in your stillness,
listen for its wisdom.
What might it be telling you about what is at work, at issue, at risk, beyond the threats of personal inconvenience and illness?
As the health of a tree, a river, the sky tells you about quality of your own health, what might the quality of your health tell you about the health of the rivers, the trees, the sky, and all of us who share this planet with you?
Stop.
Notice if you are resisting.
Notice what you are resisting.
Ask why.
Stop. Just stop.
Be still.
Listen.
Ask us what we might teach you about illness and healing, about what might be required so that all may be well.
We will help you, if you listen.

– Kristin Flyntz

Praise the rain

“Praise the Rain” by Joy Harjo:

“Praise the rain, the seagull dive
The curl of plant, the raven talk —
Praise the hurt, the house slack
The stand of trees, the dignity —
Praise the dark, the moon cradle
The sky fall, the bear sleep —
Praise the mist, the warrior name
The earth eclipse, the fired leap —
Praise the backwards, upward sky
The baby cry, the spirit food —
Praise canoe, the fish rush
The hole for frog, the upside-down —
Praise the day, the cloud cup
The mind flat, forget it all —

Praise crazy. Praise sad.
Praise the path on which we’re led.
Praise the roads on earth and water.
Praise the eater and the eaten.
Praise beginnings; praise the end.
Praise the song and praise the singer.

Praise the rain; it brings more rain.
Praise the rain; it brings more rain.”

Pandemic

What if you thought of it
as the Jews consider the Sabbath—
the most sacred of times?
Cease from travel.
Cease from buying and selling.
Give up, just for now,
on trying to make the world
different than it is.
Sing. Pray. Touch only those
to whom you commit your life.
Center down.
And when your body has become still,
reach out with your heart.
Know that we are connected
in ways that are terrifying and beautiful.
(You could hardly deny it now.)
Know that our lives
are in one another’s hands.
(Surely, that has come clear.)
Do not reach out your hands.
Reach out your heart.
Reach out your words.
Reach out all the tendrils
of compassion that move, invisibly,
where we cannot touch.
Promise this world your love--
for better or for worse,
in sickness and in health,
so long as we all shall live.

--Lynn Ungar 3/11/20

Shadows of Light and Dark

Moonlight caresses the river
only its surface, its skin
as moon-glow and coyote song
mingle, separate, mingle again
in a melody of light and dark.

I follow her down river
mesmerized by sparkling waters
confused by quick changes
here wide and bright
suddenly narrow and shadowy.

And I think that my life is like this
dazzling and muddy
delightful and damning
wondrous and wrathful
always changing, ever impermanent.

And I think, I want the good to stay, and the bad,
well, you can have the bad, the shadowy things.
And then I think, I love my shadow and
I was just playing with it last night, hide
and seek, as I stood outside looking up at the moon.

by David LaFever

Continue by Continuing

My wish for you is that you continue.
Continue to be who and how you are,
to astonish a mean world with your acts of kindness.
Continue to allow humor to lighten the burden of your tender heart.
In doing so, we heal and become stronger.
We can interact with one another without hesitation
and our communities will be nurtured. 
We've all been reminded of how tentative we all are; how short our time is.
May the footprints we leave in this world for our youth and those not yet born lead to healing, wholeness, and fulfillment. 

~ Maya Angelou "Continue"

As I read these beautiful and poignant words by a great Black writer, I am reminded of how simple it really is. Just continue to continue what has been started and what is yet to be. Pay attention, be humble and full of gratitude. We did not start all this and we will not finish it. We are just continuing and carrying on but we do have the choice of what to continue, what to carry on. Do we keep carrying pain and the wounds of the past? Do we continue to bring forth hatred, bigotry and small-mindedness? Or do we let go of these ghosts of the past and continue that love, kindness and beauty that also is a part of our common humanity? The choice is ours but we cannot make it if we aren’t paying attention, if we don’t know ourselves, if we are distracted all the time.

A friend wrote to me today and said “It seems odd and too bad that if we are condemned to think all the time that we can’t at least think about miracles rather than problems.” What we think all-too-easily becomes the world that we (think) we live in. Can you focus on the miracles? Can you let the world delight you? Do you see beauty and connection everywhere?

If not these things then I know that I can continue to remind myself that there is more to my life than I think or that I am even capable of thinking. And if that doesn’t work, I can simply focus on breathing, which makes me wonder, “what is breathing and where does the oxygen come from?”

Out of tiny holes, which we call stomata, comes
all the oxygen we could need.  Breathing in
breathing out.
Amazed at the ease
of plants appearing from, where?
no-where
out of thin air
the atmosphere
they grow
connecting earth, water and
air.
Fiery oxygen
fuel, food and heat.

by David LaFever