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  Read through my blog below by simply scrolling down the entries, or check out the essays below. I've chosen ones that I particularly enjoy--maybe you will too.

Monday, February 11, 2013

In Memory of Maya

For my birthday in January 2012, Maya gave me a children's book called "Frederick", and told me, "This reminds me of you." Frederick is a field mouse who lives in an old stone wall with his family. The book begins in summer, and the field mice are gathering up provisions to sustain them during the long winter. Frederick, however, is sitting on the stone wall blinking in the sun. The other field mice ask him, "what are you gathering, Frederick?" He replies, "the warmth of the sun". Later, Frederick is sitting looking at the meadow. "What are you gathering, Frederick?" "The colors of the wildflowers." 

Autumn comes, then winter. The mice have eaten through their stores and they are feeling glum in their home in the old stone wall. They turn to Frederick. "What do you have to share with us?" they ask. Frederick sings of warm sun and wild flowers, of the turn of the seasons and how the spirit that animates the seasons is in the field mouse, too. "Why, Frederick!" they exclaim. "You're a poet!" Frederick blushes and says, "I know it." 

I always felt that Maya saw and valued my best qualities--she listened seriously when I taught, laughed at my jokes, was so very kind and complimentary of my teaching. After she died, I picked up "Frederick". I re-read her inscription, I looked at the pictures, I enjoyed the story all over again.

In reading it more closely, I realized that while Maya only knew me as her yoga teacher, she really had my number. She didn't know that I was a dreamy child, forever sitting around and blinking while others went about their business. I don't think she ever met any of my family, other than my husband who works at the studio. But I think those who know me best would totally agree with her insight into my character, my poetry and my bemusement.

What a gift to give someone! To see her nature, right down to the marrow, and tell her you value it, all of it.

Dear Maya, it was an honor to be your teacher. It was a blessing to be your student. I am so lucky to have been loved by you.

Turn, Turn, Turn

To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven: 
a time to be born, and a time to die; 
a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted; 
a time to kill, and a time to heal; 
a time to break down, and a time to build up; 
a time to weep, and a time to laugh; 
a time to mourn, and a time to dance; 
a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; 
a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing; 
a time to get, and a time to lose; 
a time to keep, and a time to cast away; 
a time to rend, and a time to sew; 
a time to keep silence, and a time to speak; 
a time to love, and a time to hate; 
a time of war, and a time of peace.
I've always loved this passage from Ecclesiastes. I know by heart the obvious lines--"a time to be born, and a time to die"; "a time to weep, and a time to laugh"; "a time of war, and a time of peace". I recently looked up the full text and was struck by a couple of things.

First, while I've always known it as a study in contrasts, I didn't realize how truly merciless many of the seasons are. "A time to cast away stones" sounds lovely, right? I can get behind that. Who needs stones anyway? Death, killing, hate, and war, however, are terribly hard to countenance as legitimate purposes under heaven. 

The other thing I noticed is that while each line contains a duality, the verse does not uniformly put the "positive" seasons on one side and the "negative" seasons on the other. In certain cases, it's impossible to tell whether a season is positive or negative--surely speaking and silence, rending and sewing could go either way. The verse won't do the work for us. We're free to decide for ourselves what season we abide in, and lord knows that freedom can be delightful or tortuous. 

A year-long cycle comes to an end for me tomorrow. February 12th marks the one year anniversary of stepping out on my own, ending my affiliation with any particular yoga style or community. The transition was initially a painful one. I felt like a part of myself died. During this time I plucked up and killed what I had planted. I broke down, I wept, I mourned. I refrained from embracing. I lost many things, even cast them away. I rent the fabric of my life. I spoke, a lot. I hated, and I waged war. 

To every thing there is a season, and seasons turn. All along last year's path of destruction, there were signs of the coming spring. I adopted and fell in love with a rescue dog, and every day she makes me dance, laugh, and snuggle. I shifted my focus from maintaining an international network of yogins to planting, gathering stones, and building in my local community. It's a time of receiving, keeping, and yes, sewing--we need new curtains at the studio. There's a time for every purpose under heaven; how wondrous to enter a season of joy.

Here's a picture of my dog, Frances. Isn't she the sweetest?