10,000 Hours

Dan’s Shrine

10,000 hours I have missed you,

And 10,000 more,

And 10,000 more.

I light candles and incense,

And gaze upon your image,

And remembrances of your life.

Buddhas, sitting near you,

Gaze serenely, eyes closed,

Into a timeless expanse,

Of birth and death,

Of love and loss.

Dragons, your spirit animals and protectors,

Guard your precious memories,

Symbolizing the wisdom, ferocity,

The dignity and the strength,

That so deeply defined you.

Wolves, spirit animal of your mother,

Howl beside you,

Their lovely, haunting song,

Mirroring the melody of my heart.

Beloved,

You still travel with me,

and I so often call upon your courage,

To sustain me,

Through fire and darkness.

You endure.

Bestowing such beauty on my life,

That I laugh and weep,

Burst with sorrow and joy,

And always, eternally,

You give me a gratitude I never dreamed

Of knowing.

For all that you were,

All that you are,

And all that you continue to be.

The flow of mind states

Exhausted,

Exhilarated.

Anxious,

At peace.

The flow of mind states.

Confounding and confusing,

Appearances in consciousness.

They penetrate,

And flood.

Are transient,

Seem endless.

Sometimes feeling,

Pinned like a butterfly,

Encased in glass,

No caterpillian possibility,

For rebirth.

But, of course that is a lie.

Yet another mood state.

For even that beautiful captured creature,

Continues to change,

To degrade,

Into unknown possibilities.

Just as our mind states,

Enigmatic oceans of thought,

Can ceaselessly try drown us.

Sometimes floating,

Sometimes flailing,

We are drops of water,

In an unpredictable sea.

Beings compelled,

To dwell within it.

How magical,

mysterious,

And arduous,

Is our precious human mind.

13 hours

Thirteen hours of patience,

And waiting,

In a cramped basement apartment,

Of a rundown boarding house.

A single toilet, no shower or bathtub,

across the hall,

Where it is inaccessible now,

To this person, my client,

Who has no one left.

Laying on a bed in this tiny,

Dark room,

With ALS and cancer.

A chance roll of the dice,

That came up Snake eyes,

Portending misery and pain.

Not wanting to die alone,

Having burned every bridge,

It is for us to be there,

To hold a hand,

Stroke the hair off a fevered forehead,

And repeat, countless times,

“I am here.”

“I will not leave you.”

Cleaning the urine and stool and blood,

Giving medication to ease the pain.

Present for the arduous journey,

Of dying.

Hoping to help it have some dignity,

And reverence,

We travel together,

On this last uncharted voyage,

Of moving from this life to the next.

Toward the mystery and unknowing,

To a precipice where the living can go no further.

To the threshold between worlds.

13 hours to cradle a broken human life.

13 hours of reconciliation and, hopefully,

Some last, desperate measure,

Of healing.

This is my passion,

And it is the last, most noble, work of my life.

Golden Tree

One golden tree,

Glows in an open field,

Shedding memories;

Of new spring buds,

And rising energy,

Of languid summer days,

Soft rain and storms,

Growing and stretching its’ limbs toward the sky.

And now the turn,

Cold and frost,

Slowing the flow of sap,

In preparation for winter.

A period of stasis,

Of rest and stillness,

Gathering for the next season,

Now that previous ones are past.

This golden tree knows time,

And moves with it.

Without protest,

Without hanging on,

Taking what is useful,

And letting go of the rest.

Ancestors

Witches and ministers,

Artists and healers,

Restless travelers.

Roots growing deep,

Exploring the mysteries of the heart,

The geography of love,

And, sometimes, madness.

They still have stories to tell,

Follies, missteps, ignorance

And wisdom.

When I am still,

They whisper,

And when I falter,

The reverberation of their voices,

Shakes the ground beneath me.

“Learn” they whisper,

“Wake up!” They shout.

“Hear us, for your cells are ours,

And ours are yours.”

“Lean into us,

And feel the embrace of centuries,

Of lives lived,

Not yet spent by time or grave.”

May I open,

And be steeped in the strength

Of generations.

Golden afternoon light

Suffused in golden sunshine,

In the waning afternoon,

Grateful for light and love,

I send it to all who face discrimination and hatred.

Why must we plumb the depths of humanity,

After millions of years have engendered,

The jewels of compassion and empathy?

Sexuality, disability, gender identity, skin color, nationality;

None define our essential nature.

We are linked by our capacity to care,

To love one another.

Anything else is a rejection of the forces that brought us forth to this moment.

Cruelty, like trauma, brings dissociation,

From the truth of who we are.

We must rescue ourselves by opening our hearts,

To everything and everyone.

Including our selves.

It is the only path that can save us.

And we are worth saving….

The mind

The mind is like the ocean,

The universe,

Full of paradoxes,

And traps,

And labyrinthine paths,

That lead to nowhere.

We are wise to be wary of it,

Yet seek to befriend it.

For it allows us to know consciousness,

To glimpse that formless energy,

That is ever present,

Unchanging,

One with the waves induced by thoughts,

Our resting place,

Our true home.

Sea

Vast as the sea,

Powerful and mysterious,

With unknown depths and wonders,

Unpredictable and tempestuous.

It calls, it captivates, enraptures,

But never says “I am yours.”

And so we long for it,

Awestruck by it’s power and majesty.

If we are wise,

We allow it’s many moods, weather it’s storms,

We honor and respect it,

But never presume we can possess it.

November Morning

Light kisses the horizon,

Blushing the sky in pink and purple.

Birds swoop and soar,

Nocturnal creatures make their beds,

To sleep in safety through the day.

Insects scurry, industrious

And oblivious to the passing of time.

A new baby takes it’s first breath,

As someone, somewhere,

Releases their last with a sigh.

We rush through moments,

That cannot be held,

As precious as a pearl of dew,

Reflecting the beauty of the dawn.

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