Archive for the 'rebirth' Category


May 9, 2014

I have an old scented geranium that resides on a potting bench inside during the chilly weather but takes its summers out of doors.  Its leaves smell great.  It rarely flowers, hasn’t flowered for probably a decade.

Just now I was talking on the phone and during the conversation I noticed flowers opening on it.  Wow.

I had actually been pondering a different kind of regrowth issue, one I’ve probably written about before:  when a plant involving a graft dies back to the root stock and then regrows from there.  The regrowth is less “ornamental” — straight shoots instead of curly, a more common petal color or arrangement, and so on.  I was wondering if we sometimes have a hard time letting go of the ego self we have developed and all its ornaments and don’t want to “die back” to a simpler, core version of ourselves and regrow from that.  We liked the ornamental look, perhaps, or maybe it went unacknowledged or underappreciated, and so it was held onto in a wait for that acknowledgement and appreciation from others.

The re-flowering of the geranium presents a different image, of something beautiful that was dormant coming forth again.  That’s an easier image, perhaps an easier process to accept.

In any event, my sons and I were discussing Mother’s Day, and they wanted to know what I might like.  I mentioned, among other things, that flowers might be nice.  I got some already, so it seems.


September 24, 2013

I have encountered a version of what Richard Rohr talks about in today’s Daily Meditation, this “incurable wound at the heart of everything.”

I conceptualized it, when it came to me, as a very limited child who could not get back to godhead, or be easily guided back there by others on the outside.  We had to communicate to her from within and then give her a way of understanding how to fling herself into the arms of the Lord, the universe, however that concept is translated, so she could complete the cycle of death and rebirth.  Her remaining outside of that cycle, sort of marooned on the shoulder of the road, was a sinkhole for humanity generally, however small the hole actually was.  Like a small glitch in some hardware that crashes a computer.  That’s what I “got” when I peeled away all the layers of the onion.

Somehow we communicated to her to fling herself into the arms of a father — it was an emotional concept she did get, and her soul fluttered into the embrace she was able to expect would be there to receive her in a loving way.

What did I uncover?  Father Rohr teaches me that it is a universal issue that we contemplate and then accept as is, we don’t try to fix it.  So what was this disabled child version of mine all about?  Maybe it was a projection of “me” that I didn’t recognize.

But there’s more to it than that, I think.

I don’t think I’m the first to see what I saw or to come up with the kluge to get the child to crossover by conceptualizing God as a/the father.  I think it has been done before, and what was thought to be a helpful metaphor took on an unhelpful life of its own, to wit, some of the beliefs in our religions — God as a cranky old parent, for instance.

Is the wound incurable?  Can a sinkhole be filled?  How do we relate to black holes?

Father Rohr’s teaching makes me think that we need to accept that incurable wound as the entrance to the next phase, a version of “creative destruction” we must tolerate if not embrace.  We need to accept our fall during our physical lives, in order to open our hearts, and we need to accept our death when we move on from this world, we need to recycle — whether we conceptualize it as including reincarnation or just going back to source after a single lifetime.

But maybe Rohr is getting at something else, something that is just wound and not part of a cycle of death and resurrection (resurrection that, if not on earth, then puts us into eternity through reunion with God).  I don’t know.  But I will think about it — I am certainly willing to explore whether a prior conceptualization of mine was a step towards a further understanding.

But sometimes I think we’re just feeling different parts of the elephant, and that what I’ve felt has its own role in our clarifying our collective understanding, too.


February 14, 2013

When I find hawk feathers on the ground, they remind me of souvenirs.  A souvenir, though, is not a looted artifact, it’s a voluntarily-granted remembrance, a gift.

I see what I think Christians call Revelation that way.  When we are in a state of mind to perceive a part of the universe or God that we don’t usually perceive, it is often (?), always (?) a transient experience, even if the consequences are long-lasting.  We don’t get to keep the hawk feather, we don’t even get to take a photo and keep that, we, I think, only get to remember that we had the experience.

Because, as the little child within me can tell you, if we all kept the hawk feathers, how would the bird be able to fly?  Actually, I think it’s not about disabling the divine, but about keeping the flow between the divine in us and the divine outside of us in perpetual motion.  That’s how I hear the song “A Living Prayer” (by Ron Block; Alison Krauss and Union Station featuring Jerry Douglas) — a constant connection with the divine.

That doesn’t mean constant revelation or gnosis — to me those moments are more like ephemeral ornaments on a Christmas tree.  It’s the experience of life as a tree that can bend flexibly in the wind, even be consumed in a forest fire but always be reborn in new growth, that’s the main event for me.

Two reactions

January 27, 2013

I’ve kept two Richard Rohr Daily Meditations open in my browser since I got back from New Jersey, with a view to processing them by writing a post in reaction to them.

One is about power and whether it can have a “good meaning.”

I am wary of power.  I have had the experience of getting enough of myself out of the way so that another person’s power goes through me or boomerangs back elsewhere, but that’s not my power.  I do occasionally gather myself up internally and assert myself pretty firmly, and with results, but again, it never feels as if the power originates with me — most of the time it seems to me to be a reflection back of somebody else’s willfulness.  So I think for me power with a “good meaning” would be power directed appropriately.

The second is about the Eucharist, including its dynamic of feeding.

I kind of hold with something Gita once told me, about how ultimately we recognize that we are the sugar, implying (my gloss) that when we have located the divinity within ourselves, we in a sense become capable of feeding ourselves with that infinite part of ourselves.

I actually take the cannibalism aspect that Father Rohr notes as a reflection of a difficulty in our local spiritual world that Jesus may have been trying to express:  that some of us allow ourselves to be cannibalized spiritually.  I think this especially happens when we are vulnerable while going through a process of spiritual rebirth.  How we repair this part of our world I think involves teaching people self-awareness, relegating enmeshment with others to others who don’t have consuming needs, and teaching people about the spiritual world and healthful practices in a way similar to how the medical profession has taught us about germs and hand-washing.  This last aspect I want to note is not about avoiding “evil” stuff or people but about healthful and helpful spiritual hygiene.

Okay, I can close those web pages now.  I may be heading back to NJ soon.  My dad has died.  Today would have been his birthday.

“She will bear your voice”

September 19, 2012

Here’s another spiritual story, related to one I’ve told here before.  It involves the guy who misunderstands a spiritual proposition as a physical or material one.  In one version, he mistakes the notion he will experience spiritual rebirth for the prediction he will have a conquering son.

In this variation, the man hears, either within himself or through a fortune teller, that “She will bear your voice.”  (Alternate version: she will be your conduit.)  This, again, sounds to him with his cultural predispositions as if he will have a son who somehow disseminates or implements his vision.  His wife or concubine hears it differently.  She thinks it’s actually she who will give voice in some way to his ideas and spread them through the public that way.

But it turns out to be no such thing, it’s just another (boring?) iteration of “each of us must undergo our own spiritual rebirth.”  The female significant other may help him in his transformation (I think she’s more like a vessel for the process or like a womb — in the way captured in “mother i climbed” by dave carter, but without the bitterness — for him, not a collaborative ghostwriter or publisher or spokesperson), but he will (and must) ultimately speak for himself.

Wasp gall

June 27, 2012

I don’t think I had ever heard of this until I found one this afternoon at the reservoir and ran into a botanist there who explained to me what I had found.  (Here’s what it looks like.)

Having accused (in a reply this morning to a comment to one of his columns) David Brooks of living in a cocoon, I thought this was a nice bit of synchronicity.  (Bruce Springsteen figured prominently in the column, so I guess I could take as another, though more complex, example of synchronicity the comment I got from a fellow taking tree wood out of the brook that flows away from the reservoir, as I ended my walk, namely, that I look like Janis Joplin.)

But what fascinates me is the bit I read about this evening about how parasitical wasps sometimes intrude their own larvae into these galls — what a concept!  A coerced form of surrogacy, in a way.  (The parasite aspect seems echoed by the fact that with the botanist I also found the woman who cuts down bittersweet vines along the path around the reservoir, whom I’ve met before.)

It reminds me of an old tale about a woman who is visited by a incubus who commandeers her husband’s body, and through it, makes love to her.  She becomes terrified she will become pregnant with a monster through this and hopes to somehow “replace” this unborn monster with her husband’s child by making love with her husband while he is not possessed, the next night.  I’m not sure she ever learns the outcome of her situation, however, because I think she either loses her mind before the birth and doesn’t even realize she has been pregnant, or she dies immediately after the delivery.  The baby in fact is taken away by one of the women attending the birth, and placed with an unsuspecting family.  The husband and the incubus are both angry (at being deprived of “their” son).  The baby grows up to “have issues.”

I am pretty sure my wasp gall in empty; the botanist thought so from the small hole in it and its brown color, and I noticed when I first picked it up how empty it feels.  Wouldn’t want to bring any creepy crawlies or stinging things into my house.

Wild roses

June 14, 2012

There’s a wild rose growing next to the pear tree stump — it was there even before Tony the Tree Man took down the tree.  He told me that by the time I need him back for more tree work, the bush will have wound its way around the stump a couple of times.

Tony was the one who put the Buddha up on the stump.  He brought it around from the front (in a wheelbarrow) where it had been sitting on a stump flush with the ground from an arbor vitae.

Eventually I came across a garden statue of an old Chinese wise man — I don’t know if it is supposed to be a particular figure, I just knew I liked it — and put it on the arbor vitae stump where the Buddha had been.  It’s smaller than the Buddha and gray.  Anyway, today, while I was taking out a barberry bush behind the wise man, and transplanting in its place a mock orange bush that was being overwhelmed by ferns in the backyard, I discovered that the Chinese wise man too has a wild rose bush growing next to him.  Kind of striking to me: two stumps, two wise guys, two rose bushes.

Gives me an excuse to give a shout-out to Dave Carter’s “Gypsy Rose,” especially as performed by Tracy Grammer.

What I think the growing of the two wild rose bushes means to me is rebirth, the hope of fragrant flowers growing next to trees that have died out or been removed even more abruptly, transformation.

Which parallels the tale told in “Gypsy Rose” for me, which to me has always been about spiritual rebirth through spiritual (re)union.


June 1, 2012

I found half a robin’s eggshell at the reservoir yesterday and I brought it home and found myself putting it in the open petals of a fragrant white peony I had put in a simple vase next to a statue of the Buddha on the dining room windowsill.  There’s a small offering bowl near his other knee.

The eggshell reminds me easily of rebirth into our more fully realized spiritual selves, placed near the Buddha I think of his help in achieving that, his model of enlightenment, but sitting up there in the petals, the eggshell also looked like an imitation of the offering bowl and of course then I considered the opposite, that the bowl is the representation on the physical plane of the reality of our rebirths, that the things we offer up in the bowl represent our selves, the parts we let go, eventually our essences that merge with the divine.

Maybe this consideration will relieve me of my wanting to pick up this, in a sense, afterbirth of hatchlings.  On the physical plane I have contended with terrible issues related to afterbirth, maybe I can see them now as an offering and a part of a path towards my own rebirth.