Thursday, April 14, 2016
After living in the wine country of northern California for a while, I grew tired of whining. I wanted to segue from sour grapes to sweet, luscious blackberries. This is how blackberry love begins …
A friend and I were taking a walk near her rural home at sunset when she exclaimed, "I've got to stop and pick some of these delicious blackberries!" Yet until she said that, I hadn't noticed the blackberry bushes all around us.
I was amazed. Here I was, surrounded by a potential source of nourishment, readily available, delectable and free, and I hadn't even seen the bushes dripping with ripe blackberries until my friend pointed out what was right in front of me. It reminded me of the quote from The Little Prince, by Antoine de Saint Exupery: "It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye."
I wondered how many times potential partners or friends might be right there in front of us, yet invisible, until someone points them out to us. "Oh, here's a blackberry, and it's ripe." Iridologist and holistic health pioneer Bernard Jensen called blackberries "one of nature's most perfect foods for healing". And when we truly heal, we do so on every level of our being.
So I began to pick blackberries, and to walk the path of wise relationship.
Gift #1: Zen and the Art of Blackberry Picking. Look for the berries that are ripe to be plucked right now. In this instance, the mantra might be, "learn to discern." If we choose berries that are overripe, they're going to squish in our fingers and we'll have juice all over the place. If we choose a berry that's too red, we'll have to tug to get it off the vine, and it's going to be bitter. An old commercial playfully vowed, "We will sell no wine before its time!" Forcing a berry to be yours as it's clinging tenaciously to the vine will result in whining. The perfect berry comes to you with a very slight pluck; tugging isn't necessary.
Gift #2: A Grasp That Equals Your Reach. Robert Browning wrote, "Ah, but a man's reach should exceed his grasp, or what's a Heaven for?" That’s poetic, but if we live this way in terms of relationship, we'll be forever hungry, grasping for berries that are always just slightly out of reach, or not quite ripe. After picking berries for several days, I developed a certain dexterity. I became adept at angling my arm in between the thorns to find just the berries that were ready right then, even if they were slightly above my head or a bit of a stretch from where I was standing. Sometimes the choicest morsels are a slight stretch outside our comfort zone. I began to get the sense of how to connect with them, and it became this wonderful dance: "Oh, hello berry bushes!" There was a grace, an ease, to my berry picking, and it was fun! Relationships can actually be fun.
Gift #3: Visual Acuity. My resonance, my homing signal, for "ripe blackberries" grew keener by day. Like anything else, you get better with practice. I learned to scan ahead as I walked down a row of bushes. On the way out, I'd pick the ones that appeared ripe. On the way back, I'd notice ripe blackberries that I'd missed the first time. I was enlarging my visual field, engaging my peripheral vision: "Ah, there's someone Spirit has placed in my path whom I didn't notice before, that I ought to consider." By looking again, we raise our sights to the highest possibility.
Gift #4: Choose Ye This Day Which Berry You Would Serve. My friend’s two dogs trotted along beside me, happily devouring any berries I tossed their way, ripe or not. There will always be people who are so hungry that any blackberry is better than none. They're willing to take the bitterness just to have the taste. However, unripe fruit will only give you heartburn. Nourishing berries feed your soul as well as your stomach. Once I started tasting the sweetest, most perfectly ripe blackberries that were ready for me, I couldn't return to a less discerning method of selection. There was just no comparison with a berry that was right for me, right now.
In this same light, it's most important to know what kind of berry you are. Are you so ripe that anyone who comes within range is going to get drenched in berry juice? Or are you clinging to the vine so steadfastly that if somebody wants to pick you, they're going to have to tug, and you're still not going to come loose? Are you hiding on a branch that's so low to the ground, or so high up, that no one can see you in your ripeness because you're invisible to the eye? Or are you ripe, sweet, available, and ready to be chosen?
I encourage you to know your ripeness level right now, because that's going to shift over time. Then, you can forage for the blackberries who are ripe to meet with you at this time, and enjoy the beauty, the elegance, the joy of the quest. When you find the berry who is right for you, there's going to be a fruitful recognition. And you can savor the sweetness of this remembering for a long, delicious time.
© Copyright 2001-2016 Amara Rose. All rights reserved.
Friday, April 01, 2016
Are you an artist? You're probably thinking, "no, not me." Here in the West, we've been taught to squelch our creative impulse — especially at work. In other cultures people live as natural artisans, creating sand paintings and song, poetry and architecture, drumming and dancing in tune with the rhythms of the Earth.
We too can allow our inner artist to live out loud. As soon as we surrender our resistance to seeing what we do as art-in-action, we become artists.
Succulence: Your Natural State
Inspirational author and artist SARK has been demonstrating how to live juicy for decades. From a 200-square-foot self-described "magic cottage" in the heart of San Francisco, she writes all her books by hand, in a profusion of colors. Each SARK creation is a feast for the senses. She says, "My name has become synonymous with transformation, color, healing, movement & FUN."
I framed and hung her inaugural poster, How to Be An Artist, on my home office wall as I launched my first business. Her invitation to "Make signs that say yes! and post them all over your house" invoked my own creative impulse. Each night before bed, I'd face my office (set up in a corner of my tiny apartment living room) and give it the thumbs up sign. A simple, powerful, YES! for success. My business prospered.
Sarah Ban Breathnach, author of Simple Abundance, writes, "Creation has three layers: the labor, the craft, and the elevation. She who works with only her hands is a laborer; she who works with her hands and her head is a craftswoman; she who works with her hands, her head and her heart is an artist." READ MORE
Wednesday, March 16, 2016
I've done a fair amount of pet sitting over the years. While at the home of one high-brow cat, I spent several days visiting various pet stores in search of a certain brand of cat litter that was odor-free and promised "superior clumping ability," which was what I wanted according to the empty container I carried on my quest. (For the uninitiated, "clumping" is a euphemistic reference for how the cat's deposits will interact with the litter, for easier disposal.)
I'm no stranger to synchronicity, yet it always amuses me greatly to see how Spirit uses "the subject at hand" for its teachings. So here I am, having successfully located a sister litter to the one the cat's human prizes, spelunking gleefully in foreign bookshelves. (As a writer, the opportunity to peruse other people's books is one of the joys of housesitting.) I fasten on a book with the intriguing title, Deep Play, by poet and naturalist Diane Ackerman. I de-clump the cat litter and settle down to read.
In Chapter Three, "Sacred Places," I am astonished by the words, "…people seem desperate to clump and bunch, swarming all over each other in towns while most of the land lies empty." Ackerman is describing her return to Phoenix after being succored by the Grand Canyon, contrasting the Canyon's ineffable vastness with the matrix of human habitation. Yet what sprang immediately to my mind was: cat litter. READ MORE
Monday, February 08, 2016
Driving to Oroville, a five-hour inland trek from the California coast, I was hot, sweaty and creased to the car seat. As I neared my destination, I passed a sign posted outside a shack that read, Chocolate-covered prunes. I broke up. This is an oxymoron!
Prunes are a biological green light. Chocolate is a red light. Eating the two together is a mixed blessing, likely to create a traffic jam in your intestines.
How many of us do this with our own health? Or relationships, business, finances — you fill in the blank. Perhaps you covet a certain plum account, person, dream house — then self-sabotage by "mixing it" with an action that aborts the flow. READ MORE
Wednesday, January 20, 2016
When I was deep into my spiritual awakening, I had startlingly prescient dreams; in one, the words, "violent emergency" reverberated through my mind. It was a violent emergence; birth is fierce. There is an ocean of difference, however, between Nature's ferocity and that which is deliberately inflicted by human beings with their own agendas.
Theologian and author Thomas Moore writes, "Deep in the etymology of 'violence' is a strong Latin word, vis. It is the power in nature that we sense in the surging sea and the growth of grass. In our experiences of violence we witness the vain attempt of life to push itself into existence and visibility. This is a sexual power. Sex is not just about making bodies but making souls as well. The people of the world need every opportunity to be creative and visible. They need to enjoy life, not just survive. Without that opportunity, they will turn to violence, in spite of themselves."
We tend to go through life anesthetized against our own yearning. The call to claim our power can be terrifying, because it means accepting our invitation to the Dance — and most of us have forgotten how to dance, if indeed we ever knew. We find it easier to lash out in anger: rage, the undiscovered country. If being "outrageous" means getting the rage out, Americans are black belts. Having lost touch with the wilderness within, we savage the Earth and each other in an effort to combat our loneliness.
War is the grand expression of this misdirected energy. It's akin to our ability, or lack of it, to harness the power of the sun. Yoked to our solar egg, we could shine on in all our ecological radiance for millennia. Yoking means union, but we're used to living the more limiting definition of bondage. Trussed to our desperation, we sigh, "That's life!" Since interdependence — becoming what Kenny Ausubel christened "Bioneers," or biological pioneers, co-creating with Nature — feels so foreign, we stay (un)comfortably in the familiar, pump up the volume, and wearily watch as the world turns.
There is a way out: it's through. The trees are gods and goddesses who in their stillness keep the Earth's counsel; the animals are our allies. We can commune with a snake or a sea lion as easily as with the people we call kin. The key lies in reclaiming our wildness — not as violence, but as an abiding, sensuous connection with Nature. Instead of experiencing everything at one remove, we can allow it to enter us. READ MORE