"Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?" ~ Mary Oliver

Tag: signs

signs . . .

Sometimes, I find that signs are visual, like a white bird that appeared three weeks ago, flying along the highway next to my car, then fluttering right in front of my windshield before flying off. It seemed like some kind of sign, but different from all the red cardinals which have swooped in front of me and which augured blessings or good fortune, like a pat on the shoulder from the Cosmos that I had encountered before.

Signs also appear in conversation when I find myself recounting something from the past, as I did with my daughters while looking at their aquarium, about how things were so hard twenty years ago and remembering someone who had appeared to help me and who had also given me a book on the I-Ching, my introduction to this Sage which has guided me to where I find myself now. I had searched for that person a few times over that twenty year span with no luck. This time, I came up with information of her married name, which I had forgotten. And for $1.98, I was able to obtain a phone number and three email addresses. When the voicemail message came on the cellphone, I recognized J.’s voice. It was she.

Days later, I had not received a response and wondered if she wanted to be found. That morning, on Saturday, I happened by a store selling futons, used books and clothing in town. On top of a small stack of books was one called, “A Flock of Fools” by Kazuaka Tanahashi. The name was familiar because I had taken a zen calligraphy class of sorts years ago at the Zen Monastery in Tremper, New York. Truth be told, I was turned off by the egotistical attitude of some of the monks during the sesshin sittings and wondered if this was really Zen. Or Zen-like. I realized later they were just being human. Meanwhile, I read Zen writers like Alan Watts, Suzuki, John Tarrant and the Taoist hermit seeker, Red Pine (Bill Porter). My father, before he died, wrote his own translation of the Tao Te Ching which he took from old Chinese texts.

Anyhow, so I chance upon this book which is signed, no less, and carry it home. When I arrive, there is a voicemail from J. saying she had been on a retreat and would love to be back in touch. Our first conversation revealed that she lived in a remote area of redrock country and will be ordained a Zen monk in December. I kid you not. She told me that she had worn a jade pendant that I had given her a long time ago that she hadn’t worn in years, around the same time that I began looking for her again.

Yesterday, someone suggested to me that I think about becoming a mediator. When I heard that, it was a bell-like sign that resonated with me. Back home, I found quite a number of options for mediator training and wrote to J. about it because they conflicted with a visit and a sesshin that I had thought about coming out for a visit at the end of September. Turns out her Zen practice includes mediation and facilitation as core training and that her sensei had also been a Director of Conflict Resolution for the Judiciary system in Utah. And as J. so succinctly notes, conventional mediation is “great for a transactional universe, but leaves a lot on the table in the transformational domain…Training in mediation and facilitation is a part of our formal (and formational) path — required of all the monks. Welcome to the new Shaolin Temple. Our action logic is no-shadows; no-conflict. An interesting evolution in the form of warrior energy.”

So after a long period of stagnation in my life filled with pessimism, exhaustion and oppressiveness, the appearance of the white bird has opened doors to somewhere new. The pace is accelerating as well. My faith in the Cosmos is renewed. Or perhaps its faith in me is refreshed. Either way, I am grateful.

seeing red . . .

As some of you know, I’ve been a little disheartened lately. Today, as I was driving along a country lane, a huge, dark red cardinal flew across the front of my car from right to left, his crimson wingspan fluttering in full view. I gasped and thought to myself, “all is not lost,” because I think of cardinals as good omens. Feeling a little better, I picked up my cell phone to call G. While I was describing the red cardinal flying in front of the car, ANOTHER ONE, this one a lighter, golden color, a female this time, flew alongside the right side of my car for about fifteen feet and then winged off into the woods. Two in one day! I began to feel better in earnest.

As I continued driving up to the North Shore, I reflected on what these twin sightings might signify. I asked the Universe silently, “what does this mean,” as I drove up Route 128. All I heard in reply was “everything will be all right” and then a little more softly, “cheer up.”

At the cottage, I ferried things into the house: foodstuffs, bedding, clothing, flowers. The kids are planning to join us tomorrow for the week, then a luncheon for friends next weekend: a busy time. The sky was clear, the sun out, a small red speedboat bounced along the surf, making loud popping noises as it hit the water in its hasty traverse across the horizon. A lovely day.

Returning to the car, I decided to go and fill up with gas so it would be all set for the week. As I edged the car down the rocky lane, I spied a flicker of red in the high bushes to my left. I stopped the car and peered upwards, spying my third cardinal for the day, a male, dark red and pretty large in size.

Seeing red three times today was convincing evidence that it’s definitely time for a change.

For the better!