A Brief Respite

Returning home from Santa Fe, after a full day of escorting friends through OKeeffe Country (Abiquiu, Ghost Ranch, Rio Chama and Echo Amphitheater), the darkening clouds of what became our first installment of a too brief season of rain 
formed in the mountains before me. Over the Jemez, above Los Alamos, against a 
blackening backdrop of clouds and rain were breaks of intense luminescence 
highlighting the lush green landscape of the rejuvenating charred remains of the forest, destroyed in the Great Fire of 2011.  
 
The mountainsappearing soft and lushtransported me to the treeless mountains of Ireland; stripped bare in the 16th and 17th centuries until the early 20th century at liberation, by the British. The British knew the Irish most effectively waged war from the trees against the invaders. The sheer beauty of the illumination through the patches of brilliant sunlight and dark shadows of rainfall, made it all rather magical.At last,” I cried, life-giving rain to the deeply parched lands of Northern New Mexico. Were released from some of the immediate tyranny of drought.” After nearly two years, this taste of moisture, albeit short, until the Monsoonsscheduled to return in July and early Augustgave me hope as our dangerously low rivers and empty arroyos await the more substantial offering. 
 
The suddenness of moisturea gentle two and half hour rain over my homebrought the High Desert into glorious bloom as thousands of Prickly Pear Cactus burst into brilliant sunbursts of blossom. Briefly, the air became crisp and clean. From death to life and back again has been the rhythm of our lives since the Great Lockdown last year; through the nightmarish night of pandemic, which is still ensnaring the world.  But that rush of genuine hope was and is real, first experienced in completing the two vaccinations required for establishing some immunities against this invisible predator. The sorrow remains for earths billions who have not yet had such access to life-saving vaccines and treatment. So we pray and hope and work that the veil of terror over the world will soon be lifted by this weeks commitments of the 
international bodies to complete global vaccination of 7.5 billion people in the next 
months and perhaps over the next year. Never in human history has anything of this magnitude in sheer scale ever been attempted, much less completed. So we wait, work and pray, gradually re-opening our communities and lives. 
 
Coleman Barks, one more eloquent and insightful translators of Rumi, writing in The Essential Rumi, tells something of this daily anticipation in these words, which call us all to be innkeepersinternally and externallyas we so sojourn:

This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.
A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor.
Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they’re a crowd of sorrows
who violently sweep your house
empty of all furniture,
still treat each honorably.
He may be clearing you out
for some new delight.
The dark thought, the shame, the malice,
meet them at the door laughing,
and invite them in.
Be grateful for whoever comes,
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.

—from “The Guest House” in the Essential Rumi, Harper, 1995.

I conclude this long overdue installment for late spring anticipating summer, with an apology. Life just got too too busy with the departures and separations, packing and concluding of journeys to and from Santa Fe, for me to take the time to write. Several of you called and wrote texts and emails asking if I were alright in my silences. I am. I close with some thoughts about June.

The longest days of the season of the sun reach their zenith on June 21, just a little less than three weeks from now. The next full moon—called the Strawberry Moon—will rise on June 24th, three days after the Solstice, when the sun climbs to the northernmost position, marking the bright air with victory and triumph. During the brief nights, the sumptuous summer constellations fly overhead as earth tilts away from the Milky Way out toward the ‘vast expanse of interstellar space’ where the galaxies, suns and planets all spin in the courses.

When we look south, we look into the Virgo Galaxy Cluster to which we belong. Yes, we have a home, but it is so far away. Even though we take are invited to vacate to deconstruct and reconstruct our lives once more, finding beauty and solitude on the edge of the abyss; because it is our nature. We pick flowers, dance in the sun, wander in the surf and dine on sumptuous fresh garden vegetables and produce, which the ‘earth has given and human hands have made.’ It is Summer. Enjoy the wonder and delight, and please remember to relax and enjoy.

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