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Gout Weed Musings

One morning in early spring, some friends and I walked along the river on one of our favorite walks. On the way back we turned away from the river to explore the uphill side of a flood plain* and plunged more deeply into the forest. The woods here were thick with both mature and young trees; some upright others tilted crazily, an outcome of wind and seasonal rains. The trees were so thick that even though they had not yet leafed out we could barely see the houses at the crest of the hill beyond. It was idyllic. Then I looked down. There was this plant newly emerging from the thawing earth. It covered the forest floor. It looked oh so familiar. As we walked along, I noticed that this plant was everywhere. Then, with a sinking heart I recognized it. Gout Weed, Bishop’s Weed, Ground Elder (Aegopodium podagraria)**. Whatever you call it, once it has entered your life you will work long and hard to extricate it. And, ultimately, you will fail. You will have to keep after it year by year. I

Kore Returns to Earth Again.....

As the days on Earth lengthen and turn towards spring, we find Queen Persephone in the Underworld with her lover, King Hades. She tends to the souls of those who wait for life to call upon them once again.   But even in this timeless place, time passes.  And Mystery has its way with us all. In this place of sameness the unexpected happens. A whiff of air drifts in and mingles with the mists and vapors of the Underworld. The sconces and torches flutter and quickly regain their steady glow.     A murmur arises among the Shades, “from whence comes this breeze?” A sadness of memory flutters through rushing from shadow to shadow until it is dampened amidst the fog and the vapors. But that freshness finds its way to Persephone. The Queen raises her head and sniffs.   “What is this? An aroma of newness? Here among the Dead there is no newness. All remains. All remains. No change comes to this place. All remains.”   Nonetheless, curiosity, a scampering child of Time, tugs on a corner of Persep


I was raised in a household in which Kindness was not a value. I had to learn it as an adult. That is not to say that there weren’t  other noble values in my childhood home, but Kindness wasn ' t prime among them.   It was when I found the poem  Kindness  by Naomi Shihab Nye that my journey towards Kindness actually began.   I don ’ t remember how or when I found the poem or who pointed it out to me. What I do know is that it stuck. It was similar to the time in the late 1970 ’ s when I was sitting regularly at Insight Meditation Center in Barre, Massachusetts. At the end of my 10 minutes meeting with the teacher, I made the statement,  “ This word  compassion , you use it a lot. I don ’ t think I know what it means.” The teacher just smiled. Although I didn’t recognize it at the time, finding the poem Kindness was a step along the path towards finding out.   When I found that poem, or when it found me, I was living in a ramshackle owner-built house on a gentle hilltop in a commun

On Foundations...

On   Foundations The Tower tarot card shows us a stone tower crumbling. Our first thought: Disaster!    2020 was indeed a year of toppling Towers. And now in 2021 it looks like the house of cards that was erected in place of The Tower is also toppling. What will we build in its stead?   The Tower card in the Smith-Waite deck (a.k.a. Rider Waite or Universal Waite) shows a burning tower that has been struck by lightning. People are hurtling towards the Earth. But if you look closely you will notice that they fall through many  yods . These  yods  may look like flames but are actually the Hebrew letter that is the beginning of the Tetragrammaton, the unpronounceable name of the God.    And if we examine Pamela Coleman Smith’s artwork carefully we see that The Tower rests on a foundation that is incapable of holding it up.   It might be lightning that sets the fire, but it is the faulty foundation that gives us little alternative other than jumping.   We can compare our lives to the Tower

Your Cloak of Tenderness: A touch of comfort for challenging times

A dear friend and current student asked the question, "How can I remember who I am?".  The quest ion really hit home because  i t’ s a question I have  asked  myself for  years beyond counting . In fact, much  of my personal work, both spiritually and psychologically, is focused on being able to remember who I am -- Most especially when I have strayed in to  old habits of  heart and mind .  T hat’s when  our personal practices  step in . F or me , noticing that I am living an old script is   a call to  pause,  pay attention  and invoke the witness-self that mindfulness helps us develop .  Any number of meditation teachers will offer the instruction, “when you notice that your mind has strayed very gently, bri ng yourself back [to the breath ] . ”  This instruction is deceptively simple because it is so hard to do. My mind screams out,  “I f I can’t remember who I am, how the * explicative, explicative*  am I going to remember to bring myself back!”   And that is where daily p