Mulberry Mudd

Celebrating the Wild Heart of Wholeness

Winter

Rebekah Dawn

Time out of time.

Epiphany is passed but I am still not ready to emerge into the year.

Give me one more moon
of dark quiet

I hold up

And wait for the sun
And wait for the rain

Taking stock of all the blessings
Taking stock of all the grief

Following the star deeper into
the center of me
The holy manger of my heart

Folding in and in and in

Swelling around an embryonic tremble

The fog is sweet on my skin
My amphibian heart quickens
in the grotto of my torpor

Silver mycelial threads line my nest
sing me the song of roots
The Om chant of the trees

Ravens fly over
Hundreds of them
Croaking a guttural cry

Sycamore branches
naked against their wings
Are capillaries in the sky
A placental mass

And I am busy being born

January

Rebekah Dawn

It is the in-between time again. Time out of time. Between his death in mid-December and his birth in late January.  Everything around me moves in Holiday speed, but I always down-shift into a remembrance of grief, a wistful longing of what cannot be. I sink below the waves of a mystery.

In some ways you don’t survive the death of your child. Your imagined future dissolves with his thin bones. In some ways you become more alive having escorted your child into the waiting arms of death. To look deep into Her eyes and know that She will take everyone you love. And everyone you don’t yet.

The first time I held a dying child in my arms my body raged a fierce denial. There was nowhere to run, nothing to do but just hold his body while inside him – beyond my reach- all the tethers that anchored him to me snapped. In my helpless adrenaline-soaked state, I saw a vision so clearly before me. Waves of panic, fear, exhaustion, and blinding-aching love washed over my muscles and neurons. I saw people long dead, I saw people not yet born. A wall of sound and color in a never ending round spiraling through me made me feel as if I was holding onto a live-wire. I couldn’t let go. I didn’t want to let go. I only wanted to go with him. I only wanted more of that symphonic confusion to penetrate me. Maybe I would be able to understand. Just let me hold him until I understand. I am still trying to understand. I am still working to rebuild my neurology out of some finer substance capable of processing the encounter more fluently. I dream of removing the network of pathways, that gorgeous web suspended in the seas of me, and tinkering here and there until all that information can flow freely without blowing the system. Without all the white noise and static and confusion that comes also. Help me see clearly.

The first time I held a dying child in my arms any differences that separated good folks from bad folks vanished. There were only children, fathers, and mothers. Humanity stripped down to a naked shiver. Primal. Primary. A wave reverberated through my bones and echoed out from the widening crack in me through our tiny town and the corn fields, speeding beyond to the seas, over the seas and embracing its own boundary as it encompassed our whole gorgeous blue planet. An instant flash of eternity. I stayed at the center and I travelled out with the edge. I was suddenly seeing through the eyes of every Mother on the planet who in that moment was holding her dying child. Every Father stood near me wailing his grief. I saw in stark detail how lucky I was to be safe, what blessing this hated emergency room really was, how the luxury of praying peace over the dying should not be taken for granted. Right now, in this moment, there are so many who would welcome that allowance.

The first time I held a dying child in my arms the stars fell out of the sky. We watched with numb gaze as cosmic flowers dropped cold, bright seeds into the exposed soil of our broken-open hearts. It is clear again tonight and I will dance with the Geminids again. Another gift he left, this intimacy with the late winter asteroid shower. I look forward each year to their falling. It is the only telegraph I ever get from my rambunctious son who left home so early. The one time of year I get word from him.

These are the ashes we are born from. We died there as we held him. We couldn’t have survived it. No parent can. Not when your sacred duty is to keep this child safe. We lost friends when -for years-picking up the phone was too much work. The treasures and the terrors were not something we could share. There weren’t words. Feelings got hurt. We didn’t care. They are only feeling some faint echo of what we saw looking deep into Death’s eyes while we pled for his life. Everything we thought we knew burned with him. Germination feels a lot like death to a seed.

                So, I won’t be at the party again this year. I am honoring this time out of time. Sinking beneath the waves of a mystery. Wrapping myself in the dark inception that overwhelms me at the turning of the year. I am bust tinkering with that gorgeous web of light in the sea of me.  Busy stretching at my edges and bursting at the seams. I am busy being born.        

Lineage

Rebekah Dawn

Life is amazing.

I was also chosen from the time I was very little for work with Threshold care. As a preschooler I would carefully bury birds, bugs and worms that I found dead in the yard.  Singing over them I would imagine clearly their spirits rising up out of the shell of their body. I saw a beautiful winged creature emerge like a butterfly from a cocoon. Clearly. Easily. Death was not as sad to me as it was a thing of Wonder. 

As a teen I read Elizabeth Kubler-Ross's book (On Death and Dying) a dozen times before I was out of high school.  I loved reading the case studies. It felt like cheating to me. Like getting a map of Life from someone who had walked it. Like starting a maze from the end. I cherished these stories and tried to bookmark things in my own life that would be with me on my deathbed. I noted it was usually the most simple things: a meal cooked with love, the scent of a flower, the smell of rain in the desert. I didn't know it but I was learning deep gratitude as a practice.

I went to college vaguely understanding that Elizabeth was a psychologist. I studied Kant and Jung looking for the crumb trail, but still could not discern the chirping sermon of the ordinary death all around me. It wasn't until my early 20's when my son died in my arms that I was deeply marked. Changed. Broken Open. Still, I tried not to hear, or could not. It would take me about 8 more years,  the heart-shattering death of another son, and many hours of solitude walking through my own grief and anger to understand the seeds that were germinating in me.

The crumb trail always led me to the garden, to the dandelions and the chickweed. I knew the song of the stars was coming through them, I knew if angels walk upon the earth they do so in gowns of Green. I ended up in desperation at a herbal medicine apprenticeship searching for some translation. My teacher, Susun Weed, was a student of Kubler-Ross's. What a simple sentence "When my teacher Elizabeth Kubler-Ross taught us about anger..". The world sucked into a pinhole singularity. It all crashed together in an instant. A direct lineage. Life is amazing. Who needs fiction? Reality is so much stranger.

I knew then that I would be involved in Death Care. This was somehow the Rosetta Stone to the song of the Soil. "AH! The Song of the Stars is One with the Song of the Soil! It is so painfully obvious the One cannot be separated from the Other. Life must have the foundation of Death. This most common death that is all around us, that we have built our bodies from and grown our food and medicine from". So simple and so obvious once the seed has broken open. I have learned about Green Burial and Home Funerals.  I have volunteered at Hospice and been called upon as a chaplain for spiritual support of the spiritually homeless among us. I have studied all the Thanatology I can put my hands on and been certified as an End-of-Life Specialist and Death Doula. I have made urns and altar pieces. All to relearn what I was born with; this simple knowledge that the Dead need us to lovingly sing over them and tenderly vision their spirits rising up out of the shells of their bodies. That to listen to the dying is like getting a map of Life from one who is at the summit. That while death is so sad and undeniably painful, it is also full of Wonder.

What a beautiful thing.

 

Make Me the Most Exquisite Meal

Rebekah Dawn

"We live in a world of 'I eat you and you eat me'".   Susun Weed

Have you ever eaten a transcendent meal? Your body flooded with pleasure from your olfactory and taste senses sending, shivers of bliss through your flesh?   Once, in Great Britain after a week of camping in cold rain and eating really tasteless / over salted food (did I mention I was in Great Britain?) I was treated to a dinner made with love and care and fine ingredients.  Served on warmed plates in courses. Growing up in a Mennonite community, where simplicity had been central, this was Babette's Feast.  The homemade peach ice-cream that was for desert, garnished with mint leaves, held some kind of warmed and melting pie crust. 

How much energy had been in that meal? From the life of the salmon and all it fed upon, to the photosynthesis of the asparagus and herbs, the butter, the cream, the peaches, bursting with the flavor only deeply loved fruits offer...these were no tasteless imitators, a salad of baby greens, oils pressed, spices dried and shipped great distances. So much sunlight. So much rain. Then there was the energy of the hostess, who served us in a way that was so foreign to me. Plates warmed. Courses timed and thought out.  What a lesson in gratitude and in appreciation.  Never had so much energy gone into a meal on my behalf. There was not thanks enough in me.  I had done nothing to deserve such treatment.  Such extreme pleasure.

As I have eaten, so too, will I be eaten. I will give myself back to those gardens, and peach trees, and salmon runs. 

When it is time for me to be food, will I be over-salted, tasteless? Will I hold myself away from the pallet of the soil with chemicals?  I want the earth that has swallowed my body to feel joy and quiver with pleasure in return for I have felt such deep joy and pleasure from my life which has been granted and supported in everyway by Her. It is the very least I can do.

Perhaps everything is well in its time.  And perhaps our Mother, Lord of All, held us so tenderly that we misunderstood Her singing, and Her grief. We, as toddlers on the planet, have confused our Mother's endless Love as permission to indulge all our lower whims. And we have tried to hold ourselves away from the 'eat and be eaten' truth of the world.  We, in this country to the west of the world, hold our bodies away from the earth.  We say to Her: "Even now, after a lifetime of eating from you, suckling from you, I will not yield the coarse parts of myself to you.  I will hold even my empty shell up, and away from your embrace. I will not be your food. This is how special you have made me feel.  This must be what you want"  Our small human way of seeing time imagines some victory in this.

Which is, of course, quite laughable. The coffin will be crushed. The embalmed body liquefied.  In time.

But for a toddler, perhaps,  this is age appropriate thinking.  I do not want to create guilt around conventional western funeral practice. Or around anyone else's choices. We do the best we can with what we know.  However, if we are a people who long to seek maturity and wholeness, then we can perhaps stretch our thinking. We are capable, I think, of willingly offering our empty bodies up the greater cycle of life.

In "A Will for the Woods" Clark explains how thinking about giving his body back to the earth is an important part of his feeling whole and peaceful as his death approaches.  The film is a beautiful song of human paradox as the central subject both seeks treatment, yearns toward Life, and also has his casket made by a friend. Clark's wife shares this beautiful realization about Green Burial: "I thought we were doing it for the Earth, but I am finding it is healing for us" (paraphrase) "It is changing me, opening me, showing me a Love and a Peace beyond all understanding".  https://vimeo.com/62452617   <---  I strongly encourage the viewing of this film which follows one individual through his fears and hopes for his death.

I want to be the best meal I can be. I want to be of service and of use to the whole of Creation.

Clark chooses a simple coffin, of untreated wood in a wooded setting, his body protecting the forest he is buried in. 

And then there is this, the Infinity Mushroom Suit. http://www.atlasobscura.com/articles/the-mushroom-death-suit-is-the-latest-in-postmortem-ecofriendly-fashion This is a burial shroud that has been infused with mushroom spores specifically chosen from their metabolic propensity toward environmental pollutants.  This burial suit will in fact digest and neutralize the toxins accumulated in your body.  As top predators in our biomes, your fat cells and mine are the deposits for all the pollutants we have introduced into the environment. We are becoming, literally, the garbage we put into the air and water.  How else can it be? These mushroom suits not only decompose the body quickly but they also neutralize toxins which would otherwise leach from your body back into the system. 

How can I be the best meal I can be. 

By first and foremost living a life of creative medicine. By asking in life, in each moment, to the extent of our abilities, how can I be of service? Our spiritual and emotional lives are being harvested each moment while we are still alive, and these meals to the Unseen are probably much more important than the final meal our bodies offer. Our hearts and our emotions are gardens. Always the Unseen is being fed by our thoughts, creative forces and destructive forces.

"For (wo)man is a ladder placed on the earth and the top of it touches the heavens. All (her) movements and doings and words leave traces in the upper worlds". Martin Buber.

Whatever your medicine is, be that. Live that. Love your family. Help your neighbors. Look for ways to build community. Because what really makes a great meal is the warmth and Love gathered into the ingredients. The story on the plate.  A good death is one that brings people together, a family, a community, a world.  Let us live a Life worthy of celebration.  Marinating our spirits and our flesh in Divine Love.

I dream of a culture that feeds the placenta of it's newborns and the bodies of its dead to vast tracts of woodlands. That our stories of dying become stories of renewal. Our bodies the seeds for tomorrows growth. So that we are able to approach death with curiosity and wonder. Ready to cast off our physical bodies and let our energy transform.

"Oh wow. Oh Wow. Oh! Wow!"... the last words of Steve Jobs

 

 

 

 

 

Hildegard

Rebekah Dawn

Song of veriditas
Voice of Living Light...
Celebrating the greening of the world.
Did she show us how
To remain
Warm
Soft
In a state of perpetual germination
wild hearts singing
The of Canticles of Ecstasy

 

A New Year

Rebekah Dawn

January again.  Anniversaries and remembrances of grief and joy. Exploring that paradox I thought of Quan Yin, goddess of compassion.

Listen.

She speaks quitely like a goldfish gliding under thick ice.

Beauty is there. In dying. In birthing. In waiting. In acting. In eating. In releasing. In forming. In decay. In song. In silence. In cold. In warm. In rain. In sun. 

It is inescapable and pervasive. It is not always easy to look at. Did you know beauty can be in terror too? In scraping and scratching. In panic and wailing. 

Like an aperture our hearts are really only given the choice to open up ever wider to let in the light of the universe.  Or to close down in a protective posture and attempt to be unchanged.  

I want to be opened.  pressing for one more millimeter of trust.  pushing. Until like Emerson I am the Great Eye.  Part and Parcel of god.