storm at the window

The storm at the window

has escalated its roaring,

the sounds of children

muffled in the dim,

tells us night is far from gone

Nikon D750 f/1.8 1/100 35mm 200 ISO

I have found myself slipping and sliding along a fragile thread of feelings, anger at one end and at the opposite…oddly enough…moments of joy. Within anger, the sensations of this unpleasant state of being, finds itself standing at a crevice throwing curses into the wind. Curses that rise from how detached words uttered, “100,000-250,000 dead” which to my mind escalates to “600,000-1,300,00 intimate stories of grief and loss.” These numbers which my head cannot get around is projected to describe the aftermath of one – just one – section of this earth. Stunned…

Standing there looking into this great void of leadership, compassion, and truth tellers brings forth a powerlessness that forms an expanding curse that repeats again and again — resisting a call to return to the flow of the in-breath and out-breath, blocking an invitation to return to the present. It screams, louder and louder, despite the knowing that no one hears, “As the night settles within your home, may the nightmares begin with a silence, a silence that only the dead know, that invites 100,000 pairs of eyes, eyes empty of life and filled with despair, fear, betrayal, anger, confusion intermixed with increasing variations of the voices, the 600,000 human beings (mothers, fathers, children, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, nieces, nephews) filling your inescapable nights with the depths of their grief and loss. And may it come to be that these nightmares sit upon the graves of all that come after you.”

Mindful of the flow of the in-breath and out-breath…the duration of the breath’s movement…like the movement of ocean waves…absorbing and releasing. Mother Earth, our true healer, absorbing these physically unpleasant feelings I’ve identified as anger and releasing me from anger’s tension and pain. Tears…tears…silent tears that emerge from my soul…my own acquaintance with grief, powerlessness, despair, confusion, loss of trust.

Yes, loss of trust. Yearning for those days of innocence…of ignorance of the shadow within humans…of faith in those of position of trust. Crumbling, fragmented trust…as I hear the unspoken dispassionate words, “Let the market rule.”

Returning to the breath…to the present…to the belief that my empowerment comes from the choice to isolate, to utilize technology as a means to connect with others, to welcome the morning sun, to appreciate the beauty of the awakening spring, to find expression through the arts, to silence reality as I watch Asian dramas (secret exposed…I’m a fan of Korean and Chinese historical fantasy), to smile with the joy that arises when I hear from family and friends, to express gratitude to the many unknown subers whose translate Asian dramas, to open myself to the wisdom of Thich Nhat Hanh as I find refuge within the teachings of the dharma and the sharing and listening to the hearts within sangha. Joy…the positive sensations of joy.

Anger…joy. One unpleasant, one pleasant, connected together by a thread of life. I do hope that my shadow…the hidden aspect of me finds comfort with the flow of my in-breath and out-breath and is embraced by the warmth of human compassion, loving-kindness, and inclusiveness.

May this curse find solace and fade…fade…fade.

May the thread connecting these two diverse sensations never be severed.

May I continue to find peace and joy within the movements of the in-breath and out-breath.

May the trust I place within Mother Earth guide me through these uncertain times.

May you know peace and joy.

May you be embraced by the warmth of trust

May you find inclusiveness within these times of solitude.

fading memories

fading memories… Nikon D750 f/5.6 1/400s 78mm

 “At the threshold of stillness within silence, the scent of mothballs signals the opening of a small steamboat trunk entrusted with long-forgotten memorabilia.  Carefully placed upon a layer of women’s 1930 era clothing are three stacks of yellow ribbon-tied envelopes. Within each are hand-written letters reminiscent of second grade penmanship inquiring, “Dear Mother, how are you?  Fine I hope.”  On the left side is a stationery box filled with certificates of marriage, birth, baptism, and death intermingled with a child’s brilliantly colored drawings. Beneath the box is a small silk sachet holding a solitary diamond engagement ring and an ivory locket.  At the bottom of the trunk, children’s books and wooden blocks with carved letters surround a miniature wooden rocking chair and a one-button eyed velvety-patched teddy bear. I become distracted from the remaining contents as black and white photograph images softly held within the folds of a woman’s garnet silk dress glide in the air and scatter on the floor.

“The photographic images are a visual memoir of a young family where trust once allowed two young sisters to roam free throughout a field of tall, yellowed grass.  ‘How many days,’ my questioning mind wonders, ‘how many days were left before the decline of my father’s health shifted the lights of a colorful present into the gray-shaded time of waiting?’ Within this stillness of waiting, memory tells of a young child seeking solace through repetitive rocking behaviors and of a father’s fragile heart enduring a turbulent wait for a donated aorta.

I hear compassion speak to my heart and I begin to feel how my father intuitively knew of my inner turmoil and of the tranquil stillness within rhythmic repetition.   His gift of a rocking chair tells me some fifty years after his death of the multiple emotional and physical sufferings within his suffering, the interconnectedness of the suffering within the family, and of his wish to ease our suffering.” …

~B C Koeford, A Meditative Journey with Saldage

a cry in the night

A repeating dream born of a yearning for solace. No, not really a dream.  More a nightmare of a different sort where the sudden appearance of a dial phone transforms me into a relentless pursuer.  A series of events, where I stumble over one into another, the phone line is silent; “this number is no longer in service;”  I can’t recall the number as I dial; a nearby phone book opens up to blank pages; I have no coins; my mind goes blank when I pick up the receiver.  Failure becomes an enemy which I fight, again and again, until waking releases me.

Are these incessant-themed dreams a telling of memories when the house settled into night?  Those moments of private passage where thoughts and images become ethereal and reality is colored by deep silence and blinding darkness?  And then…unexpectedly consciousness responds to a gentle, “ring ring” with, “hello.”  Uninterrupted exchanges between sisters, separated by darkness—confiding, sharing, questioning—creating our night time stories and lulling us into sleep?

Within a family of deafness, it was you—the eldest—who heard my night cries…my first spoken words.  And in exchange, it was I who acknowledged you as I heard your voice especially within the stilled silence of night. 

Are these dreams an attempt to reconnect with childhood moments of friendship, of sisterhood, of validation?  Or, an obsessive voice calling for another in the darkness of despair?   A child’s soul—voiceless—hidden within the darkness of absolute silence decrying the definite disconnection by death?  

Within this day of remembrance, I wish to know that my prayers pierced death’s barrier and you hear my deep gratitude for the solace you nourished within our childhood as well as my hope that these foundations of our sisterhood that have intertwined within the passage of time will awaken to a renewed togetherness.

a fatherless child

Nikon D750 f/7.1 1/40s 50mm 100 ISO

“… literature provided me with alternate threads by which to darn a harmonious, yet delusional, understanding of death, of fatherless children, of a family. To move into this realm is to be cuddled in the arms of a chair, mesmerized by the pages of a book unfolding like an accordion, embraced by a transparent sound barrier, and transported into fantasies found through fictional characters.  While my mind’s eye grasped the hand of my naïve emotional self and together we observed the telling of storied lives, there was a seeking mind that simultaneously identified revealing markers to create a map, not to a place of hidden treasures, but to a place that felt like a home.

 I was six years old the first time this happened.  Martin and Cooney’s Five Little Peppers and How they Grew eased my aloneness with the emptiness left by my father’s death and filled it with a reformulated concept of family.  Later, it was Alcott’s characters within Little Women and Little Men who gave me permission to vicariously be a fatherless child united with loving adults who validated sacrifice, patience, and compassion.  Burnett’s themes of grief and loss within The Little Princess identified the behaviors, choices, and attitudes necessary to survive the evils of dark despair until the rescue by an unknown and unidentified savior, just and righteous.”

~B Catherine Koeford, A Mediative Journey with Saldage homesickness for a place, a time, a person that cannot be

in remembrance

Death of a loved one disturbs the relationships that sustain a person’s sense of ‘identity’ and the high level of binding and cathexis concentrated on the person who is lost is suddenly disrupted . . . there is a close link between the doctrines of egolessness and suffering.

De Silva, Padmasiri. An Introduction to Buddhist Psychology. Landam, MD, 2000.
Poudre Canyon… f/7.1 1/200s 28mm 4500 ISO

Through this lens of Buddhist thought, I begin to feel a crumbling of a child’s self with an understanding of how my father’s absolute and final absence from our lives disrupted the multiple relationships between my father, mother, sister, and me.  Besides the sudden severing of the identity I was forming via my father, the connecting emotional threads between those of us that were left, although still intact, were unknowingly stretched and pulled by our own individual fears of egolessness.

My father’s death left my mother, a young woman deaf from infancy, with two daughters and pregnant with her first son.  I do not recall whose idea it was to wander outside the house early that morning as my mother slept.  I can, however, imagine my young self following my older sister as if an invisible thread that tied us together tugged me along as she, with her five-year-old world view, undertook an emotional duty to find our father.  Did we believe we could find him fly fishing in the creek that ran alongside the house? Or was there something about the water that enticed us into abandoning our search?  I can recall to this day the cessation of anxiety and arising rapture that coincided with my surrender to the inevitable. Two young men, I am told, rescued us both from this search for our father.

Koeford, BC. A Meditative Journey with Saldage Homesickness for a place, a time, a person that cannot be

remembrance of her…

“For remembrance of her I wanted to write about her,”… but I stopped short with the words, “Ink seems to have frozen up, I cannot write any more.” *

How shall I gather memories of my sister?

The stream of letters is congealed. 

No comfort may be found in icicles 

  ~The Sarashina Diary (Diaries of Court Ladies of Old Japan)

Nikon D750 f/4.5 1/400 58mm

*The continuous writing of the cursive Japanese characters is often compared to a meandering river. “Ink seems to have frozen up” means that her eyes are dim with tears, and no more she can write continuously and flowingly.