Archive for January, 2011

“I have been all things unholy. If God can work through me, he can work through anyone” ~ St. Francis of Assisi.

I felt at peace in several locales today, and slowly my sickness went away, only to return somewhat as i lost that peace once again. but still, some of it remains – and as i write has come back once again.

My day did not start well; feeling fluish as i had yesterday morning, and because of that cancelled my plans for the day – to do a volunteer shift at the food bank, a form of practical engagement once again. i had been there once before, did not feel i or the others were of much use, yes we helped repackage food, but parts of the system spoke of an inefficiency designed to perpetuate itself; don’t get me wrong, they distribute much, to food pantries that serve the public first hand, soup kitchens, programs and institutions; and pass out fresh food that would be otherwise thrown away, in addition to the pasta that we rebagged. so i did not make that plan with a glowing heart, but felt guilty backing out, even though you should not handle public food if you are sick.

My dormmates were still in bed after 11 when i thought of laying down and reading for a while, even though the sky was bright blue once again. so i decided to go for a short walk, and got back here almost 8 hours later, feeling relaxed and refreshed even though i had covered many miles.

Tomorrow is free museums day, and i thought about art and decided to check out the tourist galleries close to union square – close enough to here. i felt woozy and weak but walked there and found that the two i had thought of were closed on mondays and became disappointed. i grabbed a free newspaper and sat in union square, flipped through it and then relaxed in the sun shining on the bench watching people stroll along, and felt calmer and a bit healthier as well. The commercial buildings around – the department stores and more – became a focus so i thought i could go down the the Yerba Buena gardens and i am so happy that i did.

It was almost noon when i arrived, and an assortment of people were sitting in the sun – some of the streets, office workers, construction workers, a muni driver an more judging by their dress and constitution, i sat on a concrete bench and this time i heard the birds, and appreciated the grass and the sound of the manmade waterfalls – sound that were more prominent to me that the hum of the city around. I felt appreciative for the planted trees and the multitude of flowers in bloom and so grateful for this and other public spaces around that all may enjoy on a fine day. I walked behind the falls to read the Martin Luther King Jr. quotations and felt cleansed and baptized by the roar of the water pounding down in front of me, and my body felt better as well, i went into the Metreon, that sony building that is mainly empty these days, to use the bathroom and felt soothed by the classical music that played throughout the mainly empty space. Picked up a salad at whole foods down the block, and returned to sit and lay down on the grass, ate and then sat, eyes closed listening and then open watching the world go by; a bit after lunch time and some toddlers about – so curious about their world, smiling in exploration and they walked and crawled around. I felt serene; was it the place per se, or that it called forth that connection in me today, that peace, and for a while i felt healed – after all Yerba Buena means “good herb”

i then decided to go for a short walk, and smiled and glowed as i walked and others smiled back at me. I had read last night that the St. Francis of Assisi shrine (church) was open to the public once again; and it had been an earlier intention to go there; in the past few times in the city it was closed whenever i went by. So i went through the big building core and up to the edge of north beach, and lo and behold, the scaffolding was off, and it was truly open all day. I entered, just one man there, and sat on a pew, initially disappointed- not as grand as i remembered and the smell of must overpowered at first. but i was tired, and sat, looked towards the paintings at the front of the church that had angels overheard of the saints and biblical figured portrayed. I thought about St. Francis, whose prayer i have said many a time, and a peace and connection with god overcame me – in a zone between meditation and prayer, i sat for a long while, eyes closed, connecting with the divine and the fog in my brain went away as well and i could feel the glow around my head, that glow represented by the halos in art. several came in and out as i sat in the dim church on this sunny day, but the light within made up for that which i was missing from the sun. After i got up and walked around, and lit a candle, still available in the church on a trust donation basis, for myself and others who feel lost and want a light of clarity within. And i walked out, thankful for another public place to connect with the divine in yet another way.

I felt alive once again, but as negative and material thoughts began to drift in, i felt a fatigue return – and sat down with a coffee and this machine and saw a post online about a vibrational flu – and realized it was my separation from source that has opened me up to that which is going around, and remembers yesterday, as i passed by a closed christian scientist church, reading an article about the healing powers of faith in once of their free magazines. i have written of what brought me peace today as a way of keeping and sharing peace within and out, and while tired, i feel better than i did this morning. so let me go to sleep saying the

Prayer of St. Francis of Assisi

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury,pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
and where there is sadness, joy.

O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek
to be consoled as to console;
to be understood as to understand;
to be loved as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive;
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life. Amen

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A cold coming on

I feel sick – something overcoming my body – a cold or a flu i do not know. It feels like a spiritual sickness, a slipping away of all, manifesting itself on the physical level. Something rages through, a dull ache, like the ache inside. i did not write about the beauty i saw, the magic of this place, and it has slipped away from me – the disconnection growing, that sense inside of being apart from it all.

i have tried to reclaim it, but i fail – a magnolia tree in bloom, and small pink blossoms on other trees fail to bring a smile to my face. I watched hundreds of sealions off a pier the other day, animals that always make me smile – i snapped photos and had a brief giggle as i watched a young one climb over the bodies on the dock, searching for a place to nestle down, but much of the emotion was forced. for a brief moment i felt so alive as i watched the pelicans dive for fish at sunset, and heard the barks of the sea lions and the calls of the gulls in the background – and for a moment i felt alive – and connected to the all. But then it slipped as i spent a day wandering around – feeling disconnected from what was there and not turning it around, leaving that zone, to a place or to some that glows and whose light i connect with. I did the next day, and realize that that zone is not always a place (it was) but also a state of mind.

I went to church last night, the fourth sunday in ordinary time, a crowded service, but in a well healed area, and despite the readings of the beatitudes, and a focus the value of all, i could feel the judgement of some of the rich, and left feeling apart rather than joined. A yound church group stays here, doing goods works, the kids running in the hall, a morning gathering before they go out, with guitars, songs, prayers and enthusiasm – the latter which i miss. i listen in.

I try to engage once again – yesterday, another volunteer group, working in a playground, the call was to clean it up, instead pulling ivy behind a fence, did some good, but it felt like not enough, few showed up with the rain in the morning, and it seemed like the park worker was disappointed; she was very friendly and nice, someone who works in zone and with light, but the plans were cut short, more about us feeling good, than getting much done. Yes, cleared a bit of a path, and let some trees free from ivey’s grip, but i felt disconnected from those around, the park was in diamond heights, a neighborhood where i had never been, seemed apart from the city that i know, a place where people live, a small strip mall, apartments, the park hidden away, a place where the settlers live normal lives, and the girl who i worked with super-depressed – we talked – i could feel the flatness in her voice and how she was trying and forced herself out – but i was not able to shine light on her – i could not hear her when she spoke softly, without confidence, mumbling, talking more to the ground – i talked some but then withdrew into my work and pulling ivy from the ground; the four others involved in the larger organization and one kept their discussion on management issues. But i engaged a bit and i know that every bit helps, still i yearn for me.

I listen to the youth leader of the church group speak to the kids and i feel him speaking to me as well; so i remember that i am here for a reason – in this place at this time.
“if i am disconnected from god, i am not able to do anything important” and he speaks of putting gods kingdom above our own will – the talk about the branches connected to the vine of jesus, and how we must be connected to god to bear fruit. I speak to god, and pray each day as well but this past week plus i feel something has slipped away. He continues: it takes time to develop a relationship with god and talks about the grapes he grows – the first few years the fruit may not come, and the fruit may be small at first, but it comes, it takes time – it takes maintenance, pruning, and you need to keep it off the ground for it to grow up. I feel more connected now, and he reminds the kids of a daily practice. i wish to know my next step for i feel that i have slipped somehow this past month – the past two weeks – and i am less sure of my call. But soon this sickness will pass through and my joints will no longer ache with that which has been blocked inside.

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ocean beach revisted

I walked barefoot on the beach yesterday and came alive for a while. A beautiful sunny day, from morning through the brilliant sunset. I started at the far end closest to the zoo, with little beach to walk on as the high tide was just starting to go out. The wind was strong, but i lay on the sand on the high dune, grab a coffee and watch the birds – seagulls and snowy plovers, and then the people and dogs on the beach. My mind had been chatting away, and for a while i fe;t sad about things that were not there – i looked around and opened my eyes, and was grateful for all gods beauty around, my day changed as i was brought back to the magnificent here and now. I walked further down, the tide now out a long way, and more people are out, the sun is setting and children and dogs run about. And i feel connected once again.

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Tenderloin Again

I have been back in the tenderloin for about a week, and it has truly made me recognize how much a place can affect us, even when we say it will not. i had spent my first 11 days back in San francisco this year at the Fisherman’s Wharf hostel in fort mason, which is a totally different world – but alas, they limit your stay to 14 days per calendar year, and i wanted to have the option to return for a few nights, and moved back down to this zone – and its energy has slowly seeped on in. I am in my second hostel in the area – the first six nights spent at the City Center hostel at the western end of this zone, where in some ways it is much calmer, being away from the tourist center, and the erratic dance of the down and outs with the money people who pass through town. But there the hostel itself has gone downhill, and i was in a room without a plug and erratic wifi, and the common area was packed with the language students who take over for the winter, and hard heavy angry or industrial music permeated throughout all the common space – and so i began to shut down and crawl within, drawing a border around myself, shutting out not only what was intrusive and unwelcome but so much more as well. And there, and more so here, back at the Orange Village, which borders on the tourist zone and is adjacent to more druggie dens, i feel saddened when i step outside, so much erratic energies and the walking dead. So i spend more time inside my room and myself, though i “escape” the area each day. but in the evenings when i come back, it is always with a slight sense of dread, a heaviness that clings to my heart.

But i ask myself why do i write now and not at the other place which brought me joy – even though i got fet up at times – the snoring symphony in the 24 bed dorm, and the lack or utensils in the kitchen, but at least there i cooked. and did taking it for granted and seeing some of the faults, lessen my joy of that place – perhaps a bit, but before i left, i rejoiced in it, the trees outside and the lawn, the proximity to the bay, and down the path the view of the bridge. it was such a special place, that truly felt like home. and perhaps i pulled away for a few days since i knew it could be only temporary. But there is the San Francisco that makes my heart sing – even in the grey which came on at times, unlike the sun which has been around since. But there, in general, i felt more alive, and did not feel the grunginess that i now feel clinging to me.

I said thanks each night when i went to bed, and this is where i am right now – a comfortable quiet room, and will give thanks for this moment too. But where you wake up, and what you experience when you first step out the door, so can effect your day. when i walk away from this zone i leave it behind, but my urge in the morning is to escape where i am. for periods i can see the sad beauty of this zone, the hidden angels and a place where people are accepted no matter how broken they may be, but then the pain in the air slowly seeps in.

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Planting the Presidio

Jan 6/2011

I planted native grasses and plants on top of old army barracks that are now part of a national park – a trail passes by & the land is being restored on the Presidio in Golden Gate National Park. A group gathered to do the work, the plants laid out upon the ground to be planted in by those who came. In the afternoon i volunteered at the nursery, transplanting more, bushes started from local seeds that will planted again. I am grateful for the Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy who organizes this and much more and for being able to help transform land in a positive way.

What one was an area of defence and war, is now a park dedicated to peaceful purposes; and the barracks overlooking the entry to the bay, are now in decay and growing and giving life and joy again. The exact place where i worked, just on the ocean side of Golden Gate Bridge, is visited by many, as it part of the coastal trail, now moved slightly inland at this precise place as the cliff had slid down into the sea. The park itself, shows how places and energies can be transformed from the inside out.

I also worked at plant nursery – bringing back what the collective ‘we’ took out; a place dedicated to “native” plants, and preserving the genetic diversity of the seeds, re potting seedlings to they could grow strong roots, to be returned to the lands from which they came.

I returned to the place where i sleep – the hostel at Fort Worden  – another fort transformed, more to arts and culture – another part of this national park, my favorite hostel which brings me joy. We transform our world in many ways – i have been thankful for these places on my previous visits here, and am glad to be given the opportunity to play a small part in their ongoing transformation.

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Planting Seeds

I sat in Salt Lake last fall and early winter feeling that i needed to plant some seeds, the urge coming strongly over me. But there it was not the season nor the place so i planted none there. I came back to the San Francisco area mid-december and the urge returned to me – and finally at the start of this year, i decided that i would do as i said. I still have yet to plant seeds, but i have planted many seedlings into the ground, plants that will hopefully take root and spring into life. I planted them in the golden gate national park – in the presidio and at lands end – helping out in public space – something else that i said i would do. At first it felt wonderful, but now something feels amiss, that in planting them i have neglected the plants i have started elsewhere, and that they are slowly starting to shrivel away – seeds not of the literal type, but of wisdom and more. And i ask myself, just what have i been planting this year? Just what is it that i am meant to grow? and what is the relation between them all – the literal and the figurative? Still it felt good to be contributing to life, to care for life and spirit in physical form – to touch the earth, and loosen up the roots, so they could take hold and spread and grow strong – to put the tended, coddled seedlings out into the real world, where they would have to make it on their own, in the area from where they once grew, to reclaim it once again. And in interacting with the world, we plant seeds all the time – which reach fertile soil, and which are nurtured and grow – the important question is then – what seeds are we truly planting when we are not aware.

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Ten Days Later

It is 10 days since my last entry – and it now feels like a blur – and the magic that i felt when i first came back here in the new year – seems a vague mirage – i have not been brought down hard at all, just all does not shine so brilliantly – and i have already forgotten what transpired and by failing to write about some, did i fail to call it forth. Not a blame, but a wonderment, for as i stated 10 days ago – i felt like something was slipping, and now i feel it has gone – to return perhaps, but the moment can never be relived. Various partial entries – i may finish up, but i cannot recapture the energy of the moment for it has transformed into something new. And like many journeys over the years this has been a season of blur. But to come back to it once again, and call it forth anew, to make the magic come alive once more.

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