Monday, August 31

Holy Basil!

Green! Green is the word this August. I have never seen my garden so green this time of year. I took pictures this morning in a cool 68 degree breeze. Most of what you see in this photo is Tulsi Holy Basil. I love the Tulsi. It is my tea of choice in the fall, so many powerful antioxidants, lots of love. It is the holy basil, after all.

I bought ONE holy basil from Boudreau's Herb Farm last summer. I never planted it proper. I left it in a plastic pot and looked at it with guilt every time it seeded or I was in the garden in a hurry, too much of a hurry to pluck a few fresh leaves off and brew them up. Then it died. It was the end of the summer or sometime in the fall. I had given up on it, the guilt of it consumed me until I quit watering it so I could forget about it.

As spring awakened I realized nothing had changed between me and that pot. The pot still held a skelton of holy basil twigs and I still felt guilt. So I started watering it and talking to it, telling it how much I loved to drink Holy Basil tea and that if it bloomed I'd even try it chilled rather than the traditional hot tea. I told it how I'd make tea every day if I needed to and I'd keep a pitcher in the refridgerator for Jimmy and Ruby Jane. I told it how I'd add some agave nectar and how good it would taste ice cold with agave nectar. I had a whole monologue for this potted planter full of dirt and dead twigs.

I visited my parents in June. Mom had a beautiful holy basil in her garden. She gave it to without me asking. I drove it home the six hours from Galveston, watching it wilt the whole way. I talked to it, told it how beautiful it was there in the passengers seat, gave it water and air conditioning. I even put the front seat belt on it. By the time I got it in the ground I was not sure if it would make it.

By mid summer, no holy basil. I asked Joanne Boudreau one day how holy basil was doing this season, maybe it was a bad season for the plant and I had not heard that yet. She told me it was coming in late this year and not to worry, it would make a grand entrance into my garden.

By the end of July the plastic pot had not sprouted one plant but many. Weeding the dirt one day I realized I was pulling up Holy Basil!
"Holy &*^*&^" I said. "It's holy basil!"

I am abundant in the Holy Basil and will begin harvesting soon for tea, giving the seeds away to anyone who wants to grow this wonderful plant.
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Thursday, August 13

Moving Mountains #60

What is faith? What does it look like, smell like, and feel like? These were the questions I asked sixty days ago as I set out with my archaeology cap to excavate faith.

So what is it? To me, faith is trust in my inner compass. I think of nature, full of life and vibrant energy. There's no pontificating, no didactic cynicism in the natural world. There is only instinct man! Pure, wild, split-second instinct is the key to survival. That is the realm of faith.

My MO for years was to think it through. Whatever it was, I was going to think it through until I had talked myself out of it. There was very little action and the things I did accomplish were done in a sticky, gooey feeling - almost as if I was stuck in taffy. Nothing came easy, every job, every duty was a passionless chore. I had no faith and trusted my mind and my book knowledge to lead me.

The birds, the hawks, the dogs, the horses, the garden, the river - these are my daily reminders easier to let go of the intellect, to stop comparing what happened in the past to what might happen in the future. To not listen to my mind that tells me that if I don't constantly weigh my past and future then I am somehow unsafe.

My plan is to keep on with my plan, to trust my intuition and let faith and grace manifest spontaneously, which it will, through my trust in the process.

Wednesday, August 12

Moving Mountains #59

“Faithfulness is to the emotional life what consistency is to the life of the intellect - simply a confession of failures”

Oscar Wilde

This quote reminds me of that Paul McCartney quote:
"In the end the love you take is equal to the love you make." In the end the faith you take is equal to the faith you make. In the end the consistency you take is equal to the consistency you take. I think Wilde was right, our connection to our faith has a big play on our emotions, where we place our faith, our support - in ourselves or in others, inside our self with our own spirit or outside ourselves with an omniscient God.

I looked for a quote that spoke of both faith and consistency as these have been my topics for the last 60 days. This quote bespeaks the humanness of us as a species, despite our natural perfection and its accompanying amnesia. It also speaks of the drill sergeant in my head who aims at some sort of robotic perfection "I will have big faith and be forever consistent never swaying from my goal." The sergeants stern manner and inability to apply the Buddhist principles of abandoning suffering fulfills Wilde's prediciton.

Anyone who knows me knows that I grappled with faith for years and now spend more time grappling with the latter. Overall, I like what Wilde says but I'm not crazy about the word failure, it's so 19th century. I prefer to think of it as a "confession of egos" or a "confession of humanness." Still, it's a beautiful quote. And that's coming from someone who until recently could not stand to make mistakes.

Tuesday, August 11

Moving Mountains #58

It's been raining a lot this August, more than I remember in a while. The garden, such a great metaphor for the f word, faith, that I'm wrapping up on blogging about. I always thought that nothing grew in Texas in August, yet this summer my garden is green and tall. Sure, a few things have died off, the giant leaves of the zucchini have shriveled and gone on. The cantaloupe bore two delicious fruits and faded, the arugula - once wild and free has passed on. The tomatoes, peppers, and basil still thrill.

So, water. Water. Water. Water. It helps when it's coming from the sky and not the faucet. Also, I've worked to temper the slope in my garden to help the water go down instead of out. I will continue to do that next year and it will help the garden to grow stronger. The other, very important aspect that I always underestimated is the soil. Every year I see my plants grow stronger as I improve the soil, till it, move it, add stuff to it. All of these garden factors are only worth their weight until you add love. It is the affection and attention to the soil, the exchange with my garden that brings me joy and that reflects in the growth of the plants. What a lesson my third year of gardening has been. It gets better and stronger every year, just like me.

Monday, August 10

Moving Mountains #57

Corn! The corn is high in the garden. This is my proof of faith for the day.

I never realized how tall corn is, I've only seen it from my car window or at the least 10 feet away. To stand in front of a corn stalk is pretty wonderful. Some are 6 feet tall. The have sprouted at the top and a few are flowering corn out of their sides. It feels like such a feat. To think that a couple of months ago I stuck some corn kernels in the ground and now they've made numerous corn kernels. It's abundance in action.

Most of the corn I planted came from some of that beautiful decorative corn that you buy at harvest to look festive during the fall. It came in many colors, some black kernels, some a deep crimson red, and others were a marble of red, black and yellow. The fun is going to be opening each husk and finding out what's inside.I wait like a kid at Christmas, outside my garden door. Yet I have patience. I know they are not ready and I want them to be gorgeous at harvest. Indeed, the concept of harvest is becoming more than the title of a classic, rooted, and much enjoyed album.

Sunday, August 9

Moving Mountains #56

"Faith is taking the first step even when you don't see the whole staircase." Martin Luther King Jr.

Saturday, August 8

Moving Mountains #55


Exchange is something we practice everyday, whether it's exchanging money at a store for good, exchanging hugs and kisses with the ones we love, exchanging phone numbers with old and new friends. What is behind that exchange? Is it pure love, maybe sometimes dread, hope, or faith. The only way to expand into our greatest vision of ourselves and open our hearts to the abundance of love available to us is through relationship with others, we are not islands, we can not do it alone, we must practice through our relationships.

A few months ago I began blessing every monetary exchange - every check, every dollar, every credit transaction - before I handed it over or mailed it out. I allowed my heart to well up with joy and gratitude, thankful for having the money to spend and grateful to whomever the money was going to for the blessings their service provided whether they were bills, incidentals, or charitable. I didn't realize until I started doing this how different it felt to practice grateful exchange from how I had done it in the past. Most of my spending was done in a state of dread which cultivated and expanded an already present fear around not having enough. That's when retail therapy would set in, I "owed it to myself," to spend some money on things I wanted. It was my moment of permission, not gratitude, but a self-indulgent fleeting pleasure to spend. That's when I would tell myself, "see you do have enough!" Yet when the bills arrived the guilt set in.

Practicing grateful exchange with money helped me off the fear/guilt merry-go-round. Exchange can be applied to everything. How do you think Jesus turned the water into wine? I one particular study, there's a book but I can't remember the author's name. He blessed water and looked at it under a microscope, then he cursed it and looked again, he also said different words like "dragonfly" and "peace." The results are stunning. He has a book with all the pictures. If anyone can remember his name please let me know. It also works on food (say your grace!) and plants (they love classical music, remember this from the 1970's?)

Friday, August 7

Moving Mountains #54

Faith is an oasis in the heart
which can never be reached by the caravan of thinking.

~ Kahlil Gibran ~

Thursday, August 6

Moving Mountains #53

When you come to the edge of all the light you have,
and are about to step off into the darkness of the unknown,
faith is knowing one of two things will happen:
There will be something solid to stand on,
or you will be taught how to fly.

~ Patrick Overton ~

Like an anchor securing its ship to the bottom of the ocean, I felt it. Like jumping into a swimming pool and just letting my body sink to the bottom, knowing I'm not going to drown. The feeling that I have a universal guide and am "employed by the universal bank," as David Elliott says, grows every day. The more I write, the more I practice my faith, a faith that has nothing to do with religion, the more I hold space for others to breathe the active meditation, the stronger my faith grows. I am learning to trust the process. I am having fun with it. All of it. And I am flying.

Wednesday, August 5

Moving Moutains #52

In faith there is enough light for those who want to believe and enough shadows to blind those who don't. ~Blaise Pascal

Tuesday, August 4

Moving Mountains #51

Faith and doubt both are needed - not as antagonists, but working side by side to take us around the unknown curve. ~Lillian Smith

This is the first instance that I have ever seen where doubt is not considered a negative. I love this. I can now embrace doubt as a positive, as long as I keep in check and balanced with faith.

Monday, August 3

Moving Mountains #50

Faith is putting all your eggs in God's basket, then counting your blessings before they hatch. ~Ramona C. Carroll

I love this quote because it derives from one of those old adages that we are told as kids that turns out to not be true - in fact, it's the exact opposite of what we are told. DO put all your eggs in one basket, just not YOUR basket. I'm still working on the count them before they hatch thing...that's the REAL work. It's in trusting.

Sunday, August 2

Moving Mountains #49

This is my first Jewish wedding. I am overcome by the depth of the tradition, the strength of families and friends that share the tight bond of their faith. Christians do not have the same experience, there are so many different kinds of Christians, sure there are different groups of Jews, but at the heart, so many of their rituals are the same. It was a beautiful and beloved service of two wonderful people who found each other after their children have flown the nest. Weddings are such wonderful statements of the endurance of love, friendship, and family.

Saturday, August 1

Moving Mountains #48

Faith is a passionate intuition. ~William Wordsworth

We're in Denver for a wedding. Weddings are so wonderful, such a great time of joy and faith. I love this quote by Wordsworth - passionate intuition - unyielding, unquestioning intuition. Faith is all action, there is no wiggle room.