Category Archives: This and That

Undoing – Untying the Mother-Cord

These Covid times can’t help but bring mortality to the fore and with that the realization that ‘somebody’ will have the task of dealing with that which remains, including ‘belongings’. I’ve done that for a number of people over the years and gladly too but I wanted items to go to places and people who could use, would like them. I knew from experience others might not have time to do that in the kind of detail I, while alive, could do. So that’s what I did, I started in on a Swedish Death Cleaning and it has brought me much happiness, and much satisfaction too.

This poem piece along with the writing it appeared with spoke to me. I hope it speaks to you. In future posts I will visit some of the discoveries I made in January, how I ‘resolved’ many items that had been with me for at least two decades which I’d not made decisions about. Left to languish.

learning to save myself, learning to live
alone through the long winter nights
means so much unknotting, unknitting
unraveling, untying the mother-cord
— so much undoing

From: Michèle Roberts’s poetry collection ‘All the selves I was

The following is from: a blog Rousette The title of the post is, Re-visiting poetry.
Over the intervening years, I’ve done a lot of metaphorical unknotting and unraveling, and plenty of literal unknitting and unpicking too. I’ve come to see those processes not as a failure but as an integral part of the making process. Making and unmaking are part of the same thing, and if you want to learn, to grow, to experiment, to be bold, you often have to unmake. Yes, it can be frustrating or even painful, but it’s a good thing. Unmaking and making anew almost always results in something better and stronger, and in the process, you learn. You just have to be brave, take a deep breath, and get out your seam ripper.

Finally, this has not been a process of ‘decluttering’, or preparation for death. Better described as an undoing a cutting of the mother-cord, a spiritual endeavor. Thanks to Julius for the link which inspired me to write about the process that started in January and continues on.

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The Noise of Memory

Down in the wild woods where memories shout.

​Mourning is
the noise of
that follows the
quiet liberation
of death.

How removed we are from death now, how sterile and unseen it has become. My entire fear of death was built on a foundation of having experienced it too little. I feared that the burst of noise that is our lives, once silenced by death, would have no echo. But having experienced her death, having stood at the side of her bed in the middle of the night as she gave one last breath for each of us present, I can tell you that this is what death is like: motionless, hushed, the sound of a candle being extinguished. And then: the cacophony of memories that follows, a cacophony that is both torture and ecstasy. The noise of these memories is what makes you wail and shake and hold your head in your hands. Mourning is the noise of memory that follows the quiet liberation of death.

From Memento Mori

I’ve read through this article, Memento Mori several times and still I come back again. Why? The clue is in the title, Memento Mori – Remember you must die. I’ll say no more. This takes one deeply.

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A Delicate Transformation

Baudelaire – 1855

The marvelous envelops
and saturates us
like the atmosphere;
but we fail to see it.


The following quote is from the Parisian Gentleman a site I stumbled upon when searching on-line for instructions on how to do invisible mending. Their Journal post yesterday titled The Theory of How to Wear a Suit  caught my attention. At first it was the writing style  dry wit,  and fastidious attention to detail, that had me transfixed.   And somewhat bemused at entering into a totally alien realm of smart clothing, for men. Rev. Master Jiyu encouraged natural pride (in one’s appearance) and I do believe she would have given thumbs up to what is written here.

When we give the art of dressing well the attention it deserves, we move into the midst of an inner transformation, and this inner shift is a delicate transformation to manage.

It’s great to find a way to present ourselves well with clothing and finally (sartorially speaking) experience the feeling of self-approval. Yet, achieving self-approval poses a risk, as too much self-approval can convert into an ego explosion which annihilates the goal of ‘looking good’ as haughty and proud behavior can turn a person into a human atrocity.

Perhaps it’s better to say that understanding the art of dressing well opens the door to a more profound emotion created by beauty itself, and when we dress and leave our homes and feel surrounded within the vapor of beauty (created from somewhere within ourselves), we get a fleeting glimpse of the eternal.

As Baudelaire said, “all forms of beauty, like all possible phenomena, have something eternal and something transitory — an absolute and a particular element”. But perhaps even more striking is Baudelaire’s epiphany, “The marvelous envelops and saturates us like the atmosphere; but we fail to see it.”

And with all this time to recover from the cold I caught in Latvia I’ve been able to mend my treasured monastic, 100% wool coat, which had been attacked by a moth while my back was turned. Always good to be turned out sans moth holes! Thank you Rev. Master for your teaching.

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An Untroubled Bee Reflects

Here’s a picture of a bumble bee
looks nowt like you and nowt like me
only difference is – he is free
from ever looking inwardly

sniffs the flowers and
then is gone,
never troubled by right or wrong
sun is out and the
sky is blue
has no thought of me or you

More verses to be found on Herbwormwood’s blog

This poem took me right back to my teens when I wrote some words reflecting on a bee I’d observed as I lazily lay on a lawn. Bee and me we are one, labouring onwards and upwards.…dah de dah dee dah! I like the care free bee of this poem which is free from ever looking inwardly!

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Thoughts Unspoken

Horse Camp under Mt. Shasta.
Horse Camp under Mt. Shasta.

For some it’s a real revelation to be silent. To not speak. To not say what is in, or on, ones mind just seems well….unnatural! And thus it can be very hard for people who come for an introductory retreat since the idea is to cut speaking to essentials. The purpose of this is to help people turn their attention inwards and acknowledge the inner chatter. Just hear the thoughts but not allow them to escape the lips. Some people write a diary to help themselves and I can see how that can work especially if life is geared around talking thoughts as a profession. Or even if this is not so.

One chap I talked to on a retreat who was sitting mournfully in a corner and obviously having a heard time helped me to get another perspective on silence. Silence for him meant punishment! Children during my schooling, and his, were sent to wait outside the classroom door if we were talking during class. Or worse, sent to face a corner of the classroom. Silence as punishment! Imagine? To be sure ‘idle chatter’ was discouraged during my growing up years as a novice monk. But I can’t remember there being much spare time to be chattering anyway.

So it was most interesting to hear somebody say recently, I love silence. It wasn’t the absence of sound she loved though. It was the quality of her unspoken thoughts that she loved about being silent. They are like a bell she said. Clear, defined, resonate. (Those are my words not hers.) Imagine being relieved of the pressure of having thoughts not destined to be spoken? Thoughts that are not a rehearsal for a future conversation or text for an email or blog post. Thoughts that have no purpose, no destination. Thoughts that don’t tell your story or anothers story…

There is more to say however my mind is not cooperating. Time to keep those unspoken thoughts. Unspoken.


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