Kundalini Splendor

Kundalini Splendor <$BlogRSDURL$>

Saturday, March 27, 2004

Who Is Patricia? 

What Is Happening

Moment to moment
we ask, what is happening?
The sound of shattering everywhere,
is it the world, fragmenting at last,
or our own hearts cracking,
the final break-up of ice?

from Marrow of Flame

Refining the Essentials

All right, then,
give me a cave.

I'm sure I could learn
to live there.

Dried figs, a few thistles and thorns,
the occasional gift
of meal.
Constant whispered prayers.
What else is needed?

The heat, glistening like shaken mercury
by day,
the moon winking suggestively at night,
brazen old temptress, beckoning.

Sometimes an owl song
in the distance.
Sometimes a desert bird
or the cry of a doomed animal.

Mostly just silence,
the wind speaking
to itself,
the rain crooning
its ancient unknowable song.

copyright, Dorothy Walters

Friends and Life Jackets

No question about it, ours is a difficult time. We all know the challenges and difficulties on every side. We read about it constantly in the papers, are bombarded in the news. We are standing on the edge of a precipice and the ground is shaking under our feet. An old era is dying. A new age is coming to birth. And we are the ones struggling to survive in the midst of chaos, to maintain our lives in some sort of equilibrium, even to discover joy and purpose as the world seems to be collapsing all around.

Do we withdraw into our caves and cease to be concerned about the issues of our time, or do we stay in the middle of it all (everywhere is the middle of it all these days) and do the best we can to hang on to the raging tiger which is our world?

How do we keep going in such circumstances without falling into total despair? How do we sustain ourselves, support those around us, focus on what is purposeful and real, especially on those days when even bliss itself is not enough?

For me, one of the major sources of affirmation and courage is the friends I have encountered along my way. They are my "life jackets" in this sea of troubled waters. And of these, Patricia Lay-Dorsey (to whom this site is dedicated) is among the most important.

This is how I met her. About ten years ago, another friend told me about a talented woman who was temporarily living in San Francisco who wanted to learn more about the craft of poetry.

It turned out that Patricia lived only a few blocks from me, and soon we were meeting regularly for tea and writing exchanges at a coffee house exactly in between our respective addresses. She showed me her work, and I shared mine--at that time I was also working on a journal manuscript recounting my kundalini experiences (ultimately it became Unmasking the Rose). I gave her some pointers, and she read my preliminary manuscript, about which I had many qualms. She returned it with praise and encouragement--she had in fact gone over it with a fine tooth comb, her keen editor's eye noting every slip and typo, and pointing out many needed changes. It was a major gift.

And since then, Patricia has continued to give me many other major gifts (such as this blogsite, which she set up for me); in fact, she has devoted her life to the very act of giving to the world.

As I got to know her, I discovered her many areas of involvement. She is an artist, a singer, a social activist, a volunteer in many causes. Her great and continuing passion is peace itself. She goes out in sub zero weather with others to demonstrate for the cause of justice. She has organized her own branch of the Raging Grannies to help awaken the public conscience. She keeps always up to the minute on key issues, and sends out reprints from cutting edge activist groups to a large audience of readers. Her art and poetry often focus on contemporary concerns. She takes up the cause of immigrants caught in the net of deportation frenzy, not just by shaking her head and sympathizing, but by going to court for their hearings, writing to them in solitary confinement, getting to know their families, and publicizing their cases. She speaks for the rights of those unjustly exploited in our society whoever and wherever they are.

When Patricia goes down the street, she makes friends with everyone she meets. When a homeless person asks for help, she not only gives him/her money, she stops to ask how he/she is, whether he has a place to stay, how his health is today. Each recipient is filled with gratitude to be recognized as a worthy human being. When she goes through the transit station, she stops to chat with the "lowly" employees whose task it is to scrub the escalator steps, and takes their picture to include on her journal site. She volunteers at a local church to serve supper to the homeless, who are delighted by her presence.

Once a week, she goes to a public school in a very diverse neighborhood to assist the art teacher instill a love of art in very young students. The kids adore her, and compete for the chance to help bring her wheelchair into the building. She comes home with good stories. One innocent youngster even asked her what she wanted to be when she grew up.

For a year she met with a group of singers who produced a stunning CD under the direction of Carolyn McDade ("O Beautiful Gaia--Love Songs to Earth").

She belongs to a women's reading/discussion group. She swims an incredible number of laps several times a week.

To know her better, look at her website (windchime walker.com), which she created and set up by herself (to me, a remarkable achievement). It began as a site devoted to "creative disability" and has now expanded to include many areas. Among other sections, it includes her daily journal, which is read by people all over the world. Some are, like Patricia, "other abled," and she acts as their window to the world.

Patricia is a living testament to what we can do in our lives at whatever place or in whatever state we are at the moment, if we focus and give our energies to our efforts. In her younger days, she was a long distance runner, an active social worker, a prolific artist. Today, she continues her amazing work in the world, still moving at a fast pace. A list of her accomplishments would fill a very long page. My admiration for her is endless.

For, with all of her many talents and abilities, Patricia is above all a good friend--to me and innumerable others. For me, she has been mentor, wise woman, and unfailing support. She urges me always to have faith in what I am creating or pursuing. Although she follows no explicit "spiritual path," she is a living exemplar of the dedicated life--the life of compassionate action exalted by every spiritual tradition. She is our inspiration and our guide. How could we fail to keep our spirits aloft when such evidence of human goodness and creativity are before us?

A famous sage once wrote a book called Meetings with Remarkable Men. Meet Patricia, one of the most remarkable women the world has known.

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