62. Unchartered Pilgrimage of the Heart

BLOG 62: June, 2000—I arrived with my friends Carl and Molly at the colonial farmhouse that would be my summer home—my three months with God, the earth, and my broken body and spirit. The old, dark brown house stood only inches away from the cracked, New England road that epitomized what I loved about this part of the country. And on either side of the house were open fields, high wheat grasses on one end, and a large lawn and soon-to-be-tilled garden on the other.

Jean, the owner of this summer house, appeared by the driveway to greet us. Almost 80 years old with formal blazer, short grey hair, and cigarette in hand, she reminded me of the great novelist and friend of Pablo Picasso, Gertrude Stein. Only thing was that Jean, a poet herself and one of the first women to establish a publishing house for women poets, carried an unusual combination of Boston formality and an unusual earthy “I don’t give a damn what anyone thinks about me” look.

My eyes were drawn to her cigarette as she led my friends and I into the old farmhouse that seemed rather dark despite two floors of rooms with ample windows. Who was this woman I would live with and help out during my summer of healing? I asked myself.

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Jean Pedrick (A photo I took long ago. Beauty!) 

After all, we had never met—only spoke by phone before her son and I met in New York City to scope each other out and make sure his mother and I would be a good fit. I had never thought about there being cigarette smoke wafting up along dark walls filled with ghost-like photographs of times gone by until it reached the room I’d live in or the ancient bed made of actual horse hair I’d sleep on!

I remember looking out the window, toward the road it faced, where my friends drove away after helping me unpack the few items I had. It felt as if my parents had just dropped me off at camp (not that I had experienced this before in my life!) and I was alone in a dark house with a stranger who smoked and seemed rather aloof as Bostonians could be.

I feared I had made a mistake in trusting divine grace to bring me here, yet I eventually fell asleep to the sweet sound of cicadas surrounding the house and trees. mondaysatskimilk3-940x467.jpgThe weeks to follow were the beginning of magic, though, of discovering what’s possible when we show up with clear prayer and intention, and leave the rest up to God. Jean, who died several years later, would become one of numerous angels offering me retreat from the chains of pain I had carried for far too long.

Since those days with Jean and her family, I’ve learned that the grace of God shows her face when we finally surrender and hand over the reins of our limited longing—and when we’re truly ready to receive the gift that awaits us. The form it comes in can be deceiving—as Jean did with cigarette in hand and serious disposition—but it comes, ready to give of itself to the unchartered pilgrimage of our soul.

20170720_191044About a month ago from today, after arriving back to New Mexico from Buenos Aires and our family’s honoring of my recently-deceased father’s life, I met another angel of sorts in man’s clothing. I met an Argentinean man who appeared to me without cigarette in hand :), but with an embracing heart, passion, and laughter. Together we exchanged mystical love poems; shared—with my father’s spirit, it seemed—Argentinean songs he and I both loved; held communion on a moon-filled mesa that whispered of the infinite until early morning; and danced and laughed inside the light-filled rhythm of our newly-discovered bubble.

It’s not every day that life’s holy orchestra offers a song like this one. But it did. It came quickly, weaving these otherworldly energies with mundane realities that soon introduced their challenges to this budding relationship. It forced me to ask myself how to navigate this place where the divine and physical intersect…where tension and beauty lie and give us choice on how to proceed?

This past week, during which time I wrote less, and struggled with overwhelm and 20170720_190824poor health, I battled this reality of receiving divine grace within the limitations of this earth journey. And while I tried to contemplate, analyze, feel, reflect, and be with the tension that built knots inside my heart and that of this relationship (quite a different energy from the heart-opening magic of weeks prior), it seemed to only create more tension, more struggle.

But today, as a double rainbow spread across the sky, and stayed with me long enough to expand my heart’s awe, I felt what I needed to do. As with Jean and her cigarette, dark house, and initial formal and cold demeanor, there was more to this gift than I could see. Much more. What if, when we’ve given up trying to figure things out, and we’ve given up our limited, frightened expectations, we actually hand it over to God, to spirit—this place from which the gift originated? What if, in this case, as in the past, I give my heart much needed space and peace of mind to listen, feel, and be with what this beloved gift is here to offer—and what I am here to receive—on my unchartered pilgrimage of the soul?

My Novel, Child of Duende: A Journey of the Spirit, is also about an unchartered pilgrimage of the heart. It is available on Amazon at Amazon Page  or at www.michelleadam.net. Also, watch a brief video on “duende”, “the spirit of the earth”: YouTube Video

 

 

 

       

55. Honoring Body, Earth, and Air

Blog 55: July, 1999— “I lay out big like New Mexico tonight, the stars speckling the skies in every direction,” I wrote after relaxing outside my parents’ home under New Jersey skies. “It makes me aware of how amazing it is to be walking on this earth. What a gift it is to be inside this wonder—to know that every day we have this, yet we crowd our thoughts and lives with so much that clutters our view.”

Then, it seemed, life felt more alive, more resilient, inside the warmth of summer. I was reminded of what I had once had. I had danced in New York City before becoming injured, and I had lived in New Mexico where the earth and her big skies had invited me to slow down, even though I wasn’t ready.914e43fb9aef1d21aab3d064540aae1e

“When I think of dancing now, I think of an inspiration that followed me, almost stalking me. I still feel how beautiful it was to dance, to take that deep breathe that is dance,” I wrote. “I want to start again, slower this time, with care and love, listening and understanding that this body is my love, my gift. When I do, I will know how a body is, what a body means, how it is mine in more than dance to take care of.”

That day in New Jersey was like today in New Mexico. Storm clouds cleared to reveal snow-covered mountain peaks as the sun melted the cool breeze dancing inside springtime. I stretched, walked with a friend, and enjoyed being in this body that has been through so much—so much of my neglect and taking for granted the gift of what I had been given. I remember how, when I had lived in California (after leaving New Mexico, and before that, New York City), I had felt such immense despair at not being able to get out onto the land…with the idea of not having open skies, trees, fresh air, and water to bathe in when my soul felt weary.

Back then, I had taken for granted my body’s gift—the gift of housing my soul, my life’s force—and, in the pursuit of becoming someone, forgot the importance of my connection to the earth. Now I know how precious both are, and that, in our neglect, it can take a long time to repair the damage we’ve done.

Today, I think about how we, as Americans, have been blessed with living on this breath-taking land once called Turtle Island by Indigenous Americans. Yet, recently, our leader has threatened to roll back protections for land and air. It’s in the name of progress and jobs, President Donald Trump says. Yet there’s no progress when we can’t drink the water, breath the air, and celebrate this body of life we’ve been given.
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There’s no progress when we no longer wake to visible sunrises or share in the diversity of people, plants, and animals that makes this earth so precious.

I reflect on my journey of unraveling the layers of my mind’s clutter so that I can care for my body, my home, and live from a place of greater gratitude for this earth life we have been given. For me, pain cleansed and cleared away layers that maybe, without it, would still be blinding me from the gift of my body and this earth.

Maybe, just maybe, we don’t need so much pain to learn the gift of what we have right here, in front of us, though. Maybe, as we journey together through the troubled maze of our time, we can all let go of the clutter we’ve carried and make room for a more sustainable and healthy earth walk.

*My novel, Child of Duende: A Journey of the Spirit, is a story honoring the earth and the spirit of “duende” within. Check it out on Amazon: Amazon Page  or at www.michelleadam.net. Also, watch a brief video on “duende”, “the spirit of the earth”: YouTube Video

 

51. Riding Off into “Las Pampas”

BLOG 51: June, 1999—“There are so many times you have been with me, and yet I have not seen you. I feel touched, moved, overwhelmed inside this little heart of mine by the guide you have been so long—an angel so present on this earth, so alive within me, so much a part of me,” I wrote from my parent’s home in New Jersey 18 years ago. “I feel like I have been gone so long, wayward in search of myself—a decade of scraping down every wall to discover this beauty beside and inside of me…this stalwart tree, ever-growing slowly, gracefully upward, as I have stretched out, spreading arms that reach out to embrace the sun, eager to get there.”

These words made up a letter addressed to MAGIC itself, and to a dear friend of mine, a past partner. After all, isn’t magic in both—inside ourselves and in relationship?  While today is a different time, and magic may be too general a word to apply to my present moment here with my ailing father—I’ve been reflecting on what it must be like for him to soon embark on what may be a potentially “magical” journey into the afterlife.

My father has always been quite the scientist, carefully reflecting on the reasonable, proven aspects of life. I wonder now, when he’s in tremendous pain, and asks us to help him die, whether he has a sense of where he’s going (if anywhere at all).

Some years back, after he and I had visited my Argentinean cousin, Carmen, who was extremely frail and dying from a brain tumor, he confessed to me, in his apartment living room, that the idea of death really scared him. It was clear then, as now, that he was reflecting on his own death.

Last night, I sat with what it would be like to have no imagined sense (or a very existential one) of what we call the afterlife. I’ve always had a strong feeling of spirit, or what life without a body would be like. If anything, I’ve found it much more natural and real to be with the world of spirit than body. But for my father, who prided himself of being very athletic and intelligent, and having 5d0235715e06de38848b7e112c1f3ec8the independence and strength to control his destiny, death may be a different kind of beast for him to face.

If it’s true what a friend of mine once said—that, after death, people see and experience that which they believed to be true in this lifetime…that our beliefs dictate what’s next…or at least for the first part of our journey—then I wondered what current beliefs were dictating my father’s sense of what awaits him. Is the pain I see him going through, both physical and emotional, a part of his battle between his current beliefs and what is to come? Does it have to be this painful leaving this earthly plane as we prepare to shift as the caterpillar does into the butterfly?

As I sat at my father’s bedside one evening, I asked his mother’s spirit, our shared ancestors, and angelic beings to visit him in his sleep to give him a glimpse of what’s possibly next. Then, a beautiful imagine came to mind. My father has always been an adventurous soul, I thought, and he had always said he would have been a “gaucho”, an Argentinean cowboy, if he hadn’t taken a more practical route in life. So, then, why can’t he ride off like a gaucho into the vast grasslands, las Pampas de Argentina, when it’s his time, and begin his adventure beyond his body as one of the greatest freedom he has ever known?

With that, I smiled, and he fell asleep.

*My novel, Child of Duende: A Journey of the Spirit, is a story of spirit and coming home. Check it out on Amazon: Amazon Link or at www.michelleadam.net. Also, I’ve created a short new video on duende, the spirit of the earth, and on my novel. Check it out: YouTube Video

 

 

Celebrating Duende at Barnes and Noble!

Jan. 25, 2017: Listen to that song, that voice, a call out that comes from the deepest, most moving place of our mysterious soul. Can you really hear it…this llanto, this cry out that has never left us…not during wars, dictatorships, and horrific terror inside our brief, but intense human history?  Can you hear the depth of this LLANTO, this “song of the earth,” this most life-affirming voice of the soul that never quits, that is here today, in this moment, during this unique time of friction and immense change in our human history?

This Saturday, at Barnes and Noble, I will offer a taste of this Llanto, this cry out, this deep soul’s song and melody that is tied to the story and birthplace of my novel, Child of Duende: A Journey of the Spirit. With my novel, I bring to you Gypsies, nature spirits, Flamenco, and a return home to the earth and her wisdom, her Llanto, and cry out. I offer you a taste of that which inspired me to write this novel, which came from a journey of my heart, back to Spain, to the memories of my childhood in high-desert fields that raised me and an ancient culture that has forever left its imprint on my soul.

In traveling along the threads of this ancient culture that wrote the story of my novel, I begin with Spain’s Gypsies who have long carried an enduring spirit of music and dance, of Flamenco, of Deep Song, Cante Hondo. These nomadic, song-wielding, magic-making people, who arrived in Spain from India, brought with them the sounds of the orient, of the Ragas, of indigenous chanting, a kind of prayer that keeps that sweet dialogue between the unseen and seen world alive, honoring the holy and sacred part of being human.

This song of Gypsy wove its fabric into Spain’s Arabic, Jewish, and Catholic roots—even as Fernando and Isabel of Spain set out to explore the Americas and enacted the Inquisition, which kicked out, killed, and tortured Jews, Arab, Gypsies, and non-Christians in Spain. Many Gbarnes-and-noble-event-jan-2017ypsies fled to the mountains, and it was here that they kept their traditions alive. Maybe—as with the negro spirituals, the Blues, and Native American chants, and so many deeply soulful songs—it is this very persecution, these dark times, that help create this ancient sound of longing that rises more fiercely and fully from the depths of our being than ever before, and reminds of our most profound connections.

My novel, Child of Duende: A Journey of the Spirit, is about this deep longing that cries out for another way…or more clearly…a way home inside this earth place. It is about discovering that, even when we’ve lost our way, and feel despair, there’s a way home, inside, inside of us, and inside the land that calls us on a sacred journey of aliveness.

If you are in New Mexico this Saturday, from 1-3p.m., please join Ronaldo Baca and I for a live weaving of storytelling and Flamenco song and guitar at Barnes and Noble, Coronado Mall, Albuquerque, that promises to stir this ancient Gypsy spirit that knows the way home. And, if you are too far away, check out my recent video, which tells the story of “duende”, the spirit of the earth, tied to my novel, Child of Duende: A Journey of the Spirit! https://youtu.be/yEJoQpKYK3I

Also, check out a limited-time promotion of my paperback novel and a VERY SPECIAL Kindle price of 99 cents on January 28th (the price goes up a dollar every day after) on Amazon: http://a.co/9scIar2

 

49. Capturing Love Inside these Butterfly Wings

BLOG 49: Feb. 15, 1999—“Love spreads her ashes on my bed tonight, the nightingale calls a sound of surrender. The feelings in my heart are distant cries, unavailable to myself,” I wrote eighteen years ago in my journal as I lived in my parent’s New Jersey home at age thirty, inside that place we perceive as stuck, when, in actuality, we are growing deeper, and becoming more grand in our love.

“I fear what I love is lost, lost only in that is it not mine,” I wrote. “A line of sweet perfume inches across my heart, a love so sweet, so divine, the creating of it hurts. It is a deep knowing that all I have is now, and tomorrow may leave like a butterfly leaves its cocoon…that in order to love, I must surrender to myself, believe that the tales will weave their threads into the world, and be humble to spirit that moves through me and knows better.”

Back then, I couldn’t have imagined how much I’d grow inside the prison of my pained body and life. But today, when a friend shared with me how stuck she was, I found myself 92e75215218006444b25b7f037b11c25telling her that her “stuckness” was a gift. We come into this world and learn to be a certain way, it seems, only to get so-called stuck because we need help putting the breaks on our life, on our old ways, so we can slow down enough to make a drastic change and finally see and walk our soul’s path.

Most recently, my father had numerous operations in his fight against cancer and pain. He too is experiencing being “stuck”, living almost daily pain and uncertainty as the butterfly that he is prepares to leave the cocoon of this life. I pray it’s not too soon, but I also know that every minute we have here is to share our love, and for me to honor my father’s presence and that of my parents before it’s too late. After all, my poem of years ago still holds true: “All I have is now, and tomorrow may leave like the butterfly leaves its cocoon.”

*Check out my new YouTube Link on DUENDE, and the spirit of the earth that we are. Also, my novel, Child of Duende: A Journey of the Spirit is available on Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Child-Duende-Journey-Michelle-Adam/dp/099724710X/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1474233011&sr=8-1&keywords=child+of+duende  or at www.michelleadam.net

So Let’s Celebrate with an Ole!

December 10, 2016—This past Saturday, to an audience of 35 enthusiastic listeners, I introduced “duende”, the spirit of the earth, and the essence of my novel, Child of Duende: A Journey of the Spirit. I did so after a month of post-election shock and blues that called me to speak fuller and more passionately than in the past. I wished to share hope, and bring a full spirit of who we are capable of being as Flamenco Guitarist and Singer Ronaldo Baca and I wove together storytelling, Flamenco, and Cante Hondo (deep song).

 “Like a soft, subtle breeze that inches her way into our lives, bit by bit, increasing her intensity and presence, the darkness of winter arrives,” I began with these words. “The moon rises to light up the cooler nights and we begin to celebrate an inner world, an unseen world that, ironically, in the darkness, may be easier to glimpse, to experience than in the bright light of summer.”

My words continued, dancing in an out of Ronaldo’s Flamenco Guitar playing. “Inside this darkness lies a seed, a potent seed of yet to be dreamed of possibilities, of spirit imbued with a force that we have ignored for far too long in the name of progress, growth, and reaching for the stars.

“But here we are, wondering what’s happening around us. The friction, the breakdown, and break up of that which we’ve held to be true. Our illusions broken as seeds of power and fear, planted long ago, are now emerging. But there’s also another seed, buried deeper inside the earth, and far inside all of us, that seeks to be seen and experienced in the dark of winter… at this time of year and this time of history.

“This journey tonight is an invitation to go to that place, to travel along the threads of ancient culture, to the roots of gypsy and deep song that has never, never lost the resonance and power of its voice despite centuries of persecution. It’s the same sounds we hear in the spirituals, in the blues, in indigenous chants, and in ragas from East India, the original homeland of the Gypsies … it’s that sound of longing (or llanto…a call out) that comes from deep within and that rises more fiercely and fully in the darkness, during times in which we’ve given up hope and we’re crying out for another way.

“This is that time, and I invite you this evening, to go on this journey to a profound place of freedom, of possibility that awaits us in our listening. It is an invitation to experience “duende”, the spirit of the earth that is the very seed of which I speak, and which carries the most ancient seed of knowing. It is an invitation to travel with us, through story, song, and Flamenco guitar, to the world of my novel, Child of Duende: A Journey of the Spirit.

15355716_1142183272543542_3995107497377793370_n“So let’s begin. With an Ole, with a deep breath, with a full sigh, releasing all that we have worked so hard to create, all that we have sought so hard to find and be, so that new life can enter, so the full spirit we carry within can speak and sing.”

The evening was a beautiful, soul-filled one that felt like family remembering who we are together. I invite those of you  reading this blog to make this season one of going deep within and bringing out the gift of who you arethrough voice and spirited actionas a present to life.

*Please share your experiences of being the gift you are during these holidays. (My regular blog will resume after this).

*Make Child of Duende: A Journey of the Spirit a gift for the holidays! Check it out on Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Child-Duende-Journey-Michelle-Adam/dp/099724710X/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1474233011&sr=8-1&keywords=child+of+duende  or at www.michelleadam.net

 

45. Sacred Action: Spirit Inside Flesh (Join Saturday’s Storytelling, Flamenco Guitar & Spanish Tapas Event!)

Blog 45: December 9, 1998—Struck by these lines from The Last Temptation of Christ movie I watched almost 20 years ago, I wrote them down:

“The dual substance of Christ—the yearning, so human, so superhuman, of man to attain God…has always been a deep inscrutable mystery to me. My principle anguish and source of all my joys and sorrows from my youth onward has been the incessant, merciless battle between the spirit and the flesh…and my soul is the arena where these two armies have clashed and met.”

This struggle between spirit and matter were deeply tied to the hip pain I experienced back then, when I lived, at age 30, with my parents in New Jersey. In this country of materialism gone rampant, especially back then, I fought to hear my soul’s voice that had become so distant after my family and I had moved from Spain to the United States during my middle school years. My hip injury in my late twenties had granted me the permission and urgency to reawaken this part of me—and my novel, Child of Duende: A Journey of the Spirit, became a way for me to express this.

Today, as I prepare for a local Storytelling, Flamenco Guitar, and Spanish Tapas event tied to my novel, I can see more clearly how this battle of spirit with matter, and the ultimate merging of these has become my life’s work. The other day, as I rehearsed with Ronaldo Baca, Flamenco guitarist and singer, we spoke about this energy, and how deeply it is tied to “duende”, the essence of my novel.

The Spanish Poet Federico Garcia Lorca once described “duende” as a work and battle, where we wrestle those demons and dark places of our psyche to uncover, to awaken, to become an artform longing to be born. This “duende,” he said, is the spirit of the earth “one must awaken in the remotest mansions of the blood,” and it is only in doing do so that duende “announces the constant baptism of newly created things.”

Aren’t Lorca’s words similar to that of Nikos Kazantzakis’s words of The Last Temptation of Christ? Isn’t there a battle we all engage in as humans (if we are willing to be honest with ourselves) of merging spirit with matter, of becoming this invisible life force of “duende” that moves through our visible, limited physical reality?

As more people wake up to this life force within themselves, how do we engage in this righteous battle to become most fully spirit within flesh? (I see examples of this in our recent history: at Standing Rock in the Dakotas, the Sioux Nation has been protecting the waters by standing up against Energy Transfer Partners, an oil company building a pipeline which is intended to transport 5550,000 barrels of oil a day to maintain our comfortable lives. Since the U.S. presidential elections, others have taken to the streets in protest of the results, and it seems, so many of us are waking up, realizing we can’t take our freedom and democracy—or what there is left of it—for granted any more).

At this time of immense change and upheaval, how do we take this essence of “duende” and be the conduits through which life can—through sacred action—fully express herself?

How have you become this spirit inside flesh most authentically?

*This Saturday, Ronaldo Baca and I will be offering a journey inside this essence in an inspiring evening of Storytelling, Flamenco Guitar, and Spanish Tapas. It’s this Saturday, Dec. 10th, at 4p.m. at Awaken to Wellness Center, 1704 Moon St NE, Ste 9, Albuquerque.

My recently-published novel, Child of Duende: A Journey of the Spirit, may also make a great gift this season! It’s available on Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Child-Duende-Journey-Michelle-Adam/dp/099724710X/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1474233011&sr=8-1&keywords=child+of+duende  or at www.michelleadam.net