Being with Mirabai

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Got home last night from a retreat with Mirabai Starr at Turtle Haven, and it’s going to take me awhile to get over it. In the best way.

I’ve been around enough authors and teachers in my life to be a little bit wary going into these kinds of things. Some people know how to transmit love and wisdom on the page, but they’re not great at it IRL. (“In real life,” for those of you without teenagers.) Some people can pontificate about living with integrity and joy, but they don’t embody it. I’m at a point in my life where I don’t have much patience for that. I want the real deal—I want the “suchness” and “thingness,” I want the incarnation, not just the incantation.

Mirabai led us there, into the arms of the Divine Mother, into the dancing circle of the Mystery. She gave us the freedom to “come out as interspiritual,” and it turns out that’s what I’ve been dying and trying to do for the last 10 years. The metaphor I’ve been operating from for a long time goes something like this: If we need water to stay alive, wouldn’t it make sense that there are drinking fountains, streams, aquifers, everywhere? Why would a loving Creator design things in such a way that a seeker needed to cover several continents or centuries in order to get a cup of cool water? If God is Love (which I fervently believe and experience), wouldn’t She pour out her love, indiscriminately, through and over every religious tradition? Through and over every non-religious person and space, free for the taking or leaving? Yes, and yes.

I’m devouring Mirabai’s new book Wild Mercy, and I recommend it for all my fellow seekers. At the end of our retreat, as we shared our closing reflections, I said, “I feel like every pore in my body is open, soaking up love.”

We had some writing prompts throughout the weekend, and it was actually the first time I’d written a poem in a long, long time. I’ve been a little clogged, and it turns out that someone giving me something to go on and a quiet 10 minutes is all I needed for the juice to start flowing again. Here’s the poem I wrote from the prompt, “Write to the great mother.”

Saint Sarah in Ecstasy

Great Mother, Light of Nations, Healer of Wounds,
Lover of my Soul and of all
my ten fingers and ten toes,
you hear me always, though
I’ve forgotten your names.

In the halls of power, in the races
to the top, in the smackdowns,
in the Twitterverse,

you are the Multiverse.

In the anthills, the mitochondria,
in the cells dying and multiplying
in our bodies every second,

you are the life, the life
becoming more life.

In our earnestness, our serious
business, our calculations
and actuarial tables,

you are the mirth,
the belly-shaking laugh.

In the bottomless night
when every fear, nameless or named,
crawls into our beds,

you are the crooner, the soother,
the lullaby-singer.

In the kitchen, the kettle singing,
the vegetables roasting, dog and children
underfoot,

you are the spoonful of pure flavor,
and we can’t help but close our eyes
when we taste you.