Cierra’s Mountain

People do not think of mountains growing tired, but I am weary. I am happy, but sleepy, in that in-between state where one is conscious of her dreams as they begin to play out, like a movie theater darkening for the main event.

Another thing people do not realize about mountains, is that we can sense when a bird, on one side of our vast body, first learns to fly, or has a successful landing upon a branch that looks too thin to hold its own leaf, or when a bird falls to the ground and is no more.

We are aware of everything that lives or dies on our boulders, our trees and grasses, in burrows, in our waters, and I can tell you, we love them all.

And this mountain, in particular, loves you.

I have seen you in the meadows, gathering lemongrass. I’ve felt the joy you absorbed through your skin as my brother, the sun, bathed you in his light.

I have heard you singing to the wind, heard every lovely word and sent your songs echoing as far and wide and I could so that more could hear.

I have listened when you wept. Why do you think my rivers are so full? How could I let one tear disappear without adding it to the healing power of a river that is flowing back to the sea?

I love you.

Come into the silence with me and share my dreams. When we wake up we can discover this world anew.
There is nothing to lose when we surrender our all but every wonder in heaven and on earth to gain.
Now is the time, my friend, to be here as fully as your heart allows.
Settle in.

Kelvin Measures the Intensity of Color –(updated to adjust for tangerine dragons)

Kelvin is a unit to measure the intensity of color.
Kelvin is also a pudgy baby brother with a buzz cut and bright parrot-green Hawaiian shirt.

But no shirt could match the green of his eyes, not in those days anyway.

The year Kelvin wore that green Hawaiian shirt was a very green year with plenty of yellow and orange days and only a few days that were absent of color, black hole days.

It doesn’t take many days like that to drain the green from a little boy’s eyes.


Kelvin, remember when you and I played in the mud puddle on the corner of North Main and Juniper? In those days all the roads were dirt except for North Main and each had its puddle after a rain.
No not a puddle.
A puddle is what you put your feet in and sink up to the ankles.
We could wade through water all the way up to our knees at least…more sometimes and that was when it got a teeny bit scary.
When the water rushed up to the thigh it was scary because in order to be that high it had to be running pretty fast. So we waited till it stopped running fast but still offered a place to swim.
We didn’t actually swim, but we sat down in it and let it rise up to our necks.
Remember how you drank it on a dare and said it tasted like chocolate milk? Your eyes were green green green that day and they laughed at me as a dare.
I don’t think I was as brave as you because to this day I don’t know what ditch-water chocolate tastes like.
Kelvin: a unit to determine the intensity of color.
We were older when I had a 45 record of Color my World, by Chicago, I played it over and over, mesmerized. You had heard enough. You Frisbee’d it onto the roof, where anything you could throw up there gave its life to the New Mexican sun.

The color of those days was red and orange/yellow. There were Indian Blankets everywhere, my favorite wildflower, and sandstorms during which red dirt walls could be seen moving into town, giving everyone enough time to take cover if they were smart enough to do so.

There were industrious red and black ants and they were my friends. When I think about that time period it reminds me of Mayan artwork.

I was so mad. I chased you with a broom ready to beat the mischief out of you.
I don’t remember catching you. I hope I didn’t.
You chased those boys that had ganged up on me at the city park that late night. Why were we there? How crazy to be in such a dangerous place in the middle of the night.
Mom took us there and let me out; I was going to run straight through to the other side but got trapped by a gang of paint sniffers. I was surrounded. They had knives.

You came to my rescue. You were younger than anyone there. How did you know to come for me? I don’t remember screaming or calling for help. I was too scared.

But you were Kelvin: you were able to measure the intensity of color even the color of danger in the dark with pinpoints of a dirty-yellow streetlight.
Remember when we were walking as a family along the railroad tracks and you found an unused tear gas? You always found the weirdest things. We took it to the police station; I was embarrassed because they knew our whole family by name.
Remember when we went to the same group home organization in Albuquerque? I was in a house called Casa Simpatica and you were in a house across town called? I can’t remember. It was the house where A Big Yellow Submarine ( compliments of local artist/houseparent) splashed in the sunlight outside of the French doors.
Of course, you would be placed in a house where artists did the decorating; you were Kelvin: you measured the intensity of color in the world.
My eyes are green too, but not like yours. Mine have the tendency to go yellow and scare people. Remember when those boys were picking on you and I went after them? I don’t know what I did to scare them, but when the air cleared, they were hiding in a closet, huddled together and would not come out till the house parent got there and made them come out.
What I could have done to scare them I cannot say. I don’t have a memory of it. I just know that they never ever bothered you again.
The night in the emergency room, when I thought you were going to die, I asked if we could pray the Our Father. I didn’t know what else to do. You were so out of it. I stood over you, holding your hand and sheltering you with the curve of my shoulders. My tears fell onto your face and I prayed that they could be like the waters of baptism and wash away all your pain.
You died at home a few days later
I miss you with the fierce intensity of all my colors.
Kelvin: September 5, 1962, died May 31, 2012
But, my brother, you never showed me how to modulate or adapt my own intensity and for that, I have paid a dear price.
I see tangerine dragons when my friends are happy and these cumulous beasts are majestic only because they fly; these dragons are not puffed up with pride or expectations–only a child’s joy. But it scares people because I can see them. No, it scares people that I tell them about what I have seen.
Kelvin, I need you to help me from wherever you are. Come and find me or tell me how to find you. Because I am still on this earth. Show me how to use the right filters, such as kindness, honesty, generosity, gentleness, fortitude, and all the others so that I will not inadvertently hurt someone with my anger or even with my love.

If My Anguish Had a Sound

Please listen to the video after the anguish because this is what happened: I let myself feel the anguish. I shared it so that others would not feel alone. And this afternoon, I received the message of such peace and comfort I posted it after my own video.


Here is a text version of the story:




Bumfuddley Fool of Tarot

I didn’t mean to stray from the pack. I didn’t even know I was lost till I heard my people talking to one another and realized I had no idea what they were talking about. It sounded like a foreign language; it made me sad and homesick.

I am drunk on too much moonlight.

It’s so hard to close my eyes, even though I know it’s the thing to do. But, come on, have you heard cottonwood trees sing in the evening? Who could sleep after that? It’s like a theater full of performers huddled for the pre-show bonding exercises. You can feel the rush. It runs all the way up from the roots and it twists and swirls, rising, rising, till all at once every limb is shaking joy into every leaf. Tree exhales, we inhale: one breath.

It’s not the kind of thing that makes a fool sleepy. Instead, it is a wake-up call for the avid dreamer.

I’ve been lost for about 30 hours I think. I’ve been a wandering fool.

Once upon a time

When the windows of the world

We’re left open by mistake,

The cosmic wind blew in.

Well, when the wind blew out

It took seeds and seas and bumble bees

And cats with corduroy trousers.

It left the fools to figure things out,

To listen to wolves

And to wander about.

So I have been doing what fools do, quite happily, fully engaged in being the best fool I could be. I listened carefully and played attention when I was talking to butterflies.

Of course, one should always listen when a butterfly talks, so I was only doing as I should.

I play the fool a lot. Only I am not playing. I am serious about living this way and I don’t understand it when people try to change me,

But I digress!

What I am trying to say is that I’ve wandered away from my tribe, from my group and I’m lost. It seems like I have forgotten how to chant and meditate; I’ve become undisciplined. I have become UNACCOUNTABLE. Even if I chanted a few hours ago, in the green chair by the woodpile.

I can’t account for any lessons learned. There were no visions or miracles.

Well, that’s not entirely true. There was a miracle. It is in the early stages. I’ll tell you more very soon.

I guess if I had not wandered I would have missed this miracle altogether. So,

To wander is sometimes serendipitously beneficial. The is the story of my life. I’ve wandered from pillar to post in what seemed like complete chaos, but to the Divine Master, I have danced my danced perfectly well, always being right where I need to be when I am supposed to be there. I might have fallen and spilled my soup, but it fell into the bowl of a man who needed it more than I did. More than once, I stumbled and fell down a flight of stairs and landed in another time or space where the beds were softer or the poetry loftier than that of the world I left behind. I always end up learning the lessons I need to be learning no matter how well planned or how thoroughly chaotic my life has been thanks to the fool in me who can go with the flow.

But sometimes the fool is not so lucky, or at least the benefits are not so easily worked out, like when one gets lost, or even worse, when one loses another.

Oh! I hear them carrying on like a happy wolf family, yipping and howling, texting and chatting, posting those praying, namaste hands and red hearts and smiley faces, talking about some genius thing Ram Dass said.

And by my own fault, I’m lost, sitting on a rock in the woods eating wandaberries, my face stained with purple juice,  an ant farm growing in my abandoned shoes.

I want to come hooooooooooooome. Do you have roooooooooooooom?

Can I bring my butterfly? My ant farm?

Hog Wild!

My son and daughter-in-law in Dallas just got a pig named Paubla. Apparently, she makes them very, very happy. So I had to include her in my manifesto.

My Spirit Guide, Horse Lady told me to paint a poster to remind myself of the things I need to do to stay focused…at least I think that was my assignment. To be completely honest, when she asked me if I remembered the poster, I didn’t lie; I said “Yes.” That was true. I just couldn’t remember what the poster was supposed to have on it. Therefore, I made one with what I think it should be on it. A Manifesto.

So here is my mission statement.

Gonna sleep like a rock, rise like the morning star, work like a dog, pray like Baba Ram Dass, gonna love and meditate, gonna just be me, gonna live to serve till every one of us is free, gonna laugh and dance and play and sing, and like a happy little child, every once in a while I’m gonna go hog wild! Hog wild.

Let me clarify a couple of points.  When I say work like a dog, I am saying that work is good. working dogs are happy dogs. They like to have a job and do it well. So that is what I mean by that. And when I say pray like Baba Ram Dass, well, I aspire to be like him, to learn from him as much as I possibly can and to pray all day, from my heart, the way he does. And to go hog wild? I think we need order, but as Alan Whitehead emphasizes, “Not too much order.”

What We Keep


What Do We Keep?

Most people would have thrown it out because it was almost useless. It wasn’t even pretty. It was just a plain, old bowl with a big crack in it. Mrs. Jaramillo took it out and patted it before she placed it on the table. She gathered flour, salt, lard and a rolling pin. She was preparing to teach my mom how to make tortillas, and mom was ready to learn; she was already knocking at the door, calling, “Hello! Anyone home?”

Ven. Ven. Come in.”

She was friendly the way the ladies at church are friendly after Mass, smiling and pursing her lips a little. But she warmed up quickly to mom and was soon sloshing coffee over to the table. She was laughing at mom’s story about the grasshopper that waved to us when we were gathering left-over peanuts from some farmer’s field.

“I’m telling you the truth! It waved at us! We got down in the dirt and stared real close and it waved one little arm at us when we said ‘Hello’ to it.”

“Mrs. Jaramillo laughed; her toothless mouth was shiny and pink. “Ai, Joyce, you are one crazy lady, I tell you what.”

Her laughter gradually softened and fell quiet like a leaf, falling easy till it rested silently in her lap. She shook her head, still smiling at the thought of mom, with the four of us kids, lying in the middle of a field, talking to a bug.“OK now, Joyce. Let’s make tortillas. Go over to the sink and wash your hands.”

Mom did as she was told and came back to the table.

You get your flour and fill it to here, where this crack is.” Mrs. Jaramillo poured flour into the bowl, up to the crack. Mom said, “But what if I don’t have a bowl with a crack in it?” She was still feeling playful and assumed Mrs. Jaramillo was too. But Mrs. Jaramillo stood up straight and looked tall even though she was barely five feet. She picked up her bowl and put it away. “Well, then you will never learn to make tortillas!”

Mom thought she must be joking, but she was dead serious and after several very uncomfortable moments, she said, “Well, I guess I’ll go home.”

The screen door creaked shut and mom walked back to our house. She never did learn how to make tortillas.

Mom and I love to talk about that story, mainly because we can’t figure it out. What was it that upset this friendly old lady so much that she refused to teach what she’d been happy to teach only minutes before?

We treasure that story because it makes us laugh because we don’t know what to do with it. We hold onto it because it reminds us of a time when grasshoppers enchanted us while we gleaned the fields. We hold on and we talk about it every chance we get, baffled and full of wonder too.

I hold my favorite bowl like I’m holding a baby. Not the way a new mother holds a baby, but in that relaxed way that women develop when they realize the baby won’t break the way fragile china or porcelain breaks.I get out the flour, salt, and olive oil and stand over the empty bowl, looking for that line of cobalt that runs right through the clay like a river running through the mountains. There is one spot where it looks like it’s splashing over its banks. I pour the flour up to there.